Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fannie Farmer, Carbon Footprints and Love 'as per usual'.

Marion Nicholson's Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 1912...

Chicken was a relatively expensive meat in the 1910 era, available only half the year. (A 1895 bill shows a whole 4 1/2 pound chicken bought for 45 cents. Beef steak was also 10 cents a pound. Half a steer was purchased for 6 bucks.)

 Here's Fannie's recipe. "Dress, clean, stuff, and truss a chicken. Place on its back on a rack in a dripping pan, rub entire surface with salt, and spread breast and legs with three tablespoons butter, rubbed until creamy and mixed with two tablespoons flour. Dredge bottom of pan with flour. Place in a hot oven and when flour is well browned, reduce the heat and then baste. Stuffing 1: I cup cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup butter, 1/3 cup boiling water, salt and pepper, Powdered sage, summer savory or marjoram."

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, don't eat beef, claims a recent CBC article.  Pork is OK. Chicken is OK. Or at least better for the environment that beef. The CBC message boards lit up, people were divided on the topic.

This story comes around every five years, suggested one person on the message boards.

I myself don't put much store in articles like this, based on random studies.

I've always understood that pork is the creepiest meat, for a number of reasons.

And, and I've written about often on this blog, chicken isn't chicken anymore. It seems like industrial protein mush.

Just last week I bought my usual breaded chicken strips - a brand I like - and almost gagged. "They've changed the recipe," I told my husband. "They are using processed chicken."

But, no. The packaged insisted the chicken fingers were made from 'chicken breast strips'.

So I guess they've changed the chickens themselves. I have noticed that BBQ chickens are mushier this past year, except the Costco ones that they inject with salt.

OK. So how can I transition this food rant into the story of my book about the suffragettes in Montreal in 1912/13 Sister Salvation?


I'm writing up the March 1913 scenes... and in March, 1913 Marion Nicholson, my husband's grandmother, writes a letter home to her Mom saying she made her first chicken and three apple pies, "and on the Sabbath too!"

Marion is an elementary school teacher and she made the bold move back in September of finding a flat for her and 3 other teachers to live in, BY THEMSELVES.

This was a very daring thing to do in the era of the Social Evil, Prostitution.

Even 27 year olds like Marion, with 6 years working experience, had to be careful about the image they projected in public.

The area of Hutchison where Marion lived in 1912/13.

But Marion took the flat, on Hutchison, with her sister Flora, also a teacher but in her first year, and her cousin May, also a teacher but in her second year and another girl who was the daughter of an M.N.A. also a teacher.

She did this by promising that her Mother was coming to keep house for her, but that wasn't entirely the case. Mother Margaret would come down once in a while for a couple of weeks at a time.

May's mother too.

Otherwise the 'working girls' were on their own and apparently their flat was topsy turvy most of the time.

But Marion got to see her beau, Mr. Blair, as much as she wanted to. And that was the point, I guess.

In a January 1913 letter her little sister Flora writes her Mom saying "Hugh is over as usual."

Hugh and Marion at Tighsolas with Floss. Norman 'receives' Hugh for a visit in Spring 1913.  The couple would marry in October.

In this chicken letter it seems that ambitious career-minded Marion is getting ready for some much homelier activities, by cooking and nursing her roommates who, as first year teachers, are always sick with colds.

It is clear that Mr. Blair or "Romeo" is thinking of proposing. In another March letter, Marion warns her father, Norman, to be ready to receive Mr. Blair  "whenever he wants to come."

... So this is what is happening to the Nicholson women in my story... the month that McGill Professor and prominent Social Reformer Carrie Derick turns down the Presidency of the soon-to-be-formed Montreal Suffrage Association. She claims she has too much work at McGill.

But a month later she takes on the position and the MSA is launched at a April 25 press conference and claims to be 'a sane and reasonable' organization and about to embark on a quiet education of the people.

The MSA must distance themselves from the British militant suffragettes. Their movement is peaking at that moment with Pankhurst's troops conducting a campaign of civil disobedience and deliberate destruction of government property - and getting a lot of headlines for it.

 Why does Derick changer her mind? Because President Peterson of McGill tells her that her job, as Full Professor of Morphological Botany, is merely a 'courtesy' position - and that she still has to work as a lowly lab demonstrator.

Pretty deflating for a woman who has fought all her life for each and every career advancement.

Meanwhile, in my Sister Salvation story,  two students at McGill's RVC, Royal Victoria College, are planning to have a suffrage march down Sherbrooke, inspired by Caroline Kenney, the sister of Annie Kenney, who is in Montreal trying to start a 'militant' organization.

---- So I better get to writing it out.
Just as Montrealers mount their new suffrage association, the suffragettes in England act up for real. Both these articles are from February 1913 Montreal Gazettes. "Recruits won for cause." Using military metaphors...despite the fact that the Montreal Suffrage Exhibit being reported on was filled with jonquils and valentines and 'sweet suffragette chocolates'.

Anyway, the Nicholson family accounts from the ear show that beef and pork is REAL CHEAP in Quebec in 1910, but chicken is pricey... available for only a few months a year. Chicken was pricey in the 20's as well, a luxury. That line "a chicken in every pot" meant a lot during the Depression.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stepford Wife Suffragettes 1912

McGill athletes in 1910. One of my characters in Sister Salvation will be a female hockey player.

The Medium is the Message (or Massage). I learned that back in Communications Studies at McGill, when McLuhan was popular.

I still believe it.

Of course, the media has morphed into a multi-tentacled, multi-antennaed beast, since my kids have been alive, anyway.

I had to lauch (or cry) last week. I watched BBC World News to hear proper info about the Malaysia Airline Crash - but the reporter kept saying over and over "Now, I must stress, this is just spec- u- la- tion" as if by saying that it is OK to say non-facts to fill up air time.

I can't help but notice that the new website has become totally tabloid or "pervert of the week" is how Ted Turner described it, this 24 hour news monster he created.

The click and read format lends itself to tabloid news. Few of us can resist clicking on the tawdry, frightening or titillating headline or the picture of the beautiful blonde, 2 to 32, the "prize" of our society.

Sometimes we just read the headline and have our perceptions coloured by what is essentially a clever lie or mischievous play-on-words to get us to read further and see some advertising.

We are only human  which means we are just a bone-throw away from that great-ape that in experiments keeps pressing the pleasure button all day long.

So, in this context, John Oliver, a comedian, becomes the sensible social commentator, who keeps your attention with silly jokes while he spends 15 minutes or so explaining a topical issue. He talked about US Prisons this week, a terrible and troubling travesty of a topic avoided by the mainstream press.

Years ago I recall reading a book "The History of News" that explained how news evolved (from the early days when flyers were sent around accusing the Royal Family of perverted sexual acts) and how the sensational, crime stories, sex stories, gossip about the elite, has always been the most popular kind of news.

For my research into the Nicholson Family Letters  for my e-books I've spent a lot of time reading 1910 era newspapers. Most of these broadsheets were aimed at 'elite' men (except when there were women's sections with recipes and fashions) so the low-brow stuff was used as filler mostly.

(And it's amazing to see how similar this filler is to today's infotainment. We haven't changed a whit when it comes to our appetite for junk news.)

An article in both the Montreal Gazette and the New York Times that claims in sober fashion that suffagette-ism is a disease. These newspapers shared their stories about the British Suffagettes. But when the New York Times covered the May 3, 1913 suffrage parade on Fifth Avenue, they used two pages, three photos and conducted some excellent reporting covering all angles of the issue. (There were no marches in Montreal to report on: my story Sister Salvation explains why.)

The editorial section of the Montreal Gazette in 1911/12 had a main editorial or two and then short snippets, often about the demented, or scary, or crazy, or plain silly suffragettes of England, Mrs. Pankhurst and her lot.

This was as if to say, "The antics of these suffragettes are not important enough to take our full attention, but they should be watched from the corner of our eye and they are worth a good chuckle, occasionally. "

Of course, in England, Mrs. Pankhurst took advantage of all this: her movement was very image conscious.

It must have all seemed so "Stepford Wives" to the middle class men of England, back in March 1912, when 150 or so well-dressed women calmly walked up Oxford Street, then took hatchets from purses and proceeded to break shop windows.
When the Montreal Suffrage Association launched in March 1913, they promised to be peaceful and reasonable and go about 'a quiet education of the people.'  Even a peaceful suffrage march down Sherbrooke would have been considered 'militant' in Montreal - largely because the only news people got about woman suffrage was the sensational news about the British suffragettes.

In the fall of 1912, Premier Borden had banned British suffragettes from coming to Canada. It didn't work. A few of Pankhurst's troops did visit Montreal. One lady, Caroline Kenney, sister of famed militant Annie Kenney, lived here for a while. Her eldest sister was a Montrealer.

The Gazette, in general did not support woman suffrage. After all, they got a lot of their advertising from booze and suffragists of all stripes were generally against the liquor trade.

Anyway, I am working on Sister Salvation, the story of the Montreal Suffragists of 1911/12.  If the mass media didn't pay too much attention to the suffragettes back one hundred years ago, they certainly don't do it now.

A while back, pitching the story to a Canadian producer, she told me it was a " very important story" but with no audience.

There are only two books written about the Canadian Suffrage Movement and both are academic papers, using mostly newspaper sources.

In Britain, of course, this is different, although there has been but one TV series about the Suffragettes, Shoulder to Shoulder with Sian Phillips, in the 70's.

HBO dramatized Iron Jawed Angels with Hillary Swank a shorter while back too.

And now a movie called Suffragette is soon to be released, with an A-list cast that includes Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep.

I wonder if it will earn any box office.

The story of the Canadian suffragists of Montreal in the 1910 era is essentially the story of the entire city - English side.

These same suffragists were social reformers and Montreal was in dire need of social reform in 1910. The city had the highest infant mortality rate in the Western World, it was said.
These suffragists, mostly Protestant, wanted to 'clean up City Hall'.. French City Hall.

It is also the story of McGill and the Industrial "Golden Mile" elite who ran the country. These men sat on the Board of Governors of McGill, Birks, Van Horne, Greenshields.

They decided in 1912 to deny Carrie Derick the Chair in Botany, a position she deserved, not because she was a woman, but because she was for woman suffrage, or so I will imply in my story.

Derick, as out-going President of the Montreal Council of Women,  invited Mrs. Pankhurst to speak in Montreal in October 1911, just before the suffragette leader renewed her campaign of civil disobedience and deliberate destruction of government property - after a truce of a year or so for the Coronation.

Pankhurst spoke in the City in December 191l at Windsor Hall. (200 tickets had to be given away.)

  Formidable Carrie Derick was played like a violin by the even more formidable Mrs. Pankhurst, who arranged this speaking tour in advance to earn money for legal bills, or so I will imply in my story.

The Warden of McGill's Royal Victoria College was a keen suffragist. She was a former Londoner.

I'm just putting it together scene by scene now...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why I couldn't go to the movies as a kid - and why it might have been my grandfather's fault

Laurier Palace Ste Catherine East.

A few years ago, well in 1988 according to the Internet Movie Database, my husband and I went to see a movie called Mississippi Burning.

It was on a very very cold January Saturday night at a now defunct multiplex  in Complex Pointe Claire (I think.)

We went to the 7ish showing and when the movie was over (a good movie) we exited the theatre into an immense crush of humanity. It seems most of the movies (all filled) were finishing at the exact same time. Worse, there was an equal huge inward crush. As it was so cold someone had made the decision to let the later show patrons in early.


People just stuck there in place, immobile. Afraid to make a sound lest they provoke panic.  Luckily it was a grown up crowd, and everyone understood the potential danger  of the situation.  It worked out OK, after what seemed like 30 minutes of standing still pressed front to back, shoulder to shoulder against others in the crowd.

I phoned the Pointe-Claire fire department the next day to complain -but I was told I wasn't the first person.

Anyway, I have just completed a play Milk and Water about Montreal in 1927, when there was an infamous fatal fire in a downtown movie theatre, the Laurier Palace.  My play features a conversation between my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, the Director of City Services and my husband's grandfather, Thomas Wells, the President of Laurentian Spring Water. They are bringing fresh water to the Prince of Wales in a year of a typhoid epidemic.

Jules Crepeau was the first person to testify at the inquest into the fire. Few reporters attended this session.

A Royal Commission ensued a few months later, where the morality of Hollywood movies was discussed as much as the relative safety of movie theatres.

This Royal Commission resulted in children under 16 being banned from movie theatres in Quebec for a long long time. 40 years or so.

78 children died in the fire, almost all crushed to death in the panic after someone yelled FIRE. (Firemen's testimony regarding this crush was quite gruesome.) The fire was not a dangerous one, and all deaths could have easily been avoided. At least most firemen and police so claimed.

My mother, Jules' daughter, always reminded me that it was illegal to shout FIRE in a theatre. She told me about the Laurier Palace Fire too, saying "babies" were killed, so I always thought little babies in their mothers' arms were killed. But no. Young children were killed, aged 4 to 16. Apparently all young children who were attending the Sunday showing alone. (If adults were with any of these children who were killed, they did not come forward at the inquest. Indeed, all parents save one claimed at the inquest to not have known where their children were that night.)

As I explain in Milk and Water, the ban was a case of 'strange bedfellows' or perhaps just politics as usual. The Nationalists, Big Labour, both Catholic and Protestant churches all agreed that movies created a perversion of morals and disastrous effects. (Well, Big Labour only wanted everyone to have Sunday off and they said Projection Booths were scandalously unsanitary.)

But one group of professionals was not inclined to ban movies to children:

"Principals of the schools were canvassed on the subject of the effect of movies on children: 58 percent hold the opinion that truancy, the lowering of mental and moral tone of the pupils, CANNOT be attributed to the movies. One principal answering questionnaire claimed that progress is helped by the frequent attendance of children at the movies.

Who Wudda Thunk?

Jules Crepeau (right) and family 1927 Atlantic City..

A Police official was against a ban, saying the streets, with all the automobiles, were more dangerous for children than properly maintained movie theatres. (Many Montreal policeman held theatres passes for their entire families.) This was probably one reason many parents allowed their children to frequent picture shows. There were so many newspaper articles about children being killed in road accidents. In 1927, cars were taking over from horses in the streets.

When the ban came through in the Quebec Legislature, the Montreal Gazette agreed  with the move, in their editorial column. (Attendance by children of course had already dropped off, due to the fire.)

Children had to be protected from the physical and moral perils of theatres, the Editorial said. And as for those people who believed it is the right of parents to take their children to the movies if they deem it a fit and proper pastime, the editorial stated that the Laurier Palace Fire stands 'as grim proof' of the ineffectiveness of such law.

Sunday closings for everyone, like they had in Toronto, were also debated. Dr. Richie England, President of the Montreal Council of Women, said that the many societies within her association were unable to come to a consensus regarding that aspect of the law. Another person testified that he'd been to Toronto on Sunday and said if the theatres were empty the speak-easies were crammed with people.

Anyway, my mother in law, born 1917, said that in the early 30's, young girls like herself merely dressed up like older women, with lipstick and such, and went to movies, making sure to behave. She once attended a movie in Ontario and was shocked at the way the kids acted out in their seats.

This is proof of the law of unintended consequences.

In my story Milk and Water, I reveal my grandfather's odd part in all this.
In 1913 my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, got into hot water for a bribe. he was set up by a crusading former Herald Managing Editor who was furious at City Hall and upset about a 40 year transportation contract about to be given to the Forget/McConnell group. My grandfather was related to the Forget's.

It seems at the 1924 inquiry into police corruption in Montreal, the Coderre Inquiry, a certain Constable Trudeau fingered my father, saying he forced policemen to look the other way when movie theatres were letting in under age kids.

(My grandfather's brother was Isadore Crepeau, the V.P of United Amusements, a large chain of cinemas but that wasn't brought up.)

Trudeau is quoted in the newspapers as saying, "Someday there's going to be a catastrophe. Someday a lot of children will die."

My grandfather fired Trudeau on the spot; it was mentioned in the Coderre Final Report.

And then, a while later, a fire...

Oddly, this bit of info was never brought up at the 1927 Inquiry into the Laurier Palace Fire, nor a few years later when new Mayor Camillien Houde forced my grandfather to resign over something he had nothing to do with, the Montreal Water and Power sale. Hmm..

Suspicious, I'd say.

It seems my grandfather, who died in 1937, run over by an off duty policeman (double hmmm) after negotiating a HUGE life pension from Mayor Houde, probably had something to do with me not seeing a first-run big screen Hollywood movie until 1967. Blow-Up I think, and by that time I was still under-age because they put in a ratings system.

Actually, they must have softened the law because I am sure that I saw It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World in 1964 in the cinema at ten years of age.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Beef over Bison - and Home-made pickles.

'Home-made" pickles from the local folksy store that has now turned into a pricey specialty shop. I don't mind paying a little extra for something like home-made pickles that take old-fashioned savvy to make. Pickles of course were one of the first pre-prepared foods sold to families.

As we return home from Ontario, after buying our cheaper wine, we pass a farm with a huge sign

There are no buffalo in the field. There hasn't been for ages.

I do recall a time, about a decade ago or more, where bison was being touted as the next eco-friendly super food.

Even Ted Turner was on the bison bandwagon, if I recall.

But, it appears, no more.

I'm guessing the beef industry had more clout.

I say this because I just bought two thin frozen bison burgers from a neighbourhood shop. About 4 dollars apiece.

But I don't eat red meat much and I've become disgusted with the industrial mush masquerading as chicken lately.

So I bought the bison and two sanglier sausages, 'wild' boar.. from a small local producer of non toxic meat. (So they say.)

I couldn't bring myself to buy the lapin, or rabbit,which makes no sense. (I've only eaten rabbit twice in my life, both meals prepared by people from France.)

Anyway, I was in that little shop, by the highway and a little out of the way, because I missed the local farmer's market in Ste. Anne de Bellevue yesterday and I wanted some nice inexpensive veggies.

This little shop was once a road side stand, no doubt, that grew into a little store open summer and fall only,  and a while back it sold just that, nice veggies, grown in back in the fields or the hothouse, for a good price.

A while back they started adding homey foods like pickles and apple pie, which were simply DELICIOUS.

The aroma entering that place was amazing; I often complimented the 'old lady' in the back cooking up these specialties, that were 'old family recipes.'

Well this humble farm stand is now an expensive  specialty foods shop, with average vegetables only, selling at exorbitant prices, just like in the local grocery stores.

Someone with money savvy bought the place apparently. Not a farmer.

Too bad!

(The apple pies are smaller, but I bought one, because I think this may be the last time I go into that store.)

What is a grocery store these days anyway?  It's a place where you can buy over-priced pre-packaged meals. Pre-pared in store and taxable, and covered in tonnes of styrofoam and plastic wrap.

"Only shop on the outskirts of the supermarket," a health conscious relative recently told me. But I laugh.

Soon there will be no 'outskirts.' There's no money in selling fresh veggies and meat. And people don't want to cook or know how to cook, except for those who make it a hobby or a profession.

"Home-made" jams 1910 or so.. and so marketingese was invented to make housewives feel better about themselves.

I recall when Loblaw's first came to Quebec. That store was famous for its 'mock' market as you enter. I recall a friend saying she went to Loblaw's because it made her feel good to shop there. Markets, old fashioned ones, make us happy. It's in our genes. But this Loblaw's is now a Provigo (the Loblaw's brand was unpopular in Quebec.) The new Provigo, all spiffied up, is not a grocer, from what I can see, but a prepared food emporium.
A McRae grocery bill from 1900. Having a store was very lucrative in small towns in 1900. But these stores were all competing and positioning themselves: one thing that was imperative to sell, PURE FOOD. This was the age of the purity movement. This invoice belongs to the Nicholsons of Threshold Girl.. I have many from the era and from the WWI era.  Beef was very inexpensive in Quebec in 1900, even though it took 6 years to bring a steer to market, whereas it now takes 6 months (or less?)

The deskilling has occurred over the century. It started with soups, pickles, beans, foods that took a long time to prepare.

Housewives weren't loathe to give up those tasks, well, most weren't.

But then it has escalated, hasn't it?

Another thing that bothers me. In Canada food is not taxed for the most part (and people get up in arms when they considered taxing food.) Junk food is taxed and some prepared food.

My son, a high end chef, who is often too tired to cook for himself and his wife at home, tells me that the 'processed food industry' is the second largest industry in Canada.

He wasn't quite sure what 'processed' means.

I suspect the government is making a fortune in taxes over the redefinition of what constitutes a prepared meal, and maybe we aren't paying enough attention to our grocery bill. Just like the Whole Foods clients who got bilked.

I know I am not. I'm more concerned, most of the time, over the terrible quality of the produce..

Ridiculously overpriced Dr. Oetker (or whatever) pizzas. But they were on sale for 2.99 each yesterday at the local 'discount' grocer, so I bought a bunch. They were all sold out save for the Vegetable one. But I prefer the veggie one. I added kale from my garden and some pacific salmon I had bought at the same time.

My new idea: don't give up meat entirely. Eat very little and only the best.

Prices in 1900 for Food and Such for family of 6.

1/3 of a beef, 106 pounds 6.35
Skating rink 10
6 lbs pork 25
2 beef tongues 20
Marion for Rink 10
Postage 12
79 lbs pork from Bromfield 4.35
Sunday School 04
Church plate 05
Scribbler for Flora 05
1 lbs sulphur 05
Hairdressing 15
Membership Board of Trade 1.00
Treat of cigars 25
Fare to Sherbrooke and return 1.35
Copy book Flora 08
Scribbler Edith 05
Marion skaing rink 10
½ lb Black tea 18
Sunday school 04
1 Ladies Jacket 8.50
1 pair gents overshoes 2.00
¼ lb candies 05
1 lb frosting sugar 08
1 lbs baking soda 04
¼ lbs peppermint 05
Sunday School 04
Church concert 60
Postage 20
1 paper of pins 05
I pocket handkerchief 08
Herbert 05
Postage 25
1 jar molasses 14
Mending Marion’s boots 25
Sunday School 04
Bridge toll 02
¼ pound candies 05
Times for one year 1.00
Maggie 25
½ pound Black tea 18
Marion for rink 10
Sunday School 03
¼ lbs cream of tartar 09
1 lbs currants 10
1 bottle Powell’s medicine 25
Maggie 50
W. Daigle for hauling bark 15
1 writing pad 15
1 pair rubbers Edith 45
1 pair rubbers Marion 45
1 loaf break 05
1 lb crackers 08
1 pint oysters 20
Cough candies 02
Scribbler for Marion 05
Postage 02
Maggie 50
1 loaf bread 05
1 bag fine salt 10
Sunday school 02
Church Collection 10
100 lbs salt 05
1 whisk 15
1 loaf bread 06
¾ pounds walnuts 10
Maggie for Church 2.10
1 lamp chimney 07
1 bottle M. Liniment 25
Maggie 06
½ black tea
1 pair laces 04
4 gallons coal oil 75
10 lbs corn meal 15
10 lbs Graham flour 25
5 gallons Coal Oil 95
1 hockey stick 30
Herbert for Dictionary 15
Maggie 10
½ loaf bread 06
1 lbs ginger snaps 10
¼ pound Ceylon Pepper 10
Postage 06
Flora and Marion 05
1 package Corn Starch 09
¼ lbs cream of tarter
Hair dressing 15
Marion for rink 10
1 jar molasses 12
1 doz eggs 20
Maggie 10
Chinaman for laundry 14
Sunday School 04
Patriotic Fund for Hockey 60
1 pair rubbers Herbert 60
Maggie 40
Marion and Flora 10
Sutherland for Miss Wilson 1.00
Postage 20
Mending tins 05
Missionary meeting 05
Skating rink 05
Maggie 25
¼ pounds cream of tarter 10
Sunday School 03
Maggie for concert 10
1 cake shaving soap 07
1 lbs soda 04
½ lbs Black tea
¼ lbs cream of tarter 09
1 bottle vanilla 10
5 pounds sugar 25
Maggie 25
5 lbs butter Mckee 1.00
Marion 05
Herbert for Sharpening skates 05
Maggie 1.00
5 lbs G Flour 10
6 ½ lbs butter 1.45
Mending Herbert’s boots 25
1 loaf bread 10
Cough candies 05
1 quart milk 05
Skating rink 20
Maggie 22
9 ½ lbs butter 2.00
Flora 05
1 bags fine salt 10
Maggie 50
1 bag flour 2.25
49 pounds oats 49
5 lbs sugar 25
Sunday School 04
½ lbs Black tea
Postage 10
Postal notes 05
Subscription to Herald `1.50
Subscription to Westminster
Pady Jim 25
12 ¾ cords wood 35.25
I scrubbing brush 10
5 lbs sugar 25
Maggie 10
1 pair of rubbers Flora 35
Sunday School 04
½ gal Coal oil 10
1 bottle ammonia 05
1 lamp burner 10
1 doz herrings 25
20 lbs Graham Flour 50
1 bag rolled oats 25
5 Gal Coal Oil 95
20 pounds corn meal 30
Flora 05
Small writing pad 05
1 box crackers 25
½ pound candies 10
Scrubbing floor 25
Herbert for sugar 10
Maggie 20
Hair dressing 15
1 jar molasses 15
½ lbs Black tea 18
2 lbs tapioca 10
Postage 27
Sunday School 07
Herbert for Birthday 25
Maggie 10
1 Gallon syrup 65
3 lbs sugar maple 24
3 pairs shoe laces 08
2 pair stockings 60
5 lbs sugar 25
Sugar scale 40
Maggie 2.60
1 pair rubbers 60
Maggie 35
To Sunday School 03
2 dozen eggs 30
1 package pop corn 05
F Lyster for milk 95
Fir dressing Herbert 15
5 lbs sugar 25
Maggie 1.00
Hauling manure 20
Postage 10
Sunday School 03
Bill of goods bought by Dan 32
1 box crackers 25
1 spool thread 10
1 can corned __beef? 25
3 ¾ lbs steak 47
Sunday school 04
Candies 04
5 lbs sugar 25
½ lbs Black tea 18
¼ pounds ginger 09
1 bag potatoes 45
¼ ream bill paper 05
Daigle for manuring 40
Edith 50
Herbert suit of clothes 4.00
Spading garden 1.00
Mending M and F. Shoes 70
Garden seeds 40
2 pairs shoes Edith and Marion 3.00
1 necktie for funeral 25
Maggie 25
Seeds got by Dr. Cleveland 50
1 package envelopes 07
Post office box 1.00
Sunday School 03
2 scribbers 10
1 bag oatmeal 1.90
1 lb flour 4.50
Mending boots 1.25
Pass Book 10
Postage 09
10 lbs graham flour 30
¼ lbs cream of tarter 25
2 lbs steak 25
3 ½ pounds S. Ham 25
Military dinner 75
3 gallons Maple Syrup 1.95
Flora 05
1 ¾ lbs Grass seed
Sunday school 05
Bridge toll 05
Church Collection 05
Maggie 20
Sawing 6 cords wood 3.90
2 scribblers 10
Hairdressing 15
Postage 10
1 can green paint 25
1 paint brush 10
5 lbs sugar 25
1 pint varnish 25
4 lbs steak 40
1 bunch lettuce 05
2 packages rubarb 10
2 lbs butter 36
½ pound black tea
Mending Edith’s boots 45
Sunday school 04
1 sitting of eggs 25
Box of Royal yeast 05
1 package carrots 05
1 doz screw nails 05
Maggie 5.00
Herbert for Fire Crackers 05
Military demonstration 1.00
Maggie 65
1 package of peas 10
1 package of carrots 05
Fare to Sherbrooke and return 80
Supper at Hoel 40
Initiation fees to Knight_(Masons) 21.00
Waiters at hotel 25
1 can Con. Lye 10
13 lbs veal 18
1 straw hats 12
Postage 20
Carting trees 75
5 lbs sugar 25
Maggie 2.00
Postage and registration 22
Sunday school 04
2 lbs raisins 20
4.1/2 lbs molasses 14
½ pounds cream of tarter 18
1 lbs baking soda 05
1 broom 22
Missionary collection for church 25
Bridge toll 05
1 wash board 25
1 box starch 15
2 lbs steak 25
1 bag fine salt 25
Maggie 1.25
Mending Maggie boots 60
Edith for scribbler 05
1 package powdered borax 10
2 cake cutters 10
To Herbert 05
Sunday school 03
Church collection 05
5 pounds sugar 25
½ pound black tea 18
1 loaf of bread 06
Bridge toll 06
1 pair braces 30
Mending Herbert’s boots 10
2 lemons 05
1 ½ lbs bacon 18
½ dozen tomato plans 13
1 ½ pounds steak 18
1 pin holder 05
Sunday school 04
Insoles for boots 20
2 cans paint 30
½ pounds emery powder
5 lbs oatmeal 15
1 bottle sweet oil 10
5 lbs sugar 25
2 lbs steak 25
Cutting H’s hair 15
Bridge Toll 02
Hair dressing 15
Sunday School 03
Sunday School 03
Postage 10
½ pounds Black tea 18
1 ½ pounds bacon 17
Church collection 05
Horse hire (Boast)1.50
Postage 25
5 lbs sugar 28
1 loaf bread 06
Maggie 50
Mending jewellery 05
1 straw hat 25
Present for Dan 1.00
1 ½ lbs bacon 18
2 cakes Sapolio 15
1 cake soap 10
1 bottle ammonia 10
2 lbs steak 25
1 bunch rhubarb 05
Horse hire 1.50
Sunday school 03
Church Collection 05
Fair to Windsor and return 30
Dinner at hotel 35
1 loaf bread 07
1 bottle turpentine 09
½ black tea 18
¼ pounds cream of tarter 09
1 ½ lb steak 18
Knitting yarn 03
Sunday school 03
1 box Royal yeast 05
Postage 08
Postage 51
12 lbs strawberries 1.25
Maggie 25
5 pounds bacon 60
2 lbs steak 25
Herbert for pocket money 23
Sunday school 03
Church collection 05
Hair dressing 15
Edith 10
3 lbs steak 30
2 quarts black currants 16
½ lbs black tea 18
Herbert for passing school 25
Maggie 3.00
20 pounds graham flour 50
20 lbs corn meal 30
Subscription to filling road 50
1 set cuff buttons 20
2 quarts black currants 16
Maggie 50
Mending Herbert’s boots 10
½ dozen pins 05
Sunday schools 02
Maggie 10
1 bottle vanilla 25
Note paper 05
I package envelopes 10
½ lbs Black tea 18
Marion 05
3 ½ lbs lamb 44
1 yd elastic 15
1 bottle perfume 25
Sunday School 04
Church collection 05
5 bars soap 25
¼ pounds cream of tarter 09
1 jar vinegar 14
1 ½ lbs bacon 18
1 pail berries 36
1 ½ pounds steak 18
2 lemmons 0 6
1 lbs currants 10
1 ½ pounds bacon 18
Edith 20
Sunday Schol 03
Church collection 05
1 lbs starch 06
½ black tea 18
Maggie 25
2 ½ pounds steak 30
2 pairs laces 04
Margaret 25
1 can salmon 15
Mrs. Parker’s Centennial 2.00
1 bushel basket 35
1 ½ pounds bacon 15
1 bushel basket 35
Edith 35
½ bushel potatoes 13
3 ½ pounds steak 35
1 bottle vinegar 14
1 lbs soda 05
8 lbs raspberries 30
4 lbs blueberries 25
Church collection 10
Hair dressing 15
4 dozen clothes pins 10
Bridge toll 10
1 lbs nails 05
1 yeast cake 02
2 lbs beef 1 6
1 ½ pounds bacon 18
1 bottle vinegar 10
1 ½ pounds steak 18
Cartage of valises 10
Mending Herbert’s boots 10
I pair pants for Herbert 90
Sunday school 04
5 lbs soap 25
Herbert 15
2 ½ lbs steak 30
½ lbs tea 13
3 lbs lamp chops 30
5 lead pencils 05
1 school scribbler 05
1 ½ pounds steak 15
School book 1.48
Maggie 15
1 can corn beef 25
3 ½ pounds steak 35
½ pounds b tea 18
¼ pound cream of tarter 10
1 package jelly 09
1 pail plums 40
Sunday school 94
Maggie 10
Latin book for edith 50
Postage 10
I scribbler 05
Post cards 10
1 book school edith 85
1 box matches 12
1 peck apples 10
6 ½ lbs steak 65
1 lbs soda 04
50 pounds sugar 2.75
1 bush flour 5.00
5 gallons coal oil 95
1 0 lbs graham flour 35
1 bag rolled oats 25
Scribbler for marion 05
4 fair tickets for children 40
1 membership ticket 1.00 (agricultural fair)
4 cakes bluing 05
1 peck apples 20
½ bushel apples 20
Ticket to fair 25
1 school book Edith 75
1 boot brush 18
1 doz lemons 02
8 preserving jar rubbers 08
Hair dressing 15
1 box boot blacking
Funeral at Gould 3.60
Sunday school 02
Church plate 10
Postage 20
School book Edith 30
2 lbs steak 20
3 ½ pounds steak 35
3 pounds mutton chops 16
1 __jar 10
1 copy book Flora 08
1 scribbler Herbert 05
Bible society 25
Marking at target 15
Missionary society 25
½ lbs Black tea
Postage 02
Subscription to Montreal Witness 2.50
5 ½ lbs steak 55
Football match 1.00
1 felt hat gents 1.00
3 __ packages 30
Maggie for C. B fund 1.00
Sunday school 04
Children for anniversary 20
1 peck apples 10
Church collection 10
Church concert 85
2 baskets grapes 18
Postage 15
2 flower pots 32
6 ½ pounds beef 63
1 ½ lbs lard 15
Sunday school 02
Maggie 05
Papers 02
4 ¾ pounds steak 48
½ doz oranges 15
1 basket grapes 25
Mending 2 pairs boots 1.15
Psotage 04
Edith 06
4 Laurier Buttons (Election year!)
Mending M boots 40
1 ½ lbs bacon 24
2 pints vinegar 15
5 lead pencils 05
4 ½ lbs beef 45
1 lbs butter 20
Post staps 10
Fare to Danville 55
Dinner at Danvile 40
Fare to Sherbrooke and Return 50
Dinner at Hotel 40
Masonic supper 1.00
1 lbs bacon 15
Hair dressing 15
Sunday school 02
Maggie 25
Ticket to S of E supper 50
10 lbs steak 98
2 lbs butter 40
Postage 08
Sunday School 03
1 Latin Book Herbert 40
Postage 07
Bridge toll 02
Postage 05
½ bushel apples 20
School Paper 05
Mending Herbert’s boots 10
5 ½ lbs steak 53
4 lbs butter 72
1 ½ doz eggs 23
1 scribbler 05
3 note books 03
Mending H. Boots 05
Hair dressing Herbert 15
16 lbs oats for hens 16
Lamp chimney 07
Bridge toll 02
Herbert for scribbler 05
Maggie 10
12 lbs steak 1.25
1 package B. Seed 10
1 sacred history Marion 30
15 lbs oats 15
Postage 10
Edith for Miss Lankin 05
6 lbs steak 60
15 lbs oats 15
Herbert 05
Maggie 10
Bridge toll 10
20 lbs oats 30
Foolscap paper 05
2 lbs bacon 23
4 lbs pork and lamb chops 40
Consert in College 25
20 pounds oats 20
½ yard ribbon 04
Postage 10
Postage 10
Pass book 05
Hair dressing 15
5 ½ cheese 65
Aylmers Presentation 50
Marion 10
Flora 05
1 lbs currants 12
7 ¼ lbs steak 72
1 lb suet 10
Sunday school 04
Marion 15
Maggie 5.00
I pair ladies gloves 1.25
Herbert for change 25
Maggie 1.00
1 package tobacoo 10
Peppermints 05
Postage 10
Postage 04
2 tickets to Christmas Tree 20 (event)
Tickest to D and return 55
Flora 05
9 ¾ pounds beef 75
10 lbs salt 10
1 doz eggs 25
1 bottle ammonia 10
Laundry 16
½ pounds candies 10
3 ¼ lbs m. Sugar 28
½ lbs nuts 10
Marion 05
Postage 08
¼ beef 87 pounds 4.78
2 beef tongues 22
Laundry 10
Sunday school 03
Church collection 05
1 yeast cake 02
1 writing pad 06
½ dozen pencils 05
½ doz pins 05
10 lbs oats 10
Scribbler for marion 05
Sunday school 05
Maggie 10
Miss Jessie Kellock 15
Postage 08
Mckee Bill (flour, grain, feed, sugar, salt, oils and provisions) 16.33 (same as on this list but also stove polish, pane of glass, can of beef, cod.)
1 bag flour 2.50
Dentist’s bill 9.75
Children schools fees 11.00
McMorine bill 15.80 (Dry goods, Ready-made clothing, boots, shoes and rubbers)
McRae Bill (groceries, provisions and hardware)6.58
John Bushnel for cie 6.00
Masonic chapter dues 2.00
Municipal tax 18.50
Minister Stipend 5.00
Municipal tax 35.20

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vivian Maier and Female Photography

Maier took a lot of self portraits, often using mirrors in the style of the Romantic Englishwoman movie.  I wonder if she was as fascinated by the box of Black Magic Chocolates as I was.

I just saw this clip on the Guardian about a documentary Finding Vivian Maier, about a nanny who took street photographs in the middle of the 20th century - and I looked the movie up and see that it is playing this week in an art house theatre in Montreal.

I think I will go, even tho that means a trip into the big bad construction mess of a city. It will be nice to see a documentary that is life affirming, that isn't about how we're all gonna die - and soon.

Vivian took a lot of pictures of women in  40's fashions, walking away.. according to the clip I saw.

That's an interesting women's take...and I think it is correct. From the back you see the style, from the front you see the woman. From the back the woman becomes an 'everywoman' of the era, swishy skirt, slim ankles, teetering on those high heels.

Well, Vivian Maier, apparently, took pictures of all kinds of people. Poor and rich, drab and fashionable. And plenty of pictures of herself.

After spending 10 years researching the Nicholson Family Letters, and writing a few e-books, with the finale being Sister Salvation, about the suffrage movement in Montreal, I certainly wish there had been someone like Vivian Maier back then in 1910, someone who took pictures of ordinary, real Montreal street people.
Park Avenue (Ave du Parc) ladies, 1910

There are no moving pictures of Montreal in the era (well, a couple of dull Edison ones).

There are many 'picture' postcards, most from Valentine and Sons, that exist and are posted online, tonnes of them, but they feature places: streets, buildings, landmarks.

Well, there is one rather intriguing Valentine and Sons photograph of two women on Park Avenue, in a Vivian Maier style pose. It's my favorite.

And there's another one of women at Dominion Amusement Park, and I swear that girl looking into the camera is Marion Nicholson. She certainly owned that dress and her cousin and best pal in 1912 was built just like the woman beside her.

Marion? at Dominion Park, circa 1910

In the 1910 era, photographs were taken in studio by Notman in Montreal.

Notman famously chronicled the rich and famous of Montreal (his archives are at the McCord) but the middle class also used his studios.

Indeed, I have a studio pic of Marion by Notman. Right here.

 Marion boating. Family pic. Taken on a 4 dollar 'kodak'

Power Pose (with a twist as he is seated on a sexy little bistro chair): Sir William Van Horne, Library and Archives Canada

This is the kind of portrait people took in 1910. Van Horne, Railroad Magnate, was a Governor of McGill University in 1910 and he plays a part in my story Sister Salvation, He was in favor of Carrie Derick, a woman, getting the post of Chair of Botany in 1912. But an American scholar, a man, won the prestigious post and Carrie was given a mere 'courtesy title.'

My favorite Nicholson photo, Edith, Flo and Floss in 1913, possibly at sister Marion's wedding.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Where Advertising and War Come Together.

Just as was intended 100 years ago, this slick brochure from 1916 caught my eye -and tingled my imagination- and I continued to delve into the trunk that contained the Nicholson Family Letters from 1887-1940.

100 years ago there was World War I.  I know because I just watched Parade's End on TV, with Benedict Cumberbatch, and I liked it very much.

It's embarrassing, but before I discovered the Nicholson Family Letters I couldn't have told you the dates of WWI, or the date women, in Canada, got the vote.

 (In 1917 Premier Borden gave women limited suffrage so he could pass a Conscription Bill. Suffrage was limited to women with close relations active on the War Front.)

And I'm well read enough.

I could have told you about the Pre-Raphaelites and Oscar Wilde and La Belle Epoque, and about the Epicurians but not the dates of the WWI. I must have skipped History Class that day in high school.

My husband, who doesn't read much, could have told you though. He likes to watch War TV.

So, about 10 years ago, when I found that family trunk with the Nicholson letters and opened the top about 5 inches (and the trunk was stuck under a shelf) and bravely reached in and pulled out (first thing) an advertising  for Crisco from 1916, addressed to someone called Margaret Nicholson of Richmond, Quebec,  I didn't understand the significance of the date.

I just thought the flyer was cool because it contained such slick advertising copy.(I've worked as a copywriter.)

 It was a 3 fold card with a friendly letter on the back that pretended to be from the local grocer, in this case Mr. Mac Rae, but was really from the mind of a Madison Avenue advertising professional. (Well, a Chicago advertising professional.)

I know good copy when I see it and this is good copy. 

I grew up in the 60's eating my mother's delicious cakes made from Crisco shortening. This advertisement contained a panel for a coupon (in the signature style of woman advertising pioneer Helen Landsdowne Resor) that Margaret likely used. Waste not want not.

My husband's great grandmother wasn't hooked at all. I know because her 1917 butter bills were also in the trunk! The price of milk and butter skyrocketed during the WWI years, the reason why this 3 panel direct mail advertisement was sent around to women like Margaret, who were usually loathe to change their culinary ways.

Not Bonne Over Here, the Nicholson Letters from WWI can be find here on Kindle. There are lots of complaints about the rising cost of living in the letters..

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tennis, Middy Blouses and Donaldas

McGill 1917 tennis team.

Since I like tennis, I am thinking of going to the 2014 Roger's Cup in Montreal although the weather forecast doesn't look too promising.

Because I like tennis,  I am making one of the characters in Sister Salvation a sporting type.

She is a wealthy student at RVC, the Royal Victoria Women's College (wealthier than most students who were mostly middle class)and she becomes turned on to the suffrage at first cause because it gets a rise out of a boy she likes.

But soon she gets serious and then she gets into trouble, but it all works out in the end.

That's the fictional part of my story.

 The rest of Sister Salvation is 'true.' The true story of Professor Carrie Derick, Canada's first female full professor and President of the Montreal Suffrage Association and the true story of the Nicholson women of Richmond, Quebec, who, in 1911/12 are all trying to make a go of it in the big bad city. (I have their family letters.)

The three storylines seem to fit together very snugly.

I first wondered if this was my own wishful thinking, then whether it was just  luck and, later, whether it was something else: the fact that Montreal women in 1910, upper class, middle class, or pioneering feminists, all suffered the same problems, the same challenges, a struggle to be taken seriously and a struggle for personal freedom.

Today, I lean towards the 3rd reason.

Making my co-ed a tennis players  in there isn't such a stretch.. Tennis was a popular sport at McGill among women from the earliest days of the Donaldas.

 The McGill co-eds at top are wearing middy blouses, sports blouses of the 1910 era that become the popular fashion during 1917 when corsets were needed for the war effort, or so the story goes.

Eaton's catalogue, 1917

So this image from the 1902 Ladies Home Journal is  the equivalent of showing a girl playing soccer in high heels.

 Edith Nicholson, second from right, in her Navy League Uniform in 1917. She's just down the street from McGill in front of the Sun Life Building.  In 1920 she would begin working in the Registrar's Office at McGill and later she would be Assistant Warden of  Royal Victoria College.

In 1912/13 Edith is hating her job at French Methodist Institute, a private school in Westmount and is about to quit. (A woman has been promoted as Head Teacher and all the other woman teachers HATE this.)

Her sister Marion is liking her job at Royal Arthur School, teaching  a class of 50, but she is turned down for a higher job, teaching the 7th grade the next year and this, she says,  "Makes me sick." You see, a 'mere boy out of school' has been hired in her place, and he is slated to make $800. a year, $150. more than she does with 6 years' experience.

She could use the money. She is helping to pay the board for a younger sister at Macdonald Teachers College.

Marion is also fed up with her rooming house, because the landlady 'lords it over her' so she desperately seeks a place of her own to live in, well, to share with her sisters and other teachers.

Landladies couldn't be too careful in those days, lest they be accused of running a bawdy house.

And,  in 1912, Carrie Derick is turned down for the position of Chair of the Botany Department at McGill in favour of  an American scholar, a man younger than her but with many more publications.

She is already an Assistant Professor. Her salary is 2,000 a year, a big salary for anyone of any sex.

But the Chair position earns 3,000. a year.

And she has fought so hard to reach where she is...almost begging for every promotion since she was hired as a part-time lab demonstrator in 1882.

The hardest part, Derick has been de-facto Chair  of the Botany Department for three years - with no extra pay. The previous Chair, Dr. Penhallow, her mentor, died in 1910 and she took over. She did all this while acting as President of the Montreal Council of Women, an umbrella group of over 40 women's aid organizations.

To appease her, the Governors of McGill make Derick a Full Professor in 1912, but with no extra duties and no extra pay and, most humiliating of all, she still has to work in the lab as demonstrator.

Pictures I snapped last year at the Roger's Cup in Montreal.

 David Ferrer
 Raphael Nada or Rafa
Grigor Dimitrov