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.