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Lost Histories of Youth Culture


Edited By Christine Feldman-Barrett

Young people and their activities always have been a part of history – yet such narratives have remained mostly untold and often lost in the sands of time. This unprecedented and international collection sheds light on youth’s hidden histories from the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century: whether from the American Civil War, Maoist China, postcolonial Greenland, or contemporary Iran. These tales of leisure, identity, and belonging take readers into the heart of youth history and uncover heretofore unrecognized cultural contributions that young people have made across time and throughout the world.


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Part Three: Politics and Nation


p a r t t h r e e Politics and Nation c h a p t e r n i n e The “Young Canada” Project Youth and Nation-Building from 1867 to 1900 cynthia r. comacchio And Annie went. I am not sure that she wanted to go, I have an idea that she had already discovered the hardness of the struggle father had, to meet the expenses of the growing family, and she wanted to help. But thus ended the first Chapter of my life. —whiteley (1999, p. 15) Born into a large, impoverished family in rural Nova Scotia, Annie Leake was sent into domestic service shortly after her 10th birthday. Reimagining her child- hood feelings from the vantage point of old age, she sensed that her younger self—whom she speaks of as a distant, separate “Annie”—might have understood her father’s “struggle” and therefore her own filial duty. Much more certain was her view that the family’s material situation effectively terminated her childhood: her “first Chapter.” Her choice of words, and the italics that she used in record- ing them, signify the personal threshold involved. Annie Leake’s experience in many ways typifies the realities of Victorian child life in what would become the Dominion of Canada. Far more than age or gender, the family’s material conditions determined the nature and timing of life transitions. Faced with the unrelenting physical labor demanded of homesteaders in the Muskoka bush (Ontario), 16-year-old Thomas Osborne, like Leake, was stoic: “I...

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