Canadian Council of Natural Mothers Library

Gone to an Aunt's
Remembering Canada's Homes for Unwed Mothers

Anne Petrie

Anne Petrie examines the purpose of the homes for "unwed" mothers of the 1950s and 60s where young mothers were sent in shame to be hidden from society. It is a clear historical account of these homes and the treatment of "unwed" mothers that briefly reaches back into the 1800's and quickly through the 1970's.

Petrie uses historical accounts based on information from religious organizations, social work documentation and books, and former administrators and employees to depict their purpose in helping "unwed" mothers. She intertwines these accounts with her own personal story and those of other mothers who were hidden within the walls of various homes across Canada. The women who tell their stories and the various others who contribute provide a balanced cross-section of how these homes were perceived by the women themselves.

Her book also traces the social mores and attitudes toward natural mothers under the guise of protection and help, whereby pregnant single women were stripped of their dignity, self-esteem and identity. She addresses the moral, judgmental treatment that provided no other options to pregnant single women but adoption under the term, 'in the best interests of the child'. The personal stories are intertwined with historical facts in a balanced journalistic manner.

Petrie provides insight into the mindset of the times that demeaned and devalued the pregnant unmarried woman under the guise of helping and redeeming her. She has a clear grasp of the moral concerns that have stigmatized the 'unwed mother' in the past and brings it into the present with the stigmatization of the 'single mother' or 'teen parent' today.

Reviewer: Sandra Jarvie

Published 1998. McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, Canada
ISBN 0-7710-6971-5



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