Painting of a Collins Overland Telegraph cabin, British Columbia.

Life in Cities During the 1850s

The 1850s were a turbulent decade.  It is defined by wars and colonization.

If you lived in a town or city during the 1850s, chances are you might be caught up in the temperance movement or, at least, knew someone who was.  The temperance movement rallied against alcohol use, seeking a ban on the drink.

Women were gaining small freedoms.  New career opportunities, such as teaching, became available.  It wasn’t all roses, however.  The high cost of living in urban areas necessitated a two-income household.

Industrialization quickly freed up people’s time.  New inventions, such as the sewing machine, made the lives of both men and women easier.  This gave rise to large factories, often staffed by immigrants and the poor.

Finally, the strict society rules that we often associate with the late Victorian era had their start around this time.  This meant there were rules for every part of life.

Life in Rose’s Canada

Rose was born into pre-Confederation Canada, meaning it was still a collection of colonies north of the American border.  It also was still sparsely populated.   By 1840, only 10 communities had a population of 3,000 or more.  Montreal was the largest at 40,000.

In the 1830s, the Rideau and Trent canals were built.  Nevertheless, news still traveled slowly and appeared in newspapers generally 10 to 14 days after events occurred.

The demand in urban areas for goods and services increased and every town had a commercial center with offices, banks, hotels, insurance companies, taverns, stores, warehouses and homes.  Smaller areas were less dense, and people felt a sense of community.

Some merchants, like the Goodwins in the novella, lived in the upper floor of their three-story buildings.

Where to Purchase Rose’s Assignment

Rose's Assignment by Melina DrugaThis post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s historical fiction novella, Rose’s Assignment.

Rose excels at sweet talking.  Judith escapes north to Canada searching for freedom.  Two dissimilar women suddenly find their lives connected. Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover.  Full list of retailers.