Monday, February 14, 2011

Workopolis 1910

Because so many Canadian children were growing up with a view like this:

Or like this:


There was a movement to bring them back to the land. The school garden movement, in both the US and Canada. There is a park in front of the building that housed Royal Arthur, so I'm guessing there was some gardening activity.


My last post describes the journey I took last night, using the 1911 Census, through the streets of St. Antoine Ward, (or St-Henri) seeing who lived there and what they did for a living (sic) and what salary they pulled in.


After noticing that 500 was about an average salary for a skilled or semi skilled worker, I had to wonder. How come so few males wanted to become teachers?


In 1910, in Montreal, a male graduate of Macdonald earned an automatic 8o0. a year, while a female graduate like Flo made 550.


And the male graduate, however good at his job, would likely earn a principalship in no time, as they didn't give women these jobs.


Of course, they had reasons for doing this. 1)Many women, like Marion, left the profession after a few years to marry.
(Although I have to wonder if Marion would have left the profession so quickly if a 'young boy out of school' hadn't taken the job teaching 5th grade that she had been promised.

Now, there was no clear cut rule that a woman who married had to give up her job. At least I don't think so. In the Nicholson letters for 1913, after she has become engaged, Marion is apparently debating whether to work another year. Of course, maybe that means she would have put off her marriage.

And I wonder if she would have given up her job if she had been able to find a nice place to live.

Whatever, she left the profession. And just one year before she had described herself in a letter as 'on my way to the top.')

Another reason the Powers that Be were trying to lure men into the teaching profession: 2)the male students in the higher grades were a rough lot and in the higher grades there were more boys than girls, because girls often dropped out at twelve years of age.
And another reason, often cited, was 3) that the feminine milieu of school was just plain bad for male students. Principal Robbins of McGill Normal School is quoted in the Montreal Gazette 1910 era as saying this feminizing effect of too many women teachers is having a 'grave national effect' and that boys need a strong masculine hand.

But back in 1907 Marion had been offered the Principalship of a school in Hatley, and in the letter offering her the job, the supervisor admits that the boys are a tough bunch "but you can handle it, I am sure." The salary was tiny, though, 250ish, if I recall.
At her first school in the country, Marion had seen the Principal get into a fist fight with a male student.


So male teachers were given preference, despite being few and far between, which really irked ambitious woman teachers, especially the career women who never married. Marion wasn't alone in how she felt.
She just had a way out: marriage. And then her husband died prematurely, leaving her penniless with four children to support.


Of course, prospective teachers would have had to be well-educated and maybe the well-educated men felt they had better prospects. Like Herb, who always thought he deserved more. Herb graduated from St. Francis College (I assume, I have no proof that he graduated, only that he attended). He became a bank clerk. Edith's great love was also a bank clerk. Bank clerks didn't make much, either.

But then they didn't have to watch over "50 very bad children' whose parents were the working poor, like Marion had to.


Jewish graduates weren't allowed to work at all. Many of these girls were hired by the Jewish Community to go into the homes of new immigrants and teach them about hygiene, etc. This likely accounts (at least in part) for why infant mortality among the Jews of Montreal was the lowest in the city!!