Wednesday, May 6, 2015
A few posts back, I wrote about the Montreal Day Nursery, a group that was a member of the Montreal Council of Women, but one that didn't get too much mention in their minutes.
I thought the place sounded rather progressive, but I was wrong,
It was a place that took in children of 'worthy women', mothers who had been deserted, widowed or their spouses were sick, so the women could work.
But as it turns out, a book by Donna Varga on the history of daycare in Canada was written in 1997 and Varga says that the Montreal Day Nursery was a placement center for domestics and domestic day labour.
So it was a charity with strings attached.
The hours were tailored to meet the needs of wealthy employers, not the women.
A worthy woman was one who could clearly work as a domestic, so really needy women weren't accepted.
Varga gives an example where some unkempt children were brought in, cleaned up and told to leave. Clearly a woman who couldn't keep her own children clean couldn't work as a domestic.
The Nursery Minutes have no information of protocol or child-care procedures, which makes the author thinks these aspects weren't important to them. ( I agree. If protocol was discussed at meeting it would have been in the minutes.)
The daycare could have 90 kids one day and 40 the next. The staff was pretty small.
Anyway, the fonds for the Day Nursery are in the Toronto Library with the fonds for the Technical School.
I'll have to go and make a visit.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
My grandfather's City Hall File.
It seems we are an hierarchical beast.
Studies show that citizens, even of a democracy, aren't particularly jealous of people in higher classes, even if these elites are making money way out of proportion to their service to society.
People are jealous only of those individuals whom they consider equals, and those people are making more than they are, then they get pissed off.
Kind of sad, but it explains a lot. And it keeps the peace, as long as our bellies are full. We are all 5 meals or so away from rioting in the streets.
This brings me to Edward Beck, Montreal Herald Editor in Chief in 1910.
He hated my grandfather, Second Assistant Clerk at City Hall, so, in 1914, he set him up in a bribery sting.
A big Tramways Deal was unfolding at the time and he had Burns Detectives from New York pretend to be an interested party, ready to part with a few hundred to secure favour with certain aldermen.
Beck hated that 40 year Tramsway deal so much, he published a full page rant, in various bold types, in the Herald, around November 17, 1913.
He sounded like a madman, or, at least, a very mad man.
He caught my Grandfather, Jules Crepeau, in 1914, when he was no longer Editor of the Herald.
I guess that November rant was one editorial too far.
Beck published the details of the sting in his own short-lived tabloid Beck's Weekly, a rag with one purpose:to embarrass City Hall.
I wouldn't know about these flowery articles dissing dear Grandpapa but for the fact they were republished in the Toronto Sun.
Beck later describes City Hall as 'a sweet scented sink hole of pollution' - giving me the distinct impression he was also an unfulfilled mystery writer.
This sounds personal, doesn't it? Even if the sting wasn't strictly really PERSONAL, as far as I know. Beck hated everyone at City Hall and McConnell and Hugh Graham.
The truth is, Beck was a pawn in a war among the big industrialists of the era. My grandfather was, too, no doubt.
But, still, it all sounds so personal... and I can hazard a guess as to why. All I have to do is look at the 1911 Census.
Beck, at the time, was making $3,000 a year, a good salary for the era. And so was my grandfather.
But Beck was jealous that my grandfather was 'doubling' his salary by taking bribes. That's what he accuses my grandfather of doing in his newspaper reports.
(My grandfather, at the time, had 3 children in their tweens and teens. His wife, Marie Roy, was a capable habitant woman, daughter of a Master Butcher so she brought a big dowry to her 1900 marriage.
I don't think she liked to live high...Indeed, in the 1920's, when Jules was Director of City Services, she did all the cooking and cleaning herself in their three story greystone on Sherbrooke West, taking in wayward girls from the nuns for extra help :)
Of course, maybe Jules had mistresses. Most men of his ilk in the era did.
As it happens, Edward Beck had to leave the newspaper biz after he lost the slander lawsuit against my grandfather.
The judge had him pay out just $100 in retribution. LOL. (After all, the Burns Detectives had caught my grandfather on 'tape'...with their detectaphones. I'm guessing that evidence wasn't admissible.)
Beck then went to work for the Pulp and Paper Industry in PR. His offices were in the Harpell Building in Ste Anne de Bellevue.
In 1921 Beck was making 8,000 a year, a little less than my grandfather, so he did OK.
And I strongly suspect he continued penning articles against Montreal City Hall during this time, but only anonymously.
When my grandfather got his big job as Director of City Services, in 1921, Beck must have been mightily pissed off! He died in 1930, but not before seeing my grandfather brought down by Camilien Houde that same year.
So Beck died a happy man, no doubt. Although he likely wasn't pleased with the fact my grandfather negotiated for himself a HUGE life pension of 8,000 a year.
I don't know if my grandfather, making 10,000 a year, took bribes in the 1920's. I do know that he got so many 'presents' at Christmas my grandmother filled an entire room with them. The gifts from the Chinese community were especially impressive. I have a nice piece of silk still - and other relations have a teak table and a dragon mirror carved from wood.
There were enough cigars to last my grandfather and his son a year! She gave most perishable stuff away to Catholic charities.
British-born Edward Beck.
I'm writing all about this Beck/Jule's story in a sequel to Furies Cross the Mersey (the story of the British Invasion of Militant suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.) This book, called Service and Disservice (for now) is difficult to write -even if I've done the research.
It will also cover the Conscription Crisis and the story of how the suffragists of Canada were manipulated by Borden into supporting Limited Franchise for Women
The story of the business/ politics of Montreal in the era is VERY murky.
(I wish my grandfather had kept a diary. All I have is news clippings from the French papers.)
The big industrialists did all kinds of strange things, and even seasoned historians have had trouble unraveling the story of all the big financial deals of that time, the Tramway Deal and the Water and Power Deal to name two of the biggest.
Monday, May 4, 2015
I was watching the much longer 1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on TCM yesterday, a case of 1000 channels and nothing to watch but oldies but goodies, at least until evening with Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge and Madmen (good episode!)...
And I thought about Anita Loos - so looked her up on IMDB etc to see that she also scripted The New York Hat for Biograph, the short with Mary Pickford playing a small town girl who longs for an expensive $10.00 hat in the local shop window, and the Minister buys it for her with secret money he has been given just for her and the town gossips assume he is having an affair with her.
Small town life in 1912.
Read all about the Canadian version in Threshold Girl, my story based on real family letters. Edith Nicholson and hers sisters were from Richmond, Quebec and Edith's father, Norman, did business with Sennett's father, Sinnott, in the 1880's.
Hats are a big in my stories, too, figuratively and literally.
Edith Nicholson, missionary school teacher, paid 7.50 for a hat in 1911 and she was making but 200 dollars a year as a teacher without diploma. It was a big black shape with flowers. (See below, embellished, like my story about her.)
She lived in the big city of Montreal by then and bought it at uber fashionable Ogilvy. Her sister Marion was making much more money as a teacher with diploma on the Montreal Board, but she paid only $6.50 for her hat, a small shape with blue violets.
Anyway, Anita Loos had a long career and a longer life. She did her most famous work, most enduring work, later in life...or so it seems to me.
Perhaps she had to wait for cinema technology to catch up to her talent.
Saturday, May 2, 2015
Many years ago, I transcribed part of a March, 1913 Montreal Witness Letter-to-the-Editor signed E.B. from a yellowed clipping kept by my husband's Great Aunt Edith.
The letter was in reply to an earlier Witness article penned by one Reverend R L. Ballantyne that had criticized the Montreal suffragists, describing them as vain women only seeking notoriety.
The Letter-to- the-Editor strongly supported the suffragists (but not the militant brand) and described them as women interested in 'sex equality' and also interested in procuring legislation affecting the home.
The anonymous signature was cited as proof the writer wasn't just attention-seeking.
I published the letter here a few posts ago.
Today, I went through all the 1910 era news articles I have on hand, clipped by Edith Nicholson of Furies Cross the Mersey, an ebook about the British Invasion of Suffragettes in 1913.
I realized that when I first transcribed the E.B. Letter-to-the-Editor, I left out a very interesting part.
Apparently, this Reverend Ballantyne had criticized more than those women seeking the vote. He had slurred all the 'idle' society ladies who sat on committees instead of taking care of their own families.
This E.B. writes in reply, "If Mr. Ballantyne would acquaint himself with serving in committee rooms means he would not be so ready to conclude that it is all vanity and vexation of spirit.
"Take the Montreal Day Nursery, for example. That is an institution conducted by a committee of ladies, where their less fortunate sister ladies can leave their babies,and little children sure that they will be safe and well looked after all day, while they, the mothers, go out to work and earn a living for themselves and the children and keep the family together.
"There are usually from 75 to 100 children in the nursery, that means that a correspondingly large number of women are being set free temporarily to help themselves without resorting to charity.
"Mrs. Ballantyne says that these women are always queens of the home, but it sometimes happens that due to desertion, drunkenness, idleness or misfortune of the man who should provide for this family, the queen must descend from the throne while she earns the wherewithal to pay for a home to be queen in."
Daycare, in 1910! How interesting.
In 1910, few men in Montreal made enough to support a family. (The target salary for raising a family in dignity was a whopping $1,500 dollars a year.)
The 1911 census tells the tale. Most working class men were unskilled day labourers, former agricultural workers, working irregular hours. (They call it zero hours today, I think.) Their pay was paltry, 200 to 400 dollars a year.
So, their wives had to work outside the home, too, arranging for the care of their children the best they could.
Older sisters were often taken out of school to take care of younger siblings.
This is one of the reasons that Carrie Derick, in 1912, told the men of the Royal Commission on Technical Training and Industrial Education that the Council wanted the mandatory school age to be raised to 14, so little girls wouldn't become "domestic drudges," but nowhere in her deposition did she suggest daycare could provide a substitute.
...I checked the Gazette and it is reported that 400 babies and children used this Day Nursery on a regular basis in 1913 - so, for some women, it wasn't only a stop-gap measure. About 20,000 children in all used the service that year. The nursery accepted only 'worthy' women, tho. I wonder what that means.
Well, I can only guess.
Miss Hurlbatt, Warden at the Royal Victoria College, is the only person from the executive of Montreal Council of Women involved with the Day Nursery.
This isn't a pet project of the Montreal Council, from what I know. I don't think anyone, even at the Council, believed married women should work.
It's interesting: the Yearbook of the AGM of the National Council of Women lists the Montreal Day Nursery as a member of the Montreal Council with a Mrs. Learmont President. The listing reads: Day Nursery/Technical Training.
Technical training for women was at the radical end of the feminist-demands continuum. Although most feminists, including E.B. believed women should have equality and be able to enter the professions just like men, they were referring to bright, ambitious spinsters.
If lower class women had to work, domestic work or factory work (depending on your ideology) was considered appropriate. Middle class women could be teachers (mostly) or stenographers. Shop girls fell somewhere in between. Edith Nicholson studied to be both a teacher and a stenographer in the 1910 era. Stenographers made a lot of money, especially the male ones.
Few believed women should be trained for the skilled trades.
Hence those lame Home-Ec courses in the 1960's in Montreal Schools...where girls sewed and cooked and boys did woodwork.
It wasn't until the 1980's that Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney pledged universal daycare during an election campaign. (If I recall.) It never came through.
In 1910, the Council ladies were very concerned with the financial and legal rights of married and widowed women, petitioning Quebec Premiere Gouin on the issue. This was President Ritchie England's favorite cause.
The Day Nursery Charity is blessed by Reverend Barclay, a prominent Presbyterian Clergyman, the person Flora hears preach at Macdonald College in 1912. He was head of the Protestant Education Committee in the era and got into hot water arguing against Jewish teachers working with the Montreal Board, a board with many many Jewish students. In 1913 this was changed.
(Wait. I found a book with info about the nursery! It was a placement center for domestics. A worthy woman was one deemed able to work in someone else's house...)
Oh, and another patron of the Day Nursery was one Mrs. Stanley Bagg, the ancestor of a person in my genealogy writing group and a Mrs. C.C. Ballantyne. (Maybe this is a family feud.) Another article, from 1954, says the Montreal Day Nursery is overwhelmed with demand. It is still up and running and getting press in the 1970's.
Friday, May 1, 2015
War Work instantly takes precedence over Suffrage Work in Montreal. August 1914.
It was August, you see. August, 1914. And society types were out of town in the month of August in 1914. It was too hot in the big, bad city.
This is all written down in a little book from 1915, the 21st Anniversary publication of the Montreal Council of Women, a little volume I scanned a while back at McGill- while taking notes with my Samsung Note.
I'm glad I have these notes as I am now embarking on a follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey, my story about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.
I've tentatively called this new ebook Service and Disservice.
My Furies story ends in March 1913, with the New York City Suffrage March and in May 1913 the AGM of the National Council of Women in Montreal.
Mrs. Ethel Snowden of Great Britain, who is the guest speaker, calls Mrs. Pankhurst and her troops Cavemen and Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, yawns! THE END.
Now, I'm researching that gap year 1913-14, when the Canadian Suffragettes were gearing up for major national action on the suffrage front...in a rather disorganized way, but hey.
And then war broke out, and all prior-priorities went out the window.
An article was sent around my Twitter feed yesterday, claiming that 1917 was Canada's worst year ever.
That's the year the Canadian suffragettes got all caught up in their hypocrisy and lies - and some good intentions, too.
That's the year of the Win-the-War meetings, where Premier Borden and his right hand man, Arthur Meighan, manipulated the suffrage ladies of Canada by playing on their fears for their own children.
We are all vulnerable to this kind of thing: it happens today all the time. That's why we must have stories like this one out there; stories that are not pretty. They serve as warnings to us all.
Not all public history can be feel-good.
Below, the ladies of the Council start a Khaki League to help out the soldiers. Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association leads the cause...The ladies want to supply 'wholesome' recreation (as well as clean laundry and convalescent care) to the soldiers...so ironic, considering these young men are either being sent to rot in HELL in the trenches or have just returned, sick.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Mrs. Denison's Threat..March 1914 So, if WWI hadn't happened, we might have had a real suffragette movement in Canada! Big if, though.
Furies Cross the Mersey is the story of how the British Suffragettes invaded Montreal in 1912/13.
It is also the story of Carrie Derick, Canada's first female full professor (at McGill).
In the 1912.13 era, Carrie Derick was also Past President of the Montreal Council of Women, a group that was highly ambivalent about their support for Mrs. Pankhurst and her militant suffragettes in England. So, they spun off the Montreal Suffrage Association in 1913.
Read all about it in my book.
Furies Cross the Mersey takes place in 1912/13 when the suffragettes of the UK were ramping up their militancy, setting fires and such, and making sensational headlines in the Montreal newspapers for it.
Furies includes two other story-lines, one fictional, one real. The real story centers on the Nicholson women of Richmond, Quebec, my husband's ancestors, who left behind 300 letters from the era.
The fictional one involves two students at McGill's Royal Victoria Women's college.
From Votes for Women
I am now embarking on the follow-up to Furies, a murky story that will be about the Conscription Crisis of 1917 and explain how Canada's suffragists were involved up to their elbows.
A trip to Toronto is in the air...
The Nicholson's wartime story will be in the new book too: the family left behind many wartime letters. These are compiled in Not Bonne Over Here, also on Kindle.
In the 1912/13 Edith Nicholson was a young, unmarried women and all for Mrs. Pankhurst's window-bashing suffragettes.
Like many of the era's 'new women,' she was fighting to have more fun in her life in a day and age when unmarried women were considered in need of protection from the evil elements in society and, especially, from their own shallow and erratic impulses.
By 1919, the end of the war, Edith was a conservative spinster, with much war volunteer experience, discussing the evils of VD and the good of Temperance in her letters and ready to go and work at McGill University, supervising the 'excitable' younger set.
My Furies ebook ends in May, 1913, with Mrs. Pankhurst's troops acting up and provoking a slew of bizarre and biased stories in the press.
(The Suffragette movie with Streep and Mulligan soon to be released is all about this time.)
WWI started in August, 1914, and the 12 months prior to this is a telling time for the Montreal and Canadian suffrage movement.
The suffrage movement in Eastern Canada didn't quite know how to behave, or how to 'brand' itself.
You can see that if WWI hadn't happened, there might, indeed, have been a more in-your-face suffrage movement in Canada.
Maybe Edith Nicholson, dear old Aunt Dee Dee, would have joined in the fun and gone to prison for it ;)
I found a speech by Torontonian Flora Macdonald Denison (my favorite Canadian suffragist) from May 1914, discussing her new 'national' suffrage organization.
In the speech, she defends herself for sending well-wishes to Mrs. Pankhurst in jail. She says the Canadian suffragists shouldn't use force like the militants in the UK, UNLESS.....Dum de dum dum..
Denison cites Lady Grace Drummond in her speech, a Montrealer who was Honourary President of the new Montreal Suffrage Association. She says the fact that Drummond has joined her new national organization gives it 'some class.'
(She must have read my book, where I describe Lady Drummond's tasteful library with the Monet and Art Nouveau statues. ;)
The MSA joined Denison's group in March, 1914. It says so in their minutes, or at least President Carrie Derick and Julia Grace Parker Drummond joined. (It's complicated, of course. Suffrage politics in Montreal was very complicated. Read Furies Cross the Mersey.)
The MSA also joined Torontonian Constance Hamilton's new "national' suffrage association, covering all the bases.
In this speech from March, 1914, Denison claims that the suffrage movement in Canada started in Ontario.
Carrie Derick didn't agree...
My Furies story ends at the May AGM in Montreal of the National Council, where Derick claims in a speech on a special suffrage evening that it is the Montreal delegation who persuaded the National organization, against determined resistance, to come out in favor of woman suffrage in late 1912.
Flora Denison attended this Montreal AGM as President of the National Suffrage Association and also as a member of the executive of the National Council of Women.
She makes a protest speech against the National Council because that organization had come out in favour of the flogging of men who force women into prostitution.
It is written in the AGM's report on Suffrage that Denison attended the March Suffrage Parade in Washington, as part of the Canadian delegation with Stowe Gullen and many other Torontonians.
That is the one where Inez Milholland led the parade of 10,000 marchers on a beautiful white horse, hoisting a flag with the colours of the WSPU militants.
No Montrealers marched in that parade, apparently.
It is likely some of the same TO women attended the May 3rd March in New York. That Fifth Avenue parade figures big time in my Furies Cross the Mersey.. the fictional part, anyway.
Of course, Gullen and Denison couldn't have attended the New York March, they were at the AGM.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
In the 1913 era, the year before WWI started, it was hard to keep track of all the old and new suffrage organizations in Canada without a program. The newspapers even got them all mixed up.
Lately, I've gotten a little muddled, myself, between Montreal's Equal Suffrage League and Ontario's Equal Franchise League.
The ebook Furies Cross the Mersey about the British militants and their invasion of Montreal in 1912/13 is available on desLibris and Ebrary and Amazon.ca.
Caroline Kenney, sister of Annie Kenney, the famed working class militant in Mrs. Pankhurst's army, came to Montreal in November, 1912 and did some rabble-rousing.
She spoke in March 1913 at the Hochelaga WCTU (in Stevenson Hall) and sounded too militant with her speech about the Evolution of Militancy. She spoke to the Jewish Community later that month and sounded just right. She was described as 'a suffragette of note.'
She visited Ottawa in June for a suffrage picnic and spoke with conviction if not 'word-eloquence' to the local 'association' whichever group that was. Ottawa had a Franchise League, a Suffrage Association and a Suffrage Society.
Her subject was Woman's Life from Cradle to Grave...
She went to the US in September, saying she was a Montreal Teacher. (She likely was. She is listed as a teacher on the Protestant Board in 1915. I wonder if she knew the Nicholson women of Richmond and Montreal, the subjects of many other of my e-books. The women were militant suffragette sympathizers. I stick Caroline and my husband's great aunts side-by-side at a speech given by Miss Barbara Wylie, militant, in November, 1912 at the YMCA. You can do that with fiction :)
In December, 1912, a Montreal Gazette article says the Equal Suffrage League has been organized, with by-laws and officers. A Mrs. Leggatt is part of the group and Caroline is the Chair. The article says the organization has both militant and non-militant members, but that the official policy is for non-militancy.
Then any mention of Caroline stops. There are mentions of the Equal Suffrage League and their activities, war-related, or speech events (with males speakers) in the newspaper in the 1914 and 15, but that is all.
The main suffrage organization in Montreal in 1913-1919 is the Montreal Suffrage Association - led by Professor Carrie Derick and she is the main character in Furies Cross the Mersey. The book is really all about her, but features Wylie and Kenney.
As luck would have it, in 1915 a book, the Canadian Woman's Annual, was published summing up the state of social work in Canada - great background to Furies.
The directory contains a short list of suffrage organizations, not at all comprehensive. (The Equal Suffrage League of Montreal is left out ) but it has a quote by Ethel Hurlbatt, Warden of McGill's Royal Victoria College, also a character in Furies Cross the Mersey.)
"Women's Use of the Vote. The question is often asked, Do women use the powers and opportunities already given to them? With regard to this, it is of interest to quote the opinion of Miss Hurlbatt, Warden of Victoria College, Montreal. 'Many of them are doing so, eg. the Local Council of Women have thoroughly organized the city to bring out about 12,000 women voters to vote for good civic government at the civic elections.'"
In his book Marching As to War, Pierre Berton, who succinctly sums up the suffrage situation in Canada in the 1910 era, while simultaneously writing the suffragists off as elitist and, yes, shrill, says that 22 suffrage organizations popped up between 1877 and 1918.
There were far more, I suspect.
After the list of about 30 provincial suffrage organizations the directory lists an anti-suffrage organization: Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage in Canada. Pres., Mrs. H. D. Warren; Vice-Pres., Miss Campbell, Mrs. H. S. Strathy, Mrs. H. C. Rae; Treas., Miss Barron; Rec. Sec., Miss Laing; Cor. Sec., Miss Plummer, Sylvan Towers, Toronto.
Talk about being on the wrong side of history! (Yikes, I just checked and Mrs. H.D. Warren was Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides from the 20's to the 40's.)
"This Association is formed to give those who are opposed to the movement in favor of woman suffrage an opportunity to express their conviction that such a measure would be against the best interests of the State. The Association takes an active interest in questions of civic, social and moral reform, and it claims that these can best be advanced without the extension of the parliamentary franchise to women."
The directory also contains a short description of the Montreal Women's Club.
I've been looking to find such a document because the Montreal Women's Club was the biggest organization under the Montreal Local Council of Women umbrella and they were the group, under Mrs. Weller, that agitated for the start of a separate suffrage organization in Montreal in 1912.
Only about 11 of the 40 organizations under the Montreal Council of Women were for Woman Suffrage at that time.
"The Montreal Women's Club was founded by Mrs. Robert Reid (1892) promote agreeable and useful relations between women of artistic, literary, scientific and philanthropic tastes. To-day it is trying to assist in solving some of the many complex problems which affect childhood and womanhood, as regards industrial, educational, economic, civic and home conditions Pres., Madame Heliodore Fortier, 404 Metcalfe Ave.; Sec., Mrs. Alexander Murray, 29 Murray Ave., Westmount. Chairmen of Departments: Social Science Mrs. George A. Kohl, 297 Peel St.; Home and Education Mrs. Jas. Thorn, 4110 Western Ave.; Art and Literature Mrs. John J. Louson, 4250 Boulevard Ave., Westmount."
The directory lists two national suffrage organizations.
There was the one led by Flora McD Denison...The Canadian Suffrage Association.
Then Constance Hamilton set up a new national organization in March 1914, Canadian Union of National Suffrage Societies led by her and Carrie Derick and Lady Drummond!
One wonders why Derick felt a need to join this group. (Well, I checked and the MSA executive voted to join both National Organizations.)
She was already a VP of the National Council of Women and she claimed in a speech that it was the Montreal delegation that convinced the National Council to come out in favor of Women's Suffrage in 1912. Denison was part of that National Organization,too.
My Furies story ends at the special suffrage evening mounted by Derick for the May 1913 AGM of the National Council of Women.
Mrs. Ethel Snowden, moderate suffragist, is speaking. She calls Pankhurst and her troops 'cavemen'.
Carrie Derick was also President of the Montreal Suffrage Association (read all about that in Furies Cross the Mersey.)
The directory also explains the state of voting rights in Canada and the provinces in 1914. See Quebec at right.