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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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The Family

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation



Traditional Roles and Responsibilities

Contributions to Family and Society


Minor familyIn many ways, the structure of the early 20th century family was as diverse as it is today. Though marriage between different ethnocultural groups was less common, it did occur. Church affiliation didn't necessarily matter, for example, Nellie McClung's mother was Scottish Presbyterian, and her father was Irish Methodist. Spouses could be separated if husbands could afford to immigrate to the Canadian West, in fact, a number of husbands abandoned their families after selling their property, leaving them destitute.

Both urban and rural families were generally larger. The lack of available birth control and the younger average age for marriage were two factors that contributed to this tendency. Large families were also desirable to help with farm work and to populate the Canadian West.

Families were structured according to social conventions and laws. Wives were expected to remain subservient to their husbands in all matters, except perhaps their childrenís upbringing. While women may have also take more responsibility for their familiesí spending, the money and property they shared still belonged to their husbands by law. Christian teachings and popular writing reinforced these inequities.

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