Proposal Title

SESSION 2.1: Anxious at the Very Gates of Hell: Crime, Race and Community Identity on a North American Settlement Frontier, 1908-1925

Presentation Type

Individual paper

Location

IB 1010

Start Date

3-5-2019 10:45 AM

End Date

3-5-2019 12:15 PM

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | Canadian History | Criminal Law | Cultural History | Law and Society | Legal | Legal History | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social History

Abstract

Anxious at the Very Gates of Hell: Crime, Race and Community Identity on a North American Settlement Frontier, 1908-1925 Dr. Jonathan Swainger, University of Northern British Columbia This research examines the intersection of various factors – race, class, notions about the frontier, crime and disorder, along with aspirations of creating a well-ordered community – revealed in the early crime history of Prince George, British Columbia, between 1908 and 1925. Central to this dynamic were ideals about ordered space in settled communities and who embodied the preferred residents of such places. In British Columbia’s northern interior, referred to as the Cariboo district, an anxious differentiation between the “old Cariboo” and the “new Cariboo” captured this contest. The distinction suggested that the latter community, with its preferred ordered space, would be free of alcohol, criminal excess and violence, and peopled with law-abiding Christians as one manifestation of the largely unquestioned assumption of White superiority in Canada. Guilty of overstating the character of community life at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers, Reverend Melville Wright’s claim that his congregation existed near “the very gates of hell” suggested that links to the old Cariboo, with its mixed population, liquor, and its riotous approach to life, remained troubling and persistent, despite efforts to fashion the preferred identity.

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May 3rd, 10:45 AM May 3rd, 12:15 PM

SESSION 2.1: Anxious at the Very Gates of Hell: Crime, Race and Community Identity on a North American Settlement Frontier, 1908-1925

IB 1010

Anxious at the Very Gates of Hell: Crime, Race and Community Identity on a North American Settlement Frontier, 1908-1925 Dr. Jonathan Swainger, University of Northern British Columbia This research examines the intersection of various factors – race, class, notions about the frontier, crime and disorder, along with aspirations of creating a well-ordered community – revealed in the early crime history of Prince George, British Columbia, between 1908 and 1925. Central to this dynamic were ideals about ordered space in settled communities and who embodied the preferred residents of such places. In British Columbia’s northern interior, referred to as the Cariboo district, an anxious differentiation between the “old Cariboo” and the “new Cariboo” captured this contest. The distinction suggested that the latter community, with its preferred ordered space, would be free of alcohol, criminal excess and violence, and peopled with law-abiding Christians as one manifestation of the largely unquestioned assumption of White superiority in Canada. Guilty of overstating the character of community life at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers, Reverend Melville Wright’s claim that his congregation existed near “the very gates of hell” suggested that links to the old Cariboo, with its mixed population, liquor, and its riotous approach to life, remained troubling and persistent, despite efforts to fashion the preferred identity.