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 children’s upbringing. While women may have also take
more responsibility for their families’ spending, the money
and property they shared still belonged to their husbands by
law. Christian teachings and popular writing reinforced