“You will hardly believe I turned out so well”: Parole, Surveillance, Masculinity, and the Victoria Industrial School, 1896–1935


  • Bryan Hogeveen


Parole was a critical and precarious phase for boys released from the Victoria Industrial School (VIS) in southern Ontario. Former inmates’ conduct during the period immediately following their release revealed to school officials whether the boys had reformed and were prepared to conform to societal standards of manly conduct. However, before 1900 the VIS had no formal mechanism to ensure parolees did not regress into a life of crime. Moreover, without a systematic parole programme that would allow staff to oversee former inmates’ behaviour in the community, VIS officials had no way of determining whether the school’s reform strategy was ultimately successful. The school’s unique approach to supervising former inmates included a system of correspondence and reports that attempted to monitor and influence the boys’ behaviour. School officials’ conception of a masculine ideal for working-class boys guided both the school’s image of a successful inmate and the rationale for revoking parole.