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Archived Articles
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Published 31 August 2011

Rules & Regulations for the Norfolk County, Ontario Poor House 1871
By Rick Roberts, Global Genealogy

While digitizing boxes of my personal family history documents I came across a poster that I thought our readers would be interested in, even those without Norfolk County roots.

The social norms that our ancestors experienced are difficult for us to understand because our contemporary values and expectations differ so greatly from theirs. This poster of the Rules and Regulations of the County Poor House in Norfolk County, Ontario was printed at a time when Canadian communities were seeking solutions to the problems caused by urbanization and the breakdown of the traditional extended family that accelerated during and after the industrial revolution. At the same time, elected officials had to satisfy those who did not believe a social safety net was needed. They often did so by removing freedoms, implementing humiliating rules, and instituting punitive measures such as those listed on this notice.

    OF THE

    HULE I.---Every person admitted must be thoroughly cleaned by a bath, his hair cut short, and clothes changed.

    RULE II.---No obscene or profane language, or disorderly condnct allowed on any pal1 of the premises.

    RULE III.---The Keeper must be obeyed in all just demands, and any complaint against him must be made to the Inspector, at his visits; any inmate disobeying the rules of the Institution, must be reported to the Inspector, who will inflict such punishment as he deems proper.

    RULE IV.--Every inmate, unless sick, shall risc at 7 1/2 o'clock, and retire at 8 o'clock, in winter; and rise at 5 1/2 o'clock, and retire at 9 o'clock, in summer. And all tbat are able to work must be kept employed.

    RULE V.---No inmate is allowed to leave the premises without a pass from the Inspector. If anyone wishes to visit friends, or go away on business, he, or she, must apply to the Inspector, at his usual visits, for a written pass, which pass must be presented to the Keeper before he or she will be allowed to leave the premises.

    RULE VI.---If anyone is sick, he or she must report to the Keeper, who will notify the Medical Superintendent.

    RULE VII.---It is the duty of the Keeper to preserve order and see that the above rules are enforced, and to report any infringement of the same to the Inspector.

    RULE VIII.-··Any one iinfringing any of the above rules will be placed in solitary confinement, with bread and water diet, for such period as the Inspector shall direct, subject to the approval of the Medical Superintendent.

    DANIEL MATTHEWS, Chairman,
    Committee of Management of the Poor House.

    June 16, 1871.

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