Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




McKenna, Katherine M.


In popular culture and in historiography, the temperance movement has often been depicted as a movement by women to control men's drinking. Forgotten have been the thousands of men who identified themselves with the campaign for prohibition, creating for themselves an image of temperate masculinity that exemplified the attributes of responsibility and respectability. In nineteenth-century Ontario, men who had never taken a drink and those who struggled with the habit often joined fraternal lodges centered around the temperance cause, looking for common ground and assistance in avoiding alcohol in a society where alcohol use was normative. The Sons of Temperance, the International Order of Good Templars, and the Royal Templars of Temperance all adapted forms of fraternalism to promote their own ideas of an orderly society, free of class conflict, populated by benevolent patriarchs and grateful wives and daughters.

This dissertation draws on the histories of masculinity, women, class, religion, and culture to examine the contours of temperate masculinity in Ontario in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Influenced by emerging middle-class ideals and a Protestant post-millennial desire to create the Kingdom of God on earth, male temperance advocates worked to bring in prohibition, which they saw as a response to numerous social issues, including domestic violence, labour unrest, and poverty. Their critiques of these social issues were shallow, but they also brought early attention, in particular, to the problem of domestic violence. Even before the advent of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in Ontario in 1885, these three fraternal temperance lodges admitted women as full members, allowing them access to power and social events within the lodges. However, women had limited access to internal offices, and the work to be performed to host occasions was often as gendered inside the lodges as it was outside. The world temperate men envisioned was one not the one they got, but for many decades, they lobbied hard for their cause, even though they failed to recognize the partial successes they achieved along the way.