Methodism and the Christian Gentleman in Mid-Victorian Rural Ontario
This thesis will argue that the religion of young Methodist men in rural Ontario from 1866 to 1874 contributed to the creation of an ideal of rural masculinity known as the Christian Gentleman. The existing historical literature on this topic has focused on the urban-centred middle-class Christianity of the 1880s and 1890s and has tended to ignore alternative visions of Christian manliness that arose earlier in rural communities. This thesis will make use of the Methodist farm journals of three young men in mid-Victorian Ontario. As the spiritual patriarch of a godly household, the Christian Gentleman embodied the virtues of temperance, reason, kindness, and self-improvement. These ideals were grounded within the domestic confines of home and family, reinforced and instilled through participation in church life, and fully realized through the transferal of these values to the public sphere to advance Methodism’s spiritual and moral social vision.