(Handout , Mike Jones for Canadian Boreal Initiative)
This essay analyzes the development of Canada’s animal welfare movement during the nineteenth century. Situating Canada’s experience alongside that of England and the United States, it identifies an enthusiastic but conservative response to animal welfare, which the author argues reflects the high level of dependence among the movement’s upper- and middle-class supporters on animals as resources, sources of labour, and objects of sport. In particular, it focusses on the participation of sportsmen, cattle ranchers, industrialists, foxhunters, veterinarians, and others who recognized in the movement both the material and the ethical benefits that might accrue from the improved treatment of animals. As such, the essay brings to the literature on animal welfare and animal rights a sense of the movement’s economic dimensions, or the ways in which material concerns regarding property and productivity converged with but also limited the animal welfare movement’s ethical parameters. In doing so, it accounts for the near absence in Canada of the more radical agendas that informed the movement’s civil society parameters elsewhere, and in turn the ways in which the moderate vision that informed the nation’s animal welfare non-governmental organizations contributed to an equally moderate response on the part of the state.