15 August 2008

Fraternal Societies

Exactly a century ago the Toronto Globe carried an article on page 2 on the election of officers to the Sons of England Benefit Society Supreme Lodge.

Such prominent coverage indicates the importance attached to what The Canadian Encyclopedia (1988) called "the largest and most important English cultural society."

In 1913, just at the peak of migration from England to Canada, the Sons of England had 40,000 members with Lodges across Canada."

These were the days before the social safety net and the Sons played a role as a mutual benefit society, organizing receptions of newcomers, provided medical services and paid unemployment and disability benefits.

Also according to the article "the social evening "At home," was modelled on the English music hall. On these occasions, the Sons were expected to thrill to jingoistic songs, weep at evocations of England, savour warm, dark ale, and revert to regional dialects."

At the BIFHSGO Conference, September 19-21, Glenn Wright will be giving a presentation on Fraternal Societies. Today, September 15, is the final day to take advantage of discount registration, available to all, not just sons of England.

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