and other misadventures of the female prisoners of the St. Lawrence Market
“I bore him fourteen children and he had me down here faster than lightning. ”
In 1887, women were property and could be imprisoned for any reason. Jail was considered a place for the criminal, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the marginalized.
In the basement prison below Toronto’s largest market, two women named Mary—one a shunned, pregnant Irish immigrant, the other a vilified Mississauga woman—become an unlikely pair as they form a friendship within their cold, shared cell. Their bond threatens fellow inmate Sophia—who calls herself the first Black woman in Canada and the leader of the prisoners—and she plots to use the women to gain better treatment for herself. But as melting ice water pours into the prison from Lake Ontario, the forgotten women of Toronto must come together to survive.
Inspired by true accounts and the history of Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, The Flood gives voice to the little-known stories of early female prisoners in Canada.