BACK IN PRINT WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION
The turn of the last century saw a great wave of moral fervour among Protestant social reformers in English Canada. Their targets for moral reform were various: sex hygiene, immigration policy, slum clearance, prostitution, and “white slavery.”
Mariana Valverde’s groundbreaking The Age of Light, Soap, and Water examines the work and the ideas of moralist clergy, social workers, politicians, and bureaucrats who sought to maintain – or create – a white Protestant Canada. The morality idealized by evangelical, feminist, and medical activists was not, as is often assumed, completely repressive and puritanical. On the contrary, the self-defined social purity movement at the centre of this book talked endlessly about sex in order to create a health sexuality among both native-born and immigrant Canadians. Sexual health was linked to racial purity, and both of these were in turn linked to efforts to abolish urban slums by means of symbolic as well as physical “light, soap, and water.” Back in print with a new introduction by the author, this classic work offers fascinating insights on the social history of Canada.
About the Author:
Mariana Valverde is a professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Toronto.