Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marion, Flora and Edith Nicholson: representative of their time in Quebec

Well, I'm trying to figure out what was happening in 1906, with respect to Macdonald College deciding to absorb the McGill Normal School.

As far as I can figure, there was some political wrangling going on: Macdonald College was going to create a school for rural teachers, separate from the Normal School. Some people felt the Normal School had neglected the needs of rural people. (I saw that they gave free tuition to city dwelling candidates starting in 1906, the year after Marion attended.)

But then with a two million dollar donation from Macdonald, Sir William that is, the Normal School was accepted into Macdonald College and a special committee of the Protestant Committee was set up to decide terms.

At stake, who was to decide how the teachers there should be trained. Well, they arrived at some compromise. All teachers now took Manual Training and Nature Study, for instance.

So now the tables were turned. In the past, it was the rural teachers who had trouble finding lodgings in Montreal while they were at school. (Marion. above, lodged at the Y). Now, students staying at home in the city while attending Macdonald would have to commute two hours a day.

I'm reading what articles I can find on the subject: what I did find out is that the Protestant Committee was committed to creating a bilingual province,committed to teaching French in the schools.

Yet, in the 1960's, when I attended school in Montreal, French class was ineffective. (In large part this was because Catholic teachers couldn't teach in the Protestant system.)

Today, all English schools are French immersion, but this is no bilingual province.

Very odd.

Anyway, in 1906 a resolution was passed allowing teachers without diploma to teach under special circumstances in rural schools. These teachers had to have at least Academy II. That is why Edith could teach. Many people were against this resolution, they saw it as lowering standards, going backwards...although it was said that no other jurisdiction in North America or Europe could expect most of its teachers to have a diploma. (That's how special the Protestant Quebeckers felt they were with respect to education. Superior.)

Others thought it was just practical to allow some teachers to practice without a diploma: rural schools had trouble getting qualified teachers, what with the lonliness and boredom and tiny classes and lack of facilities, but especially since they didn't want to pay good salaries.

I found a notice from April 1911, showing that Melbourne needs an elementary specialist with diploma and wants to pay out 20 dollars a month. Well, May Watters, who graduated that year, didn't want that job. She wanted to work in the city for big bucks, and live with Marion. And she got a job in the city. I have to find someway to stick this in my story, possibly when Flora meets with her Principal in April 1911... to discuss her failing grade in French.

No question, Marion, Edith, and Flora Nicholson are representative of their time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Everyone Hates the Normal

Marion, second from left, in Normal School photo.

Well, I was able to find a newspaper description of the 1927 Macdonald Normal School Graduation and the 1907 Mcgill Normal School Graduation, so that I can probably mesh the two and describe what likely happened at Flo's graduation in 1911. Prayer to start, some choir singing (Flora was in the choir), lots of important people attending, some giving speeches. Prizes awarded.

I am pretty sure, a few years ago as I embarked on this research for Flora in the City, I read that Macdonald only absorbed the Mcgill Normal School reluctantly. Where did I read this?

I have puzzled together something about it from Gazette reports. In 1905, Macdonald (the Tobacco benefactor) said that his new school would not be absorbing the McGill Normal School (despite the fact that many assumed it would, that it was a natural thing.)

Then suddenly they are absorbing it...Political wrangling I guess. I'm assuming Principal Robins was against the move, as he resigned or lost his job when the transfer occurred, while all the other teachers moved to Macdonald, literally.

In 1906, the Normal School is saying it is looking for ways to create residences for women students, a big problem that keeps rural women from applying. (The Nicholson letters describe the huge problems young had getting places to live in Montreal.)

John Ferguson Snell's book on Macdonald College states Macdonald absorbed the Normal School because in 1906, an educational official did a survey and figured out that Women Teaching Students had difficulty finding places to live in Montreal.

(Marion's letters from Normal School reveal this. She stayed at the Y and hated it. Too many rules! I think I will have her talking to this official in 1906. Maybe she did! The Y rooms were cold, it seems, from Marion's letters. Also, there's an interesting bit in her letters about a Gazette letter that claims the Y, situated near the Windsor, is too good a location for teaching students, proving that women, alone in the city, were looked down upon.

One of Marion's fellow students is writing a reply to the letter.)

I also found an article that showed that there was some kind of smear campaign agains the Normal School and its teachers in 1907 that went all the way to the Legislative Assembly and then the Head Instructor, a Miss Peebles, took an extended vacation to Europe.

And Dr. Robins, long time Principal of the Normal School, resigned when Macdonald took over the Normal School and he said, enigmatically, in his last speech during the graduation ceremonies that Macdonald had 'wider connections.'

The fact is, I think, Macdonald always expected to have a teaching school, but one that taught manual training and nature study to rural candidates who would go back to the country to teach. In other words, they wanted to fill the void.

Neither Macdonald nor Robertson gave a hoot about city students, whose parents 'herded to the city.'

And yet, that's who they ended up helping. Teachers like Flora Nicholson didn't want to teach in boring, ill-equipped rural schools, where there was no chance to find a husband. Not if they could help it.

The short of it is, Marion's experiences in 1905/1906 at the Normal School, influenced the decision to have the Normal School put at Macdonald, where there were state of the art residences, new building, excellent ventilation, clean water and electricity!

(Apparently, the Belmont classrooms of the Normal School had terrible ventilation. A student passed out from gas poisoning or something. This is an interesting fact, if you consider the 'health concerns' of the era, tuberculosis, etc. )

Somehow I have to get this all in the novel...A little in the Flo novel, a lot in the Marion novel.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Denmark, and Food Supply.

Near Borup, Denmark

This week, I visited my son, who works in a high end resto in Ottawa. He's interested in food, of course, and has been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. He's about to get a philosphy degree, so he'd better he interested in food! He told me about the book (which he will lend to me when finished) and mentioned that the author suggested that Denmark was the model for food production we should be following. (Or something to that effect.) Well, it is well-known that the Scandinavian countries lead the way in the world when it comes to sustainable, healthy food production,

Well, I joked to my son, now 23,"You sure know about Denmark and the grocery stores."

My brother has lived in Denmark for 30 years, in Roskilde (on the fjord) Nascov and near Borup, on a collective farm of some kind, and my son has visited there.

He went for a summer once, when he was a teen, and like most North American boys of a certain tweenage, he was a little chubby from too many chips and video games.

He game back much thinner, despite the fact he said he did little at my brother's home in Nascov back then but play video games.

You see, no junk food!

I visited Denmark for a few weeks in 2006 with my other son, who had just become a vegetarian - after seeing a film on slaughter houses in CEGEP.

I am a foodie myself and I take an interest in any grocery stores I find in foreign countries. In Denmark, in 2006, I found it very hard to cook vegetarian for my son. I also found it difficult to find 'convenience foods'. I recall I wanted sliced chicken and what the stores had was expensive and came in teeny tiny amounts. Lots of pickled fishes though.However, you could buy booze anywhere, even in shoe stores. At least I think I saw some booze for sale in a show store :) The fish aren't the only thing pickled in Denmark.

Anyway, we ate great, because people still know how to cook in Denmark, or at least my brother's relations can cook, as can my brother, although he's usually pickled when he cooks. They still have to know how to cook from scratch.

Which is all the more ironic, as I downloaded J.W. Robertson's 1908 report to Parliament about The Macdonald-Donaldson movement, in which he says that his inspiration for the movement came from visiting Denmark at the beginning of his career as a civil servant!

"Shortly after I had the honor of being appointed a public servant, to help in the forward movement for agriculture and education in Canada, some twenty one years ago, I paid a brief visit to Denmark. I saw and learned very much there from which I tried to bring back the lessons to the Province of Quebec."

Now, my sister in law is a retired nurse, but she grew up a farmer's daughter, I guess in the 40's and 50's, and as she descibes it, her life was very peasant-like. So I dunno.

"The foreward movement for agriculture and education." That phrase, I guess, summarizes the Catch-22 or whatever about the Movement. It was a 'forward movement' that waxed nostalgic for a kinder, gentler past that had never really existed. In 1910, people were 'herding to the cities', a bad thing, Robertson believed. The solution, in his mind, was to educate the farmer. But the clock can't be turned back, and all his movement did, from what I see, is provide the science for the industrialization of the food supply, that fed the ever increasing urban population.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Just One More Magazine and Then I'll Stop

Norman Nicholson, probably around 1920, a year or so before his death from an embolism.

I just purchased a 1909 Delineator from eBay. Cost a small fortune, but I can't find my other edition that I bought about 5 years ago, and this one had an article about The Corset: Uses and Abuses. Also a bit about Ellis Island. It seemed promising.

I have written in a mention of this magazine into Flora and the City. I feel I must, it has been written out of history.

And I just found out, Theodore Dreiser was the publisher of this magazine between 1907 and 1910. Big on 'child rescue' as in adoption.

He left under a cloud of scandal, but it had nothing to do with his work.


Just took a walk around the old Macdonald Campus, now John Abbott as I was picking up a relation at the bus there.

I walked the dogs near the Stewart Hall, which is the old women's residence, I guess. A big building, now apartments. "Danger" say some signs around it. I guess the building is losing bits and pieces.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Marion Nicholson Blair in 1939.. 55 years old.

This is a nice portrait of Marion, five years before she died.

I have not been able able to find that Food and Cookery from 1911, or my Delineator or Pictorial Review, but I did find Le Salon de la Mode from July 1911, which I may somehow stick into my story.

Yesterday, I listend to an Afternoon Play on BBC Radio Four called A Terrible Beauty, about the deep friendship between Maude Gonn and W. B Yeats.

I guess you can call it a docu drama, in that the play tried to fill us in on the history while telling a bit of a story.... That's sort of what I want to do with Flora in the City (or Threshold Girl.)..

This play made Yeats seem like a bit of a middle aged fool. Alas.

Threshold Girls and Lost Magazines

My new mantle.. Harper's Bazar 1913, Ladies' Home Journal 1906 covers. And 'The Girls'.. or my Anna of the Five Towns vases.

Well, yesterday, I tried to find that July 1911 Food and Cookery Magazine I purchased off eBay five years ago, with the awesomely illustrative article on the Healthful Home.

I need it for the detailing of my Flora in the City Novel in Progress.

I found my 1906 Ladies' Home Journal and the cover of the Harper's Bazar and spontaneously decided to frame them before they fall to scraps. I took the posters of La Dulce Vida and Ladro di Bicyclette (spelling?) out of two cheap Walmart frames and put the covers in and then removed the tall framed details of Van Gogh's Irises and Sunflowers which graced my living room mantle and replaced them with these smaller frames.

They go good with "The Girls" I think: my art nouveau Thomas Forester vases. Right era, right theme. Pretty girls. Girls as decoration.

A theme I'm fiddling with in Flo in the City.

I'm thinking of changing the the title (which really doesn't work as she doesn't get to the city until the end) to Threshold Girl. That's a term used by author Gertrude Atherton in an Article in a 1909 Delineator I have somewhere, but can't find.

It's probably with my Food and Cookery, in the garage.

A "Threshold Girl' is a girl between 17 and 19, who is all muddled and has not yet learned that a woman must pretend to be what she is not, at least according to Atherton.

Threshold Girls are even more confused in 1909, as they have so many more options than did their grandmothers, says Atherton. That's another theme I'm fiddling with in Flo in the City. I'm not sure I agree with Atherton, who is saying what most everyone was saying in 1910: that a woman could have it all. That all doors were open to her.

Threshold Girl is a perfect title for my novel, because the term has two meanings in my story. It refers to Flora's age and also to the times she lives in. The Birth of Now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Homelife in 1910

Using electric appliances, 1910, from Technical World Magazine article. The Electric Home.

Macdonald College had a electricity in 1910, I read it in an era article. (The curator at the museum in Ste. Anne wasn't sure; he believed that electricity came to Ste. Anne in 1915.)

So I guess I will have to have Flo comment on that. (Tighsolas gets electrified in 1913.)

Another thing I learned from the same article (an unnamed document from archive.org describing McGill facilities in 1909) is that the food for the students at Macdonald came from the agricultural school. Pork, beef and mutton, with animals slaughtered on site. The farm also provided milk to the school,which is interesting. Remember, it was the age of tainted milk.

They also raised chickens and veggies so I assume the same, that the girls dined on this fare. That, I find very interesting, from a modern point of view.

Now, in the July 1911 issue of a magazine called Food and Cookery, there's an article by a Dr. Carr, about the Healthy Home. I posted it years ago, on http://www.tighsolas.ca/ because it is a perfect illustration of the ideology of the era. PURITY. It's the sun that is pure here, and I have a lot of sunshine and sunbeams and sunlight in my novel.... I use it as a symbol of 'enlightenment.'

Now I feel I must somehow stick it in the story. Maybe I will have that magazine available in the library at Macdonald..It will only be a few months old.

"Give us a healthy home full of intellectual activity where the homely virtues prevail. Where complete honesty and frankness have free expression. Where the lungs expand with pure air, and the brain quivers with wholesome aspiration and sincere inquiry. Where souls bask in contentment and the sunshine of purity and peace.

It is not necessary that the home be a grand mansion provided with expensive luxuries. A home should be a place where there is plenty of air and sun. Too much shade is bad and yet some shade, especially on the west side of the house, is very comfortable and healthful. The home should stand separate from other buildings so that light and air can enter from all sides. There should be under the home a well kept clean and well ventilated basement.

A two story house is preferable to a one story cottage. The second story is better in every respect for sleeping rooms. They are further from the emanations of the ground where dampness and fog settle. A home that is comfortable and yet not too nice, a home where there is a perfect freedom with no unoccupied rooms, a home where family and neighbours frequently gather together. A dirty cellar is bad, a dusty slovenly attic also bad. But worse than either of these is that dark and gloomy room called a parlor, where elegant furnishings and expensive hangings rarely see the light of day, and still more rarely are renovated by a healthy influx of fresh air.

No man or woman can be enthusiastic without some degree of mental training. Those who do little or no reading except to pore over a novel or lazily scan the daily newspaper, such people will sooner or later become the victims of melancholia or hypochondria. There is nothing in life to enthuse them. Such people stagnate. The heart takes on a rhythm corresponding to the low ebb of their mental life.

…Immorality, wicked sin, these may enter a well appointed home. As soon as anything has occurred to a member of the family necessitating concealment, compelling averted glances, provoking blushing or shame, just so soon the house has been invaded by an enemy more dangerous than disease germs, vastly more likely to destroy the home in the end than a dirty cesspool or leaky roof. "

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Familiar Sounding Guide to Phonics

Hmm. Here's a book titled Phonics Made Easy.

It's from the early 1900's and it is aimed at teachers and Moms.

It is written by one Samuel Bower Sinclair, who happened to be the Principal of the Macdonald Teaching School from 1909 and 1911.

I saw Sinclair's picture from the McGill Education website. He's a white haired Scot.

Flora Nicholson of my book Threshold Girl attended Macdonald Teaching College in 1911/12.

.S.B. Sinclair (as he called himself) was the one who probably shook Flora's little hand at graduation.

Flora Nicholson's 1912 graduating class, Macdonald Teachers College. She is on the floor second frm the right.

Reading this particular book, I was gob-smacked by the fact that the first three sample lessons seem to focus on the words cat and ham and Sam. Get my drift?

I have seen a number of Royal Crown Readers of the era (as I research Threshold Girl) and their beginning exercises are SO BORING I always think of Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel)and how much FUN we ALL had reading Sr. Seuss, when my sons were young. "Do you like my hat?"

Just thinking of the story lines tickles me pink.

Then I find this old book and I wonder if Dr. Seuss saw it too and then thought, "I can go one better than CAT on the MAT. That's not how the story goes, according to Wikipedia, anyway. The brilliant man was supposedly given a list of words by the Director of Education at Houghton Mifflin, which he honed down and used to write his books. So maybe this Director of Education had this Sinclair book on hand.

Now, oddly, I spent some time last decade on Literacy Projects and I am certain I read a paper that claimed that Dr. Seuss's books did not teach reading through phonics, but through Word Recognition.

Here's Lesson 1 of Sinclair's book. Now, S.B. Sinclair had a doctorate, too, like Geisel, and he wanted to teach reading, too, and he had the concept down, CAT MAT -HAM -SAM but what he didn't have is GENIUS, and he hadn't worked in advertising, either, as had Dr. Seuss.

The cat is on the mat; the mat is on the cat. SPLATTT! (I added that) and that..

Now, I happen to have one of Flora's notebooks, with notes about "Reading." It is not totally out of the realm of possiblity that Sinclair gave a lecture to her class (even thought he was Principal and not a teacher).

Flora writes: Sounds: paper, metal, water, animal, vehicles. Direct attention is position of throat. Tell them things to do the sounds.

Stories: Don't read stories directly to young children TELL them.

Sinclair gives the same advice in his book.

This is all very useful for my Threshold Girl story - about Flora's year at Macdonald and her family's trials during the same period.

The Macdonald yearbooks are online and many of the photos illustrate topics in her letters. She describes a giant masquerade in the gym. Here it it. (I can't find her) She went as a quakeress and her cousin, May, went as a Japanese woman in a red kimono. Guess who got all the dances?

She talks of a walk with fellow students  to Fort Senneville. Here's a pic of the walk or another one.

OH, and while looking for S.B. Sinclair online, years ago an archive.org document came up that completely describes Macdonald College, the layout of the buildings and what rooms are in them.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Westmount 1911

The Westmount Library.

Well, I went to visit the Westmount Library on a two tiered research mission; to check out the library itself and to check out some books in the library. Well, not check out as I am not a member.

I found a book on Montreal trams there, by a Richard Binn, a very detailed book. In 1911, there was a hodgepodge of different trams, some open, some closed, some convertible, some only convertible on one side.. and I think some still horse drawn.

Some had seats like seen today in busses, but some had bistro like swivel chairs.

Anyway, I also found some books about OLD Westmount to see what tram Edith and Flo might have taken from Greene to downtown.

In 1911 there were two tram loops, so I'll work on that. I am not 100 percent sure they were electric.

Anyway, that library is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of its children library. They have a nice picture of said children's room in 1922, like a large Victorian room with a big fireplace - and, according to a book I read, pictures from characters in Alice in Wonderland.

I will have Flora and Edith visit the library and she'll see a rich girl in a clean, starched dress with glistening hair tied in a bow... and nanny.

I also learned that POM bakery started in Westmount back then. A man who wanted crumpets like in England started his 'homestyle' bakery. As a girl, I often ate the crumpets from POM. I loved them, buttered big time. Dionne and Dionne specialty grocers was also in Westmount in 1911.

I might mention that in Edith's story.

And most important as I have to change this in my first draft, Westmount Park was called Victoria Jubilee Park.

In 1911, Westmount spent 640 on Coronation decorations.... So I can also mention that... Probably in the park, after all.

Westmount Park on a sunny June 2011 day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Car Trip to Richmond, 2011.. 100th anniversary drive

Tighsolas, today, is for sale. Do I dare go by for a visit?

We took our 100 year anniversary road trip from Montreal to Richmond, crossing the scary Victoria Bridge (at the end of Mountain Street) using our Tom Tom which drove me crazy with its poor pronounciation of French names, even MON TRAIL and the fact that it has conniptions every time you veer off the prescribed path. Take a U TURN as soon as you can!

We tried to take the low road, but I think ended up taking 'the high road' and then the super highway 10.

Where is 'the low road' I dunno.

We made an effort to go back and drive through Chambly, which is an historic old town in that most of its heritage homes on the main drag are intact.

Then we passed through Marieville, a small town with a big church (like all the rest) and then we took the highway past Granby (the one ET town I have visited a lot in my life because of the zoo) and went to Waterloo and then took the road Edith likely drove on in 1911 past Flodden (yes, we finally found it) and the road that leads to Kingsbury, marked KINGSBURY, so how we missed it last time I don't know.

Flodden and Kingsbury are still on the map, literally if not figuratively.

And the quarry talked about in that 1867 letter I have posted on http://www.tighsolas.ca/ is visible there. I guess that's the GORE?

Anyway, Tighsolas is for sale, by owner, so I took a picture (since they are selling) and we ate a snack at the creperie in the house at the corner, and bought some nice pastries and ate them at the picnic table at center of Richmond, near the bridge, below, with a beautiful view that the snap doesn't convey. This is where the very real Flora Nicholson of Flora in the City happens upon Miss Gouin and friends picnicking. In my story.

The sign at Tighsolas said Phone After Six but I went up and rang the bell anyway. No answer. The Skinner/Crombie house is also for sale by agent and I took a tour online. I wonder if that bigger house is as well built as Tighsolas?

My husband thinks the original slates on the roof are on the old homestead. And Norman personally inspected every piece of timber, discarding as many as he kept. See, well-built.

My husband didn't need to see the house. He's been in it many many times.

The Skinner House is going for 250.. so the Tighsolas house is probably going for around the same amount.

The area was quiet and beautiful yesterday. We narrowly missed being caught in two downpours: one at the cemetery and one at Tighsolas. I pondered the effect on the girls of growing up in such a picturesque area 100 years ago. Not only the immediate Tighsolas area, but the ET which has beautiful views everywhere you look. Their love of beauty certainly was certainly cultivated there. (I grew up in relatively ugly areas... Ste. Marthe sur la lac, Wabush, Snowden.)

Today, I visit the curator of museum at Ste. Anne de Bellevue, to see pictures of old Ste. Anne and Monday, I visit the Westmount Library.

Oh, and the building I've been calling the Old Post office is the Bank of Montreal building. So the Post Office may be a building beside the new Post Office as it has a two storey warehouse behind it, as described by Norman. Right in front of Hotel.

Like Edith in 1911, we left home at 10 am and got to our destination at 6:15. That is we got back home by then. A round trip, 100 years later.

View from College to Tighsolas. I have Flora looking down the street and feeling safe and secure. It still is a beautiful corner.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Electric Car Redux.

View from Flodden.. Norman Nicholson's ancestral home.

Well, it's not only my NDP MP Jamie Nicholls who is into electric cars, so, apparently, is Obama.

According to a News Reports he is putting 280 million towards trolleys in Washington, Tuscon, New Orleans and a few other places.

The Green Websites are praising it. The Washington Post calls it Obama's Trolley Folly.

They call trams 'an obsolete form of transportation." But then, back in 1911, many people were calling the automobile a silly frivolous toy.

The Post thinks he should be working on traffic congestion because Americans spend so much time stuck in traffic. The Post says trolleys are folley because Americans prefer vehicles which allow for personal freedom. (What freedom is there stuck in a traffic jam?) I got it! Invest in Jet packs.

If you have a visionary project, it is very likely to attract criticism, the more visionary, the more criticism. But then maybe it is a folley: You can't go back - usually

That's what many were trying to do in 1911, with the Macdonald-Robertson movement, trying to make people go back to the farms and women back to the woodstove. They wanted to reverse the falls, so to speak. It didn't work. Women went to work outside the home, despite the new profession of homemaking. Families did move to the 'burbs in the middle of the century, but not back the country. And now aging (aged?) Boomers are heading back to the cities from the 'burbs, according to a recent report on Sunday Morning, the CBS show.

Anyway, today, my husband and will trace Edith Nicholson's June 11, 1911 trip to Montreal from Richmond... (backwards.) One hundred years and one week later. It's a nice weekend. It also happens to the the anniversary of the death of Marion Blair Wells, Marion Nicholson's daughter. In 2002.

We will not do it in a 1911 auto, but in our Malibu. We found Flodden on the Google Map, and even the quarry they all talk about. It is still there. So is Kingsbury.

We will no doubt find the Nicholson farm. Well, hopefully we will. It's too bad. When I found the Nicholson stash of memorabilia, there was a inventory of one of the farms... but it got borrowed and then lost. I'm sure the address was there.

Edith and the Skinners passed through Marieville, on that day one hundred years and one week ago, but missed Valcourt, the home of Bombardier.

I checked and Bombardier is in the business of Electric Street Cars. Of course.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Who Killed the Electric STREET CAR.

So, as I edit the first draft of Flora in the City, adding detail, I learn that the library at Westmount is done in Queen Anne Revival style, like Tighsolas. It seems obvious now.

I also learn something else by reading gazettes. Sherbrooke Street didn't have a trolley car in 1911. The newly amalgamated steetcar company, the Montreal Tramways Company, wanted to put in some tracks, but the residents complained.

I see it got through anyway.

The Ste. Catherine trolley was crowded. SO I will have Edith complain about the crowding. It is especially crowded as the office crowd is leaving for the half day on Saturday.

She'll describe Sherbrooke Streets.

The residents of Sherbrooke at Greene said their road was built on a swamp and that their houses shook every time a truck went by. (What was a truck then?)

Of course, the wealthy never want the masses at their door!

A letter to the Editor also shows that the residents of Westmount were concerned about speeding trolleys. One man claimed the trolleys used 'the loop' to make up time.

I'll also have Edith complain about that.

The City wanted somehow to eliminate 10 percent of routes to improve traffic congestion.

Gee, I even read that they were thinking of putting in a subway to ease congestion, a la Boston and New York. That didn't happen until 1966.

How Interesting.

I mentioned this to my husband at night in bed and he said that GM killed the trolley cars in American Cities, especially LA.

I then remembered Toronto still has electric cars. Why? I know San Francisco does too but I always assumed that was touristy.

I saw that my new NPD MP promotes electric cars. He is a city planner.

I never saw an electric car in Montreal, only the remnants of tracks, here and there on roads when the pavement pulled back. Like fossilized remains...

Stats I found for the Toronto Street Railway Company showed that between 1896 and 1906 passengers increased from 23 million to 76 million, another big indication of what happening in Canada. And Montreal at that time was a bigger city and growing faster, population wise.

A lot of that increase was working women, like Marion, Edith and Flo, coming to the city!

And now, as Coco Chanel said, they needed looser clothing to be able to run for the streetcar!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Van Horne Mansion Montreal

The Van Horne Mansion.

Well, now that I've got the first draft of Flo in the City written, Threshold Girl I am paying attention to details.

I have Edith and Flora take the Sherbrooke Tram to St. James Methodiste (because I am sure that is what Edith would have done) and so I get to describe the grandest street in Montreal and some of the Golden Mile Mansions.

Edith is a knowledgeable person... She was a knowledgeable person, and a bit of a parvenu, and no doubt knew who lived where.

The Van Horne Mansion's demolition has signficance to me. It was demolished in September 10, 1973, the year I started at McGill. So I heard a lot about it, and probably saw its demolition first hand.

It wasn't lost on me, back then, how that area of Sherbrooke West was being uglified by new skyscrapers.

A rather ugly edifice, I think, went up where the Mansion was. A man named David Azrieli erected it. Not too long afterwards, when I was working as a temp office worker I met the man... I was hired to replace his secretary, probably just answer phones, and he said Hello and he seemed a very nice gentleman.

Anyway, I'm looking at McCord Museum photos and anything else so I can  describe their trip from Greene to City Councillors. I have that Edgar Andrew Collard book, too, All Our Yesterdays. (He calls Sherbrooke West the 5th Avenue of Montreal. Yes, it once was, but no more. ) I guess Edith and Flora would pass 72 Sherbrooke West, where my grandparents would be living in 1922 when my Mom was born, but not then, no in 1911.... In 1911 the census shows they were living on St. Hubert.

Apparently, the Ritz Carlton is just being built in May 1911, when Edith and Flora take this trolley trip.

And I guess I should go the McCord Museum to see their latest exhibition and to get a feel for the era... by looking at corsets and such.

By doing this little scene I get to say an awful lot about Montreal in 1910, just by having Edith describe the places, which is very much in character.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ste. Anne de Bellevue 1910

This picture is on Flickr Creative Commons from McCord Museum collection and it is also in a brochure of the Ste. Anne Museum I visited today. St. Anne circa 1910, at the locks.

The museum has just opened and is in a heritage house, not far from Peter's Cape Cod or this lock.

Anyway, in my Flora in the City story, first draft, I have Flora and Margaret and Marion visiting the locks.

Margaret came down for the graduation and I assume they did more than the ceremony.

I'm also looking up the Report of the Commissioners of the Royal Commission. ^ years ago I had to go to McGill to find it, now it is online.

And I also found an interesting Gazette article about a riot during the Free Trade Election. Maybe I'll stick that in.

And here's a great picture!

I am going back to visit the museum and talk to the curator and look at old pictures so I can better describe St. Anne.

Flora walks to Fort Senneville, but that ruin now is inaccessible, as it is on private property.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Family History: UK Census.

My grandfather, Robert Nixon, on the 1911 UK Census.

I broke down and paid the 10.00 to see the page where my grandfather is listed. That is because I have started watching the Reality Show The Manor, on YouTube, where a family and some volunteers play at "Upstairs Downstairs."

The show mentioned that FOOTMAN, helpers to the Butler, were paid by the Inch so to speak. The taller they were the more they made. My grandfather was 6 foot 4. It also said they were supposed to be goodlooking as they 'represented the family' upfront.

But they were not supposed to commit any hanky panky with the maids.

Hmm. The story goes my grandfather was so nice looking the daughter of the Earl he worked for, in Helmsley, (so it says here) fell in love with him, which is how he ended up working in Malaya as a planter.

The Earl gave him the money... to get rid of him. It was kind of a privilege to get a chance to make money in Malaya. Ha!

My play, Looking for Mrs. Peel, tells all about his wife, Dorothy Nixon, who survived Changi and the Double Tenth Torture Incident. www.tighsolas.ca/page745.html

Now, I can see that my great grandfather was also Robert, and he was a Delver in a stone quarry in Nawton. (I had heard he worked in a saw mill, from my brother.)

My grandmother, Mary Ellen. Probably Nesfield as that was my father's middle name.

Maybe he did later.

My grandfather's brother, John Thomas,was a clerk in a railway office and a younger sister, Ethel, was a student.

Now, I found my grandmother, but she was in boarding school. 15. And I ran out of credits to look up the other Forsters to see exactly who my grandmother was. I know my great grandfather was a Methodist Minister.

I saw no couples in Teesdale who would obviously be parents of her. ANd I saw no NORA and I am sure my father said I had an Aunt Nora. He stayed with her in the 30's, when his parents sent him from Malaya. I should look her up. That's what I will do, now!

Right after I try to figure out who the Earl was. Earl of Helmsley?

I did.. Dunscombe Park, but these people didn't have a daughter of the age to fall in love.. not in 1911. It appears. Maybe it's a family myth, or it's another young woman of the family.

Mom the Engineer -1910

Picture from a a book for houswives on how to properly fire a range, 1912.

If memory serves, and it probably doesn't, the only time I ever saw an old fashioned wood stove, in my childhood, was when on vacation.

Summer cottages in the 196o's were often still equipped with wood burning ranges (and outdoor privies).

I think we went to Magog once, (which is coincidental) and we had a woodstove which my brother found fascinating, more than I did. He played with the burners for hours.

My mother (who grew up rich in the city) probably found it a pain and my father probably stoked it.

Yesterday, watching the BBC Program the 1900 House on YouTube, I was struck with how the person who ran the range, (in this case the mom, like at Tighsolas) was an engineer.... she really had to know her stuff: it was critical to the happiness of the home.

Then I track down this book ont the topic on archive.org where it says this: "Modern stoves are machines used to convert any of the fuels mentioned into heat. The stove being a machine must be operated by an engineer, whether it be a man or a woman, housekeeper, cook, maid or servant."

The book is written for American women and claims that coal is the best fuel as wood is running out.

Wood was running out in 1912 in the ET (that was settled in large part because of the lumber industry). The Nicholson letters reveal they fret over firewood all the time.

And keeping the house hot was an issue: Not so much the stove as Margaret was an expert engineer.

I conducted a search through the letters, for the 'word' fire yesterday and it confirmed what I already knew, that they always talked about 'lighting fires" FIRES, in the plural.

Even during the great heatwave of July 1911, Margaret tells Norman that Edith and Flora are getting up to light the fires, giving her a break.

What FIRES. Is is this a figure of speech?

They had no fireplaces, it seems. There was a furnaces in the cellar (and the pictures of the place shows a large chimney going up the middle of the house and a smaller one on the side of the kitchen for the stove.

Yesterday, in my quest for veracity in my novel, I also found a book on Plumbing 1910 style and realize that they probably had a range boiler, a tank heated by the range, and hot water came from there...There probably was a tank in the attic, too.

So they did not heat water on the stove, except for tea. They used hot water from the taps.

And the letters mention nothing about heating hot water... so that's fine too.

Anyway, in the 1900 House, the 1999 children hate the food, but the Mom does not know how to cook on a range and she has a small one.

The narrator says people in those days ate cheap cuts of meat and bland veggies. But this is where country people like the Nicholsons had an advantage. They still had the skills of their mothers, who knew how to cook well.

It was only the next generation, Marion's generation, where the skills were lost, and the next, well, it was the beginning of the plastic food movement. My husband, Margaret's great grandson, barely ate a fresh veggie in his childhood, despite being comfortably middle class. He says they even ate canned potatoes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

1900 House and 1910 House.. Hmmm

Tighsolas Floor Plan

As I am writing Flora in the City, I have the BIG PICTURE down pretty good, I have my plan, but I have to backtrack to get the details right.

The washing. THe plumbing. I asked my husband, who visited Tighsolas in the 60's to describe the house. Lots of doors separating all the rooms. The back stairs I describe were narrow and steep and had a sharp turn. Big kitchen. Dark oak mouldings. A couple of vasisdasses (whatever) over the doors to the dining room.

Very dark in the house. Yes, despite being House of Light.

A bathroom upstairs, but did the WC exist back then in 1910, upstairs? Probably, standard plumbing.

I then found a 1999 program from BBC Four Television (and PBS) called the 1900 house, a reality show where a modern British family lived for 3 months like 'Victorians',..well, almost Edwardians, in a retrofitted row house in Greenwich, the kind worth about 2000000 gazillion pounds today on Foxton's.

I watched quite a few episodes of the 1900 House on YouTube.

All very interesting. My first thought was that the family was moving their 2000 era 'privatized' existence to 1900 England.

They were all stuck in the house, on top of each other, like a modern family, but without the modern technologies that precipitated this state of affairs.

The mom, an education pro, is totally deskilled.. so a maid is hired. Luckily, in London, the family gets bread delivered. Margaret made her own, mostly.

There are three girls in the family, but none help the mom, I suspect this is because they are underage and it is too dangerous for the producers to let them literally play with fire. In really life they would have helped.

The WC is outside, Chamber pots are used inside. But in Canada, I doubt the WC was outside at Tighsolas.

But I did figure out from the program, how the wood stove in the kitchen had a boiler and sent hot water up to the bath. (My husband and I had tried to figure that out earlier.)

In the 1900 house, washing takes a full day just as it did in Tighsolas. But they boiled the linens and underwear in a copper pot furnace thingy. I'll have Margaret transfer hot water from the stove boiler to a washtub, the kind found in Eaton's catalogue.

It's funny, this show as made in 1999 and oddly, when they show the modern family in their modern home, the computer looks ancient. So much has changed in just this 10 years. SO SO much.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Details, details. All about Soap!

Well, I'm writing Flora in the City and I have Edith and Margaret doing the laundry in June 1911. (True!) Of course, in the letters they mention the doing of it, but don't describe how they do it. Too obvious. I can see by the Eaton's Catalogue what a washing tub looks like and a wringer.

But the soap.. What soap do they use. (I have an image of Granny Clampett stirring her laundry in big smelly pots of lye soap by the swimming pool).

This was the age of Light Soap and Water. The Ivory Soap add above says ordinary washing powders and labour saving soaps are good for ordinary laundry, but only Ivory is good for fancy work.

The ad for Lux, uses the P word twice in the ad. Purifying, Snowy white and purity.

The Nicholson store books show they bought bars of soap and sometimes bars of fancy soap.


I'm guessing they bought bars of some soap, an ordinary one, and grated it. (I'm assuming, because soaps in flakes were available, and they wouldn't have put out that product if flakes were not wanted by women. Labour saving, see. Not strong lye of course.


Maybe I'll have someone remark, somewhere, that Mrs. Montgomery thinks they should use Ivory. Maybe when Flora comes back in November and spends two days washing her white dresses.

Lux went on to sponsor Radio shows. Lux Theatre....I've heard some of their stuff on the BBC Radio 4. Or I heard a play based on the Lux Theatre. Big name actors were used.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Richmond Post Office, 1898

As Canada Post continues with its rotating strikes, in the age of email and Facebook, I have a story to tell about the Richmond, Quebec Post Office.

Last week, while writing Flora in the City, where they "walk to the mail" twice daily, I tried to find info on the Internet about how they actually picked up their mail. I wanted to see what the inside of a 1900 post office looked like. No luck, though.

But then looking over my http://www.tighsolas.ca/ website, I found a page where I had scanned and posted a letter Norman wrote in 1898 with respect to the new Richmond Post Office. He was employed as inspector, and, of course, kept details.

The letter was inquiring about whether there should be locked drawers under the wickets.

Anyway, I went through the Nicholson stash of documents and found his booklet of accounts during that time it took to build the building, late 1896 to 1898. He was paid 62.oo a month for working as inspector. (At the same time he was working selling trees for bark and pulp and collected for a Dr. Stewart.)

The booklet claims the post office at Richmond cost 10,500, or that was the contract price to Paquet et Godbout. Then there was the cost of the boiler, (coal)243.44, with shipping,plus a few other costs.

In the same booklet Norman has the cost of building tighsolas, 2817.35. He insured the house for only 1,500, so I image that was the cost of the mortgage. He paid 90 a year, in October, until his death in 1922.

The place had 340 lock boxes.

I also found a receipt for a registered letter he sent in 1899. No. 161, so that's how many Registered Letters sent since the opening, I take it. The Post Master was a Mr Desmarais and according to a note on the back, it was not his responsiblity to put stamps on letters.

Well, this doesn't tell me that much. I have no letters addressed to the Nicholsons for a PO box. And no payment for one in any of the account books.

I assume they walked up those stairs (I assume the building above was the post office ) and ask for the mail from a person. Almost every day. They must have been the family with the most mail in Richmond.

Maybe I'll make the 1911 Post Master joke about that one day. His name according to the 1911 census was JP Denison and he was 72! and made 1,500 a year, but he boarded in the house on Main of a the Boasts (blacksmith and wife) and their kids. She couldn't have been his daughter as she was 15 years younger only.

Oddly, where Mr. Boast was supposed to put income, 1,500 is written and erased. Perhaps he was out of work being 62 and the post master supported the house for some reason.

I found a few other people with decent salaries, carriage maker 1400, for instance. And engineer at Railroad, 12 and 1400 a year.

The fact that they built a new post office building in Richmond shows something. How were they to know that in 1910 so many citizens would be moving away!

Child Labour in Cotton: Then and Now

1911 Census Page: Everyone worked 60 hours at the Dominion Textile Plant in 1911 in Magog. Even Occasional Jobbers. That's because the Quebec Factor Act said no factory employee could work more than 60 hours...Someone fixed up the salaries too.

Well, as I write Flora in the City, about Flora Nicholson in 1911/12 where she gets a chance to learn about the human cost of her clothing, but really does nothing about it, just like most of us, I have decided to give Miss Gouin, the milliner's apprentice ,another scene.

Flora will see her in Richmond, possibly sitting on bench in front of the Post Office. She will be reading a book. An English Book. The Handbook for Department Stores: Linen and Cotton Department. This will be to show how smart and ambitious she is. She will tell Flora she wants to go work for Dupuis Freres, in Montreal, or even one the big American Department Stores, where they sometimes like a girl with a French accent (she will say) as long as the girl says she is from Paris. That's where Flora will hear that Milliners can make as much as 1,000 a year.

I'll have Miss Gouin turn the tables on Flora and ask for help reading a portion.. How can Flora decline? A relevant bit.. which one? The book thoroughly describes all the kinds of cotton. Maybe I'll just have her read it out, and ask Flora if the pronounciation is good.

I found a paper online about child labour in the cotton industry, TODAY. I am reading it carefully, of course, so that I am able to make my 1910 story relevant. I have to find some points that overlap. I am sure there are many.

The paper is by Alejandro Plastina and is called Child Labour in the Cotton Sectors and was written for the International Cotton Advisory Board in Washington DC.

According to the introduction, there are 300 million children, aged 5-17 working worldwide. Of those 200 million are child labourers.

Here's a quote from the paper defining child labour. "Schematically, child labor includes all types of work conducted by children 5-11 years old, non-hazardous work conducted by children 12-14 years for more than 14 hours but less than 43 hours per week, and all worst forms of child labor conducted by children 5-17 years (including hazardous work in specified industries and occupations and work for more than 43 hours per week in other industries and occupations). In essence, child labor is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity and is considered a violation of fundamental human rights (ILO 2008b)."

I'll have someone in Flora in the City use the same rationale for child labour, that it's the parents' fault. That it is better for the kids to work than to starve... or be forced into worse kinds of work or sexual slavery, which is a big concern in 1911, and called the "the social evil". Even people who could care less about the well-being of children were interested in eradicating prostitution.

And as for the older women workers, during my scene at the Montreal Council of Women, where Lady Drummond discusses the Eaton's strikes, someone will yell out "It is lucky they are getting paid for what most women do for free."

Mrs. Drummond won't agree, but that line is an important one.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Employee Background Check 1910

Looking through the Nicholson Papers I found this heretofore overlooked document from February 1911. Interesting.

It was mailed to Norman from the Guarantee Company of North America, Bonds of Suretyship for Positions of Trust. Head Office, Montreal.

They were asking my husband's great grandfather about a certain Lewis W. St-Louis (25) who had made an application for Manager of the Bell Telephone office in Victoriaville.

The 1911 census website (June 1911) shows a 29 year of LW St-Louis living on College Street in Richmond (with wife, age 24) and working as a Manager in an office for 1,000 a year. Hmm. Maybe Mr. St.Louis did get the job at BEll but they hadn't moved yet, so they are on this Census in Richmond. If he did, he may have lied about his age :)

A good job, right on the cutting edge...In Downton Abbey, an ambitious housemaid gets a job with the local telephone office, too, with the help of the young lady of the house.)

1,000 a year was the same salary Norman got working on the railway. Now, I think I read in Terry Copp's Anatomy of Poverty, that 1,500 a year was considered the household income needed to keep a family properly. From what I can see on the 1911 Census, almost NO ONE made that. I think I saw a bricklayer with 1,300 and a jeweler too.

People who were wealthier didn't put down a salary it seems. Except for my husband's grandfather, who claimed to be making 7,000 (as President of Laurentian Spring Water.) He was on his second wife and would marry again and have three more kids, including my father in law, born 1920.

It's there in black and white: there was a huge gap between Haves and Have Nots and today, 100 years later it seems to be going back that way, with in the US the top 1 percent owning as much wealth as the bottom 80 percent.

Norman himself was out of work at this time. My Flora in the City story starts two months later, in April and in May Norman gets another job on the Canadian Transcontinental Railway.

Here are the questions Norman had to fill out: Are you connected in relationship with him?..How long have you known him? Was he ever in your employ? (NO)Was he ever suspected of dishonest conduct? Have you ever heard of him being dismissed or suspected.

Have you ever heard of his having been addicted to: Intemperance, immorality, speculation, extravagance, gambling, unfavourable associations..

Is he under any debts?

Is he a trustworthy person?

Well, I guess that 'addicted' part means that it's ok if the man had an occasional drink, was 'immoral' on occasion and extravagant, once in a while, too.

Hmm. I thought it was only lately that they used the term addiction for all these 'vices.'

Oddly, Norman wrote down his own profession as Trader, whatever that meant... He never sent this back (even though it came with a self-addressed stamped envelope). As he filled it out, though, I imagine he could not help but think of his own son, who was caught stealing at the bank and was forced to move out West, where, despite his iffy past, he quickly got another post - at a bank, of all things. Hmm.

Brigette, the Modern Canadian Suffragette!

Suffragettes throw flour at Brit P.M. Asquith's car.

You know, Winston Churchill was voted the greatest Briton of the century for his aggressive stand against Hitler in WWII.

But people may not remember that he used the same trademark angry confrontational rhetoric against many others, including that evil-doer Gandhi and the nefarious group of social misfits the Suffragist/ettes.

I thought of the Suffragettes when reading a CBC article about page Brigette dePape's protest at the Throne Speech Ceremonies.

With some calling dePape's act of defiance "a black eye against the page program" and almost everyone else (in Parliament) saying it was 'impolite' at the very least, I have to think there is something of the suffragette about Brigette.

And we modern enlightened types admire the suffragists/ettes, today, right? Would even Stephen Harper dare declare otherwise?

We don't have Winnie the Pugnacious to entertain us with scathing but witty putdowns of page dePape. Politicians today are comparatively inarticulate and controlled by spin doctors and adept only with soundbytes.

But according to the CBC article, we have people like Guy Giorno, Harper's election campaign boss to send shivers down our spine.

According to Giorno, this theatrical act of dissent by an intelligent, thoughtful young woman, is a serious security issue. "This time it was cardboard, but it could have been anything." the CBC says he wrote on TWITTER.

Why am I scared? Because it's just so easy to play the security card in an effort to quash criticism of the government. Today it's a young female page with a colourful STOP Harper sign, tomorrow, maybe, it's this blog, or others like it.

Indeed, equating WRITING (whether on a placard, or in a blog, or in a book) with ARMS is the most dangerous thing you can do in a free democratic society. (And Giorno was cagey enough in his Twitter twit (whatever it is) to avoid those exact terms.) Still, this statement is more outrageous than anything this page did. Considering the source.

That's my opinion, anyway, and I'll express it while I still can.

So, You GO Girl, Brigette. Your actions weren't politically correct. But neither were the suffragettes'.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Snail Mail - Hare Mail more likely.

In my last chapter of Flora in the City, I was writing about Mr. Montgomery's car and decided to go back and change 'car' to motor as that is what I thought they were called back then.

But then I checked the auto ads I have on www.tighsolas.ca/page312.html and I noticed these horseless carriages were referred to as 'cars'.

The Nicholson never use the term car for automobile, only for railway or street cars. They say AUTO or motor.. Margaret uses the term car in 1920 in the letter where she has gone to vote for the first time. A neighbour comes down and asks to take her to the polls in his "car" she writes.

Hmm. In Upstairs Downstairs,Hudson calls the family car a motor.. So that's the clue. The Brits called them motors.

Automobile is a French word, I assume.

Oh, I want to get it right.

The book by Dorothy Levitt, the Woman and the Car, 1907, obviously uses the term 'car' for auto. She's British.

Details, details.

Canada Post is on strike. They are having a series of rotating strikes, first in Winnipeg, then Hamilton.

Last week, I posted something important to the PassPort Office and almost freaked when I heard that Canada Post might go on strike. I thought I might have to wait aeons for my new passsport. As it happened, the letter got delivered. Oddly, the Post Master at my PO said that the strike only affected urban mail carriers...but that isn't quite true. Sorters, too, are going on strike.

I guess no one knows what's going on. The reason I posted the letter in the first place is because I didn't know that a strike was imminent. That's what comes with reading The GUARDIAN and the New York Times and Salon.com.

But the strike hasn't been covered much in the Canadian press.. I guess they figure no one really cares.

The Post Office is a redundant service, some editoralists are saying. No one uses snail mail anymore.

Well, my Flora in the City story is as much about THE MAIL as about Women in the 1910's as about Anglo Quebec History.

It's based on family letters, after all. The Nicholsons had a telephone, but didn't use it for long distance, except on rare occasions.

No one delivered their mail. They walked to the Post Office in Richmond twice a day to get it. It gave them something to do. Just like going to Church.

The mail was fast in those days. It wasn't snail paced. More lihe HARE MAIL.

Friday, June 3, 2011

J.N Greenshields: Montreal's forgotten industrial magnate

It's just too much fun. I got busy writing the next chapter of Threshold Girl, where she messes up the French Oral Exam and the Victor Hugo Poem Melancholia.

She's in the classroom at St. Francis College High School, so I look up an article I have posted on http://www.tighsolas.ca/ about St. Francis College (written by Edith for the McGill Daily) for a little background for the preamble to the scene. Edith writes, in the 1930's article, that one of the many illustrious graduates of St. Francis College is J. N Greenshields, industrialist.

A name I saw on a 1910 list of Montreal millionaires and elsewhere.

Well!! I look up J. N. Greenshields to see that he was also a prominent lawyer who defended Donald Morrison and Louis Riel! Donald Morrison successfully and Louis Riel, well, we all know what happened there.

Also was involved in some infamous Grand Trunk Rail Robbery....And who, at least after the war, was President of Wabasso Cotton and Shawinigan Cotton among many other concerns. How perfect!!! Big Shot. Now Forgotten for some reason. (He is mentioned but three times in the recent book about J. W. McConnel by William Fong, mentioned with my ancestors, the Forgets.)

Donald Morrison was the Megantic Outlaw and Flora's Dad, Norman, was involved in a citizen's committee for his defense. I wrote about it here. I even have a paper that has the lawyer's costs on it.. Somewhere. http://townshipsheritage.com/article/donald-morrisons-defence-fund

Then I found an article from 1911, from the Montreal Gazette, claiming that Mr. Greenshields, in the 1911 Free Trade Election, was coming to Richmond to support Dr. Hayes, the Conservative Candidate, despite being a Liberal. He obviously did not like Mr. Tobin.

So this will fit in perfectly in an upcoming scene in Flora in the City, for she attends the Liberal meeting with Tobin. I'll have to find a way...

All very interesting, once again.

A blub from a Post war Who's Who of the E.T. claims Greenshields lived on McGregor in Montreal, (now Dr. Penfield) and summered in Danville. Dr. Wilder Penfield, the legendary neurosurgeon from McGill, after whom McGregor Street was renamed, summered in Magog, where the Dominion Textile Plant was located, which makes for nice symmetry.

I have not seen any indication that his wife, an American, was a 'Society Woman" who did good works, although the couple did give money to causes, so I am not sure if I can put her with the Montreal Council of Women. Must double check.

(Added: And I just noticed that Greenshields ran for MP in Richmond Wolfe in the 1887 election as a Liberal. He lost.And get this, in the 1891 election the Liberal candidate was Wilfrid Laurier. He ran both in RW and in Quebec East and became head of the opposition. Weird. Anyway, Greenshields is oft mentioned in my ebook Threshold Girl

A picture of Mr. Hayes. So I can describe him. Hmmm.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I got up early today, mostly because I wanted a coffee. We had a power failure yesterday afternoon, due to high winds, and I not had a cup since the previous morning.

And I do like my coffee. I drink tonnes. Much more than is good for me.

So I got up, fed the cat his can of gross grilled chicken (which I have figured out costs more, pound per pound, than the finest cut of steak) removed the big chunk of ice my husband had put in the fridge to keep it cool and put it in the freezer, and brewed myself a pot of coffee. I had to open a Kirkland brand cannister, or pull open the aluminum vacuum seal, because the Timmy's was finished.

I bought this Kirkland Brand last week, at Costco, because it is the cheapest on the market. With the cost of food rising so much in Montreal, I am, all of a sudden, watching what I buy. I like the meat at Costco, so I go there to fill my freezer with chicken thighs, sausages and salmon, bought in bulk (which was in danger of melting down last night.) My flirtation with free range organic chicken was short-lived, apparently, due to this inflation at the supermarket.

My husband, for some reason, particularly frets over the cost of coffee, although he drinks but a cup in the morning. So I defer to him in this instance, for no particular reason, because I ultimately decide what is purchased in the house.

I really should buy a premium fair trade coffee and drink less. I know this.

You know, at Costco last week, they were selling bags of fair trade coffee. Full beans. But you could grind it there. (And I've purchased it in the past.) But I walked right past and bought the bargain brand.

Who suffered to make my mediocre cup of morning coffee. Well, pot of coffee.

And here I am, with the first chapter of Flo in the City, or Flora in the City as I now call it written, in draft form and posted on this blog a few posts ago, and at www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf

I am writing this YA social history book to help young women think about the consequences of their lifestyles.

Flo, of course, does not think too hard about it, even though Providence gives her many an opportunity. She is like me, she is like you. She means well but is lazy. She doesn't have the courage of her convictions. Is that the phrase? I'm tired this morning. Not enough caffeine in me.

When told about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire she replies: "We make our own shirtwaists." And let's face it, that's a typical response. (At least, I think.)

So, buying this cheap Kirkland Brand coffee, I say, but I never buy gold or diamonds or carpets. Chocolate yes. And cheap clothes, yes. And industrial food chain meat. (I am considering going vegetarian, again, (that will save on food costs...maybe) but have to convince my husband.

Maybe I am writing the book Flora in the City for myself.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Supper, Lunch, Dinner and Tea! Oh My!

Suffragette parade 1913. Still wearing big hats.

The third series of Upstairs Downstairs arrived, tossed onto my driveway yesterday and I watched 4 episodes, as I continue to research Flo in the City.

This series starts in April 1912, for Mrs. Bellamy goes down with the Titanic. Plunk in the middle of the Tighsolas era!

Like in Downton Abbey, the hats shown are smaller and more restrained. So I went online and saw that average women, like the suffragettes, were still wearing big hats in 1913. And so was Queen Alexandra. But smaller hats were making an appearance.

In the first scene of the first episode, Mrs. Bellamy is having tea and the writers go out of the way to 'explain' what tea is, the drink with a pastry of some sort, crumpets or buttered cakes. Something to hold you to the late evening formal meal.

Breakfast, dinner supper tea.. it all gets a bit confusing.

I searched for every mention of 'tea' in the Nicholson letters, and can confirm that 'tea' meant the late day meal. "I had dinner at Mr. Cleveland's and also stayed for tea."

This was the general gist.

So dinner for the Nicholsons is what we call "lunch."

Tea was what we called in my family "Supper" since we no longer take late evening meals like on the Continent.

Supper is mentioned occasionally in the letters, rarely actually. Herb uses it to mean "tea"...late afternoon early evening meal, around six o'clock.

Marion uses it to mean LATE meal.. I went to dance and we had a supper.

I think that's how it is.

With most men, heads of the family, coming home at 6, that's when people in North America started having 'suppers' and not teas, at that time.

In my home, it was breakfast, lunch and supper. I only recently learned that 'dinner' is supposed to mean the main meal of the day, whenever it is.

With all the modern conveniences, women could prepare suppers by 6.

It is clear in Upstairs Downstairs that the servants had long days. They cooked, served and cleaned up the late meal, the dinner, and then ate a meal for themselves. Luncheon meant a formal mid day meal.

Anyway, this series of Upstairs Downstairs introduces a middle class character, Hazel, a secretary, and she causes a stir...upsets the apple cart, so to speak.

Neither downstairs or upstairs respects her, except as a secretary, as they don't know where she fits in. James woos here and she gets the blame.

Since James Bellamy marries her, the rest of the series deals with this.

Hazel's middle class mother isn't impressed. As Richard Bellamy says, the Middle Class is more prudish than the Upper. And my letters prove it.

Lunch is mentioned only a few times in theNicholson letters and refers to a midday meal. Lunch at the Windsor.

Hmm. I looked online for definitions of lunch, dinner, supper and tea ..and in England it is claimed that people who have breakfast, dinner and tea, like the Nicholsons, as their three daily meals, are almost certainly working class in origin.

A supper is an 'informal' late day meal, by one definition. In our house it was the BIG late meal, but at six when Dad came home. A la American. Dinner is really supposed to be a formal meal at night... in England.

In NA it's the BIG meal of the day, whenever.

It's easy to see all the confusion over the title of meals, reflecting the changing social life, work life, and eating habits over the century and the difference between UK and N A society.

In this environment, if Queen E extends youan invitation to 'dinner' might prove very embarrassing when you show up at the wrong time. But then your social secretary should help you avoid any confusion.