Uniting in Measures of Common Good: The Construction of Liberal Identities in Central Canada, 1830-1900 by Darren Ferry
In a compelling and comprehensive treatment of the nineteenth-century voluntary association movement, Darren Ferry situates these organizations within the much larger framework of the construction of collective liberal identities. He shows that by attempting to transcend the political, religious, class, and ethnic divisions of their constituencies, voluntary societies acted as cultural mediators in the reproduction, transmission, and contestation of liberal values throughout central Canadian society.
Ferry examines a wide selection of voluntary societies - mechanics' institutes, mutual benefit organizations, agricultural associations, temperance societies, and literary and scientific associations. He reinterprets the history of these organizations in terms of their own internal tensions over liberal doctrines and the effect of social, cultural, and economic change and compares the effects of liberalism on rural and urban associations and on societies in both English and French Canada.
Anchored with an array of archival documentation - minute books, lectures, associational periodicals, personal papers, pamphlets, and tracts - Uniting in Measures of Common Good illuminates the experience of ordinary Canadians with the voluntary association movement and as well as the relations of the movement with the larger liberal society.