Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Only Canadian Child to March in a Suffrage Parade?


This is Flora Macdonald Lapham, possibly the only Canadian child to march in a Suffrage Parade. She was allowed to walk at the front of the Washington March 15 parade, beside NY lawyer Inez Milholland on her white horse, carrying the colours of Mrs. Pankhurst's WSPU.

This was one of a full-page spread of photos, special to the Toronto Sunday World, probably taken by Flora Macdonld Denison (her aunt?) who was with the "Canadian" (see Toronto) delegation. She wrote a column for that newspaper.


I refer to this Washington suffrage parade in Furies Cross the Mersey, the story of how British militant suffragettes invaded Montreal in 1912/13 and got nowhere with our wary suffragists.


There were no Montreal suffragists in this parade, from all I know.

But a letter I have from 1917, written by Prime Minister Robert Borden to a suffrage group explaining his War Time Elections Act that allowed only women attached to men at the Front to vote in the December 1917 federal election, claims there are 5,000 expat Canadian women in other countries. So maybe a Canadian child marched in a suffrage parade in the US or Great Britain.

I know that a certain Gertrude Harding from New Brunswick went to England to 'work' for the suffragettes.



Inez Milholland in a white robe with (OH MY) her hair down around her shoulders. In the NY parade she wore jodpurs and rode a red horse. She was a NY lawyer.

I'm writing a sequel to Furies Cross the Mersey, called Service and Disservice, about the Conscription Crisis and the iffy involvement of the  women leaders of Canada.


On May 3, 1913 beautiful Inez Milholland  led yet another HUGE suffrage parade down Fifth Avenue. There was a Canadian delegation in that parade, too. according to press reports, but Flora Macdonald Denison wasn't likely in that group.

Mrs. Denison  was listed as attending the May 5th AGM of the National Council of Women in Montreal, a meeting that figures large in my Furies Cross the Mersey -  as does the later New York Parade.

On May 4 the National Council Delegates were visiting Macdonald College in Ste Anne de Bellevue. Miss Carrie Derick, McGill Prof and President of the new Montreal Suffrage Association, was the host..

Flora Macdonald Denison is very likely in this photograph, with Carrie Derick, Mrs. Torrington, President of the NCW and other women social activists from around the country.

Here is Denison in NY on May 1913, so she visited the city there AFTER the parade. Denison was a vocal supporter of Mrs. Pankhurst so she had to give up her post as head of the Canadian Woman Suffrage Association soon afterwards. She went to Britain and witnessed first-hand  the hunger-striking militants play Cat and Mouse with the Police. I wrote about that in my previous post.

Canadian delegates, Denison in black.


Mrs. Flora McD Denison spoke her mind about suffrage and suffered for it. She also campaigned for working class women to join the movement, something other Canadian suffragists did not want.

 Canadian Suffragists usualy did not speak their mind about suffrage and especially about Pankhurst's militant movement. Sometimes they said ambiguous things, like Carrie Derick, who was quoted  as dividing suffragists into  two camps, the 'moderate' and 'more-advanced.' Gotta laugh at that one!

She also promised to go about a 'quiet education of the people,' in March 1913, when installed as President of the Montreal Suffrage Association.

In Canada, no parades were held. Holding a parade was considered 'militant' for Canadian suffragists, Labour unions could do it, and there were a number of strikes in the era, but, then, these parades were always mounted by males, even if the paraders were women workers.