Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Tangled Web of Suffrage Advocacy in Montreal 1912/13

A Statue of Mme Gerin Lajoie and Idola St Jean (I think)



The minutes from the first meeting  1922 of La Ligue des droits de la femme, the bilingual group assembled to win the vote for Quebec women at the provincial level. That would take 18 years!


As I start my story Sister Salvation, about the 1912/1913 Montreal Suffrage Movement, the British Invasion (at the time) of British Militant Suffragettes and about Carrie Derick's drama at McGill - fighting for respect and a place at the faculty table, I'm creating little charts in my head.

Carrie Derick is tied to both the Montreal Council of Women and McGill, where she fights with Principal Peterson and Dr. George Adami of the Pathology Department.  Her allies are Dean Walton of the Law Faculty and Dean Moyse of the Arts Faculty.

The Montreal Council  of Women fights with Adami (who is on the Civic Improvement League) and with  most of French City Hall who they see as corrupt and, more importantly, as too lenient on prostitution and drink.

Would be militant Montreal suffragists battle with 'constitutional' suffragists, who in Montreal could be called 'educational' suffragists because they feel it is their job to educate the people with an orderly distribution of books, pamphlets and brochures, (no inflammatory flyers) and not to get attention in the press with marches and protests and public speeches.

Mrs. Hurlbatt - a member of the MCW -  makes woman suffrage a priority for the club in 1909. She sympathizes with the British Militants (she's from London herself) but she can't be too open about it because she is Warden of the very conservative Royal Victoria College at McGill, the women's college.


And so on. It's all very complicated.

The sign-ins at the first meeting of La Ligue. The Mr. Hague is a banker, the father- in- law of the lady whose father died at Changi and whom I interviewed for my WWII play  Looking for Mrs. Peel. Ritchie England (a McGill Donalda, or pioneering co-ed)  survived a 1919 impeachment trial and was a party to this organization, a good thing as her thinking was more in line with the French-Canadians.) Marie Gerin-Lajoie, was first President.

In 1912 the Montreal Council of Women decided to 'spin off' the Montreal Suffrage Association "to keep the interest in suffrage alive"after a December 1911 speech at Windsor Hall  by Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, despite the fact there wasn't that much interest in suffrage on the Montreal street and any interest that existed was mostly negative.

The MCW's  key focus with respect to to the women's vote had been  getting the spinster vote out in Municipal Elections in an all-out effort to clean up corrupt City Hall.

It worked in 1910 when the MCW got their candidate elected Mayor, Jean James Guerin, a doctor. It didn't work too well in February 1912...Guerin was out...only  a few of their candidates got in.

With the Montreal Suffrage Association, the ladies of the MCW could lobby freely for the Federal Vote while keeping the issue at arm's length.

Not all the MCW's 40 member organizations supported woman suffrage. Indeed, just 'several' of them appeared to. Several is how many of the MCW's member organization agreed to send around a suffrage petition in 1912.  (What is several =5 or 6, maybe?)


Dr. Adami, Cambridge educated McGill pathologist and supporter of Eugenics, like Carrie Derick.

In 1912, Dr. Adami of McGill, President of the Civic Improvement League, did not like the idea of woman suffrage and he waged open war in the press with the Montreal Council of Women over what organization was to head the October Child Welfare Exhibit.

He also crashed an Executive Meeting of the Montreal Council in 1912 and said "All you care about is suffrage."

The suffrage issue was not showcased at the Child Welfare Exhibit; the Montreal Suffragists held a Woman Suffrage Exhibit six months later in February, which proved a success if sales of literature are any measure. They made $300.00.

So, the Montreal Suffrage Association was launched in late April 1913 (with proceeds from the February exhibit)  promising at the press conference to be 'sweet' and 'reasonable.'

The MSA Board was announced: it was made up of Council ladies, clergyman and McGill profs like Carrie Derick and Dean Walton. At the presser, two clergymen openly denounced the British Suffragettes, one of them  saying it would be better if they died in jail.

Mumbles of  "No. No" were heard in the audience.

Mrs. Hurlbatt, Miss Cartwright (gym teacher) and Miss Cameron (English teacher) of R.V.C. immediately signed up to be members. Miss Cameron later got her named scratched off the membership register.

But WWI soon broke out and Woman Suffrage took a back seat to more important war effort.

The Child Welfare Exhibit's name was changed to the Baby Welfare Exhibit. (After all, male 'children' were being sent to the Front to be killed.)

The Montreal Council of Women and their President Dr. Ritchie England got into a lot of hot water in 1918 for actively supporting Wilfrid Laurier in the 1917 Conscription Election. Laurier did not support Conscription without a national wide referendum. .

In 1917, there was a frenzy among some of the National Council of Women leaders to get the Conscription Bill through. Prime Minister Borden cleverly pitted woman against woman, suffragist against suffragist, getting them to fall back on their principles, preying on their fears for their own men at the front.

 It was a somewhat shameful episode in the history of Canadian women's rights. Only women with close relatives at the Front, husbands, brothers or sons, got to vote federally in 1917 and because of his alliance with the leadership of certain pan-Canadian suffrage groups Borden was able to say 'all the women of Canada agreed.'

Dr. Ritchie England (President of the Montreal Council of Women) stood by her principles in the perilous era and suffered for it. (Or she didn't quite understand what was going on.)

In 1918 most Canadian women won the vote (so WWI accomplished that at least) and the Montreal Suffrage Association moved to disband in 1919, with only a few members in attendance at the meeting in question.

Someone complained about this in the Gazette. (I suspect it was Mrs. Fenwick Williams, the one abstainer in the group at the meeting.)

And then this organization, La Ligue des droits de la femme was organized, with a 50/50 English/ French membership, it was written right into the Constitution.

So, with the launch of the MSA in 1913, certain pro-suffrage, anti-militant forces got to shake off a few undesirables (some earlier suffrage advocates had gone about it in bull-headed fashion, not understanding the complexities of Quebec politics) and control the suffrage debate in the city.

And it was all repeated in 1919.

The fact is, there was very little that was democratic about the suffrage movement in Montreal in 1910-1919. And it was more about municipal politics, Protestant values including social purity and  temperance. But that doesn't mean it was all bad.


A weird cartoon about suffrage in the Montreal Herald. Poor women (lobbying for vote) are pointing at a rich woman as if accusing her of something.

It was the richer women who lobbied for the vote, in their efforts to 'protect' poorer women and children, at least from what I can see.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Limited Career Options of the First Female McGill Graduates

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A drawing of a bluebell from Flora Nicholson's 1911 Macdonald College Portfolio from her Nature Diary. Flora went to normal  school on a scholarship that was given to any eligible country girl who wanted to become a teacher. There was an immigration boom in Canada, you see, precipitating both a rural problem and a city problem in education.
Flora  didn't have a fine room like the Donaldas of McGill, in a 'great ladies hotel' that was the Royal Victoria College, but Macdonald College was brand new in 1911 so no doubt the residences were fine.
And Flora was afforded more freedom than her Donalda counterparts who weren't allowed to leave the RVC campus without a chaperon. Flora went on walks and picnics in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. She writes about them in her letters home.
Her year at Macdonald is chronicled in Threshold Girl.
As I started my story Sister Salvation about suffragists in Montreal,  I went online to look at some McGill yearbooks for the 1910 era.
My two protagonists are Royal Victoria College students who try to start a suffrage parade in Montreal and get into trouble.
I want to make their lives realistic.
You can find everything online these days, of course,  including pictures of the interior of RVC and an architecture thesis that describes "The Great Ladies Hotel" in minute detail.
I had a little trouble finding a calendar to see what courses these girls took. (No calendars on in the McGill online archives.)
But I eventual found a description on Google Scholar.
mcgillwomen ccourdse

It was claimed the women took the exact same course as the men and that why it was so unfair that upon graduation there was only one profession open to them: teaching.

(And you didn't need a college degree to teach; you could go to Normal School like Flora or, like Edith Nicholson, teach without a diploma - although that was getting harder and harder to do... At bottom you will find a Nicholson clipping where Macdonald College Teachers School begs rural commissioners to hire their graduates.)
A college degree meant you could become a principal of a school but male teachers without a degree were routinely appointed principal because  there were so few of them.
So, an Arts degree back then  got men into the professions. Not the women.
This reality  apparently had an influence on the curriculum. Women took more English and modern language courses because that is what they needed to teach in school. 
So McGill started putting more English and modern language courses into the Arts Curriculum and so was born the modern 'arts curriculum'.
In 1911, the arts curriculum included geology and botany, even physics. One of the McGill yearbooks for the 1910 era has a picture of female students rock-picking in  Rigaud near where I live.
donaldasatrigaud
Donaldas at Rigaud
This fact presented a problem to McGill Administrators who didn't want first and second year women students leaving RVC to mix with the men.
Labs couldn't be replicated just for women at RVC, too costly, so they had to do just that.
I'll put this in my story.
(A classic little blurb about the Donaldas in one of the early McGill yearbooks has the pioneering female students claiming their favorite pastime at McGill was mixing with the men students, so there you go. Great granny was no different from you and me, great great granny just wanted her to be.)
 I'll put the lab bit in my story because  Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association from 1913-1919, was a Botany Professor who was forced to give labs even when finally appointed full professor in 1912. (Her story will be intertwined in the other RVC story.)
In 1911, Flora Nicholson, was attending Macdonald Teachers College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue on a scholarship. Montreal was in dire need of teachers. It cost Flora only 40.00 a month for board to go to school and this cost was covered by her sister and father.
I know exactly what classes she took, she mentioned it in her letters home. And I have her 'portfolio'...It's all in my e-book Threshold Girl
I will weave the contrasting story of Flora into this story (tentatively called Sister Salvation). 
In October 1911, Flora writes to her dad and says, "I think I will take up public speaking and become a suffragette."
This is the first mention of 'suffragette" I read in the Nicholson letters when I first found them in 2004.
I didn't know this line would lead to so much. I am an essentially expert in the Montreal Suffrage Movement right now.
In a November 1911 letter, Margaret mentions she is keeping up with the news of the suffragettes in the papers.
She is referring to this:suffragettes doing
This timeline fits in my story, which starts in September 1911 and ends in May 1913.

A bit from a May 1912 letter from Macdonald Teachers College  about Flora's exams
Our exams are in full swing; tomorrow we have Composition and Writing, Wednesday Theory and Practice of Education, and Thursday Geometry and Manual Training. So you see we are pretty busy. The exams so far have been quite hard, Algebra especially, but when you think what a crazy piece set the exam you don't wonder
The 1912 McGill Yearbook does not contain a picture of the Macdonald Teachers School class.  There's only a picture of the graduating class of the Domestic Science girls. Hmm. Too bad, I'd like to see Flora with her fellow students.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Edwardian Montreal - More House of Cards than Downton Abbey

Clipping from a 1910 era McGill Yearbook about Mrs. Ethel Hurlbatt

In a 1930's letter home to Mom, Edith Nicholson, a tutor-in-residence at the Royal Victoria College in Montreal,  says that she didn't get to bed before 3 a.m. the night before.

"There was a late dance, and I must always be the last one up."

This speaks to how 'protected' were the co-eds or Donaldas of  McGill's R.V.C.

But a 3.a.m curfew in 1934 is pretty good.

 In 1927 (the archives show) there had been a controversy at R.V.C.

The female actors in the Red and White Review had to be home from the 'after party' by 1. am and they felt slighted because the party went on longer than that.

Letters begging for leniency went as far up as the President of McGill.

Anyway, I was going through Edith's 1930's letters to see if she ever mentioned Mrs. Susan Cameron Vaughn, the Warden at that time.

She does,  twice.

She also mentions Carrie Derick once more.

 Carrie Derick was a McGill Professor of Botany and President of the Montreal Suffrage Association 1913-1919. She was also President of the Montreal Council of Women 1909-late 1911 and Education Chair of the National Council of Women for a long time after that.

So Derick figures in my story Furies Cross the Mersey on Amazon.ca about the dull and boring suffrage movement in Montreal in 1911/13.

I have introduced two fictional characters into my story, two RVC students, to add colour. They'll get into a spot of trouble, naive as they are about Montreal politics.

Not that their wasn't plenty of drama unfolding among the suffragist and anti-suffragists in the pre-WWI era.

The suffrage issue got enmeshed with messy Montreal Civic Politics but that was more House of Cards than Downton Abbey.

(Well, the House of Cards business was being carried out by the politicians of the time, the turf they were fighting over was transportation and electricity contracts in the City.  The Montreal Council of Women got involved with the Municipal Elections in the era, helping to get the spinster vote out. And they passed resolutions re: the transportation scandal of the era, too.

In 1910 the MCW had a direct influence on the municipal elections because a slate of Reform Candidates was put into power with their help. Think of the MCW as one of those pesky Native American bands in House of Cards, except they hate drinking and gambling.)

The MCW was over the moon with this result and Derick claimed the Council's success in city politics led them in 1910 to officially come out in favour of Woman Suffrage - although no formal resolution was ever passed.

And then, according to Derick, the Montreal Council convinced the National Council to support suffrage.

The rest is pretty much forgotten history - forgotten until now. I'm going to write about it in Sister Salvation.

And McGill University was the center of it all. Lucky that there exists so much about McGill online.

Yesterday, I took a look through the yearbooks of the era and looked at some photographs of the interior of Royal Victoria College.

Anyway, as I said, in a 1930 letter Edith mentions Carrie Derick, a second time. (She had mentioned in a 1927 letter 'stepping out' with Miss Derick to a concert.)

Here's what she wrote in the letter from 1930:`

RVC Library from McGill archives. The Montreal Council of Women often rented rooms at RVC for their meetings and assemblies.  Mrs. Hurlbatt was on the Council.

April 19, 1930.

The luncheon for Mrs. C. Wilson was a great success, over 800 people. I was at a very interesting table. Mrs. Dughan Molson, Mrs. Wellington Dixon, Mrs. Louvan, Mrs. Napier, Mrs Byers, Jane Spier, Miss Louis Derick. Miss Carrie Derick made a splendid speech. The vote will have to come as I think the people (women) are beginning to wake up and see that we are the black spot in Canada.

She was talking about the provincial vote of course. Canadian women got the federal vote in 1918.

Edith Nicholson had come a long way in a few years! Read about her early life in Diary of a Confirmed Spinster and Threshold Girl.

If the girls at R.V.C. were over-protected, Flora Nicholson, 19, over at Macdonald College studying to be teacher, had more freedom. She talks about taking walks to Fort Senneville and having picnics and mentions no chaperons.

In 1910 the City was seen as a dangerous place for women, not the country, not way out in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, anyway.

Indeed, the middle class Nicholson girls, from Richmond, Quebec  had a lot of personal freedom growing up.

That's why Marion Nicholson, a teacher at Royal Arthur School in Little Burgundy was so adamant about finding a place to live in the city 1912/13, a flat that she and her sister and a friends could share. (How daring of her!)

She just hated the way the matron at her boarding house 'lorded it over her'. Those are Edith's words.

In October, 1912, Marion finally found a flat on Hutchison but it didn't work out that well.

In 1910, Edith did not know Carrie Derick personally, but no doubt knew of her.

Edith's  family was well-connected, but not that well-connected.

Edith likely heard Derick on May 5, 1913, at the National Council of Women's AGM in St. James Methodist Church, when she  introduced a talk by Mrs. Philip Snowden, the moderate suffragist from England.

(Edith  mentions the talk in a May 2 letter; "We are hoping to hear Mrs. Snowden speak. But she is not a militant. For which I am sorry.")

Edith back then didn't know that she'd get a job in the Registrar's Office at McGill in 1920 and another part-time job as tutor-in-residence at the Hostel (the Phys Ed residence for girls) in 1926 and that she'd get to know the McGill Donalda education pioneers in person.

Misplaced clipping! the 1913 Suffrage Exhibit figures largely in my story; lots of political in-fighting back then. There's a HUGE irony here: these Montreal Suffragists went out of their way to disassociate themselves with the militant Suffragettes... decorating their exhibit with jonquils and selling chocolates and valentines and yet the headline (that looks like it might be from the Witness) calls them suffragettes.

Still, in the era, she cut out lots of articles about suffrage, like this one I just re-discovered among the 1930  letters. It is about the 1913 Montreal Women's Suffrage Exhibit held in the first two weeks of February.

Edith attended the exhibit, I have little doubt. She clipped another news report about it.

Edith's letters from 1930 contain other interesting tidbits related to student life at R.V.C.

She describes an earthquake in the wee hours of Nov 1, 1935. The entire building was shaking she said and all the girls came out into the halls.

RVC is one solid building. Must have been some earthquake.

 (I looked it up. 5.9 in Tamiskaming. One of the biggest ever in Quebec, equal to the one in November 1988 where the pictures on the basement wall rattled so much I thought my furnace was exploding and ran up the stairs and threw my 3 year old onto the porch and ran back to get my newborn, Edith's great-great nephews, but hey, it all was over by then.)


And, as I already said, she mentions of Miss Vaughn Warden, two times. Well one mention is innocuous. "Mrs. Vaughn is arriving tomorrow."

And another is very mysterious. It's from a 1935 letter.

"The clipping I am sending is about our tragedy. We are all just broken-hearted about it. Our poor Mrs. Vaughn it has taken years off her life.. I spoke to Dr. X about her this evening, and he went down to see her. I dread to think about it."

There's a square yellow smudge on the note paper where said clipping was for decades. (I may have lost it myself, 10 years ago, when I first looked at the letters.)

I can't find anything in the Montreal Gazette about any incident at R.V.C. in 1935.

 But it's scary to imagine what could have such an effect on a university Matron in a short time, and what could make Edith, who lived through WWI and the Spanish Flu, and wrote about it in letters, wax so dramatic.

 Mrs. Vaughn was already a widow and had no children from what I can see.

It's a mystery, that's for sure.






Monday, June 23, 2014

Dull and Boring? Or Dangerous and Controversial? The Montreal Suffrage Movement

This was in the Ottawa Citizen. "ardent" not "militant."


I've plotted the first and last scene of Sister Salvation, my story about the Suffrage Movement in Montreal in 1912/13.

(Many years ago, a friend gave me the notes to a screenwriting seminar and it contains a fun schematic of how to plot a movie.)

While the 'barefoot' suffrage pilgrims were setting out on a well-publicized march to Washington to participate in the huge spring parade there, a parade  led by beautiful Inez Milholland on a white horse in a white robe, her long brown hair down around her shoulders, holding a banner in the colours of the WSPU, the Montreal suffragists were holding a 'reasonable' Women's Suffrage Exhibition with jonquils, valentines, 'sweet suffragette' chocolates and lots and lots of literature.

(I think I will go back in time and suggest to the Montreal Suffragists that they use the term 'passionate' instead of 'sweet' and 'reasonable' to describe their politics. (If the Americans can be ardent...)How that would confuse everyone! I've never seen that term used to describe the militant faction, even in derision. Hysterical, yes. Excitable, yes. Aggressive, yes. Passionate, no. Well, I think I'll put it in my play. I'll have one of the RVC girls suggest it!)

I think this brochure was purchased at the exhibit in February 1913 by Edith Nicholson, of Threshold Girl and A Laurier Era Family.



Edith also clipped a bit about the pilgrims and their progress.

As you can see, I'm going to have to 're-imagine' this Montreal suffrage story to make it exciting.

I'm creating two imaginary characters, two young women students at McGill's Royal Victoria College who plan to make their own parade and give a Votes For Women speech in front of the Mount Royal Club- and who get into trouble for it - sort of.

Not their fault: too many mixed messages being sent their way by their teachers who are  for the militant suffragettes in England but afraid to say so as they want to keep their jobs.

That's not made up, that's true. I've done the research.

Headlines about the British Movement were common in the Montreal Press in 1912/1913, but most headlines were sensational and Montrealers did not know that there were many 'constitutional' suffrage organizations in Britain and the U.S.

I even went so far as to consult the membership list of the Montreal Suffrage Association (1912-1919) and cross reference it to the 1911 census.

In order to be a member of the M.S.A. a person had to be nominated by two members of the Executive and then OKayed by the Board.

The executive was made up of Society Ladies, clergy and McGill profs.

Mrs. Ethel Hurlbatt, Warden of McGill's Royal Victoria Women's College,  had been active in the Montreal Suffrage Movement with the Montreal Council of Women, but she was not appointed to the Executive of the M.S.A.

However, she is listed as a member.

(M.S.A. members didn't get to vote on anything much. This wasn't a particularly democratic organization even if their aim was to win women the vote. As far as I can see they didn't hold any  public meetings or AGM's.)

Two other RVC names are on the M.S.A. membership list. One name, Miss Cameron's, is crossed out. Miss Cameron was the English Teacher and  Warden in the 1930's.

 Miss Cartwright's name is there too. She was  the Gym Teacher.

This led me to assume there were no students, no 'excitable' young women on the membership list.

(After all, Edith Nicholson's name is not there and she was BIG into Woman Suffrage. I'm sure she could have coughed up the 1.00 to join. Or maybe not, she was out of work in 1913.)

But I was wrong, (sort of).

Edith clipped this about the Women Suffrage Exhibit from likely the Herald or Star. Mrs. Weller is shown with young daughter, but the census shows her daughter was 20 in 1911. (The caption doesn't say when the pic was taken.)  So, for publicity purposes, Mrs.Weller, who headed the Suffrage Exhibit,  looks younger and more maternal.

There are some teenage girls on the list, the daughter of an important executive member for one: a Miss Scott and  the daughter of a Mrs. Leo, a Jewish woman who, I guess, was head of one of the Jewish Community groups. (No proof, though.)

Mrs. Leo lived in tony Westmount, but not up on the hill like so many of the MCW society ladies.

The Jewish teenager was Miss Dorothy Leo.  17  years old by the census.

Interesting.


A cartoon in the Montreal Standard that was also in the WSPU's Votes for Women.
The message: ordinary women are interested in the militant suffragette movement.

I had a great deal of trouble cross-referencing the 200 or so names on the membership list of the Montreal Suffrage Association with the 1911 Canadian Census.

The members were often written in  as just 'Miss Jones' (with address).

Initially, I had expected to find only Society Ladies and Old Maid Teachers on the list, but to my surprise there were few Old Maid Teachers.

No teachers, young or old, except for RVC's Miss Cartwright, as far as I can see.

There was a dressmaker on the list, living with her mom and not making a lot of money, 700 dollars a year, 100 dollars more than Marion Nicholson, teacher with diploma, teaching in her 5th year in 1911.

There was a  nurse, living with her mom.

There was the childless wife of a salesman, 30 years old, living on Harvard in NDG. 1,500 salary.


Miss Leo on the M.S.A membership list and in the 1911 census.


There was the wife of the treasurer of the Jockey Club, who made a good salary, 6,000 a year. (1,500 was considered a decent salary for a family of four. Most families in Montreal made far less than that, even with two parents out working.)

There was a woman whose family had a wholesale fur business and whose young sons of 17 and 20 worked in the business too, making 400 as an apprentice and 700.

(This kind of family did very well of course.)

And there was one family, in similar circumstances where the wife of the Head (a business owner) her daughter AND her son-in-law were inscribed as  members. They were all living together.

The young son-in-law was already making 2,000. a year. He could well afford his own place.

(I think it was common in those days for young married couples to live with parents for a while. Marion Nicholsons teacher-friend, Isabelle McCoy got married in 1912 and the hubby moved in with her well-off parents.)


So, the membership of the Montreal Suffrage Association was a bit of a hodgepodge, or (if I want to be cynical) the Executive managed to get a few people to join who weren't the USUAL  SUSPECTS, the Lady Drummonds and Lady Roddicks.

No doubt these people were connected in some way to the Executive.


It doesn't look like the M.S.A.  ever held a general meeting, like the Montreal Council, where any member could show up. Just executive meetings.

When the M.S.A.. decided to disband in 1919, after Canadian women won the vote federally, it was a unilateral decision made by the Executive, indeed one member (probably Mrs. Fenwick Williams) protested anonymously in the newspaper, saying that only 7 M.S.A. members were present at the meeting.

The letter writer didn't like the fact that M.S.A. funds were being given over to help 'mental defectives', President Carrie Derick's pet project.




Inez Milholland, dressed down a bit, leads the May 3, 1913 suffrage parade in New York. 

While this was going on Montreal Suffragists were attending the National Council of Women's AGM at St. James Methodist on Ste. Catherine.



Mrs. Philip Snowden, moderate suffragist from England, spoke there, calling Mrs. Pankhurst's militants "Cavemen."




The National Council Ladies pose on a visit to Macdonald College May 3, 1913, the day of the New York Parade.




Sunday, June 22, 2014

Snake-oily Social Activists and Crackly Minute Books

A display I made about the British Invasion of Suffragettes in 1912/13 Montreal. 

10 years ago, when I first found the Nicholson Family Letters in an old Victorian trunk in my father-in-law's basement, I took the 1000 letters and scores of documents home and started sorting through them.

One pamphlet in the stash was by a Dr. Adami and was a tract about 'the happy home' and for some reason I threw it out. (Or just didn't keep track of it.)

The brochure seemed unimportant at the time.

Indeed, it struck me as a tad snake-oily, as if this Adami person were some nutty popular parenting guru of the kind that proliferated in Victorian times.

Ok, maybe 'evangelical' is a better description.

But I should have known better. This brochure belonged to Margaret Nicholson of Richmond, my husband's great grandmother.

The Nicholson's were evangelical, yes, but also establishment types (or aspired to be) and Dr. Adami, I have discovered, was an English-born, Cambridge educated, prize-winning pathologist, McGill Professor, and high-profile Montreal social advocate in the vein of Herbert Ames.

Like Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association and Professor of Botany at McGill, he was a vocal supporter of eugenics.

Adami was against woman suffrage. He thought it would make the male second class in his own home.

I cannot tell if Adami was on the 1912 McGill selection committee deciding on who would fill  the Chair of Botany.

That would be interesting..and that would support my suspicion that Derick's suffrage advocacy lost her the job.

 If he was, he did not vote for Derick, as did Dean Moyse (Arts) and Dean Walton  (Law) and Sir William Van Horne.

Here's his Wikipedia bio.
Here's his pic from McCord Museum Collection.


So, cut ahead to this day.

Over the years, I've compiled a few e-books, Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, The Nicholson Family Letters and Not Bonne Over Here using the treasure trove of family correspondence I found  in that old trunk about a decade ago and I'm about to start writing Sister Salvation about the Suffrage Movement in Montreal - after conducting a great deal of research on the obscure topic.

I've even gone to the BANQ archives on Rue Viger a few times to peruse the crisp, crackly pages of the minute books of the Montreal Council of Women. (Proces Verbaux)

Last time I visited that very pretty place, the interior an open-concept  with white-painted art nouveau iron-work balconies, I consulted the MCW  Executive Minutes. 

In February 1913 (I think the notes showed) Dr. Adami crashed a meeting and tore into the Executive Ladies, saying he didn't want the MCW to commandeer the upcoming Child Welfare Exhibit because all they cared about was woman suffrage.



The Executive Ladies were appalled.

Last week I revisited the BANQ archives and looked through the minutes of the monthly general meetings, a more open gathering that was usually attended by between 30 and 40 women.

Suddenly it becomes very clear to me why the Montreal Council of Women chose to 'spin off' a Suffrage Association in 1913 (against their own by-laws, by the way).

In 1912/13, there was a great deal of controversy around this Child Welfare Exhibit (info about below...they published a brochure that is in the Canadiana.org collection.)and it got into the press.

A bit from the Minutes. It is revealed  in the same minutes that Adami met Derick personally to discuss the matter. Perhaps that is a reference to the Executive Meeting.

Adami, who was on the Civic Improvement League (President?),wanted this bi-lingual organization to mount the exhibition... and it eventually did. Adami and a Mr. Gauthier of the St. Jean Baptiste Society were co-presidents of the 1912 Child Welfare Exhibit.

(My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Director of City Services in Montreal in 1921-1930, was on the CIL.)

Adami claimed that the French faction wouldn't participate in the Child Welfare Exhibit if the MCW headed it. 

The Montreal Council of Women ended up mounting the display on housing.  

These same minutes contain a lot of discussion about Milk Stations. In the era the Montreal Council with the French Fédération St. Jean Baptiste promoted pure milk to poor women. 

(A funny bit in the minutes: it was explained that the French would take care of the milk stations wast of Union, the English west; that's funny because in the 1960's we Anglo children understood that English Montreal ended at Morgan's Department Store on Ste. Catherine and Union.)

So the MCW did join with the French side on some issues, especially the municipal elections of 1904-1912, where they worked to get the spinster vote out.

 La Fédération bowed out of election advocacy during WWI, probably for political reasons.

Politics... Politics....I can make up events for my story (condensing 'the truth' as the writers did with Tenko, the BBC series about Women Prisoners of War during WWII) but I want to get the politics right. (Tenko did just that, it got everything RIGHT.)

Dr. Adami gave an address at the National Council of Women AGM in May 1913 about the Child Welfare Exhibit with pictures.
From National Council of Women Yearbook.



Irony: During WWI the Child Welfare Exhibit became the Baby Welfare Exhibit.  They were sending 'children' to the Front to be killed, after all.



Here are excerpts from the 1912 brochure, from CIHM's (Canadianan.org)brilliant collection. Ironically, the brochure emphasized how important it was for mothers to nurse their babies, but also  included an ad for Nestle's formula claiming: "Every mother knows there are times when her own milk disagrees with baby."

"Surely it is our hope that this Canada of ours shall lead the world, that this land of promise shall become the land of fulfillment, that this youngest of nations, unfettered by the bonds of evil tradition which bind the old people, and profiting from their experience, shall choose out what is best, and press forward towards a greatness which other and older communities cannot hope to attain.


But it is the man that makes the nation.
It is the child that makes the man.

If, therefore, we are to become a great nation the well-being of our children must be our first care: we must rear them so that healthy and sound in body and in mind, they develop into strong and capable men and women. This is a matter that cannot be left to nature and to chance. Already with the rapid growth of our cities - Montreal is adding yearly forty thousand to its population - the child is exposed to influences every whit as harmless as those affecting the old world. Overcrowding and slumdom, lack of sunshine and fresh air, poor food, undue excitement, undue exposure to communicable diseases: these and many other bad influences tell upon the city child to its detriment.

The object of the Child Welfare Exhibition is to demonstrate these dangers and how they can be guarded against; what agencies exist in our midst for the protection and betterment of child life; what is lacking and what has to be provided for the immediate future.  J. G. Adami, T. Gauthier. Presidents. October 1912.
Health: The premature death of so many persons and the loss of earning capacity through various 'preventable and curable' diseases represent a tremendous economic loss to the community. Not only the community as a whole, but also the individual family units will find that they will be repaid if they will adopt the habit of early and frequent request for medical advise.Baby-saving: The high rate of infant mortality in Montreal, is a cause of the deepest concern. In a general way, the chief cause of mortality among babies is due to ignorance and even thoughtlessness of the part of mothers of the proper care, nourishing feeding of infants. Improper methods of feeding are the chief causes of death among young children.  The most essential feature of baby feeding is that the mother should nurse her own child.Thus not only does the baby procure food for its proper growth, but it is protected from the introduction by means of artificial food of such bacteria as cause diarrhea, typhoid and scarlet fever, etc. There are also present in mother's milk, certain substances which are able to destroy many forms of bacteria so that the nursing baby gains this very important protection. Housing:The exhibit on housing shows photographs of some of the bad spots in Montreal. As one of the pictures was being taken, the woman who lived in the house, remarked "every spring when the thaw begins our rooms are flooded with several inches of water. How are people, who are forced through poverty to live in places of this sort, bring up healthy children?" One of the worst features of Montreal housing is the inner court and the rear tenement. One lot is often occupied by two houses, the one at the rear being approached through a dark alley. There is little light and less air in those places. They are breeding spots for tuberculosis. Places like this sort also furnish a large proportion of juvenile delinquents. Poverty, lack of privacy in the home, lack of a place for children to play, these are all causes for misery and delinquency..

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Bit of Forgotten McGill History




Mrs. Cameron-Vaughn, Warden of McGill's Royal Victoria College in the 1930's when my husband's Great Aunt Edie was "Assistant." I have plenty of family letters from that era, I just haven't got to them. 


Hostelites: the Yearbook of the Female Phys Ed Students in 1928-29, when Edith was Tutor in Residence.


Well, it sometimes pays to be a bit disorganized.

I was looking for Edith Nicholson's 1920's letters that I had gathered together for yet another Nicholson Family related project (now on hold as I write Sister Salvation, about the Montreal Suffrage Movement in 1912/13) and I found a little brown suffrage pamphlet I recently had been looking for.

It's titled Women's Vote in Australia and it quotes woman suffrage supporter McGill Professor R.E. MacNaughton and I strongly suspect Edith got the pamphlet at the Montreal Women's Suffrage Exhibition in February 1913.

She left behind a clipping of the exhibit, too.

From another newspaper article about the event, one I found on Google News Archives, I discovered that MacNaughton spoke in the evening on one of the days of the exhibit.

I'm guessing Edith Nicholson attended and that Prof M. gave this pamphlet out for free or that Edith bought it at the Literature Bureau at the Exhibition that had many books and brochures and made a lot of money (300 dollars!) for the Montreal Council of Women who mounted it.



But I was looking for Edith's 1920 letters for quite another reason.

I wanted to see a 1928 letter where Edith Nicholson mentions that Mrs. Hurlbatt, the Warden of R.V.C. at McGill, has taken ill.

Edith was a tutor at R.V.C in the 1920's.




In 1928, to be precise,  she was Tutor-in-Residence at the Hostel, the Phys Ed Residence, that was in a separate building.

I have the yearbook!

Edith would stay at McGill  for the rest of her career.

Finally! Edith's name on a Suffrage List. (City Hall Archives)

That's why this exists: it's her name on a list of La Ligue des droits de la femme, the bilingual organization set up in 1922 to win the vote for Women in Quebec.

This page is from 1940, when Quebec women were about to do just that, win the vote.

As I've written before, Edith's name is NOT on the membership list of the Montreal Suffrage Association, 1913-1919, the group that was just getting organized in February 1913. In 1913 Canadian women couldn't vote in federal elections. They won that right in increments in  1917/18/20.

Edith's name would have been on this page: but she was a militant suffragette sympathizer and the M.S.A. was NON MILITANT, 'sweet and reasonable'.

The success of the Women's Suffrage Exhibition (held in a vacant store on Ste. Catherine) would lead to the M.S. A's  hasty formation in April, with Botany Professor Carrie Derick appointed the President.

Derick had turned down the Presidency in March citing too much work at McGill  and then took it on in April. (In my story I have to figure out the reason why. Well, there's probably a couple of very good reasons.)



There are two R.V.C. women, however, on the membership list of the Montreal Suffrage Association, one crossed out.

I first assumed they were students, but they are both teachers.

The crossed out name is that of Miss Cameron, English tutor at RVC in 1913. She was the lady who judged a 1912ish suffrage debate at RVC between male and female students, along with Stephen Leacock and Dr. McPhail.

I wonder why her name is crossed out! That's something else I have to figure out.

And the other RVC name is that of Miss Cartwright, gym teacher, who would take on some Executive duties for the organization during WWI.

I know all about Miss Cameron from Margaret Gillett's 1989 book We Walked Very Warily.

She had briefly acted as Warden in 1906 and in 1928, with Miss Hurlbatt ailing, she took on the duties of Acting Warden and then in 1931 was herself made Warden. She was a married woman by then, Cameron-Vaughn.

So Edith worked with Miss Cameron -  as well as under her - in the 1920's and 30's.

I know from one of Edith's other 1928 or 29 letters that she, too, took on Hurlbatt's work, but clearly got no credit for it.

Miss Cameron was  a Donalda, after all, a female graduate of McGill.

Edith Nicholson, as my e-books Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster show, didn't even have a Normal School diploma!

Edith  cobbled together a brilliant career, using her excellent connections.

Had she gone to McGill Normal School, she would have gotten a 'good paying' job on the Montreal Board in the 1910's, just like her sisters.

But in 1902, when she graduated high school, prospects for teachers in the province were bleak. Jobs were hard to get. There hadn't yet been an immigration boom!

In 1913, when Edith was out of work, almost all teaching jobs in the Classifieds called for a diploma. She took a provisionary diploma in the summer of 1914 in Lachute, so that's why she got a job at St. Francis College in Richmond. (Well, that and her EXCELLENT connections.)

Here's Edith's  C.V, as far as I know (and I know a lot)

1902 St. Francis College in Richmond, Quebec: High School Diploma. Then took the stenography course, typing 40 words a minute.

1907 Teacher. Radnor Forges, a small company town.

 Edie Old in the 70's. 
Edie in her 30's or 40's.

1908-1912 - teacher Ecole Methodiste Westmount (a French Missionary School that taught the Protestant Curriculum)

1913 (time of Suffrage Exhibit.) Out of work although I suspect she was doing something in Montreal, taking a course or working part time as a teacher somewhere.

1914-1917 Teacher at St. Francis College in Richmond (I have her contract.) War starts, she volunteers to organize local concert for the Patriotic Fund.

1915? Wesleyan College. (She helped a former French Methodist student at Registration, so likely that was her job.)

1917 - Stenographer, Sun Life. Worked in Accounting.  Her boss lived beside her sister, Marion, on York in Westmount, so that's likely how she got the job. Connections, connections. She's at Sun Life  when they move over to their now iconic new building on Dominion Square.

1920 -Registrar's Office, McGill.

And somewhere along the lines in the twenties she became a Tutor-in-Residence at R.V.C., which gave her a place to live.

Edie in October 1913 at the time of her sister, Marion's Wedding.

So it seems Edith is one of these 'forgotten' women of Montreal and history. I found only one tiny mention of her in the R.V.C. archives at McGill. And Gillett doesn't mention her either.

Edith, too, endured serious health problems. Two throat operations kept her poor all her long long life. (And still she smoked to the end.)

She had to pay for these operations in installments out of her own salary, no Medicare. And in the 1920's her letters reveal that she is still sending money to her widowed Mom.

The same letter that mentions Hurlbatt's illness contains  business about selling the family home, Tighsolas, for 8,000. (The house had been built in 1896 for 2, 700 dollars and heavily mortgaged for years.)

The Nicholson's had discussed selling Tighsolas ever since 1907, when their money troubles began.

In 1913, they thought they might get 4,000 for their home but that didn't work out. Too many houses for sale in Richmond. Everyone was moving away.

They never did sell Tighsolas. Edith died, in genteel poverty, at Tighsolas, in 1977 at the age of 92. She was living with her sister Flo, and Flo's husband Wes. Flo died 10 months later.

But still hers was a wonderful, full life.

She went to Paris and London with a McGill group in 1928 and got a special tour of the Louvre's Italianate paintings and the Bodelian Library at Oxford.

She was Commandant of the Quebec Red Cross during WWII.

Edith didn't have children, but she considered her sister Marion's children 'my family'. (They all chipped in money at the end when she need it, for a downstairs bathroom at Tighsolas.)

Her great niece, Dean, remembers being taken to a McGill graduation ceremony as a very young child, late 40's or early 50's, and being stood up on a table 'backstage' as Great Aunt Dee Dee adjusted the red and gold cloaks of the women students.













Friday, June 20, 2014

MacKay, Babies, Brain-blips and Black Women Judges on TV.


Last month, the colourful Latvian tennis player, Earnests Gulbis, was asked if any of his younger sisters will turn pro and he replied something like "The tennis tour is not for women. Women should be making babies."

Reporters asked the great  (oh so female) Maria Sharapova what she thought of the statement, she replied, "I don't think you take what he says seriously. "

Good reply.


But, now, our former 'playboy'  Canadian Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, has gotten himself  into some hot water by saying something like "There aren't as many women judges because women bond more with their children then men." ie. WOMEN CARE MORE FOR BABIES.

(Is he projecting about himself? I wonder.  He's a new father.)

The CBC message boards lit up.  Liberals panned him. Conservatives said he was just stating the obvious.

No doubt there is some  truth to what the until-recently-childless politician says, but 100 years of history proves that his way of looking at  'the problem of woman judges' is out-dated, at the very least.

MacKay needs to change his idea of what is an 'absolute' and what isn't.

100 years ago, as I've written on this blog, most men and women, housewives, politicians, clergyman spouted pretty much the same thing.  WOMEN CARE MORE ABOUT BABIES.

"That's why women don't want the vote," they exclaimed.

So women suffragists, especially in Canada, turned the argument around on its head. "Women need the vote because THEY CARE MORE ABOUT BABIES."

A 1913 poster in the Edinburgh Cafe on Ste. Catherine Street in Montreal read: Woman Suffrage Equals Lower Infant Mortality.

Over the century the argument over women and work has remained pretty much the same, only the bar for women and work has been radically raised.

First it was: Women can't go to college, because they are sweet and simple-minded  and just BORN TO MAKE BABIES.

Then, in the twenties it became: College educated women can't enter the professions (except for teaching when unmarried) because they are gentle and sweet and good -and BORN TO MAKE BABIES.

And so on.

And then cut to 2014 when women are exceeding men at academics and when more women than men are graduating from college and even, lately,when women graduates getting better jobs right out of school. (And as everyone knows, the start you get out of college is a marker of future career success. Right?)

And then Peter Mackay, our Justice Minister, goes and says something that sounds so 100 years ago:
Women can't reach for the top because  THEY CARE MORE ABOUT BABIES.

And some people (on the right) agree with the statement and some people (on the left) don't, because they are looking at the same problem from different perspectives.

In my (liberal) mind the question is: Do we want more women judges? (We must. They are always showing women judges on TV! Especially black women judges.)

I know I do. I think it would be better for society to have more women judges. (Even if we are simple-minded.;)

I want more women on the bench, and  not just women judges who have risen to the top because they think and act  like men in their profession.

I want women judges who love babies and children in the unique way women do. I want more women on the bench because WOMEN CARE MORE ABOUT BABIES.  (There I said it. Can it be? Am I starting to think like a conservative? Or like a spoiled Latvian tennis star?)

No,I think I'm turning into a 1910 suffragist.

 (That's all I've been thinking about lately, so it's no surprise.)

The maternal suffragists (and the WSPU militant suffragettes who dared to act like men freaking most everyone out) both agreed back then "Men are selfish. All men care about is money, but women care about children and humanity."

 Ironically, many of these suffragists were married to rich, high-powered  men. I now wonder if these "Society Ladies" were projecting just a bit. (Of course, none of these ladies actually nursed, rocked, walked or played with their babies and children. They had nurses and nannies for that. Seems that given half the chance some women race away from the nursery.)

Anyway.... I want more women judges so that our laws can become more compassionate.

So, let's start looking at the problem of woman judges from another angle? (It's been over a century, after all.)

Let's figure out how can we change the law profession (and other professions, like medicine) so that both men and women who choose to have families and reach for the stars and succeed to the best of their abilities for the sake of humankind.

With the world  in such a mess (as both the right and left seem to agree) how can that be bad for society?


PS. In 1917 during WWI, during the Conscription Election, Canadian Premier Borden  turned suffragist against suffragist, for cagey gerrymandering purposes, playing on their love of children alright, their own children.

In the 1917 Federal Election, Borden got many suffragists to go against their own "peacetime' principles and publicly endorse limited woman suffrage. Only women who had close relatives, brothers, sons or husbands, at the Front got to vote back then.

Borden knew these women would vote for conscription in order to get their own sons back from Europe faster.

So, there's a big fat caveat here..isn't there?

See my Youtube video here. Furies Cross the Mersey. (Clever title, eh?)

Here's a repeat of a post on this blog about Canada's first woman lawyer!





In the 1910 era, magazines often ran stories about women in 'manly' positions: I've read one about a stockbroker, Superintendent of Education (Chicago), and about various pioneering women lawyers in various locales.


I just found an 1910 era article in the Canadian magazine, about Miss Mable French, who was the first woman lawyer in New Brunswick and BC.


As I've written before, it was commonly said in the era that, with respect to work, women had finally made it. That no profession was closed to them, as if ONE woman working in any given field meant that ANY WOMAN could easily enter the field.


The fact the Nicholson sisters all became teachers is a case in point: teaching was about the ONLY profession open to them as middle class women. And they had no choice but to work! And as I wrote in an earlier blog, they were begging for teachers in Quebec.

Anyway, these 'working women' articles tend to strike a similar tone. Remember, having a career in those days meant you gave up on love and, yes, sex and any intimate male companionship. Spinster City. The professional women interviewed were always asked to meditate on this Choice.

Mabel speaks:

"Of course," she went on more seriously,"it is quite obvious that a woman who is looking to marriage as a career (sic) wouldn't want to spend five years studying the law. It would seem like wasted effort. The average man, you know, is usually a bit afraid of the so-called clever woman. The average man prefers a woman who is charmingly ignorant of serious subjects."


The author replies: "It is frankly admitted on behalf of our sex, that our tastes frequently runs to what Wells calls "the little fluffy type fool. We are the vainer part of the race and our vanity takes subtle forms. We feel grateful to those ladies who are so ignorant that they think we are very wise and clever."

"I'll reward your frankness with equal frankness, " replies Miss French. "On behalf of my sex, I'll admit that any woman is ready to be talked to if the right man comes along. But on the other hand, if a woman has persevered and made her way in her chosen profession, I think she would meditate very seriously before leaving it. Having secured a position of economic independence, she might be very reluctant to forgo it. Certainly she would be more critical of her choice."






Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Day at the Archives.

A forties-ish triplex squished between two Victorian (or earlier?) 'village' style homes, typical around the Berri area.

The city is a nice place to be when it is 21 degrees Celcius and sunny.  So I took advantage and went into the city today, the city of Montreal to look up some info in the archives at City Hall and at BANQ (just around the corner from City Hall, that is if you have ANY sense of direction and don't walk minutes toward downtown, thinking you will hit the Old Viger Station any time now.)

I have no sense of direction. In fact, I almost always go in the wrong direction. I now have GPS on the phone (but you can't see it in the sunlight!) and a direction thingy on the car which saves me some time.

And I've lived in Montreal all my life. Crazy!

Now, an old archive isn't where you want to be on a sunny day, but that Berri area of Montreal is crazy with construction, so the art nouveausy BANQ archives are a calm and peaceful place to escape. And there also appears to be about 48 new independent cafes on Viger, one called GREEN.

A few professors, a few students, a few genealogists and little old me (and  a conference of cartographers): that's who was at the archives today.. I'm a bit of all those things, (except cartographer, although  I should learn).

But I'm more a writer:  I am ABOUT TO START writing a play  about the suffrage movement in Montreal in 1912/13, about how the militant British Suffragettes invaded for a period of a year but got nowhere.

My story is also about  how Carrie Derick, the President of the Montreal Suffrage Association (1913-1919) was appointed a full professor in 1912, although it was a bit of a slight. (She had been expecting to be appointed Chair of the Botany Department but an American was instead.)

I went to the archives, mostly to check on dates.  I wanted to see when Carrie Derick stopped being President of the Montreal Council of Women. So I looked at their minutes. In October 1911.

That's why Dr.Ritchie England (the next President) picked up Emmeline Pankhurst at the train station in December 1911.

You get a great view of the new super hospital under construction from the train heading West.

I looked through the old book of minutes from 1908-1913 but could NOT find the line where someone says, in early 1912 after Pankhurt gave her speech in Montreal,  that they want to start a new suffrage association 'to keep the interest in suffrage alive."

The line is ironic. Not many people were interested in woman suffrage in Montreal in 1911, with or without Mrs. Pankhurst.

I've repeated it often on this blog. Am I crazy? Did I make it up? No, I think that this line is in another set of Montreal Council of Women minutes from the 1909-1913, the Executive Minutes. It's a resolution if I recall.

(I noted back then that the minute book was black and about 200 pages. This one today was brown and much longer.)

The minutes I looked at today were filled with press clippings and other bits and pieces  that I have never seen before. Lots of cool info too. These minutes were taken at the regular monthly meetings with about 30 women in attendance.

One document contained a 1912 Resolution of Support for Carrie Derick to get the job of Chair of the Botany Department, because she was Canadian, already at McGill and blessed with boundless energy.

There's a lot in these minutes about the 1912  municipal elections.

It becomes clearer  to me that the women promoting suffrage in Montreal were 'temperance types' (Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Weller especially) and that Miss Derick wasn't so much of a temperance type.

The executive minutes don't harp on temperance too much, if I recall. A few mentions, that's all. Carrie Derick was too savvy a politician to push too much for temperance.

Here's a telling bit from the minutes.

A Montreal Alderman is 'offended' by the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

Anyway, somewhere along the line President Peterson of McGill told Carrie Derick her appointment was a 'courtesy' appointment. I don't know when this happened, but in my play I will make it in late March 1913. In early March 1913 she turned down the Presidency of the Montreal Suffrage Association due to work... a month later she changed her mind and took it on.  Being told your paying job isn't an important one is a good reason to change one's mind about such a thing, don't ya think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Silly Post about a Silly 'Scientific" Study

Today, the CBC ran a story about yet another Greatest Canadian poll and this is the not-all-that-surprising top 10 result.

It seems that Carrie Derick, Canada's first female full professor at McGill, didn't make the list AGAIN!



I wonder if this is because of the lectures she gave in Montreal in the 1910 era on the Jukes/Edwards study.

The Jukes/Edwards study is a very silly 'anecdotal' genetics paper that shows, using two family histories, that good people and bad people  are born and not made.

Carrie Derick, McGill Donalda, suffragist and social activist, as well as trained botanist/geneticist, thought the Jukes/Edwards study made sense, despite all of the efforts she had put towards social reform in the city of Montreal.

In fact, Miss Derick gave a public lecture on the topic  in the 1910 era. She authoritatively  invoked Mendel's pea pods.

I put it in  as a scene in Threshold Girl, my story about a 1910 college student based of family letters.



Carrie Derick wasn't being a maverick here.

This same study was included in the 1911 Ontario Hygiene Reader, in the last chapter about "Family Stock" which was likely some kind of cautionary lesson - as this was the era of huge immigration to Canada.

(Of course, since Derick was Education Chair of the National Council of Women in the 1910 era, it is possible she got this study put into the curriculum.)

I've lost the gif that contains the Gazette Report on her "eugenics" lecture and I can't find the report on Google News Archives.

(Well, the gif is  on an hard drive I have to get scraped by professionals, but that costs 100 dollars or so.)


Still, while looking for said news article, I stumbled upon a few other surprising newspaper reports citing Jukes/Edwards.

I was simply astonished to see that writers were citing the 1900 era 'study' in the 1960's and even into  the 1990's.

A clip from a 1994 US newspaper.

This is especially ironic because in 1927 (I just discovered) Carrie Derick got into trouble with traditional types for a talk she gave on evolution at the YMCA in Montreal.

Professor Derick sounded too much like an atheist, it seems: When asked if there is an afterlife, she said she had no way of knowing.

Someone felt the need to defend her in the press, saying Derick was the most Christian of Women.

Of course, in 1927, Derick was involved in the Provincial Suffrage Debate. (Quebec Women didn't get the vote until 1940.)

This likely had something to do with the perceived smear.

Well, if this CBC list is right, and if the Jukes/Edwards study is 'correct' then it follows that Justin Trudeau should be elected next P.M.

Or maybe Paulina Gretzky.

Funny, just yesterday I read a Guardian Report that revealed that, in the UK,  the Labour Party had more candidates from the 'professional political class' than did the other parties. It's a scary (un-democratic) trend, the article suggested.



BELOW: PROVE ALL THINGS says the inscription over this slightly creepy fireplace hidden in a slightly creepy Victorian-era room in the stairwell of the Engineering Library at McGill, where there's a copy of NO FOOL SHE: Carrie Derick, a paper by Margaret Gillett, the only person who has bothered to write about Derick, so no wonder the McGill Feminist Pioneer didn't make the CBC List of Greatest Canadians.


No, We haven't COME A LONG WAY, BABY, in so many respects!

POSTCRIPT:

Anyway, as a dabbler in genealogy, I especially love the Jukes/Edwards study.

 I belong to a genealogy writer's class and my fellow members like to dig into their family histories for 'interesting' stories and they tend to uncover many so-called skeletons in their ancestral closets.

Indeed, it's these 'colourful' truths about ancestors that make genealogy (and writing about it) so interesting. 

 Threshold Girl, based on family letters, reveal that the very respectable Nicholsons had a scandal of their own: their beloved only son, Herbert,  stole from the bank  in 1910 where he worked and had to be shipped out West.

Even their local Member of Parliament (and friend) E.W.Tobin couldn't fix this mess for them.

I know, I have the 'sad' letter Herb's Mom, Margaret, wrote to the politician.

(Her husband, Norman,  usually communicated with him, but I guess they felt a Mother's touch was necessary here.)


Come to think of it, Winston Churchill, the Greatest Briton Ever,  bounced a lot of cheques in his youth, apparently.

And Albert Einstein, the Greatest Man of the Century, had a dark side too.