Sunday, March 27, 2011

General Elections 1911, 2011, Canada

Well, here in Canada, they've called a general election for May 2. 2011. The posters are already up in my area. I wonder if anyone will be paying attention to the campaigning, considering April 29,th is the Royal Wedding. I can see the CBC was planning to give that event broad coverage, they've been promoting it for months. I wonder if the ADHD media still plan to put resources in England and do they have to change their plans. Whatever.

At least, it appears, no Canadian team will be still in the hockey playoffs by that time. Not the Canadiens, anyway. Gee, one hundred years ago there was another General Election in Canada, a famous or infamous one, depending on your point of view, the Free Trade Election. This election figures prominently in the Nicholson Family Saga. I have all the letters posted on Ironically, the Nicholson's lived in Montreal and Richmond, Quebec, the town where Michael Ignatieff's people would end up after coming out of Russia. Here are two letters from the two main candidates in that election in Richmond-Wolfe.

Richmond August 21, 1911

Dear Sir, At a large and representative convention held in the town of Richmond on the 18th day of this month, I was, by unanimous vote, selected as the Conservative Candidate for the Parliamentary Division of Richmond Wolfe. The honor is a great one, and if elected, I will do my utmost to truly represent the views of my constituents.

On the two great questions of the day, Reciprocity and the Navy my views are these: I am opposed to the Taft Fielding Reciprocity Pact for reasons which I will explain from the platform. As to the question of the Navy I am in favor of having this matter decided by the direct vote of the people. During the campaign I shall endeavor to visit all the parts of the two counties. The time is short and some localities may be overlooked, but I hope to have an opportunity of laying my views before you in meetings, the dates of which will be shortly announced.

If after having listened to our side of the case, you will favor me with your support. I will be grateful. Sincerely yours John Hayes MD (Stamped)

April 18,1921

Mr. Norman Nicholson, Residency 4, Division D Via Cochrane, Ontario NTRY

Dear Sir, I am in receipt of yours of the 15th instant and replying to same beg to say that I am still fighting the good ole cause and have Dr. Hayes of Richmond for opponent. I will give your letter over to Mr. J A Begin and he will have to see about these matters as you are aware, I am pretty busy at the present time seeing my people. I hope that everything will be all right and will be glad to have you come and vote.

Yours truly, E W Tobin (hand signed)

This 1911 General Election was in September, a few months after the 1911 Census. The Census is also mentioned in the letters and I have written about it extensively on this Flo in the City blog.

The Census was once a hot issue here in Canada, and I'm talking just a few months ago, but everyone these days has a near non-existent attention span. The politicans are counting on that fact, I imagine.

We're a Twitter society and that name, TWITTER, says it all. We have bird brains and clicky fingers.

Maybe my Labrador, Darcy, should be the one to vote in my family, as, the other day, he spent at least 30 minutes sitting under the mantlepiece, staring up at the place where he knew was his bowling ball chew toy, and that's a record for any activity by any living breathing being in this house this week.

Even better, the chew toy was out of his line of vision, he merely smelled it. So that seals it, Darcy should definitely be the one to vote. A good sense of smell is invaluable during elections. You can't trust what you hear, that's for sure.

All I know is I am VERRYYY glad they had a Census in 1911 (when people routinely sat through boring sermons at church and ingested long, word-padded articles about pressing social issues in magazines like the Delineator and the Saturday Evening Post) because it has helped me get to the bottom of the story of the Nicholson Family Saga. I can better figure out who their friends and acquaintances were, where they lived and how old they were and how rich they were (and whether or not they had a live-in maid) and I can figure out about the lives of the immigrant children in Marion's classroom in Little Burgundy in the City, how poor they were and if their parents worked as domestics or if they had any work at all.

(The gap between rich and poor was HUGE back then in the Edwardian/Laurier/Tighsolas era. And guess what? The statistics reveal that it's pretty much the same today! We've come full-circle in one hundred years. Too bad our attention span is so short (Oh, what a LOVELY wedding gown!) and our math skills are so bad we can't properly process this inauspicious information. And the politicians are counting on that too.)

All very important to me: As it happens, Marion Nicholson, my husband's grandmother never got enumerated for the 1911 Census. She was boarding in Montreal so the census taker in Richmond left her off. WRONG! But her brother Herb did get enumerated. He was in a boarding house in Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan.

He was one of 6 or was it 8 boarders, one of whom was a young woman. And one other boarder was a bartender, oh my! Margaret would have packed up and taken the train to Qu'Appelle and dragged her 26 year old back home by the ear had she known.