City of Order

Crime and Society in Halifax, 1918-35

Michael Boudreau

  • Published: 2012. Paperback 2013
  • Subject Listing: Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 336 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

Interwar Halifax was a city in flux, a place where citizens struggled to adopt new ideas and technologies as they dealt with rising levels of poverty, unemployment, and outmigration. Although many Haligonians debated the pros and cons of the modern world, most agreed on one thing - modernity was corrupting public morality and unleashing an imposing array of social problems, including crime, on their fair city. Michael Boudreau pieces together from case files and archival records a riveting portrait of citizens, policy makers, and officials turning to the criminal justice system to create a bulwark against further social dislocation. Officials modernized the city's machinery of order - courts, prisons, and the police force - and placed greater emphasis on crime control, while residents supported tough-on-crime measures and attached little importance to rehabilitation. These initiatives, in this particular cultural context, gave birth to a constructed vision of a criminal class that provided the police with convenient targets in their effort to build a city of order - ethnic minorities, working-class men, and female and juvenile offenders. This absorbing study of crime and culture in interwar Halifax shows how tough-on-crime measures can compound, rather than resolve, social inequalities and dislocations.
Michael Boudreau is an associate professor in theDepartment of Criminology and Criminal Justice at St. ThomasUniversity.

"Historians have given inadequate attention to the history of the criminal justice system in the twentieth century. City of Order offers the first detailed case study of the interwar justice system. It makes a significant contribution not only to legal history scholarship but also to the history of Halifax."
-R. Blake Brown, Department of History, Saint Mary's University

Introduction: Crime, the Rule of Law, and Society

1 A City of Order in a Time of Turmoil: TheSocio-Economic Contours of Interwar Halifax

2 The Machinery of Law and Order

3 The Social Perceptions of Crime andCriminals

4 "Miscreants" and"Desperadoes": Halifax's "CriminalClass"

5 Women, Crime, and the Law

6 The Ethnic Dimensions of Crime andCriminals

Conclusion: The Supremacy of Law and Order in Halifax