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    Boy gamblers own Montreal sidewalks

    SOCIAL HISTORY: stories of life and times in Canada past

    Young boys who gamble and play games take over Montreal’s sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to detour through muddy streets or absorb taunts, threats and curses if they dare walk through the ranks of children, a letter writer complains in the Vindicator, March 17, 1829. Excerpts.

    It is deplorable to witness the congregated groups of gambling youths, who it would appear consider themselves, by law of usage, as entitled to occupy with impunity, all the principal pavements of our city; for play or gaming. Be this as it may, they avail themselves of a certain privilege, which the authorities seem to sanction. Imprecations of the most horrid are thrown out as a common consequence against him, who, rather than wade knee deep in mud, has the temerity to attempt a passage thro’ their graceless ranks. I have heard (after being permitted to pass on) several voices echo in rapid succession the leader’s oath against me, the noise increasing as I acquired the distance.

    Lisping urchins
    Young men of 16 years, and downwards to the lisping urchin, are to be seen daily in those places (the Sabbath not excepted) and upon such occasions particularly, are to be seen groups following their iniquitous and ultimately ruinous calling; with an anxiety in which their very souls, as it were, seemed engaged.

    Secret gaming societies, or hives as they are sometimes technically termed, are looked upon as most destructive engines in the moral world, and are hunted down as the horrid Devil of society. But in Montreal, a place eminent for its schools—its societies (of the most laudable kind) and its ingenuity in planning, raising, and conferring charities—stands last, I am sorry to say, upon the list for discountenancing that particular species of vice.

    A remedy for the evil requires no great Philosophy. Let a few squads of these young “blacklegs” be transferred to the Bridewell, or House of Correction, and there dealt with agreeable to the discipline provided in the cases of idle and disorderly persons. This will put an end to their meetings, and with them will their desires for play cease also—the cause thus suppressed, the delinquents will be soon divested of their wickedness, and a very desirable moral effect, may be provided.

    A hampen cravat
    By this means many will be “saved alive” and will descend into the tomb, happy and “full of years,” who otherwise may be doomed to a premature and shameful exist from this “vale of Tears” dependant upon the agency of a hempen cravat, for their passport. It is therefore devoutly to be implored, that the authorities will crush this monster, ere it will crush the man.

    TAGS: Boys, Juvenile delinquents, Gambling, Montreal, Sidewalks

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