Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Story of Flo?


Flo and Friend, waiting for the bus in Richmond circa 1910
Well, I got up at 5 am, which is a good sign. In the good old days, when I was writing a lot, I always did my best work upon rising at 5.
I think I now have all I need, with respect to my novel to get on with writing it.
I had a sense I was missing something, and what I was missing was the Montreal Angle.
Years and years ago, when I tried to access the files of the Montreal Council of Women, unsuccessfully for the most part, I was looking for this angle.
Now, with the Gazette archives online, I have got the info I need to make the Story of Flo (actually Flo in the City, about a girl coming of age in the 1910 era, based on the letters of http://www.tighsolas.ca/.)
What do I have?
1) I have the life, in letter form, of an over- protected, educated middle class girl from Richmond, Quebec.
2)I have her portfolio from Macdonald and all the background with respect to the Royal Commission on Technical Training and Industrial Education. In 1913, Flora would go to teach in Griffintown. Prim and proper Flo would come face to face with the realities of Montreal style poverty which would dwarf her family's financial problems.. She would in a 1914 letter write saying she feels sorry for these children, they have such tough lives.
She also writes, in the same letter, how popular Parent's Day is at school. How the parents are so very interested in their children's progress... an observation that goes against the grain.. but there it is on the page in blue and white. Marion taught in the inner city since 1909 and her experiences will figure largely in Flo in the City. (Of course, parental involvement has long been a tradition in the Anglo Education Sector but not so much among French Canadians.)
3)I have all the background, from Canadian and US sources, of the era
4)I have other UK background, Edwardian Era
5)And I have the Gazette archived articles which prove 1) that Montreal's child labour, prostitution problem were the worse in NA perhaps. De Bullion Street! And the two things were tied together, as these prostitutes were often workers, trying to make more money.
6) and I have the French Canadian angle, with my grandparents, who were wealthy. Indeed, today, looking up Carrie Derick (which is spelled Derrick back then) and the Montreal Council of Women (often referred to as the "local council of women" I discovered that the Royal Commission met in the Mayor's Chambers in Montreal in 1911. Mederic Martin was mayor. (I didn't know he started that early.)My grandfather was likely in the Greffier's office by then (have to double check, I have all his papers.) I can stick him in the story there, as I have Edith working for his family as a tutor in 1909.
Looking up Montreal Council of Women I pulled an article about Mrs. Snowden (famous for her dazzling wit, as they called it) giving a speech in Montreal in 1909. She also came in 1913, and Edith sees her and is upset that she is not militant. She is being hosted by the Montreal Council of Women and Carrie Derrick (Derick) says that the council has not yet decided whether to support suffrage, as an entity, although many members are suffragists. (No doubt she is too.) She says it is just not in the upbringing of some women to be suffragists, although they want to do good work in the world and maybe suffrage is the only answer. In 1912, Derrick (Derick) would found the Montreal Suffrage Organization, which would be militant...
I also found a good article describing Mrs. Wylie's visit to Montreal in 1912. She is militant and unapologetic about it.