Gendered Passages is the first full-length book devoted to the gendered analysis of the lives of French-Canadian migrants in early-twentieth-century Lowell, Massachusetts. It explores the ingenious and, at times, painful ways in which French-Canadian women, men, and children adjusted to the challenges of moving to, and settling in, that industrial city.
Yukari Takai uncovers the multitude of cross-border journeys of Lowell-bound French Canadians, the centrality of their family networks, and the ways in which the ideology of the family wage and the socioeconomic realities in Québec and New England shaped migrants’ lives on both sides of the border. Takai argues that French-Canadian husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters harboured complex interpersonal dynamics whereby differing and, at times, conflicting interests had to be negotiated in not necessarily equal terms, but in accordance with each member’s power and authority within the family and, by extension, larger society.
Drawing on extensive historical research including archival records, collections of oral histories, newspapers, and contemporary observations in both English and French, Gendered Passages contributes to the re-reading of French-Canadian migration, which constitutes a fundamental part of North American history.