Managing Animals in Nineteenth-Century Winnipeg

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Main Street (1882)

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Main Street (1882)

Last month, I gave a paper at the Canadian Historical Association annual meeting in Ottawa, Ontario on my current research project on the history of animals in the Canadian urban environment. I am researching the history of four cities as case studies, including Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. This paper focused on nineteenth-century regulation of domestic animals in Winnipeg from 1873-1900.

My sources for this particular research paper came mostly from the Census of Canada and the City of Winnipeg Archives. The skilled archivists helped me turn up a number of important (and overlooked) sources on the city council’s earliest efforts to control the domestic animal population of the city. I found the city’s by-law records and correspondence to be most useful.

I chose to write about three main by-law regulations: scavenging, public health, and pounds. These three by-laws, and their subsequent amendments and revisions, constituted a regulatory architecture for the rational management and exploitation of domestic food and labour animals in the city of Winnipeg in the nineteenth-century. In this paper, I argue that the city council created these early by-laws to regulate the interaction of non-human animals with the urban environment and guard both human and non-human health.

Horse pulling street paving equipment on St. Mary's Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba (1912)

Horse pulling street paving equipment on St. Mary's Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba (1912)

Thus far, I have found similar evidence for Vancouver and Toronto to support this argument. This summer I’ll be researching in Montreal to complete the first part of this larger project. If you are interested, you can listen to my paper or download a PDF copy of the written conference paper. Because this is only preliminary research, I ask that you not cite this work just yet.

I’d be glad to hear from anyone else who is interested in this topic or working on similar work. You can contact me at: sean.kheraj@ubc.ca

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