With chapters devoted to 'The Urban Working Girl in Turn-of-the-Century Canadian Literature', and 'White Slaves, Prostitutes and Delinquents,' Lindsey McMaster's Working Girls in the West: Representations of Wage-Earning Women (UBC Press 2008) is a relatively lively academic study of female wagers in Western Canada prior to World War I, emphasizing Vancouver. Particular attention is paid to Bertrand Sinclair's novel North of Fifty-Three and Isabel Ecclestone Mackay's The House of Windows.

"This book focuses on the representation of women more than on the real women and what they actually did," McMaster writer. "It is not a history of the working girl in the West but a study of how she was imagined, represented, and constructed as a figure within the cultural narratives of Canada, the West, and the empire." That said, Helena Gutteridge and Helen Armstrong are the heroines of McMaster's chapter on 'Girls on Strike.' "With the arrival of Helena Gutteridge in 1911," she writes, "Vancouver's women workers gained a remarkable leader, and as is the case of Helen Armstrong in Winnipeg, this kind of female leadership seems to have made a major difference for women's participation in unions and labour activism." McMaster cites Carolyn Strange's book Toronto's Girl Problem: The Perils and Pleasures of the City, 1880-1930 as the key influence on her approach. 978-0-7748-1-456-0

[BCBW 2008]