Saturday, May 14, 2011

Our Most Famous Society Woman

Lady Julia Grace Parker Drummond from National Archives of Canada.

I am writing the scene where Edith takes Flora to a meeting of the Montreal Council of Women. It will be the time when Miss Wylie, British Suffragette speaks, but they will miss her speech (just catching the reporter's scrum at the end) and only be there for 'business' arising.

I will have Julia Parker Drummond (Founder and First President of the Council) read a bit from the Far From Nature editorial(which is about child labour in Canada) and Flora will be enraptured by her elegance and speaking skills and attire, but miss out on the substance of her speech.

The girls will hear a woman from the Immoral Materials Committee expound on the evils of the nickelodeon. (The woman in question, a Mrs. Liddel, lives on Lorne, which is a short street where the Cleveland's live...So I will use that somehow.) I will use a funny line from a Canadian Council Report that describes vaudeville as having a rather low tone.

Then they will hear a woman bring up the subject of Technical Schools and Women. This will capture Flora's interest, because she will hear the words MacDonald College and say THAT IS MY SCHOOL.

She will listen closely to what is said this time, but leave before the conclusion of the discussion - which will cause her to do something stupid at Macdonald College when Robertson comes around.

Anyway, I got to thinking. In the 1910 era, it was the job of society women to work on the social problems of the day. Lady Aberdeen, Lady Drummond, Mrs. Reford...These are three of Canada's leading figures in the social welfare movement.

Society Women had the education, energy, time and connections to do the work.

Many of these women were feminists who worked to give women equal opportunities. Now women have won these opportunities, but the ones with the brains and drive are too busy running the rat race and don't have the time to fight for social justice, if they want it.

Movies stars now are the equivalent of 'society women'. Only they have the time and prestige.

Just a thought.

Now Julia Parker Drummond was clearly a 'good looking woman' but she had androgynous features and a huge male chin in profile: she wasn't a beauty (although a little makeup might have helped. So Flora will make this observation...not about the makeup...but that she is handsome, not beautiful.

But she did have charm and eloquence and Grace, like her name. Apparently. And she had smarts too. After all, I have posted a letter she wrote in 1909 in answer to a query from the Moral Reform Association of Canada who wanted 'living in sin' to be criminalized. She wrote: You cannot make people 'good' by acts of parliament.

She was the second wife of Sir George Drummond, whose first wife was a Redpath, which was a help to him, no doubt. She was presented to Queen Victoria and also got some face-time with Edward and Alexandra. This will impress Flora of course.

The Redpath Refineries were not far from where Marion taught. I'll use that too, but probably in the Marion story.
She was a wise woman.