Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don't Believe what you Read!

Mrs. Pankhurst. Who brought her to Montreal in 1916? And where did she speak?

Well, well. Don't believe everything you read!

In my last post, I wrote about Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst and how she toured North America for the War Effort in WWI.

I wrote that she spoke at St.James Methodist in 1916. That's because I read it on their website. It is said people had to be turned away from the talk.

I've been poking around the Internet and found a Feb 28, 1916 letter to the Editor from Montreal written by Pankhurst asking Americans for money for the Serbs. (People in the  little countries, Belgium and Serbia, were also suffering, but only the Belgians were getting helped.)

I checked the Gazettes of the era and discovered that she (likely) did not speak at St. James Methodist at the Patriotic Night (where it is reported people had to be turned away.)

That's because, Pankhurst was speaking at the Princess Theatre on behalf of the Serbs.

The most delicious part: it is reported she was brought there by The Equal Suffrage League and a Mrs. Hamaker.

Did Montreal have a Montreal Equal Suffrage League? Or was this the Canadian Equal Suffrage League? Pankhurst was touring many  cities in Eastern Canada.

No, it looks like there was a Montreal Equal Suffrage League bringing speakers in during the war.
I wonder if Mrs. Hurlbatt (and Edith Nicholson of my Threshold Girl story) were members of this organization? That would explain everything.

Yes, Montreal had an Equal Suffrage League during the war. Maybe this association more radical democratic than the Montreal Suffrage Association!!

This visit is NOT mentioned in the minutes of either the Montreal Council of Women or the Montreal Suffrage Association, although, as I wrote yesterday, these women took up the cause of the Serbs big time!

(I just checked my notes: Carrie Derick (seconded Hurlbatt) made a motion in December 1916 to aid the Serbians, "as discussed by Mrs. Pankhurst." This was at the executive meeting of the Montreal Council of Women, NOT the Montreal Suffrage Association. During this era, there are conflicting reports in the press about who is President of the Montreal Suffrage Association, Mrs. Scott (a married woman with sons in the war and also a WCTU leader) or Miss Derick.)

Ever since I read that in the minutes, I wondered why Serbian women were so important to them, now I know.

Still, one mystery solved, another created.

I need to go to Ottawa to read the Heralds for the day. It's still early in the morning. I might go!!

If the Montreal Suffrage Association has been effaced from history (with only a few mentions on the Internet in association with Carrie Derick) and their minutes tucked away at Montreal City Hall, the historical memory of the Montreal Equal Franchise League is even foggier.

But a quick online survey reveals that there were many women in Montreal, NOT associated with the Montreal Local Council of Women or its shadow organization the Montreal Suffrage Association, going around giving lectures on suffrage.

This tidbit, from a 1913 Toronto Newspaper, reveals something too:

"more aggressive devotees" just the kind of suffragist the new Montreal Suffrage Association didn't want in their midst. That's why they wrote in their by-laws that every member had to be nominated by a member of the Exec. 

Leggatt and Kenney, not names I've seen in association with the Montreal Council of Women. I doubt they were members of the Montreal Suffrage Association, although I have to go back to the archives to double check. There were a number of former London residents in Montreal talking up suffrage and that includes Mrs. Hurlbatt of the Royal Victoria College of McGill.

(Just checked. Caroline Kenney is the sister of militant British suffragette Annie Kenney, and they had a sister Sarah Kenney Clarke in Montreal.  So  THIS JUST IN! Now it is OFFICIAL. Militants were around in Montreal in the 1910's.. and not just visiting like Barbara Wylie.)

And here's PROOF positive that the Equal Franchise League was militant. From December  1913 

On the subject of don't believe what you read. Remember that crazy book Chariots of the Gods? The book was very popular with us teens in high school. God was an astronaut!  And the Parthenon Frieze proves it (or something like that.) Well, a savvy teacher pointed out to us that the title had a question mark for a reason.

This past week, I noticed something rather troubling. That many of the headlines around the Boston Bombings had the same.. question marks after them.

Cheesy, but also in this case very dangerous.

And then add to this the fact that people's twitter feeds were often displayed as questions (absolving the tweeters of any accountability, I guess.)

Think about it.  The headline is often the only thing that remains in a person's head after an event like this.