Thursday, July 16, 2015

Montreal's First Daycare

A card from the Old Brewery Mission belonging to the Nicholsons. This type of women wasn't wanted at the Montreal Day Nursery, apparently.

A few posts back, I wrote about the Montreal Day Nursery, a group that was a member of the Montreal Council of Women, but one that didn't get too much mention in their minutes.

I thought the place sounded rather progressive, but I was wrong,

It was a place that took in children of 'worthy women', mothers who had been deserted, widowed or their spouses were sick, so the women could work.

But as it turns out, a book by Donna Varga on the history of daycare in Canada was written in 1997 and Varga says that the Montreal Day Nursery was a placement center for domestics and domestic day labour.

So it was a charity with strings attached.

The hours were tailored to meet the needs of wealthy employers, not the women.

A worthy woman was one who could clearly work as a domestic, so really needy women weren't accepted.

Varga  gives an example where some unkempt children were brought in, cleaned up and told to leave. Clearly a woman who couldn't keep her own children clean couldn't work as a domestic.

The Nursery Minutes have no information of protocol or child-care procedures, which makes the author thinks these aspects weren't important to them. ( I agree. If protocol was discussed at meeting it would have been in the minutes.)

The daycare could have 90 kids one day and 40 the next. The staff was pretty small.

Anyway, the fonds for the Day Nursery are in the Toronto Library with the fonds  for the Technical School.

I'll have to go and make a visit.