Local History | Loafing is now illegal | Back
A lightly edited transcription of a page 4 article  in the 2 May 1918 Simcoe Reformer newspaper.

Fight or Work

Tramps, loafers, "sports" and gentlemen of leisure who hang around poolrooms, picture shows, cabarets, railway stations, steamboat landings, street corners, and other places with nothing in particular to do, and a reasonable amount of health to do it with, please take notice: Loafing is now illegal.

The recent order in council declares "all persons domiciled in Canada shall, in absence of reasonable grounds to the contrary, engage in useful occupations."

At this stage of the world's history, when every man available is necessary to the safety of the country, it seems remarkable that there 
are any of the class referred to above left in Canada, but apparently there are.

Poolrooms, cabarets, picture shows, report a thriving business. 
The hobo is still a frequent visitor on his aimless way back and forth. 
There are still "sports" at large with nothing tto do but smoke cigarettes and go to ball games and places of light amusement.

Quite rightly, the Government has made it illegal for these persons to waste their time and  strength on cigarettes and gentle amusements, tango teas, and pinochle in the barn.

They are now ordered to get to work, and if they do not work as free men, they will have to work as prisoners, and work at "hard labor."

In this connection it is interesting to compare the useful work performed by shoe-shiners, soda dispensers, theatre ushers, 
ribbon salesmen and such useful citizens, with the tramps and the 'sport" who lives on his wits. It is doubtful if there is much to really choose between these two classes so far as economical results to society are concerned.

The man that cleans your boots might very well be employed at hoeing potatoes, leaving his customer to spare five minutes of his valuable time to clean his own boots. 

The man who has so little manhood in him as to be content to spend his days selling baby-ribbon in a departmental store, would achieve an improved manhood driving a team on a farm, if he could be trusted to do so, or helping with the chores around a barn.

The new law, while not going so far as to displace men from non-essential or silly employments which could better be filled by young girls, still makes it difficult for a man to really loaf. 

The age limit is from 16 to 60, during which a man is supposed to be capable of some kind of useful work, and if he is not so engaged he must have certain reasonable excuses:
-- he must be a bona fide student in training for some useful occupation or attending some recognized educational institution; or 
-- he must be some one who is out of a job temporarily owning to difficulties with his employer common to similar difficulties with his fellow employees and the same employer; or 
-- he much be reasonably unable to find a job. 
Other excuses do not go.

Convictions before a magistrate for an offence under this new anti-loafing law renders the offender liable to a penalty not exceeding $100 and costs. 

In default of the loafer's ability to pay, he must serve a period not exceeding six months in a common jail or any institution or farm owned by a municipality or province established for such purposes, and put in the time at hard labor.

Where a conviction is obtained by a municipality, the municipal treasury will receive the fine.

Where proceedings are instituted by a provincial officer, the provincial treasuy shall receive the money.

Where proceedings are instituted within a municipality by any other person, the fine is divided equally between the municipality and the province.

Copyright 2015 John Cardiff