Sneaking in the Back Door? Social Closure and Private Bills for Entry into Ontario Professions, 1868–1914

  • Tracey L. Adams


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Ontario legislature received many petitions from individuals who could not meet the requirements for entry to practice established by professional bodies. Petitioners sought legislation that would waive certain requirements and grant them the right to practise regardless. These private bills for entry into Ontario professions might have provided a recourse for members of groups excluded by professional leaders — especially women, men and women of racial and ethnic minorities, the working class, and the lesser educated. An examination of the experiences and backgrounds of petitioners indicates, however, that, while the Ontario legislature eased the ability of the disadvantaged to enter professions in some particular cases, it generally facilitated the entrance of men similar in background to those whom professional bodies sought to recruit.