Number of page: 360
Publisher: UBC Press
In the late nineteenth century, European expansionism found one of its last homes in North America. While the American West was renowned for its lawlessness, the Canadian Prairies enjoyed a tamer reputation symbolized by the Mountie’s legendary triumph over chaos. Westward Bound debunks the myth of Canada’s peaceful West and the masculine conceptions of law and violence upon which it rests by shifting the focus from Mounties and whisky traders to criminal cases involving women between 1886 and 1940. Lesley Erickson reveals that judges’ and juries’ responses to the most intimate or violent acts reflected a desire to shore up the liberal order by maintaining boundaries between men and women, Native peoples and newcomers, and capital and labour. Victims and accused could only hope to harness entrenched ideas about masculinity, femininity, race, and class in their favour. The results, Erickson shows, were predictable but never certain. This fascinating exploration of hegemony and resistance in key contact zones draws prairie Canada into larger debates about law, colonialism, and nation building.