Of Kith and Kin: A History of Families in Canada (Paperback)
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Reviled by some radicals and progressives, a reassuring touchstone for most conservatives, the family has always been both an institution and an idea. Often a source of emotional sustenance and material support, families can also be sites of conflict and abuse. This book traces the changing forms and meanings of family in the territory that now comprises Canada, from the first contacts between Indigenous peoples and French explorers, traders, missionaries, and settlers in northeastern North America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the present. It draws on the rich historiography of the family in Canada and elsewhere to provide an overview of the many, and sometimes radical, shifts in the composition and significance of family over five centuries. Of Kith and Kin explores the histories of both Indigenous and settler families in both Quebec and English Canada and draws on both French-language and English-language historiographies. Region, ethnicity, race, and social class shaped the lived experiences of families. Age and gender made a difference within families. Debates about family - who is allowed to marry and for what reasons, who shall bear children and at what moment in their life, who shall adopt and what child they might adopt, who shall inherit family property - regularly make the headlines. Understanding the variety of family forms and experiences throughout Canada's history can help to better put the present into perspective. All history includes family histories; conversely, families provide us with a fascinating lens through which to view and understand the collective choices made by the state and by civil society.