In the early 20th century, girls generally left home before reaching adulthood. Many women worked as live-in
domestics to support their families or to save money; others
migrated to the cities, where they could find employment in
hotels, laundries or restaurants; and a few established
their own businesses. Women who aspired and could afford to
go to school trained to become teachers or nurses. They were
then placed in schools or hospitals often far away from home.
These jobs fitted with what people considered women's
"traditional" activities. Domestics were paid to do
essentially the same household tasks as married women.
Chambermaids, laundrywomen and cooks specialized in roles
that took on responsibilities in the home and teachers and nurses performed tasks that were seen as
extensions of women's roles as mothers.
Other opportunities existed for single women, many of
these positions opening out of necessity. Since few male
physicians were willing to relocate to small prairie towns,
a few savvy women who had earned their medical degrees were
allowed to set up general practices in these communities. In
cities, and early mining and logging towns where men far
outnumbered women, prostitutes served as outlets for men’s
suppressed desires and sometimes their anger and
frustrations. During the First World War, women were
recruited to work in untraditional roles. Many women became
labourers on farms and in factories, while others served in
overseas nursing units.
While prostitution was demoralizing to women, their
success in professions such as medicine and skilled trades
demonstrated capabilities comparable to that of men.
Displaying their leadership, women such as the Famous 5
began to call upon other women to become involved in the
|Heritage Trail: Eating Out in Early
Alberta, Part II
||By the 1920s, cafes and
restaurants were becoming the eating establishments
of choice in Alberta. And as Don Wetherell writes in
his book, Useful Pleasures: The Shaping of Leisure
in Alberta, cafes were more informal and restaurants
were usually attached to hotels.