The industrial revolution

You there, Amy? ARE YOU THERE?


Oh, there you are. Okay, well I'm just wondering how it's going in the past where, as we all know, you currently live. Ah yes, a new maid was hired.

She's from England? She's only twenty years old? And she's a live-in maid with her own room in the house?

That's so great for you. Someone near your own age.

But there's something wrong with her? She's missing two fingers on her left hand because of an accident in a textile factory in England where she worked? 

Yes, that is, I'm afraid, an all too common occurrence in the 19th century with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of machinery. Women working in dangerous circumstances in factories in the 19th century is quite a normal situation, although in England her salary per week would have amounted to only a few dollars. Even so, this is much higher than what she could have earned on her family's farm. Although the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century, it is during the 19th century, between 1830 and 1860, when women workers became very important to the labour force.

The years between 1840 and 1870 are considered the Second Industrial Revolution, when technological and economic progress continues with steam powdered railways and ships.
Young women, just like the new maid, have left their family to work in the mills and factories. It is a time when young women no  longer want to work or live on the family farm.

Machinery is changing the way items are created. Shoes, once a craft involving years of apprenticeship, are easily made with the help of machinery, for instance.
In Britain in 1847, The Factory Act was passed to place restrictions on working hours involving children - it is estimated that one out of five children working in textile factories at the time were younger than 15 years of age.

In Canada and the United States in the 1860s, industry and urbanization is coming alive, and will continue to grow quickly. Many agricultural workers are going into industrial labour temporarily to earn enough money to buy land of their own. 

Before child labour laws begin to pass in the 1870s, Canadian children not in school will work in these factories, putting themselves in danger, just like the new maid. It is obvious that this is why she no longer works in a factory - it's simply too dangerous and difficult - even though domestic duties can be hard work as well.

In the 20th century, the prohibition of child labour will fully come into effect in Canada; school attendance will be compulsory for children under sixteen and employment will be restricted. Legislation that governs the number of hours allowed as work per day and the time of day a youth can work, will vary from province to province.