“Suffering from a sense of injustice”: Children’s Activism in Liberal State Formation at the Saint John Boys Industrial Home, 1927-1932

  • Sharon Myers University of Prince Edward Island


In 1929, residents of the Boys’ Industrial Home in Saint John, New Brunswick, engaged in a series of violent acts to protest the conditions they experienced in the institution and their sense of being unjustly treated. Those actions occurred at a serendipitous moment, as the Home was one among the collection of child welfare institutions under study by the Canadian Council on Child Welfare and its various agents. The Council was engaged in the project of liberal state formation and sought to extend across Canada similar standards for, and governance of, child welfare. While its project largely failed in New Brunswick, some transitions did occur at the Industrial Home, owing in part to the activism of the boys themselves.