Saturday, September 18, 2010

History Class 1960

Suffragette rally 1913 US.

Hmm. It's official. I just checked out my copy of Canada Then and Now, the Canadian History Book used in Montreal Schools in the 60's and there's not one mention of the suffragettes. My copy is from 1954, the year of my birth.

Indeed, the index has no mention of a female.

The chapter on the Laurier era describes Laurier ' a representative of which we could well be proud. It was not only his distinguished appearance, his courtly manners, his scholarship, and his eloquence whcih appealed to the imagination of all who saw him. It was the fact that he, a Canadian of French descent should represent the greatest of Britain's overseas Dominions."

Which? Then it talks about the Boer War, the Naval Bill and Reciprocity.

And then I happen to own another odd Canadian History Book, by Stephen Leacock, commissioned by Seagrams and published in 1941, during the war. "Canada, the Foundations of its Future."

Now for the Laurier Era it starts out "Laurier was fortunate in his ascension to power...He was fortunate in the moment of his success. It came just as the clouds of hard times gave way to the sunshine of prosperity."

Leacock discusses the 'tide of immigration' in 1910 to 1913. "Bountiful harvests and good prices drew a flood of immigrants towards the West." Hmm. Herb Nicholson's letters from all over the Prairies suggest it was a struggle to survive there with all the inflation that comes with rampant growth.

Leacock writes about the Russians, Austro-Hungarians, Poles and Russians who came to the Prairies and who became 40 percent of the population of Alberta. And he mentions that many many Americans also came to the Prairies, for no reason except more opportunity. You see, according to that article I found in the NEW YORK TIMES, Canada was giving free land to homesteaders and also supporting them once they arrived- at least for a few years.

Leacock mentions Greeks as early immigrants to Canada, but not Italians. Well, the war was on. And he isn't too kind to Orientals.

As for the Suffragettes, well, in the 60's we sometimes got to see an old movie featuring them: and because these silent films could not be played in real time, they all were jerky, making the women seem silly, so silly.

It's sad, because in the 60's, there were still some suffragettes around. But they were all in their 80's and such and probably wouldn't have appealed to us kids. It was such a youth culture. My place, Looking for Mrs. Peel is about that very thing.