The Not so peaceable kingdom: a study of crime in southern Alberta, 1874-1905
LccHV 6809 A52 T566 1976 Microfiche
LcshCrime and criminals - Alberta, Southern - History
Frontier and pioneer life - Alberta, Southern
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractIn most popular and scholarly accounts concerning the settlement of the Canadian West, some mention is made of the high degree of law and order. However, in contrast to what many of these works appear to assume, this supposition is not selfevident. Despite the countless claims, no one has yet come to grips with the complexities of this subject or presented a complete analysis of the nature of crime. This study represents an attempt to do so for one part of the Canadian West-- Southern Alberta. The predominance of unfounded assumptions about crime may simply reflect the difficulty of the subject matter. Discovering the pattern of crime from the legal records of the past, and analyzing its various forms, is not a task for which most historians have been trained to undertake. Apart from the difficulties of dealing with crime, another reason for the lack of detailed study may be the special problems posed by the Canadian situation. The image of a peaceful western frontier has persisted so long that many people undoubtedly accept it as historical fact. Moreover, this image has become part of Canada's national identity. Many writers claim that ours neither is, nor has been, a lawless society. Safe from the ugliness and reality of life, Canadian society has been characterized as a "peaceable kingdom." This national self-assessment makes it difficult for people to question the existence of crime in the nineteenth century. Thus, for a variety of reasons, we are left with incorrect notions or ignorance about much of the subject. Nevertheless, a phenomenon as complex as crime deserves more scholarly attention than it has previously received. The sources necessary to construct an empirical analysis of crime have always been available. For the most part these sources have been judicial records, supplemented by the descriptions of more or less knowledgeable people--Mounted Policemen, Indian Agents, and Justices of the Peace--concerning the conditions of the time. The utilization of these bodies of evidence can provide a more satisfactory judgment about the nature of crime. The central theme, which provides the main analytical framework for this investigation, is the relationship between criminal behavior and the frontier in Southern Alberta. What form and frequency did the incidence of crime take? What causal factors influenced criminal behavior? What were the attitudes of the local community toward crime? The answers which are provided undermine some common assumptions, not only about criminal behavior, but also about frontier life in general.
Bibliography: p. 172-187.
CitationThorner, T. (1977). The Not so peaceable kingdom: a study of crime in southern Alberta, 1874-1905 (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/18447
University of Calgary graduate students retain copyright ownership and moral rights for their thesis. You may use this material in any way that is permitted by the Copyright Act or through licensing that has been assigned to the document. For uses that are not allowable under copyright legislation or licensing, you are required to seek permission.