Friday, March 1, 2013

Thérèse Casgrain and the Montreal Suffragists



Well, I found a copy of Thérèse Casgrain's  a Woman in a Man's World and that book explains how she got into the fight for women's votes.

She said she was first approached by Gerin-Lajoie and by Lady Drummond after the 1917 Conscription Election where she got involved in her husband Pierre's  Liberal Campaign, which he won.

She was conscripted, herself, so to speak. Onward Suffrage Soldiers.

Her book also gives a short history of the Montreal Suffrage Movement which it appears many people have taken word for word.

Never does it say she was a member of the Montreal Suffrage Association and frankly, the page under C's, in the Membership Book, doesn't have her name and the minutes don't mention her either.

It is kind of implied however.

During the later days of the war, she an apprentice suffrage advocate, a member of the elite but not a leader. That's how I see it.

 She says that after the Montreal Suffrage Association disbanded "after serious consideration" sic, a new bilingual suffrage organization Provincial Suffrage Committee was started up with Derick, Lyman, Gerin Lajoie, Ritchie England, Mrs. Scott and Idola St-Jean HERSELF and then she writes that  Gerin Lajoie took her under her wing.

She says she was part of a 400 some delegation who went to Quebec to demand suffrage and that she was scared to death when it was her turn to speak. (I'll check the newspaper accounts.)

I didn't go over every bit of the Gerin Lajoie fonds  (with info about the Suffrage Committee founding) word for word for 1922 onward. I saw Casgrain's name first mentioned only in 1926. (So I guess I have to go back and double check.)

It seems, like any good leader, Casgrain had a good apprenticeship; she wasn't just thrown in there as a leader and that is very probably a good thing. I guess she was being groomed as a potential leader.

In 1917, she said she and her newly elected MP husband dined often with the Lauriers. Now, that would have been interesting, to hear what they had to say. But she writes nothing.

This was a very difficult time for Laurier.

But Casgrain's book doesn't delve into the controversial bits, about Conscription or about the Montreal Suffrage Association. She glides over the differences of opinion of the French and English and doesn't say anything about Carrie Derick.

 She merely mentions that Ritchie England was a very intelligent woman but nothing about her impeachment.

One very interesting bit: Casgrain says that after Pankhurst came to give a speech in 1911, she remembers hearing many unflattering things said about her... And this visit was the reason the Montreal Council of Women gave for starting a Montreal Suffrage Association... to keep the interest in Suffrage alive. .. They didn't say Negative Interest. The Council gave away 200 tickets to the talk... even among the English speakers, the interest in suffrage was not that great in Montreal.

In my opinion, the Montreal Suffrage Association was put together as a kind of rogue arm of the Montreal Council of Women to promote Municipal Reforms. The Council had been SOOO thrilled with their accomplishments in the 1910 election... Hugely thrilled. And then it all went awry.

I must delve into why Mayor Guerin (the last English Mayor of Montreal before the recent appointment of Mayor Applebaum) was ousted just shortly after he attended Pankhurst's speech at Windsor Hall. What was he thinking???