Friday, March 6, 2015

The Walking Militants and Two Handsome Icons




Here's a picture of Canadien's super star  Jean Béliveau's statue, outside the Bell Centre two years ago.




and here's a picture of Emmeline Pankhurst's statue in London, England.

Two thoughtful, intelligent warriors; their images never before juxtaposed.

But I just had to do it!

I've been trying for a while to get someone in Canada excited about my 'true' story Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British suffragettes, including Pankhurst, invading Montreal in 1912/13, but no one is interested.

In the UK, just this month, they aired Jessica Hynes' funny Up the Women, a sitcom about suffragettes, and Suffragettes Forever: the Story of Women and Power, by historian Amanda Vickery, a three-parter.

The third part, specifically about the militants in the 1910 era, airs in a few days. Vickery suggests that the suffrage movement in England started in working class Sheffield.

But there will never be a CBC drama about my book.

Just look at Montreal trends on Twitter to see why. All hockey all the time.

Just look at Google trends in Canada. All hockey all the time.

Crazy. And with so many important issues out there, critical issues that need to be addressed in the next federal election or else, maybe,  all will have been for naught.

I never met Jean Béliveau, who has lately passed away, but twice in my 20's  a friend has come to my house saying "I just passed Jean Beliveau on the street. What a handsome man!"

These friends weren't even  hockey fans, as such.

(I've only lately come back to watching hockey, for something to do with my husband.  For years I resisted, finding hockey these days far too chippy. "Why can't there be nice elegant goals like Jean Beliveau did in his days?" I 'd say to my husband. "The defense and goalies are too good these days," he'd reply. 

I've decided I like Gallagher best of all the Canadiens because he spends most of his ice time on his knees face-plant in the ice, with some goon's elbow in his helmet, but then he just gets up and goes for the net.)

I wonder if any men said that about a suffragette  in 1910. "I just passed Christabel Pankhurst in

Hyde Park. What a gorgeous woman!"

Apparently, Christabel was very attractive, to men and to women.

But probably not! The suffragettes, feisty fighting women, scared most males...big time.

Christabel's mom was no slouch in the looks department. Suffragettes had to be pretty.. or they were discounted as angry caveman-like viragos.
Emmeline, on top, Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association on Bottom. Press Clipping about Barbara Wylie's Montreal visit. Carrie Derick was a McGill Professor and Furies Across the Mersey is her story.

Barbara Wylie, who came to Canada in 1912, was very pretty. All the Montreal reporters remarked on it. This took the edge off  her fiery speeches, somehow.

Now, in part two of Suffragettes Forever, which you can't get in Canada, Amanda Vickery tells the story of how Christabel and Annie Kenney make themselves get arrested in the 1910 era, so that Christabel can have a platform in court to speechify about women's right to vote.

(Annie's sister,Caroline, came to live in Montreal in 1912. Read my book.)

The suffragettes in England were all about theatrics. In-your-facedness. I discuss this in Furies, or at least, I have a character discuss it.

England is facing an election soon. I still like my idea about a suffragette themed TV show: Zombie detective suffragettes, The Walking Militants. where a couple of dead old suffragettes, in their big hats that are falling apart and a one inch layer of dust on their shirtwaist suits, come back to solve election fraud crimes, with their medium being a young female college student.

It would be all about convincing young people about the important of voting, before it's too late.
(Just joking..) Well, not really.

PS. I never met Jean Beliveau, who was offered the post of Governor General, but turned it down, but I met John Ferguson and another Canadiens' super star saw my private parts, but that was in hospital after I'd just given birth and he opened the wrong curtain looking for his wife.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Makes a Classic Story?


Magazine-style cover of Polly and the Circus, Margaret Mayo, published 1908, the same year as Anne of Green Gables.

Mayo was a playwright and the Polly and the Circus play was very popular. The Nicholson women go to see it in 1912, at His Majesty's in Montreal. Flora Nicholson of Threshold Girl mentions it in a letter home from college.

The Montreal Gazette review said the lead actress, Edith Taliaferro (they write Taliagerro) was pert and pretty in the role. The audience liked the horses best though. I imagine the horses were two men in a bag style, not War Horse style!

Not so pert pic of Taliaferro, a Broadway Actress


What makes one story a classic, the other a flash in the pan? Both stories feature a spunky but homeless heroine who finds love and security at the end. (Like Pygmalion: 1912!)

As I said, Polly and the Circus was an extremely popular play. It was made into a 1917 movie, the movie that introduced the MGM Lion apparently. (So the play has been reduced to a trivia question.)

 And then there was a remake in 1932, starring Marion Davies and The Gable Guy. I can't find that movie anywhere. It never plays on Turner Classics.

In the story, Polly is a circus horse rider who falls and injures herself in a small town and spends time living with the local Minister, and they fall in love.

I found the Lux Radio play on YouTube, starring Loretta Young and Lionel Barrymore. In this version, the Reverend becomes the local doctor. (Lux the soap all Hollywood uses. Lux Radio Theatre was directed by Cecile B. DeMille)

I used Google Ngrams to gauge the relative popularity over the Century of Polly of the Circus and the Iconic Anne of Green Gables.

ngram for Anne of Green Gables
Ngram for Polly and the Circus

Of course, Anne of Green Gables had a resurgence in the 1980's with the Coleen Dewhurst, Megan Fallows mini series and the fact Japanese women liked the story when Japan was doing very well. 

It doesn't hurt when an entire Province needs you for tourism purposes.

The Nicholson women, in the 1910 era, also went to see the Merry Widow Opera, Polly and Circus and Everywoman at the Princess Theatre and at His Majesty's on Guy Street.

 If they went to the Nickel to see Motion Pictures, they didn't write about it until WWI at least when movies became totally respectable for the middle class.

Well, they went once to the Nickel in 1913 to see their fellow Richmondite Mack Sennett, who they likely didn't recognize, in Man in the Box.

The Montreal nickelodeons in 1910 in  general were considered pretty lowbrow by the Presbyterians, where the working class went. (That's why the Nickel promoted itself as a respectable movie house. No riff raff allowed.)

Of course, motion pictures in the era were becoming more and more popular with all classes of people.

 The New York Dramatic Mirror said that theatres were losing customers to the nickelodeons.  Their 'cheap seats' were going unfilled.




From the Theatre Section New York Dramatic Mirror 1910

The present time presents its problems in business, but the greater problem relates to the time to come.

…Two influences that have unquestionably depressed the theatre business are the motion picture business and the automobile craze. The motion pictures have grown constantly in popularity with many classes of the public. The result is directly seen in the falling off of the patronage of the gallery and the cheaper priced theatres and it is even more obvious in the almost complete extinction of the public at the popular price theatres. Comedy, drama and diversion of various sorts seem to to be supplied sufficiently by the motion pictures to meet the requirements of a multitude of people. 


From the Movie, ah, Motion Picture Section

Boy, doesn't this sound familiar?


Also, what's this? Two small boys in New York are arrested for burglarizing another boy's toy bank containing 14 dollars, using a button hook for a jimmy, and not a word in the newspaper accounts about the boys going to demoralizing picture shows. Verily, the New York cub reporters are disgracefully neglecting their plain duty. How do they imagine those good souls, the motion picture knockers and universal regulators can keep up their crusade without ammunition from the newspapers? These cubs should be ashamed, they make New York look slow and stupid in comparison with Philadelphia, where a girl has just attempted suicide, having seen her young man walking with another man, and the cub reporters in that town did not forget to remark that the girl had just left a moving picture show. That's the way to do it.

What's in a Name?
Hurrah for the Essanay people. They have started a contest, with a prize of 100 dollars for the purpose of digging up a new name of one word for designating the motion picture show, something different from motion picture, moving picture or five or ten cent theatre, something distinctive, appropriate and easy of use. (It was only in a 1917 letter that Edith Nicholson mentioned going to the 'movies' with movies placed between quotations.) MORE ON THIS CLICK
The Birth of the Art Film
(What's in a name continued)
Josephine Clement, the resident manager of Keith's Bijou Theatre, Boston, states in a neat folder: "Although we show motion pictures we do not run a moving picture show which is another way of saying that the Bijou in Boston aims at a higher quality of entertainment than is afforded by the carelessly conducted five and ten cent houses. Examples like this and other Keith and Proctor picture shows in the East, as well as the many higher-class shows of the West are demonstrating the wisdom of intelligent and cultivated taste as applied to picture house management.


Bestsellers from the Illinois Edu site. Winston Churchill, then British Home Secretary, had a book out.  He was a big self-promoter. At this time he was getting into trouble jailing the suffragettes.




Montreal Millionaires in 1910 and more


Horse and buggy in front of Tighsolas. Circa 1910. Read A Laurier Era Family in Crisis the 1910 era letters of the Nicholsons. Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Suffragettes in Montreal;and Threshold Girl: a College Girl in 1910.

About six years ago, when I first found the stash of Nicholson letters and papers, I went through it and filed documents I felt were significant in a photo album.


Today, I went through the album. I was looking for a wedding invitation for Mae (Marion) Watters, the cousin who figures in the story. I believe I 'found her' at Riverview Cemetery in Compton. It says she was born 1892 (same age as Flo) and died 1977 same year as Edith. Flo died in January 1978.
Mae married a Samuel Scott.


There was lots of Mason documents in the stash. I filed a receipt for Norman's initiation dues in 1880, $25.! I also filed a program for 1910 in Richmond. Clayton Hill, Norman's brother-in-law and nemesis had a high rank.

I had filed a printed 1908 invitation...(in pencil) To Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson and Family
"The pleasure of your company is requested at an

AT HOME

in the Town Hall, Richmond, Friday Evening, April twenty-fourth , nineteen hundred and eight.
Patronesses: Mrs. Lance, Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Ross... Palmer's Orchestra. RSVP ( and written in pencil) Gentlemen $1.50.

I'll use this I guess. Funny wording.. to an AT HOME

I filed a newspaper clipping of a list of millionaires in Montreal

"Montreal is one of the richest cities in the world"
The year 1910 has increased the number of Montreal millionaires very considerably...
Sir W. Macdonald
Sir M. Allan
Hon. L.J. Forget (a relation of mine through my mother's family)
James Ross
C.R. Hosmer
Jeffrey Burland
J.R. Wilson
H.S. Holt
R. Reford (Mrs. Reford was a famous society woman social activist.. Edith sees her at an event in 1909 and describes her..
Shirley Ogilivy
A. Haig Sims
Hugh Paton
C.B. Gordon
A. Baumgarten
A.E. Ogilvie
R. Forget M.P.
Henry Birks
James Morgan
Mark Workman
N. Curry
G.E. Drummond
Wm. Yuile
H. Timmims
Col. Carson
H. Drummond
T. Trenholm
Hon F Beique
C.F. Smith
Sir. W. Van Horne
Sir T Shaughnessy
Hon. R. Mackay
R. B. Angus
Sir E. Clouston
D. Morrice
F.W. Thompson
R. Meighen
D.L. McGibbon
G.A Grier
H.V. Meredith
A. R. McDonald
J.T. Davis
G. Caverhill
J. P. Black
E. B Greenshields
Milton Hersey
W. M Aitken. MP
G W Stephens
T. J. Drummond
Peter Lyall
J.K.L Ross
J.N Greenshields
D. McMartin
E.T. Galt
J E Aldred
H. H. Lyman
AND THEN THEY NAMED THE LADIES
Mrs. Hector Mackenzie
Mrs. Duncan McIntyre, Lady Drummond (social activist and suffragist), Mrs. F.Orr Lewis, and some ESTATES.
Hmm. The fact that 1910 increased the number of Montreal millionaires considerably just goes to prove the central point of Flo in the City, based on http://www.tighsolas.ca/ my social studies website. Ogilvie had a famous store. Edith and Marion buy hats there in 1910. Morgan too had a department store too. Henry Birks is the owner of a famous jewellry store across from Morgan's on Saint Catherine. (Is it still there?)
I also filed a piece of onion skin paper with Morse code on it. Margaret had worked in a telegraph office. I see that Edith was accepted at Simmons College in Boston in 1917. I also have a most important document, a long letter describing an insurance debt Herb has. From the letters I can see it is a real problem, that almost sinks the Nicholsons, that Herb shrugs off, and that Marion ends up paying for. But now I can see Exactly what the debt was and can now write about it in detail.

And there was something else, a list..from 1882 belonging to Norman. I suspect this is a list of his setting up house as a bachelor. He marries the next year.
1 broom
1 lamp
1/2 yard of wick
1 tea set
2 bedroom set
1 doz dinner plates
1 wash tub
1 vegetable dish
2 pails
2 platters
1 washboard
1 coal oil lamp
1 gal coal oil
1 box matches
1 tea kettle
1 mop handle
1 dust pan
1 felts paper
1 boot black
1 stove black
1 brush
2 mirrors
1 doz knives and forks
1/2 doz spoons
3 panes of glass
1 package tacks
10 yards window curtains
1 cord wood
1 shirt
total 14.28
I have the cost of setting up house with a wife in 1883..here: it is considerably more

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Comedy or Drama: Suffragettes Invade Montreal..


Gee, the movie Suffragette seems to be have put on hold, the one starring Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst, but the suffragettes are a leading topic in the UK with a Jessica Hynes sitcom on BBC 2, Up the Women and a 3 part Amanda Vickery vehicle: Suffragettes Forever, the Story of Women and Power.

I learned about them from a tweet. Of course, as a Canadian, I can't watch these programs yet, but I can't imagine Canada doing a sitcom based on my ebook Furies Cross the Mersey, the story of the how the British Suffragettes invaded Canada in 1912/13... to no avail at all.

That's pretty funny in itself. How these suffragettes had no idea how Montreal politics worked. How complicated it was back then, dancing between  the two solitudes.

Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association and the subject of my book, was politically savvy. She didn't even get all mixed up during the Conscription crisis. Many other very smart ladies did.

It could be a comedy... although it could be a House of Cards style drama too.

In my ebook, I actually try to put comedic elements in, with respect to the ladies of the Montreal Council. I wonder if that is disrespectful?

Probably.

Read Furies Cross the Mersey, that will never be turned into a CBC comedy or drama.


Maxi Skirts and Surplus Women


A while back I purchased, read and even blogged about Virginia Nicolson's two books, The Great Silence and the Perfect Summer  but I have yet to purchase Singled Out, Nicolson's book about all the 'surplus' English women after WWI.

Luckily, there's an Oxford Podcast about WWI by Rosemary Wall which includes a lecture on the same topic.

Wall says that in Singled Out, Nicholson claims that after the the Great War there were 1.7 million surplus women.


By the 1921 British Census reveals there were about 1,580,000  unmarried women and 919,000 unmarried men in the 25-34 age group in England.  Wall claims that a lot of these unmarried women were from the middle class, she says.

Now, it's only 2 to 1, but if you consider that about EVERY male in that age group had gone to war, and if you consider the injury statistics of that war, it is likely few of these 800, 000 men were 'unharmed, either physically or mentally.

And if the man hadn't gone to war.....you know.

Many many books and movies attest to this sad fact.

There is  Parade's End where Benedict Cumberbatch's noble lead character comes back a little less than he was, mentally - which for him is a good thing. (He had brains to spare anyway.)

And in A Month in the Country, Kenneth Branagh's character tells Colin Firth's character (or is it the other way around) how guilty he feels about being in one piece. (Of course, he's got mental problems as does Firth's character.)

And Mrs. Dalloway.

(In my Nicholson family letters, I have two hints of shell-shock. Chester, the American boy who lives near Boston, Massachusetts and who visits Marion and the girls in Montreal in 1913, probably at the behest of his mother, the desperate Mrs Coy,  who wants him to marry one of them, goes 'crazy' in the 1920's.

I have a letter from his father informing everyone that Mrs. Mrs. Coy has died and Mr Coy says his son is in a mental hospital and so demented he cannot recognize the sad situation.

I also have a letter from Sophia Nicholson, a cousin out in Edmonton, who talks about her brother John, how he is in hospital and how she is hoping for a cure in California, a cure for the nerve gas.)

Throughout history, being an unmarried women wasn't a good thing. It usually meant terrible poverty.

It could be said that  the witchcraft frenzy in England was, in part,  in response to all the poor unconnected older women out there, begging and making wealthier citizens uneasy.

I am especially interested in this because my British grandmother, Dorothy Nixon, was one of those  surplus English woman.

She was born in 1895 in County Durham, the daughter of a Methodist Minister, and worked as a land girl in forestry during the war.

After the war she went to Malaya to marry. (My father was born in Kuala Lumpur in October 1922, and according to a travel document online, she left England on December 31, 1921, alone, just 10 months before. Hmm.)

Not sure of the details. I assume that this all unfolded in the usual way: That my grandfather went out to Malaya and that after a few years he was TOLD by his company to go home and find a British wife, as a civilizing tool. He traveled to England in 1916 according to another online document.

(He likely did this somewhat reluctantly had an Asian mistress and kept her even after being married.)


Edith Nicholson  of Threshold Girl never married, despite her family's HUGE circle of contacts. No dowry!


This 'corporate wife' thing isn't so unusual. I recently learned that in the US in the middle of this century, if a man was applying for a managerial position at a big firm, it is very likely they interviewed the applicant's wife as well, to see is she would fit in. Imagine!

The Oxford Podcast about Surplus Woman reveals that my grandmother had other options.

There had been surplus women in England, even before the  Great War  (a reason for the suffragette movement) and the government had set up  organizations to help these unmarried women emigrate to the colonies.

They actively recruited the educated and feisty ones for the colonies, the 'energetic, quick-learners'. (Again, according to Wall

Canada and Australia insisted.

This amazes me, because I always assumed that the English immigrants to Canada in 1910 were from the working class.



Kathleen Neil from England was the Cleveland's domestic. She was 21 and had emigrated in 1906.


Our 1911 Canadian census reveals that there are quite a few English women working as domestics in Montreal in the 1910 era. Indeed, English maids were preferred over all else.  The Clevelands of Lorne Street employed one of them, Kathleen Neil, 21.

Now, I wonder if the City School Boards were hiring English teachers...as they did in the 1960's.

Digression: My own sixth grade teacher was a Brit, just arrived.  Mrs. Bryant.

I remember she seemed strange to us Montrealer students, so old fashioned in her dress style. You see, she wore long, long skirts.  We assumed she was very very poor.

It was the maxi-skirt, a trend that hadn't reached us yet in 1967! We were the ones behind the times.



1919 Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women was established. It was charitable, collecting money to pay the way for worthy young women.


School girls even got a 'sneak peek' visiting Canada and Australia early on.

But there was a financial motive too for these post-war organizations. Some British women who had to give up their jobs upon the return of the soldiers, were receiving unemployment benefits.


The problem was that many British men took advantage of the program, further depleting the stocks of potential life-mates in England. Not only that, but in Canada and Australia, there was no longer a surplus of men to marry, not in the Middle Class.

That was Edith Nicholson's Problem.

Read Not Bonne Over Here: the WWI letters of the Nicholson Family

Read Furies Cross the Mersey here. About the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Canada in 1912é13









Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Carrie Derick's very bad year

Marion, second left, at McGill Normal School in 1905, I know because she wrote about taking this pic in a letter home. She hated the final print, said the pretty girl at left chose it.


Timing it is everything.

Earlier, I wrote a post on this blog, comparing the lives of Nella Last (a Lancashire homemaker) and my grandmother Dorothy Nixon (a Colonial Brit in Malaya but born in County Durham) and I showed how five little years difference in their births, 1890 and 1895, made a HUGE difference in their lives, despite their similar circumstances.

That's because of  WWI.

I can make the same case comparing Carrie Derick, and Marion Nicholson Blair (my husband's grandmother) who both figure in my NoCumentary (half fiction have facts) Furies Cross the Mersey, the story of the Canadian Suffrage Movement in 1912.

(I'm in the final stages of editing the book and hope to put it up on Kindle when the movie Suffragettes with Carrie Mulligan and Meryl Street is released.)

The entrance hall to one of the tony row houses in the Prince of Wales Terrace on Sherbrooke. Principal Peterson lived in one of these stunning homes so I have Carrie Derick sit here waiting for a meeting with him after she's been told that the position of Chair of Botany isn't hers. 

Carrie Derick was born in the Eastern Townships (ET) of Quebec. Like many of  the smart and ambitious women of her era, she went to Normal (Teachers) School.

She excelled at academics, so upon graduation she got a post as a principal in a school in a country town.

But the idea of this dead-end existence didn't sit well with her and she enrolled in college at McGill University in 1883, one of the first women students,  and won the gold medal with the highest marks ever, and went on to study in Europe and get posts at McGill, first as lecturer, then as as Assistant Prof and later, in 1912, she became Canada's first ever female full professor.

Furies Cross the  Mersey tells her story along with the story of Montreal's 'inert' suffrage movement.

Professor Derick was the leading suffrage advocate in the city and in 1913 she was appointed President of the Montreal Suffrage Association. Well, she appointed herself.

(The odd term 'inert' was used in the Gazette to describe Quebec's suffrage movement, in a 1913  article about the launch of the  Montreal Suffrage Association. I have little doubt that was Derick's own term.)

Marion, too, was offered that hellish job as principal in a small rural community upon her graduation from McGill Normal School in 1906. I have the letter.

The District Commissioner says some of the young students are rough, but he knows she can handle it.

She turns the Principalship down. (She's already witnessed a fistfight between an older student and a principal at her first job.)

Marion's family doesn't have the money to send her to McGill as a Donalda, but that doesn't matter. By 1906 there's an immigration boom in Montreal and a growing need for new teachers in the city.

As early as just 5 years before, in 1900, getting a job as a teacher was an iffy proposition. Derick, herself, wrote in a 1900 National Council of Women Report that teaching held bleak prospects for ambitious young women.

 "However, it must be said that the teaching profession is overcrowded, and the prospect cheerless. Teachers are overworked and underpaid and there is comparatively little hope of advancement for even the best trained and most talented Canadian woman teachers." 

The Nicholsons, Norman and Margaret, Edith and Marion and some relation or neighbour, 1910 circa.


As it happens, most Donaldas, despite their BA's from McGill, ended up as teachers, usually principals, but in the city.

Even as late as  the 1930s'  teaching was about the only option for McGill's female graduates who had to or wanted to work.

Men with the same degree went into the professions, but the women graduates didn't have the contacts these men had.

What's extremely ironic, those women who received diplomas in homemaking at Macdonald College had more career options as the century progressed as the industrial fields opened up

They had practical training..


Here's something else ironic: today in the Guardian online newspaper is an article about a man who wrote a WWI book about his ancestors from information found in box.

My Ancestors Live in a Box about Duncan Barrett who has just published a book called Men of Letters:

GEE.

10 years, when I found the Nicholson Family Letters in an old trunk, I got some publicity in the West Island Gazette, but no one has been interested since.

My husband's ancestors are women, though and, worse, they are English Quebeckers. Few people want to promote this kind of history in Canada, I guess.

Except me.

Or maybe I went about it badly. I got the publicity, put the letters on a website (that got a lot of traffic from schools) then wrote four books.

Threshold Girl - about Flora Nicholson's year at MacDonald Teacher's College, with a social welfare theme.

Diary of a Confirmed Spinster: About Edith Nicholson's lost love in 1910.


The Nicholson Family Letters, from 1911 to 1913 edited.

Not Bonne Over Here, the WWI letters.

And soon Furies Cross the Mersey, a much more complex story, about the Montreal Suffrage Movement and Professor Carrie Derick's very bad year, 1912, at McGill.


A Tale of Two Women Scientists


These are beautiful botany drawings by Dutch artist Maria Sybilla Merian from 1730. During the Scientific Enlightenment women were kept out of the new field of science in general  - with the exception of Botany.

After all, looking at flowers was a genteel thing and one didn't need a formal education to document what they looked like, just an observant nature and some drawing ability. (And if women could embroider flowers, they could certainly draw them.) The importance of Merian's work: she went to Surinam to document 'new' species.

I've written a great deal on this blog about McGill Botanist, Carrie Derick, who happened to be a Canadian feminist pioneer and the first female full professor in Canada.

Just recently, I completed a final draft of Furies Cross the Mersey, a book about Carrie Derick and her role as lead suffragist in Montreal in the 1911/1913 era. I include a note about Merian. I have Derick owning two prints of hers, framed in her living room. That is made up, but I got most of my info from Margaret Gillett's little book on Derick, No Fool She.

Carrie Derick was President of the Montreal Council of Women from 1909-1912 (the era of my e-book Threshold Girl) and the President of the Montreal Suffrage Association, founded in 1913 and dissolved in 1919.

Also in 1912 she was appointed Full Time Professor of Botany at McGill, a 'courtesy' appointment as she had been turned down for the position of Chair of Botany, even though she had been acting as de facto Chair for 3 years.

She continued to be education chair of the National Council of Women - and she used her authority as a Botanist to promote eugenics, which is why there will never be a Heritage Minute about her, although there is a street named after her in Verdun. No question, some of her beliefs were quite scary: you can read about them in Gazette articles from the era. She gave lots of talks on the subject.

Still, it must be understood. Eugenics, in 1910 was very chic. 

McGill was eugenics central (according to the Oxford book of Eugenics), The Ontario Hygiene Reader for high schoolers had a chapter on eugenics, or choosing your mate well, and the 1912 Child Welfare Exhibit in Montreal (mounted by top citizens, English and French, and attracting hundreds of thousands of people) had a eugenics display. The NY exhibition, held a year before, made no mention of eugenics, but many of the smaller US exhibitions did, the Pittsburg Exhibition in 1913 calling itself a child welfare and eugenics exhibition. 

Google News archives shows that eugenics was discussed through the 20's into the early 30's and then stopped. I wonder why? (Well, we know why.)

There were two types of eugenics, positive, where a young person was told to choose his/her mate well, or negative, removing 'defectives' from the gene pool.. and of course the definition of defectives was left to the individual.

One funny article from the thirties I found has a lady decrying that young girls only are looking for a guy with a nice car and a 'life of the party' face and not worrying about genes.

There's a book of Derick's posted on archive.org... a collection of Botany articles published in the Montreal Herald in 1900.

The Nicholsons of Richmond read the Herald, so it is very likely that Edith Nicholson 'met' Carrie Derick through her work long before she met her in the flesh at McGill in the 1920's. In my story, their paths cross at suffrage meetings.






By C.M.D!!! Did they not want to say this was written by a woman?? I think so. The preface says these drawings are from the pen 'of a well known botanist of high standing'...No wonder Derick got into feminist activism, as the case of 18th century  Merian reveals, women Botanists were not such an unusual thing.



              Carrie Derick writes a note to French Canadian suffragist Marie Gerin Lajoie on McGill Botany Paper

                                    This is a more scientific paper, autographed by Derick.


 A drawing from Flora Nicholson's 1911/12 Nature Diary for Macdonald Teachers College. I don't know if she ever met Derick (through her sister Edith) but in my e-book Threshold Girl I have her attend a meeting of the Montreal Council of Women.

Flora refers to the dowdy Miss Derick as the woman who studies flowers but does not wear them on her hat.


More of Merian's work.