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Rough Work

Labourers on the Public Works of British North America and Canada, 1841–1882

Rough Work is an accessibly written yet rigorous study of the galvanization of a major segment of Canada’s labour force over four decades of social and economic transformation.

Author Information


Ruth Bleasdale is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Dalhousie University.


Rob Kristofferson, Department of History, Wilfrid Laurier University:

"Targeted at academic researchers interested in nineteenth-century Canada, Rough Work weaves together an incredibly impressive array of primary source materials, gathered over a considerable time period, into a well-constructed and convincing narrative. Shedding light on issues including wage rates and health and safety experiences, Rough Work covers so much ground, and over such an extended sweep of time, that the end result impressively captures the experiences of labourers on the public works of British North America over an approximately forty year period in the mid-nineteenth century."

Craig Heron, Department of History, York University:

"Rough Work combines exhaustive research with sophisticated analysis, informed by wide-ranging, up-to-date historiographical and comparative literature. It is, in fact, one of the best pieces of scholarship on nineteenth-century Canadian social history that I have read in many years."

Audience: College/higher education;Professional and scholarly;