New Brunswick. Commission to Enquire into the Necessity of a Factory Act.

Abstract: Report of Commissioners to Appointed to Inquire into and Investigate as to the Necessity of a Factory Act in the Province of New Brunswick, 1905

Unlike most other commissions of enquiry in New Brunswick's history, the Commission designed to look into the necessity of a factory act turned out to be as much a body devoted to drafting legislation as much as it was devoted to inquiry. The enabling legislation which created this Commission, appointed pursuant to 4 Edward VII, chapter 14, stated that the Commission's duty was twofold: to make any enquiries appropriate and to make a recommendations for a bill to be passed by the Legislature.

The Commissioners noted that they visited factories in Saint John, Campbellton, Newcastle, Chatham, Fredericton, Marysville, Woodstock, St. Stephen et Moncton, but apart from that, there is not a lot of other information. The major part of the report consists of the bill the Commissioners drafted, called "An Act For The Protection of Persons Employed in Factories."

The bill itself is a fairly lengthy and often technical document, which defines certain aspects of industrial life, such as what constitutes a "factory" or an "employer", what are fair and unfair industrial practices, and what the fines associated with the latter would be. Though there are many historically significant aspects of the bill, one of the most interesting is the intersection of childhood, gender and industrial life. In defining age specific roles, the Commissioners define "child" as a person under the age of fourteen, "young girl" as a person between fourteen and eighteen, and "woman" as a person over eighteen. Tellingly, age-specific definitions are not given for males.

Further, the Commission was noteworthy for those who served on it: Emma Fiske was the first woman to serve on a commission of enquiry in New Brunswick. John Palmer, who served as Chair of the Commission, was a noted industrialist of the day who owned a shoe factory in Fredericton.

Commissioners: Emma S. Fiske
Charles McDonald
Kilgour Shives
Michael J. Kelly
John Palmer

Documents Available for Viewing

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Main ReportpdfFull-textgif
Enabling LegislationpdfFull-textincluded with Main Report

Bibliographic Information

View the file's header (TEI format) which contains bibliographic information about the print and electronic versions of the report of this Commission.