Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Vagrancy Law

I was just reading a paper on the history of prostitution in the West End which referred to a Canadian Vagrancy Law that was dissolved only in 1972. I became intrigued and tried to hunt the details of the law which was introduced in 1892. It took me a while but finally found this part of the criminal code: the language was quite something to behold…. especially its insistence on gainful employment, with no nod to employment being tied to economic situations, employment being seen moreover as a state of mind and decision.

207. Every one is a loose, idle or disorderly person or vagrant who

(a) Not having any visible means of maintaining himself lives without employment

(b) being able to work and thereby, or by other means to maintain himself and family willfully refuses or neglects to do so; …

(d) without a certificate…wanders about and begs, or goes about from door to door, or places himself in any street, highway, passage or public place to beg or receive alms;

(e) loiters on any street, road, highway or public place and obstructs passengers by standing across the footpath or by using insulting language, or in any other way; …

(Canada, 55-56 Vict, c.29, s.207)

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