Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Between 1840 and 1901, Ontario witnessed a tremendous expansion of fraternal activity, as lodges became common features of urban society. This phenomenon derived from the link between secret societies and the viewpoint associated with the "Victorian middle class." Through an examination of provincial fraternal development, and a detailed consideration of lodges in two small towns, this thesis explores the connection between secret societies and hegemony in the particular setting of Victorian Ontario.;As the forces of industrialization and urbanization changed Ontario during the nineteenth century, the old hegemony of paternalism gave way to a new hegemony--the hegemony of respectability; as this happened, men from the "Victorian middle class" forged the lodge into an instrument for creating and managing cultural consent. In so doing they appropriated an existing cultural form sheathed with the legitimacy of tradition. Through the six decades under review, most lodges came to offer a package of obvious attractions--particularly masculine fellowship and financial security. These benefits allowed members to protect themselves and their families from, or take advantage of, changing structural conditions. Individuals also joined secret societies because membership confirmed their respectable status, while allowing them to contribute to a constant reformulation of notions of respectability, and to spread particular definitions among a wider community. At the same time, fraternal orders contributed to the dominant hegemony's reification of gender.;At the local level, fraternal orders offered their members a chance to influence the social world of their village, town or city. In various ways, including their provision of public entertainment and their contributions to public symbols, lodges helped entwine the notion of community with a specific definition of respectability.;The ongoing process of adaptation of the fraternal framework resulted in several new types of orders, and three distinct phases of fraternal expansion in the province, dominated respectively by the Freemasons, the friendly societies, and the life insurance orders. By contrast, the failure of the temperance orders to join in this growth, and the rank-and-file rejection of middle-class ties by the Orange order, indicated some limits to the dominant worldview.



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