Friday, July 31, 2015

I Write Like Vlad!


I've been scoping the Net for French MOOCs, so I can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, or Pour Tuer Deux Oiseaux avec une Callou (which I doubt is an expression in French).

There's not very much out there, but I found a short course on Storytelling, which is, by the way, a French word.

This course, is about Applied Storytelling, as in Advertising Writing, etc.

  Except that today applied storytelling is aimed at management types.

One lesson in this Applied Storytelling course leads to a webpage  I Write Like that supposedly analyzes your writing style and tells you what author you resemble, technique-wise.

Well, I put in a bit from my e-book Threshold Girl and got Frank L. Baum. Then I put in a bit from Diary of a Confirmed Spinster and got James Joyce. Then I put a bit from Furies Cross the Mersey and I got  P.G. Wodehouse. Then I put a bit from an old  blog post I particularly like and got Vladimir Nabokov. Then I put in a bit from a blog post where I imitate Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, to see if I would get Virginia Woolf - and I got  David Foster Wallace.

Nabokov  is a favorite writer of mine.

I simple love his autobiography Speak, Memory, where he describes himself galumphing around the countryside with a butterfly net, and the part in Pnin where the Prof laughs so hard at a bit in a classic Russian book, that is totally lost on his clueless students, that his dentures fall out and to the floor. (Broad Comedy) and the funny fake epic poem at the beginning of Pale Fire (Not So Broad Comedy).


I like listening to podcasts about Art History, because I can just look up the paintings being discussed. This podcast was a talk about Picasso and his influences.

Well, only a computer would equate my writing with Vlad the Butterfly Chaser's or any of the above authors. And they say computers are going to take over the world. Ha!

But, then, maybe the 'alogrithms' - or whatever -are using a very human strategy to get more hits.

Flattery.

Yes, that's it!

As this course Applied Storytelling explains, it's all about the STORY, not the style - and the simpler the story, the more "Star Wars' it is, the better.

For management types anyway.



Thursday, July 30, 2015

When is a Minister like a Movie Star?




Above: left to right. Edith, Margaret (pouring tea) Flora and Mrs.Montgomery

"On or about December 1910, the world changed. Relations between masters and servants, husbands and wives, parents and children shifted. And when human relations change, there is at the same time a change in religion, conduct, politics and literature. "Virginia Woolf

I have this quote up on one of the introductory pages of my od Tighsolas website, that I turned into a series of ebooks, Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, and Furies Cross the Mersey, about the militant suffragettes invading Montreal in 1912/13.

If 1922 is considered by some to be the birth of the modern age (with the publication of the Wasteland and Ulysses)1910 certainly was a pivotal time in history, in Canada and in all of the Western World.

The motor car, the motion picture, electricity, among other new gadgets were upsetting the status quo.

For example, Margaret would often go to church twice a day, often for want of something to do. If the Minister gave a boring sermon, she would get upset. Ministers had to be entertaining and edifying. Hence those 'fire and brimstone' sermons, with vivid depictions of Heaven and Hell.

With motion picture shows, people, young people mostly, had another kind of place to go for thrills and diversion.

Actor Colin Firth says he comes from a long line of Ministers (Methodists, not Presbyterians like the Nicholsons) and that acting isn't all that different from sermonizing. He is right, of course.

Virginia Woolf had it almost right, too, I think. Except it's new technologies that change us, and change the way we interact.

The picture above is of the Nicholson women, in about 1908, having an outdoor tea party, with best china and silver, on Mrs. Montgomery's front lawn. You can see Tighsolas in the background. The pic below a formal one of Edith Nicholson and Flora, posing perhaps at Marion's 1913 wedding.



If Mrs. Montgomery hadn't existed, I would have had to invent her. She's the kind-hearted busy body who lives next door. She's a little tactless, flattery isn't her forte, but she's always there with the chicken soup when a neighbour is ailing.

In 1910 she has a baby daughter and Margaret is often called upon to take care of Baby Montgomery. Well, this baby was still alive in 2005 and my husband and I visited her in the Wales Home in Richmond. She was not in great shape though.

Also in and around that time, Mrs. Montgomery's husband, known only as Mr. Montgomery sold his horse and decided to buy a motorcar! Well, the women of Dufferin Street were not impressed, but Mr. Montgomery was merely 'catching the wave'.

Up until then the motorcar had mainly been the toy of the rich. But it and around 1910 middle class men started wanting them, despite the fact people had to pay for cars outright and cars cost a lot, 1,000 to 3,000 dollars or so. A LOT. That was the price of a fairly nice house in Richmond.
Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

In those days, however (the Laurier Era in Canada, the Edwardian Era in England) women still had 'their day at home' when they had to entertain callers. This was a very Victorian practice.

Margaret liked to show off her breadmaking skills, so she enjoyed her day, except that she was often alone and it was hard work preparing the tea. So even when living and working in the city, the girls returned home as often as possible.

Anyway, this is my second post today and I'm supposed to be writing my Chapter 1, Just a Change of Colour. But I played around on Photoshop and couldn't wait to post this photo. The colourization is hastily done, as you can see. I notice there are not many 'casuall' family photos of the 1910 era, even online, even on Flickr.

A Beautiful (Female) Mind Forgotten, almost

A family photo of Albert Einstein. 1936 Saranac Lake. My mother in law took it. I figured out he was setting up for an AP Photoshoot, Einstein At Play! She said to her companion disapprovingly, "Look at that man with the messy hair." I think it could be argued that Einstein's hair made him a pop culture figure, not his math. After all, he didn't bother to get a haircut for this national photo shoot.

Although a scientist, Albert Einstein, was named the Man of the Century by Time Magazine a while back, it is more a case of Winner Take All.

Winner take all the recognition, I mean.

Scientists, in general, don't get much recognition. I think this is because they don't make movies about their lives. Too boring. Not 'romantic enough' say, like the lives of painters.

Or because most people relate to what they do, what they are studying.

Up until this year, that saw two scientist-based movies out, the Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, a Beautiful Mind was a glaring  exception.

For women scientists, things are even worse. (Yes, I know they made a famous movie about Mme. Curie, but exceptions always prove the rule.)

Emmeline Pankhurst and Carrie Derick. They met  in 1911. Derick brought her to Montreal and described her militant movement as 'more advanced' than the moderate non-violent suffrage movement.

My blog here is about my work writing about Canadian women of the 1910 era.

 Carrie Derick, McGill University Botanist, is one of my main characters.

 Indeed, she is the focus of Furies Cross the Mersey, my book about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.

Carrie Derick does have a street named after her in Verdun but, as far as I know, my self-published 'expose'  is the only book about her.

I based some of my story on a speech by McGill Professor Margaret Gillett from 1989, the text of which is in the McGill Engineering Library (and nowhere else).It has been bound into a little book and called No Fool She.

Of course, Derick's story has a dark side; one that is not considered 'romantic.' No, had she had an illicit affair way back then, say with her supervisor, Dr. Penfellow who did, indeed, go mad  it would have been much better for her posthumous public profile.

(Were I writing a Hollywood style movie I would just create a love affair, wouldn't I?)

Her PR problem: She promoted eugenics - as did many elites in the 1910 era. A  taboo topic these days.

Anyway, right now I am writing a short piece for a non-profit website about another forgotten Canadian woman scientist, the first Canadian computer scientist, Beatrice Worsley.

Her memory would be entirely  lost to history, except for the work of  a certain University of Waterloo scholar, Scott. M. Campbell.

I have only his work to refer to.

Worsley doesn't appear to have any dark side, only a studious side. She loved mathematics and lab work.

She did participate in WWII, (and even worked with Alan Turing) but her war work was purely in the laboratory, although she got out on the boats after the war, as a researcher.


PS. Well, then there's the Big Bang Theory, a top TV show that is trying to put the names of physicists out there, but that show, these days,  is mostly Friends with exponents.

A Reporter, a Civil Servant and a Tramway Deal


A reporter I knew who covered a city beat for a smallish newspaper once told me civic corruption, even in littler cities, is all about land... and money, because land is money.

He would have been interested in the story I am writing, tentatively called Service and Disservice, about the 1914-1917 period in Montreal.

The Montreal Municipal elections of 1914  focused on two issues, an impending Tramways Deal (and wherever the trams went, land prices increased) and a "Pure" Water Issue.  For some righteous people, it was all about providing quality services to the tax-paying citizen - and 'purifying' City Hall along with the water supply.

 For others, businessmen both English and French,  it was all about making a bundle in the process.

The tramways deal, a 40 year contract, was said to be worth a billion dollars to certain people, who knows who, likely Hugh Graham of the Montreal Star, or so his rivals claimed.

Graham  is accused of having bought off all kinds of politicians, in Quebec and in Montreal. He also is accused of monopolizing the Montreal media by buying more and more newspapers.



My story Service and Disservice will peak at the 1917  Conscription Crisis, but the characters will be social reforming suffragists as well as  City Hall officials. Well, my grandfather will make an appearance, for sure.

My first ebook about the era, Furies Cross the Mersey, is about the British Invasion of Militant suffragists to Montreal in 1912/13.

A main character in it is Miss Carrie Derick, VP of the National Council of Women, Past-President of the Montreal Council of Women, President of the newly formed Montreal Suffrage Association.

Derick figures big in the 1914 civic elections. She gives multiple talks, One talk is showcased in all the papers: "A Woman Speaks about the Elections."

Carrie Derick, stumping for Stephens, promised that ALL women will vote for him. (Not quite getting the concept, I guess.) The Montreal Suffrage Association executive voted to support candidates who were for women suffrage, whatever else their platforms.)

In these articles, Derick's many affiliations are not mentioned just the fact that she is a prof at McGill. Hmm. The Montreal Council of Women's social hygiene program turned off the French and La Fédération St. Jean Baptiste (the French equivalent) was not active in this 1914 election, as they had been since 1904.

My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Second Assistant City Clerk, is also in all the Montreal newspapers at the EXACT same time. In very late March, 2014, he is caught in a bribery sting by one Edward Beck, intrepid reporter, who employed Burns Detectives from New York with 'detectaphones.'

In his article, Beck called my grandfather a grafter, go-between in Quebec City, and a manipulator who played both sides of civic government, the aldermen and the Executive Committee.



An article from the 1937 Montreal Gazette claims that my grandfather's real job was 'to teach aldermen their jobs" and he went gray doing it.

My grandfather was related to the Forget's through his mom. (Well, so am I.) From La Patrie.

Lookie here: from Toronto World


The timing of this bribe is most suspicious.The 1914 election was held a few days later. In the 1910 and 1912 elections, where 'reformers' won, a 'graft-free' City Hall was the slogan of the day.

Beck accused my grandfather of exacting tribute from lowly day-workers for the city.

I guess they were going with this winning 'beat the grafters' formula in 1914 as well.


Whatever, my grandfather managed to get off, suing Beck for 25,000 dollars, but being awarded only 100 dollars by The Court.

 Alderman Mederic Martin, a clownish candidate with no real organization behind him and no newspaper support, won a surprising victory over the 'pure-government-minded'  Citizen-Committee approved Col. George Stephens, who loudly proclaimed in his speeches that he was not in anyone's pocket.

A French newspaper, Le Pays, claimed that it was the English newspapers that made Mederic, by putting him down so much, ridiculing him so much, making the average man identify with him.

One newspaper suggested Martin was an ape aspiring to higher things. His campaign consisted of throwing his calling card with Vote Mederic Martin onto a table at City Hall in front of reporters.

Read this Coolopolis bit.

(Martin had claimed, after going AWOL on a visit to the Quebec Premiere, that he had been drugged by the opposition.)

Mederic Martin went on to be Mayor Montreal for a long time,  although after 1921 the position was mostly ceremonial.

 My grandfather rose to be Director of City Services, a post created in 1921 to ensure an equitable distribution of city funds across the districts.

He had a memory like a steel trap. Everything happening at City Hall passed by his desk. Put two and two together.

Mederic Martin would lose the 1928 civic election to Camillien Houde, another Man of the People. Houde would, then, in 1930, kick out my grandfather, but not before my Grandpapa negotiated a huge life pension of 8,000 dollars a year.

That's all in Milk and Water, about "Prohibition Era" Montreal, where there was no prohibition.

 Above, Mederic Martin and Aldermen, fishing trip.  My family photo. My grandfather in white hat with black band beside Mayor Martin in cap, center. Below. Mederic Martin toasting David the Prince of Wales in 1927, at reception on Mount Royal. The Prince enjoyed partying with Mayor Martin, apparently.


 George Stephens, head of Harbour Commission and Edward Beck, reporter, formerly of the Herald. When Hugh Graham purchased the Herald in 1913, Beck was kicked out as Editor (or left on his own volition.) He started his own tabloid, Beck's Weekly, devoted to cleaning up Montreal City Hall. 

That paper lasted only one? issue, the March 28, 1914 issue  where he smeared my grandfather. 

Graham apparently made it impossible for Beck to get newsprint for his new tabloid.  The Daily Mail printed Beck's sexy stories as did the Toronto World, and quite gleefully too. 

The Toronto World reprinted some parts of it verbatim. Beck called City Hall 'a sink hole of corruption.' He was a talented over-the-top writer who should  have penned Crime Novels, I think.


Here's an interesting summary of affairs in Montreal, written in a newswire story from Toronto and printed in a Pittsburg paper. This is in January of 1914, when Edward Beck of the Montreal Herald caught three alderman in a similar bribery scandal.



I think Beck wrote this too. He's the one who caught the aldermen in the bribe, but his newspaper, the Herald wouldn't print it, (having been bought by Hugh Graham) so he quit and brought the story to the Mail.

Dining Room Tables and Documentaries




A documentary about the Kuala Lumpur Book Club, made on my dining room table in real time.

A side-bar to Colonial History, the KL Book Club has gone down in history as a purveyor of sleazy literature to thrill starved planters' wives, but it was much more and my grandmother was the secretary/librarian for a long time.


The beginning of Looking for Mrs. Peel available on Amazon in Kindle. 





INTRODUCTION:

"All Things are Connected" Chief Seattle

The year 1967 has been described as The Last Good Year, by Canadian historian Pierre Berton,  also as The Year That Changed Cinema, by Time Magazine, as well as the Best Year Ever in Pop Music by, well, just about everyone.

In and around Anglo Montreal, that memorable year, radio was the communications medium of choice for young people. Kids listened to the likes of Buddy Gee on CKGM, Dave Boxer on CFCF and CFOX's Charles P Rodney Chandler on their chintzy transistor radios and kept track of the respective weekly hit lists.

One of the most popular new DJ's was an import, a former British merchant marine sailor named Roger Scott also on CFOX. In late May of 1967 Scott aired 'pirated' tapes of the Beatle's Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Album, before it was officially released. My older brother was mightily impressed.

In the US it was the Summer of Love and the Summer of Race Riots -two facts I couldn't ignore because my British father preferred getting his news from American Walter Cronkite, on the CBS television station WCAX Montpelier Vermont - and as was the norm, we had but one black and white tv.

But these same heady Expo months were also a time of tension in the Middle East with Six Day War where we came close to nuclear war ….again... and 'the tipping point' for Vietnam and a time when decisions were made that 'signaled the end of Britain's' imperial adventure'.*
According to Historian Matthew Jones, in 1967 the British wanted to pull out of 'East of Suez'(Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East) entirely. While school children from Victoria to Gander were learning the words to CA NA DA, Bobby  Gimby's  giddy centennial year signature song , the Americans were putting pressure on the British to stay. President Lyndon Johnson even bribed them, offering to back the pound sterling and "solve all your financial problems."* So, if Lyndon Baines Johnson appeared to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, as he rode that long long escalator up past the kitschy photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart in the American Pavilion at Expo 67 on his official visit, that's because he did. (* Matthew Jones' Decision Delayed Historical Review.)

Malaysia, the 15th country to sign up for the World's Fair - in July '64 (plot 3320 Ste Helene's Island) didn't have a pavilion in the end. They had pulled out; perhaps because Singapore had been expelled from the Malaysian Federation in 1965 ( to quell the unrest between the Chinese and the Malays) and couldn't come up with the money. Tunku Abdul Rahman Malaysia's first PM had visited the Expo site in '64.

One wonders what Bobby Gimby felt about all this: the so called Pied Piper of Canada, a former CBC musician and bandleader, and a Canadian cultural icon, is reported to have composed them an unofficial anthem, Malaysia Forever, and earned his whimsical moniker, on a visit to Singapore in '62.

The song itself is steeped in mystery; no former colonial or expert in Malaysian studies I have reached has ever heard of it. Negara Ku has been Malaya's (Malaysia's) national anthem since 1957.


Looking For Mrs. Peel:  A Play (All Rights Reserved 2010 Dorothy Nixon)

with new information on the Double Tenth Incident at Changi Prison (Civilian Internment Camp) during WWII. Based on a true story. Dialogue by people is recreated by me, generated from my -or my grandmother's -point of view and is speculative and not intended to cast anyone in a bad light.
Based on a true story, as they say, or a 're-imagining of a mostly true story with some fictional elements based on historical memory and record, personal memory and family myth.'

"The keynote of this whole case can be epitomized in two words: Unspeakable horror. Horror, stark and naked permeates every corner and angle of this case from beginning to end....Opening speech for the prosecution. Double Tenth Trial as reported in Malaya Straits Times."

A Tale of Simple "Worth" or the Gypsy's Warning

"Cross my hand with silver pretty lady, if you'd see,
What the future holds in store for you and how soon you will be free,
Cross my hand with silver (if you have none don't be shy)
I'll take it out in food or booze (or Gordon's Special dry)
Just cross my hand with silver or call at Cell Fifteen
With any simple offering, (be sure you are not seen)
No cumshaw ever comes amiss but if you have it handy
The fates show true benevolence if first well laced with brandy,
The lines engraved upon your palm are clear as mud to me,
There's fame and food and fortune and a journey on the sea
But a lurking danger threatens and a white-haired lady frowns, (It isn't Eve or Nella and it isn't Mrs. Chowns.)
Fate draws a veil across the name, but one thing's plain to see,
The danger is averted if you put your shirt on me."

Scene One : Nixon Living Room. Montreal,  November  1967

SOUND: Television, (Murdersville episode of The Avengers TV Series) someone being dunked in water and crunch of eating.

British man on TV: (sx water) You could spare yourself this Mrs. Peel. (sx splash) You know what we want (sx splash) Who knows you are here?

Martha: Dorothy , dépeches-toi,  come say goodbye to your grandmother. This is your last chance to see her. She’s leaving for the airport very early tomorrow morning

Dorothy : (sound  of crinkling of cellophane bag, crunch of crackerjacks being chewed)

Martha: And, adjust the rabbit ears on the TV for Heaven’s sake!  All that interference.  Mrs. Peel's face is covered in snow!


MUSIC: Red Rubber Ball. The Cyrkle 1966 

Montreal City Hall Corruption - and my connection to it



A reporter I knew who covered a city beat for a smallish newspaper once told me civic corruption, even in littler cities, is all about land... and money, because land is money.

He would have been interested in the story I am writing, tentatively called Service and Disservice, about the 1914-1917 period in Montreal.

The Montreal Municipal elections of 1914  focused on two issues, an impending Tramways Deal (and wherever the trams went, land prices increased) and a "Pure" Water Issue.  For some righteous people, it was all about providing quality services to the tax-paying citizen - and 'purifying' City Hall along with the water supply.

 For others, businessmen both English and French,  it was all about making a bundle in the process.

The tramways deal, a 40 year contract, was said to be worth a billion dollars to certain people, who knows who, likely Hugh Graham of the Montreal Star, or so his rivals claimed.

Graham  is accused of having bought off all kinds of politicians, in Quebec and in Montreal. He also is accused of monopolizing the Montreal media by buying more and more newspapers.



My story Service and Disservice will peak at the 1917  Conscription Crisis, but the characters will be social reforming suffragists as well as  City Hall officials. Well, my grandfather will make an appearance, for sure.

My first ebook about the era, Furies Cross the Mersey, is about the British Invasion of Militant suffragists to Montreal in 1912/13.

A main character in it is Miss Carrie Derick, VP of the National Council of Women, Past-President of the Montreal Council of Women, President of the newly formed Montreal Suffrage Association.

Derick figures big in the 1914 civic elections. She gives multiple talks, One talk is showcased in all the papers: "A Woman Speaks about the Elections."

Carrie Derick, stumping for Stephens, promised that ALL women will vote for him. (Not quite getting the concept, I guess.) The Montreal Suffrage Association executive voted to support candidates who were for women suffrage, whatever else their platforms.)

In these articles, Derick's many affiliations are not mentioned just the fact that she is a prof at McGill. Hmm. The Montreal Council of Women's social hygiene program turned off the French and La Fédération St. Jean Baptiste (the French equivalent) was not active in this 1914 election, as they had been since 1904.

My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Second Assistant City Clerk, is also in all the Montreal newspapers at the EXACT same time. In very late March, 2014, he is caught in a bribery sting by one Edward Beck, intrepid reporter, who employed Burns Detectives from New York with 'detectaphones.'

In his article, Beck called my grandfather a grafter, go-between in Quebec City, and a manipulator who played both sides of civic government, the aldermen and the Executive Committee.



An article from the 1937 Montreal Gazette claims that my grandfather's real job was 'to teach aldermen their jobs" and he went gray doing it.

My grandfather was related to the Forget's through his mom. (Well, so am I.) From La Patrie.

Lookie here: from Toronto World


The timing of this bribe is most suspicious.The 1914 election was held a few days later. In the 1910 and 1912 elections, where 'reformers' won, a 'graft-free' City Hall was the slogan of the day.

Beck accused my grandfather of exacting tribute from lowly day-workers for the city.

I guess they were going with this winning 'beat the grafters' formula in 1914 as well.


Whatever, my grandfather managed to get off, suing Beck for 25,000 dollars, but being awarded only 100 dollars by The Court.

 Alderman Mederic Martin, a clownish candidate with no real organization behind him and no newspaper support, won a surprising victory over the 'pure-government-minded'  Citizen-Committee approved Col. George Stephens, who loudly proclaimed in his speeches that he was not in anyone's pocket.

A French newspaper, Le Pays, claimed that it was the English newspapers that made Mederic, by putting him down so much, ridiculing him so much, making the average man identify with him.

One newspaper suggested Martin was an ape aspiring to higher things. His campaign consisted of throwing his calling card with Vote Mederic Martin onto a table at City Hall in front of reporters.

Read this Coolopolis bit.

(Martin had claimed, after going AWOL on a visit to the Quebec Premiere, that he had been drugged by the opposition.)

Mederic Martin went on to be Mayor Montreal for a long time,  although after 1921 the position was mostly ceremonial.

 My grandfather rose to be Director of City Services, a post created in 1921 to ensure an equitable distribution of city funds across the districts.

He had a memory like a steel trap. Everything happening at City Hall passed by his desk. Put two and two together.

Mederic Martin would lose the 1928 civic election to Camillien Houde, another Man of the People. Houde would, then, in 1930, kick out my grandfather, but not before my Grandpapa negotiated a huge life pension of 8,000 dollars a year.

That's all in Milk and Water, about "Prohibition Era" Montreal, where there was no prohibition.

 Above, Mederic Martin and Aldermen, fishing trip.  My family photo. My grandfather in white hat with black band beside Mayor Martin in cap, center. Below. Mederic Martin toasting David the Prince of Wales in 1927, at reception on Mount Royal. The Prince enjoyed partying with Mayor Martin, apparently.


 George Stephens, head of Harbour Commission and Edward Beck, reporter, formerly of the Herald. When Hugh Graham purchased the Herald in 1913, Beck was kicked out as Editor (or left on his own volition.) He started his own tabloid, Beck's Weekly, devoted to cleaning up Montreal City Hall. 

That paper lasted only one? issue, the March 28, 1914 issue  where he smeared my grandfather. 

Graham apparently made it impossible for Beck to get newsprint for his new tabloid.  The Daily Mail printed Beck's sexy stories as did the Toronto World, and quite gleefully too. 

The Toronto World reprinted some parts of it verbatim. Beck called City Hall 'a sink hole of corruption.' He was a talented over-the-top writer who should  have penned Crime Novels, I think.


Here's an interesting summary of affairs in Montreal, written in a newswire story from Toronto and printed in a Pittsburg paper. This is in January of 1914, when Edward Beck of the Montreal Herald caught three alderman in a similar bribery scandal.



I think Beck wrote this too. He's the one who caught the aldermen in the bribe, but his newspaper, the Herald wouldn't print it, (having been bought by Hugh Graham) so he quit and brought the story to the Mail.

The ONLY photos of Canadian Suffragettes...



A picture of the Canadian Delegates at the Washington Suffrage Parade 1913. I wonder where it comes from...oh, the Toronto Sun. Carole Bacchi, in her  1976  McGill thesis Liberation Deferred, nails it when she says that the Canadian movement was so timid NO demonstrations took place in Canada over woman suffrage. (Well, she says there was one lame one out West in 1916.)

That's what my Furies Cross the Mersey pokes fun at. I have two school girls at McGill's Royal Victoria College dare to organize a march.


I've been going over Carole Bacchi's 1976 thesis Liberation Deferred about the Canadian Suffrage Movement.

Her McGill thesis was turned into a book that has become the definitive book on the subject and it's easy to see why.

The thesis is almost perfect. Bacchi explains in the opening remarks that little has been written about the subject - and that there's not that much information out there.

This makes the Minutes of the Montreal Council particularly important, she says.

(It was too late in 1978 to get 'first person' account. Even Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, was deceased by then.)

So Carole Bacchi's study covers all the information available, then and now - and does it so well no one else has bothered to continue the discussion.  And she didn't even have the Internet!

Well, I have written a book on the subject, Furies Cross the Mersey, but I am an author - and I can make things up. It's about the British Invasion of Militants to Montreal in 1912/13, a bit of a different angle.

( I know Bacchi discusses the impact of Emmeline Pankhurst's visit to Canada in the era.I'm not sure if she talks about Barbara Wylie's visit. I must check.  I am certain she doesn't mention Caroline Kenney's visit to Montreal. I am the one who dug out that info, all by myself, thanks to the the Internet.)

I emailed  Carole Bacchi a while back and she said she is surprised that no scholar has updated her decades old research - and she admitted there are some things in her thesis she would now change.

My only problem with her thesis is that she takes the Montreal Suffrage Association far too seriously. It was a bit of a bogus organization, I think. (But then again, that was one of the few suffrage organizations that left behind their minutes.)  Otherwise everything Bacchi says is bang on, in my opinion.

She even explains in elegant fashion why this Canadian Suffrage stuff  is important to know. It's a study in how politics unfolds, sometimes.

 Canadian delegates. I don't see Carrie Derick.
Inez Milholland who also participated in NY parade in May, but didn't dress up like this.



Anyway, I looked up her thesis was to read what she had to say about the 1917 Conscription election,1917.

She writes that Arthur Meighan was so afraid of foreigners and French Canadians voting Borden out that he thought up the idea of  limited franchise himself.

Pierre Berton in Marching as to War claims Nellie McClung gave him the idea.

Bacchi says that he could have easily just given all Canadian women the vote, except for 'enemy aliens.' No one would have minded. Indeed, I believe that is what happened in 1918. But there were too many  tried and true Canadians unkeen for war. That included the Nicholsons for the most part.

(Apparently someone suggested that Meighan give the vote to British- Canadian women only. I wonder if that would have included the Nicholsons of Isle of Lewis Scot origin.)

She said the Montreal Suffrage Association (Council of Women?)  was divided upon party lines when it came to this Limited Conscription and that Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Lansing Lewis quit the organization over the issue in 1918 and 19. Well, they tried to impeach Dr. Ritchie England over the issue and lost. That is all in Tara Brookfield's 2008 article Divided by the Ballot Box.

Well, Carrie Derick, President of the MSA, was a cagey one. At the AGM of the National Council in 1917 she says she is for 'the conscription of men, women and wealth' making everyone laugh out loud. That's a typical non-statement statement:Very modern of her to talk like that.

Gee. killing young men is fun, ain't it?

It was the Montreal Council of Women that created a resolution for Conscription and sent it to other locals around the country. For instance, Calgary voted Yes and Edmonton No.

(This is confirmed in the Annual Reports of the National Council of women for 17 and 18 and in the Minutes of the Montreal Council of Women.) Stowe Gullen writes in the Citizenship Committee Report in 18 that Ontario and the Western Provinces were (somewhat) against Limited Conscription, but not Montreal.)

Yet, somehow, later, Carrie Derick used her ability to twist words to say the Montreal Council was non political and never voted pro or con Conscription. BS. A bit of a lie. Well, a total lie.

It's clearly marked in the Minutes: Resolution over Conscription and it is even underlined.

I want to start my next book, Service and Disservice at the Win the War Meetings in August 1917...but what went on there is confusing... Derick is not the only one who rewrote history on the fly.

I'm hoping that I can find one good era source.

What is cool, Bacchi's thesis has a photo of Canadian participants, Denison et al in the Washington 1913 parade. But the pic is  pretty unclear.

Constance Hamilton discussed her participation at a breathy news conference where  mentioned a letter from Miss Barbara Wylie, militant suffragette on a tour across Canada, who was so fed up at Canadian women at this time, she was  about to leave for home.




 Flora Macdonald Lapham from Toronto walked at the front of the parade




And what is a suffrage parade without 'a bevy of beauties.'


Child Welfare, the Montreal Council of Women and Woman Suffrage


A 1912 fundraising card for the Old Brewery Mission. A recent CTV Montreal feature claimed the Mission still takes in homeless women today, 100 years later! How sad.

In my ebooks Threshold Girl andDiary of a Confirmed Spinster and Biology and Ambition I include a great deal about the 1912 Child Welfare Movement in Montreal and the Montreal Council of Women.

The child welfare movement, along with the temperance movement were tied in with the suffrage movement.

The heroines of my stories, Flora, Edith and Marion Nicholson (real people) were not into child welfare. They were young, they wanted it all, they were impressed by the suffragettes. Besides they were also on the front line of child welfare, as teachers. Marion Nicholson had 50 children in her class, mostly children of the working poor in Little Burgundy.

These women were all for the militant suffragettes.

The Society Ladies of the Montreal Council of Women were likely not for the militants, if they were at all for woman suffrage.  But some militant-suffragette sympathizers had enough pull to bring in Emmeline Pankhurst of the Militant WSPU in 1911 and loose cannon Barbara Wiley in 1912 to speak.

Then, in 1913, the Montreal Council of Women spun off  the Montreal Suffrage Association and made Carrie Derick President.

This put the suffrage issue at arm's length from the Council. Indeed, a scholar I read claims the organization was made up mostly of McGill Professors and students.

 (When the Organization was founded in 1913, Julia Parker Drummond made it clear to the press that the new organization was a 'reasonable' organization ie,non militant. One of the new Board Members, a male, even said in a speech at the inaugural session that it would be better is the suffragettes starved to death. (He was booed.)

And then during the war years things got murky, it's hard to tell from remaining records what is going on with them. Mostly war work, it seems.

 In 1919 the organization went out with a whimper, not a bang, claiming their work was done because Canadian women had the vote.)

Derick figures in both Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster. Furies Cross the Mersey, is her story and the story of the militant suffragettes. The Child Welfare Exhibit of 1912 features in the story.



Here are excerpts from the brochure of the 1912 Montreal Child Welfare Exhibit., 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 advice.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..


Mothers and their babies at Camp Chapleau a charity summer camp in the Laurentians.. 1910 circa.

In 1909, The Montreal Council of Women was made up of 36 societies, representing many thousands of women. I got a hold of some archival material, preserved in the gorgeous Bibliotheque Nationale archives on Viger across from the old Viger Station. Four boxes and about 20 file folders didn't hold much about the 1910 era, but what they did hold was very interesting. 

The Montreal Council of Women wanted to protect women from falling into prostitution, by raising the age of consent to 18 (couldn't be done) and by increasing penalties and not letting pimps get off with mere fines. (They called Prostitution 'the Social Evil' back then and not 'human trafficking'.)

They wanted procurers whipped, actually. They wanted compulsory education for girls up to age 14: "The question arises, what are girls who leave school at 9 or 10 doing, as they are not permitted in factories. Are they serving as inefficient nursemaids or little domestic drudges. Are they at home, helping overworked mother, or are they acting like little mothers themselves, taking care of children as their mother is out working to help earn the daily bread?

Rievaulx and Me


Here's an overhead view of a French-sounding place


that really is in North Yorkshire, Rievaulx.  Above is a snip of a street


and here's the remnants of  its famous Abbey. I got this off a YouTube video.  Surreal to see the abbey with grass on the floor and no ceiling. It almost makes its point better than the original construction. I wonder if any movies were shot there?

Up until a while ago, I'd never heard of this place. I still don't know how it is pronounced. (I checked. It is pronounced the French way.) REEVO.

I only learned about it after looking up my grandfather's census listing, to see he was born in Helmsley, in Yorkshire (nice 'market' town) and his mom Mary Ellen was born in Rievaulx.

I assumed she was Mary Ellen Nesfield, as my father's middle name was Nesfield. But no, I just found out she's a Richardson.

Mary-Ellen Richardson, born 1864 into a tailor's family in Rievaulx. They lived at a place called Abbot's Well. Maybe it's in this picture.

No I found it! Right nearby. Abbotts Well cottage now hosts a Sport Vacation Company.


Someone has posted a complete history of the town on the web, without any credit. Just posted it there, no links to nothing.

Anyway, my great-grandmother, Mary Ellen, was not listed in the 1881 Rievaulx population census, so she must have been married by then, to delver Robert Nixon.

Hmm.

I've spent 6 years researching the story of my husband's ancestors, the Nicholsons of Richmond Quebec, because they left behind family letters, about a thousand of them.  300 alone from the 1908-1913 period. I posted them on Tighsolas. And then using the letters I wrote my series School Marms and Suffragettes, Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, Furies Cross the Mersey

I also have a slew of photos, snaps and formal portraits and also many documents from the era and a complete history of their expenses, 1883-1921.  I know their hearts and minds, their dreams and secrets and problems.

I know these people like the back of my hand. I even know where their ancestors lived. In Uig Carnish in the Hebrides.


And about my own relations, these North Yorkshire ones, I know nothing. Zero. (Well, next to nothing...) That's because my father was a child of the Raj, as they say. I wrote about that in Looking for Mrs. Peel. That's about Mary-Ellen's daughter in law, my grandmother, Dorothy Forster Nixon, who lived most of her life in Malaya. She was born in Middleton on Teesdale.

Rievaulxand Helmsley are near Duncombe Park. My grandfather probably worked as a footman there  before taking off to Malaya.

The article I have says that when Charles Duncombe moved into the area, rents went up dramatically.




Hmm.

I guess one day I'll visit Rievaulx and then perhaps head off to UIG. But that is so far away. It's like going to Newfoundland from Montreal.

(Some people when going to the Maritime provinces, a 16 hour drive from Montreal, think they can 'hop' over to Newfoundland, not realizing it is very far away.)

Hmm. I see they are having a Michaelmas celebration at the Abbey this weekend. Too bad I just can't pop by. But I'd like too. I'd finally figure out what Michaelmas is... They mention it in Pride and Prejudice. Is it a fall solstice thingy? Yes, it is (I just checked) and a religious holiday.

Here's a list of the families living in Riavaulx in 1881: Heaton, Almond (nice name!) Allison, Richardson, Holiday (nice name!)Bowes, Dale, Robinson, Lawn (unusual name) Johnson, Hawkins, Ashpole, Frank, Goldrick, Hunton, Windross, Sherwood.

So, if you are looking up your own genealogy in North Yorkshire, Rievaulx, or Nixon in Helmsley, give me a shout.

How far is Rievaulx from Stoke on Trent? I must check.  I have some Thomas Forester Rembrandt vase pottery from that place...and I'm keen on researching the potter and the young women on the vases.

A Bit about WWI Canada


Some"Ruthenians" in an unidentified family pic.  Ruthenians were the word for Eastern Europeans.

At first I assumed this was from OUT WEST and Herb Nicholson had sent it to his family, but the woman on the right is in twenties garb and she appears to be blessing the woman, in a way.

So she appears posh, and the picture a Photo Op.
I know the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, the Canadian GG, visited Richmond in 1921, I have it in a letter.

(I wonder if Norman Nicholson took this, since he was the only one home at Tighsolas in 1921 and if he thought back to his Isle of Lewis relations, landing in Quebec in 1861, speaking only Gaelic and looking as out of place, no doubt.


I pulled out Pierre Berton's book Marching as to War, which I had on hand and consulted back in 2005 when I first uncovered the stash of Nicholson letters.

I wasn't interested in the WWI part the, just the pre-WWI part.

Re-reading the preamble to WWI I can see that Pierre Berton has succinctly summed up what my Nicholson letters of 1908-1913 show, that that era was the era of two forces, one feminine, the NEW WOMAN and one masculine, the Westward Ho.

My series School Marms and Suffragettes , Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, Furies Cross the Mersey, is about 3 boffo NEW WOMAN sisters and a brother who moved out West.

And his summary of post WWI in Canada (outside the stuff about Billy Bishop being the REAL Fighting ACE of WWI) was that War brought suffrage and temperance, my point exactly as I write about the 1914-1919 letters which I am turning into book.

He also mentions how the Protestants were determined to impose their values on everyone. So right. The Nicholson letters show that too.

Norman Nicholson, who works for the City of Richmond Quebec in 1921 is horrified that so many people under him are asking him to help them apply for jobs on the newly minted Liquor Control Board.


My story Milk and Water is about Montreal in 1927, the era of American Prohibition.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How Winston Churchill got the Suffragettes banned in Canada and other stories


This is a capture of a 'scene' from A Soul on Fire, by Frances Fenwick Williams, published in 1915.

It's a dinner table scene taking place in sophisticated English Montreal circles. Frances Fenwick Williams was Press Secretary of the Montreal Suffrage Association in 1915. So, she knew of what she spoke, perhaps exaggerating a tad :)

When I first read this paragraph, I assumed that FW was using the names Christina Bankhurst and Windholme Churchham for Pankhurst and Churchill out of fear of being sued or something.

How could anyone not know the name of Winston Churchill?

But this is 1915 and clearly Fenwick Williams is mocking the ignorance of people with a pronounced opinion on Woman Suffrage.

I imagine that in that era, Pankhurst's name was more recognizable by the Anglo Man and Woman on the Street than Winston Churchill's. Pankhurst gave a speech in Montreal in December, 1911 at Windsor Hall. It is a pivotal moment in my story Furies Cross the Mersey, available on Kindle.

Much in the way most Montrealers today won't recognize the name Ed Milliband, even in the age of Internet. (I hope I spelled that correctly...:)

Now, Winston Churchill had spoken in Montreal, too, in 1901, also at Windsor Hall. He was lecturing about the Boer War and promoting himself to the world.

The reporters said 'Sir Randolph's son has a way with words' or something to that effect.

Cartoon mocking Borden's ban of suffragettes in 1912


In 1912, Prime Minister Borden of Canada visited London to discuss NAVY issues and was accosted by three British Suffragettes, including Miss Barbara Wylie, who demanded votes for Canadian women.

Soon, the suffragettes were banned from entering Canada, branded as undesirables. They came anyway. Read Furies Cross the Mersey.

It is likely this ban was invoked because Borden had invited Prime Minister Asquith and Churchill to Canada.

Churchill was afraid of the suffragettes, in large part because they were going to take away his champagne..



 Clipping saved by my husband's great Aunt Edie about the February 1913 Montreal Suffrage Exhibit that was all about happy families.


A newspaper clipping saved by Edith Nicholson from September 1912, upon British suffragette Barbara Wylie's arrival in Montreal. The reporters, apparently, almost missed her. They expected a battle-ax to detrain and instead were met with a lovely looking young woman. :)

Miss Wylie walks to the speaker’s platform, confidently, her heels clicking like a foot soldier’s on the hardwood floor.

Her eyes look bigger and brighter than on the other day at the college. Could that be kohl around the lids? And rouge de theatre on her cheeks?

The pretty suffragette begins by describing the events of 1912 with respect to the WSPU, Mrs. Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union: How the year began with 19 women in Holloway Jail.  How Emily Davison Wilding was brought to trial in January for setting fire to a pillar box. How Asquith went back on his word with respect to the Conciliation Bill while Mrs. Pankhurst was on tour in America. How several hundred women broke plate glass windows in the West End of London. How police raided the offices of the W.S.P.U. in March and arrested the Pethwick Lawrence’s. How Christabel Pankhurst escaped to France.

How Mrs. Pankhurst made a speech about ‘the argument of the pane.’

Once her list is complete she speaks in earnest.

“We women have nailed our flag to the masthead and we can no longer retreat with honor, so we will go on and never falter, until women have received the vote on an equal basis with men.”

The hall erupts in applause, Edith and Marion and Penelope and Mathilda’s wild hand-clapping is as enthusiastic as any in the audience.

‘I encourage you Canadian women to gather in thousands and go and see Mr. Borden. Use all ‘ladylike’ constitutional methods first." Edith Marion Penelope and Mathilda laugh loudly with most everyone else. "And should these fail, then I think that the Canadian women should be as willing to show an unselfish and high spirited constant devotion to the cause of liberty as the women of England.”

There is more loud applause, but rumble of discontent rises from the back of the room.

“Women did not object to making themselves conspicuous in tennis or golf and they should not be afraid of it in the cause of liberty for women who are enslaved.”


Wylie from Votes for Women, in an article discussing her trip to Canada.

Miss Wylie hits a high note on the word enslaved and it is almost too much to bear for the women in the audience. They send out a loud raucous roar.

Penelope’s colour rises to a deep red.

She imagines herself leading a suffrage parade down Sherbrooke, with tennis racquet in hand. She yells out, “Yes, liberty!”

Wylie acknowledges her comment with a nod and continues, “Of course, we shall never win the moment by physical force. We cannot turn ourselves, and go out in the thousands like the Serbs with our guns. What we can do is to express ourselves, our moral force, our physical force, in some way the people understand, even in putting a stone through a window, which may be a most righteous, heroic and religious act.”

The room is in awe, but an old curmudgeon in the back disrespectfully breaks Wylie’s witchy spell.

“But militant methods are absolutely wrong and have actually prevented women from getting the vote,” he says. He continues, “Despite the fact you are charming in personality, I call on the Montreal audience to express its disapproval of militancy and all it stands for.”

There are loud boos. And a few cheers, mostly of the baritone variety.

Dr. England intervenes from the Chair.

“Mr. Holt.  Miss Wylie has been asked to speak as a guest of the Montreal Council of Women and to state her views. It was not our intention to pass any resolution for or against militancy. But, kind sir, since you have brought up the issue, we must allow Miss Wylie to reply.”

Miss Wylie replies, pointing an accusing finger at the man: “You, sir, are the same kind of man as some of the cabinet ministers of England who express sympathy with the objects but feel that it would have come about had it not been for militancy.”

“I imagine,” replies Mr. Holt, “that comparing me to a cabinet minister is placing me very low down in the suffragette scale.” He gazes around the room waiting for a laugh that does not come.

“Let me give you an example,” says Miss Wylie.  A man stuck in a rut on a dark road may gather a lot of sympathy from passersby but if he pulled his horse across the road, he might get abuse and no sympathy, but he might get out of his own rig to get out of the rut.

Applause from the front. Boos from the back.

Another man rises to his feet to say that he is in support of militancy. That the easy peaceful methods are like a stage coach, the militant like an automobile which proceeds by a series of explosions much more quickly.

“Miss Wylie has advocated constitutional methods first,” he says. “But if a need arises for militant methods I would be willing to take part in the shame and opprobrium that would come to those who fight so that my mother and sister could vote on an equality with myself.

Yet another man leaps forward from the back to express his regrets that the man should express these sentiments.

Dr. Ritchie England cuts short his comments by declaring the meeting closed.

She is out of her depth here and knows it.


Miss Wylie looks as if she is not quite sure what has happened.  Heated arguments are de rigueur  at her speeches in England. Why not a little rowdyism? Who’s going to pay attention otherwise? Certainly not the press.
Excerpt from  by Dorothy Nixon,Furies Cross the Mersey 2014. All Rights Reserved.

A social note about a talk Wylie gave in a private parlour to a small group of Society Women in Montreal, before her YMCA talk. This bit says the women weren't impressed. In a letter to Votes for Women Wylie said she gave away all of her copies of Votes for Women, sold three subscriptions and set up a talk at McGill's Royal Victoria College. My story Furies Cross the Mersey includes a fictional description of this talk. The scene above is adapted from the report in the Montreal Gazette. 


Well, this ad comes from the June 1913 Montreal Witness. Chapman's Bookstore was obviously the choice of the Evangelicals in Montreal...The Rev. Hugh Pedley was one such man and he also was on the board of the newly formed Montreal Suffrage Association. He gave a series of lectures in the era on Sinful Montreal...He especially hated the Theatre.

The Association kept their literature bureau at Chapman's, for a while anyway in 1913. Then they moved it to the Edinburgh Cafe, run by four spinster sisters from the Orkneys.

All this goes to show that the Suffrage Movement in Montreal in 1913 was closely aligned with the Protestant Evangelical movement.

No news for me here.... I'm finishing up a book, Furies Cross the Mersey, about the Montreal Suffrage Movement, the follow up to Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster. 

The Witness's from 1913 include a mention of my grandfather, Jules Crepeau.  He would soon be caught in a bribery sting, mounted by one Edward Beck, the  Editor in Chief of the Montreal Herald and have to litigate his way out of it. The Montreal Evangelicals despised CITY HALL and worked hard to Clean up the City, getting deeply involved in the City Elections, getting the Spinster Vote out.

My play Milk and Water is about another 1927 scandal involving my dear Grandpapa



Miss Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, was out of a teaching job in the 1913 period. She had just quit her post at Westmount Methodist, a boarding school that converted Catholics to Protestantism.

 Her problem, she was a  teacher without diploma and most jobs available demanded a diploma.

She would soon get a job at St. Francis College in Richmond...A case of WHO YOU KNOW more important than WHAT YOU KNOW!

She had to take as summer course in Lachute in the summer of 1914.


I don't exactly know what she is doing in Montreal in 1913... but in a May 3 letter to her mother she says "We are going to see Mrs. Snowden speak, but she is not militant and for this I am very sad."

This is the last scene in Furies Cross the Mersey.


Mrs. Snowden's speech was reported in detail in the May 6 Montreal Witness.  I use the line in the headline. "Mrs. Pankhurst's troops are Cavemen."

The newspaper supported woman suffrage, but not the militant kind as this hysterical headline from around the 10th shows.


Reverend Pedley may have hated the Theatre, but Edith Nicholson and other Witness readers LOVED it! She and/or her sisters went to see Polly of the Circus, the Merry Widow  and Everywoman. Everywoman was a morality play, warning young women against the dangers of vanity, featuring beautiful young actresses in gorgeous robes. 

The motion pictures (the five and ten cent picture shows) were lowbrow for them in 1913, but by 1917, the war years, the Nicholson 'girls' were going to 'the movies' (as they now referred to them) regularly. Everyone in their social group was.


I found Miss Carrie Derick, the subject of my story Furies Cross the Mersey, on the 1901 Canadian Census, listed as a lodger.  Misspelled Cary Derick.

She is listed as a university lecturer, making 1000 a year, a very good salary. Her sister is a teacher, so also works.

I can't tell the street, but it is in St. Antoine Ward. (No doubt near McGill.)

She is not living with her boss :) Dr. Penhallow, who is listed a a lodger somewhere else.

LODGER. Hmmmmmmm.

On the 1901 census, Penhallow is listed with a woman, Sarah, a year or so younger with the same last name. Wife? Sister.

 If Penhallow wasn't married then it puts a little bit of a different tint on the relationship he would have had with Carrie Derick, doesn't it?  Or maybe he wasn't the marrying kind.

Let's see if I can find if Penhallow had a wife.

No.

His Wikipedia page doesn't mention a wife and it says he 'allegedly' had a mental breakdown in 1909, Yikes! That really changes my story, well, if the story were about David Pearce Penhallow, but it's about Carrie Mathilda Derick.

Derick took over for Penhallow when he had this breakdown, doing his job for three years, but then she didn't get the post in 1912 when the post was filled.

 The  new Chair of Botany, a Professor Lloyd,  made 3,000 salary.






In 1901, a Louise Derick lives with Carrie Derick, very likely her sister.

In my story, which takes place in 1911/12/13, Miss Carrie Derick has a housekeeper. In 1911 she lived on Bishop and was making 2,000 dollars a year.

I know, because her 'uptown' address is indicated on the minutes of the Montreal Local Council of Women and in many other places.

This Bishop address could have been a boarding house too, but I chose to make it a comfortable home. She's 49 in 1911, after all. And making 2,000 a year.

She didn't get on the 1911 census which, to me, suggests she lived on her own and just wasn't at home in June 1911 when the Census Man came around. At a boarding house, the landlady would have given her name most likely.


Carrie Derick


In 1901, university lecturer (and lab demonstrator) Carrie Derick, lodged with a few other 'teachers' and another university lecturer, it seems, a man, James Henderson. At least she was getting the same 1000 dollar salary!  In 1900 she gave a report under the auspices of the National Council of Women saying that teaching was a 'bleak' profession. She had plenty of friends in the biz.

She gives her religion as Anglican, or Church of England. The Derick's of the E.T were of Dutch and German background.  She likely spoke German because she attended the University of Bonn.


The 1922 bi-lingual Committee struck to win the vote for Quebec women.

All men are created equal, but some more equal than others.

It's Orwell from Animal Farm and the line is emblazoned on my brain, probably because we studied the book in the 9th grade when I was 14, a very impressionable age.

I wasn't alone, the line caused a buzz at school, almost as much buzz and the bare boobs in the BBC production of Casanova.

That line applies very much to my current project, Furies Cross the Mersey, an ebook that I've just published on Amazon about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.

THAT I didn't learn about in school. No one did. Up until a few years ago, I didn't know when Canadian women got the vote.

The suffrage movement in Canada was basically censored in high schools back in the 60's.  Well, it still is.

Our Canadian history book, Canada Then and Now only had a few female characters: Marguerite Bourgeoys, Laura Secord, Jeanne Mance. There was a bit about Bodicea in the Canadian Reading Development Series we used.


By the 1960's there had only been one book written about Canadian Suffragists and is a 1940 Master's Thesis by an American, Catherine Cleverdon - and she used newspaper accounts.

She didn't interview any former suffragists alive at the time.

The Cleverdon book and one other from 1989 (by McGill student Carol Bacchi, who soon moved to Australia to teach) is still what most scholars refer to when they write about the Canadian Woman Suffrage Movement.

But, very lately, the Internet has changed all that.

Anyway, this famous Orwell line applies to my story because  in 1913 the elite ladies of Montreal started up a Montreal Suffrage Association, but any new members had to be approved  by two members of the Executive, most of whom were clergymen and McGill Profs.

I know for a fact that my husband's great Aunt Edith Nicholson didn't join, her name isn't in the membership book in the archives at Montreal City Hall. But, then, she was all for the militant suffragettes. She said so in a letter home. (Edith is a character in Furies Cross the Mersey.)

Ironic, no? Wanting women to have universal suffrage, but not allowing most of them to be part of the process of  winning it?

There are reasons for this, of course. This being one:


It's all in my story, every detail.

When the Montreal Council of Women decided in 1912, shortly after Mrs. Pankhurst came to speak in Montreal in December, 1911, that they'd spin off a Suffrage Association (against their by-laws, by the way) they resolved to hold a public meeting.

In December, 1912 they held that 'public' meeting, but it wasn't very public. If they were being honest they would have admitted "We are going to hold a public meeting for all our good friends."

Here's the notice. Does it sound that anyone can attend? No.. but that's the way they wanted it.


So, when this Beatrice Forbes Robertson spoke, on December 12, 1912, she spoke only to a group  of Protestant Leaders.

Odd, because in her speech she said that POOR WOMEN ESPECIALLY NEED THE VOTE.




Read Furies Cross the Mersey on Amazon.com.



If  I put out a little cash on Ancestry UK, I may get to see another image of Caroline Kenney, the semi-suffragette who I feature in my ebook Furies Cross the Mersey - about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.

Here's a free pdf copy.

Caroline was a sister of Militant Suffragette Annie Kenney.

Apparently, the registry says she is coming to Canada in 1912 to 'visit' her sister.  I don't know if the registry is available online, but a portrait certainly is.

True enough. Older sister Sarah Nell Kenney Randolph Clarke lived in Montreal with her husband. They'd immigrated to Canada in 1908. He was a newspaperman.

But Caroline did more than visit, newspaper items reveal. She promoted woman suffrage, alone and with the Equal Suffrage League.

But she couldn't exactly write that on the form. Premier Borden had banned the suffragettes from coming to Canada a month before.


Beautiful and feisty Barbara Wylie.


The UK Ancestry site says they have a portrait relating to her 1912 passage on the Virginian (of the Allan Line) and her 1930 border crossing. The Virginian originated in Liverpool and went to Quebec City than Montreal.


I guess someone has added the portrait to her travel documents. It's likely the same portrait I have.
But I will see.

So, if Caroline came to Montreal any time before November, 1912,  (the Seaway closed on November 26) she likely crossed paths with Barbara Wylie, another suffragette who was in Canada. (For all I know, they both stayed at the Clarke's in Verdun (or St. Lambert).


Wylie arrived in Montreal in late September and stayed at least until early November, because on November 4 she gave a speech at the YMCA sponsored by the Montreal Council of Women.

I put this speech in Furies Cross the Mersey. It almost started a small riot.

Wylie had come on the Empress of Ireland. I can't find a record of her crossing on Ancestry UK. Too bad, I would like to see the reason she put for coming to Canada.

Her visit had been trumpeted loudly in Votes for Women, the magazine of the Women's Social and Political Union.

Her arrival in Montreal got a lot of press,too. Silly press, indeed.

But Miss Wylie was feted by the local society women, whereas Caroline Kenney was not.

Caroline is not mentioned once in that organization's minutes from the era, whereas Miss Wylie's visit is showcased in the minutes and the 1912 Annual Report.

The Equal Suffrage League in Montreal was a rogue suffrage association. All the leading lights in the Montreal movement belonged to the Montreal Suffrage Association, which was an offshoot of the Montreal Council of Women.



A strange strike out in the minutes of the Executive of the Montreal Suffrage Association, May 1913. Were they for or against the British militants? I've written a book about them, and I still am not sure and that's because they weren't sure themselves.

 I know from newspaper accounts that Caroline Kenney  gave speeches in Montreal in February and March 1913 on her own and then worked with the Equal Suffrage League from the summer to December 1913. Newspaper reports referred to her  as a 'resident' of Montreal.

Her first speech was too militant apparently and did not sit well with the citizens of Montreal. (I have no account of it, but this is mentioned in an account of her next, less explosive, speech to the Jewish Community.)


Here's the clipping about Wylie's visit kept by Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, who also figures in Furies Cross the Mersey.

 I have but a remnant of the original clipping left. It has crumbled to bits in the 10 years since I found it in a trunk along with many other such clippings and about 300 family letters from the 1910 era in Canada.

 In the report, it claims that Montreal pressmen almost missed Miss Wylie, because they were expecting a battle-ax to de-train and instead were met with a beautiful young woman.



The pro-suffragette narrative pretty well always fell along those lines. What pretty women! Who would have guessed? The anti-suffragette narrative painted the women as demons and terrorists and most commonly as hysterical or very very silly.



The inscription under the statue of Edward VII in Phillip's Square, Montreal. Here's a video of the place.


Funny, we don't really look at statues or monuments. They are a kind of 3-D wallpaper. And we only read the inscriptions when we are tourists, or thinking of making a documentary.

I went to Phillip's Square a while back to 'scout' some images for my documentary on the Montreal Suffragists. 

"Phillip's Square is ground-zero of the Montreal Suffrage Movement," I said to my husband, who came along with the dog. He's the professional news editor, but he would have preferred to stay home on his day off and paint the moulding on our stairwell.

If he had been listening  he might have asked, "Does that mean there was a famous rally or riot there?"

And the answer would have been NO. An unequivocal NO.

Montreal suffragists in the 1910 era didn't rally or riot or march, they wrote letters, rented booths at events and had open houses at their various headquarters, always near Phillip's Square. UPTOWN it was called in those days. 

 (And theirs was not a populist movement, all members of the Montreal Suffrage Association (which had been spun off from the Montreal Council of Women) had to be nominated by a member of the Executive and approved by the Executive.)

As as I have written before on this blog, Phillip's Square was the women's square with its churches, department store, Birks jewelers and the Montreal Art Association Building.. (A new art gallery would be built on Sherbrooke in 1913, I believe.)

Now, were I doing a radio show for BBC Radio Four, where they care about history, I would approach this statue and inquire about the 4 different statues at the base.  Are these Amazon women suffragettes? No of course not. They are a group of women symbolizing our four founding nations, apparently.


Actually, this statue symbolizes prosperity. I figured with the cornucopia.

These women are our four founding nations..

A beautiful face, for sure. But has anyone really looked closely?

Anyway, on that topic. I recently bought the bio of Thérèse Casgrain, suffragist icon in Quebec, to see what she said about her early days in the movement. 

In the bio, written in 1972, she says that it was in 1917 after she had helped her husband win his Liberal seat in the infamous Conscription Election (the subject of my documentary) that she was approached by Julia Parker Drummond and Carrie Derick (who were both associated with the Montreal Suffrage Association). She said she soon was off to Ottawa to give a speech.

The book I bought second-hand happened to contain a 1974 Maclean's article about her where it says that it was only after the 1921 Election, where she helped her husband, that she was approached by a group of suffragists to join the battle. (So history gets 'rewritten' from the beginning... or is it just a mistake by Macleans?)

Hmm. Interesting. The 1974 article suggests or implies it was in 1921 that Casgrain got her start in advocacy, but it does not preclude that she got introduced earlier to the same suffragists. Words are like that, they can be slippery. 

It might seem a silly point, but frankly, I was surprised that she had anything to do with the Montreal Suffrage Association as that group of women had had an open argument in the press with Mayor Martin over the proposed Montreal Tramways Contract.. and she was a Forget who benefited from said 40 year contract. (And besides, these MSA women  were kinda racist  or should I say, very much into "social hygiene" a loaded concept. They had a number of Protestant churchmen on their board.)

As I wrote earlier, the membership book of the Montreal Suffrage Association does not include her name and she is never mentioned in the minutes..although, I believe her husband, Pierre, is mentioned as a potential speaker.


St. James Methodist, near Phillip's Square, where the National Council of Women held its AGM in May 1913 and where Mrs. Snowden, moderate suffragist, spoke (again) perhaps in front of Edith Nicholson, who was sorry she wasn't a militant. All this is in my ebook Furies Cross the Mersey.  Here's a free pdf copy. Funny, I just found a bit from a 1913 International Suffrage Bulletin, describing this event. It claims that St James Methodist is the biggest church in Montreal (maybe) and that Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association, is the first woman Chair of a University Department. Not quite. She was turned down for the position of Chair of Botany at McGill in June, 1912 and given a courtesy appointment as full professor instead. It's all in Furies Cross the Mersey



Me and another statue, more famous. Location, location, location. 1992 fountain, a newbie.




The Montreal Herald Building. The Montreal Suffrage Association held one meeting in the place, in October 1913,  when they were friendly with Edward Beck, Editor, who allowed them to write up a special suffrage section in his newspaper in November 1913.

The MSA and Beck  soon fought over who was to pay for the section.

 In return for the favour, the Montreal Council of Women came out against the Montreal Tramways Deal with a formal resolution...a deal  BECK despised and condemned in a huge one page rant in the newspaper, where he claimed certain Montreal Newspaper factions were corrupt and in the grip of City Hall.

Inez Milholland, US suffragette. Montreal didn't have any young activists (by the design of the Montreal Council of Women, I believe)



"I do not like the women's vote
The reason why I cannot note.
But this I know and know by rote
I do not like the women's vote"


You have to like this little rhyme. Mrs. Philip (Ethel) Snowden, British Suffragist, used it in her speeches. She claimed it described the unintelligent mindset of the anti-suffragists in the US.

I have written Furies Cross the Mersey the follow up to Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, about the Montreal Suffragists and a British Invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in the 1912/13 era.

In the last scene,  Edith Nicholson, (my husband's great aunt) goes to hear Mrs. Snowden speak, in May 1913 at St. Jame Methodist Church on Ste. Catherine West.

Edith is not impressed. Mrs. Snowden is not a militant suffragette. Indeed, in her speech Mrs. Snowden describes Mrs. Pankhurst's militants as 'cavemen.'

Mrs. Snowden was the wife of a M.P. at Westminster who was eloquent and beautiful to look at, so reporters liked to cover her speeches.

And if the didn't like what she had to say, they gushed over her other charms.

What I didn't know up until now is that this Mrs. Snowden was all of 27 years of age.


She still has roses in her cheeks, as one reporter described.

That would make her 3 years younger than Old Aunt Edie at the time.

In the US and Britain, many in the suffragette movement were youngish, in their early 30's.

 But in Canada, especially Montreal, the young were shut out of the movement. .

In fact, an unmarried working woman in her 20's was considered a helpless creature who needed the Montreal benevolent faction to find her a place to live, where she might partake of 'wholesome recreation' away from the ogling eyes of evil-minded men who might, you know.. (This irked the Nicholson women, independent action-oriented country-girls, especial boffo Marion,who didn't like anybody telling her what to do.)

Edith complained in 1910 letters of the horror of having to spend evenings alone in her room, because she couldn't find someone to go out with.

The Suffrage Movement in Montreal was taken over by well-connected matrons and their allies, the influential Men in Cloth.

Furies Cross the Mersey reveals why young people did in Montreal to try to get a piece of the action, even if they were enamoured of Mrs. Pankhust and her ilk.

I also noticed that in her speeches in the US, Mrs. Snowden, 'a moderate suffragist' was easy on the militant suffragettes. In some US newspapers she is incorrectly described as a suffragette, a militant.

The United States had a militant movement, you see. Canada did not.

Mrs. Snowden also spoke in Montreal in 1909. In some of her 1909 speeches, she praised Mrs. Pankhurst's genius, but described her militancy as 'a Frankenstein monster.'

In her 1913 speech, Snowden said the militants were doing a great deal to harm the woman suffrage movement.

In May 1913 the British militants were at the height of their civil disobedience, destroying government property to make a point.

Mrs. Pankhurst was in jail and the UK government had just passed a law to let Hunger Strikers out of jail to get better temporarily to recuperate, so that no martyrs would be created.

(The new movie Suffragette with Carrie Mulligan and Meryl Streep, very soon to be released, is apparently all about this "Cat and Mouse" period in the UK Woman Suffrage Movement.)


But then Emily Davison threw herself under the King's racehorse.




Donaldas with their hair down in their nighties, from the Old McGill Yearbook, 1900... from McGill website. This picture must have proven, ah, interesting, to the male students.


When the first women were accepted as students at McGill University in Montreal,  no one worried about them falling in love with their male counterparts, only the other way around. They worried that the young men might fall in love with the young women.

In Victorian times, I guess, it was considered improbable that a young woman would find a young man attractive: after all, women were looking for men to protect them. (Something like that.)

Middle class women, it seems to follow, were supposed to fall in love ONLY with men Mummy approved of, men who had established themselves in life and who could take care for a wife.

Seems funny, nowadays.

I imagine the males at McGill were a bit afraid of the Donaldas, who were boffo pioneers after all.

The two genders did mix, however.

Here's a bit from Old McGill 1900, about the Women's Lawn Tennis Club. McGill women had their own tennis club from 1889 onwards.


Thirty Donaldas played tennis on the 'very good courts.' I wish I knew where these courts were located. I had to make it up for my story Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British invasion of militant suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13 that has two characters who are Donaldas, one of whom loves tennis!


Furies Cross the Mersey: A Story of 1912 (School Marms and Suffragettes Book 6)

Two young women in crisp white duck middy blouses over long ankle length skirts, black kerchiefs at their necks, white laced sneakers on their feet and large wooden tennis racquets on their laps, sit on a bench and await their turn on the court.

“Warm up!” orders a lady coach from the back of the court.

“Yes, Miss Cartwright,” the girls answer in tandem.

They stand and begin stretching out their legs. 

One girl is tall and slim-boned, the other shorter, with a trim muscular build and broad coat hanger shoulders that make her waist, uninhibited by stays for the time being, seem smaller than it is.

The tall girl has medium dark brown hair with few highlights tied up in a bun and pale skin, because she is an indoor, studious type and the shorter girl has long strawberry-blond hair laced with golden threads and because she is an outdoor type her hair is tied back in a ponytail.  She also has applied a liberal amount of Hains Skin Balm to her face to protect her skin from the sun and wind.

The shorter girl has blue eyes, an upturned nose and a pink rosebud mouth; the tall girl has hazel eyes, on the greenish side, a broad face with prominent cheekbones, a long tapered nose and a wide mouth with thinnish lips and beautiful straight teeth as white as milk.

The tall, serious girl is Mathilda Jenkins; the shorter golden girl is Penelope Day.


They are strangers to each other. They have just been slapped together for the first time, in the very first P. E. class of the year, an absolutely random act that will have serious implications for the future.  I promise.


Two headlines in the Montreal Gazette, two weeks apart, 101 years ago.



Here's a free read-only copy of Furies Cross the Mersey,


 The first article was on August 29, the second on September 14, 1912.

101 years ago, today, Miss Caroline Kenney, sister of famed militant suffragette Annie Kenney, was spending her first day in the city, probably in Verdun, where her sister, Nell, lived with her husband, Frank Randal Clarke, city editor of the Montreal Witness newspaper and their two babies.

I wonder if it was snowing. I could easily find out.....


I'm the first person to figure this out, I think. The Kenney fonds  in the UK have no record of Caroline's visit to Canada.

Ancestry.ca has the record of her passage though, arriving November 15, in Montreal from Liverpool.

She said she was a teacher emigrating to Canada and hoping to find a job. She didn't find a job as a teacher, as far as I can tell, but she did get active in the local suffrage movement.

Being working class, she was not welcomed by the Montreal Council of Women who were in the process of starting a new suffrage organization, the Montreal Suffrage Association.



The Council did fete Miss Barbara Wylie, another British Suffragette, sent by Emmeline Pankhurst's WSPU.

Wylie gave a speech sponsored by them at the YMCA on November 6, 1912. . It's in Furies Cross the Mersey.

She almost started  a riot....between MEN not WOMEN.


This cartoon mocked the new law barring suffragettes from Canada. How could they stop ALL suffragettes, the accompanying article asked?

Well, they didn't stop Caroline, who said she was coming to live in Canada... and Barbara Wylie came as a tourist.

I have no idea if the two Britishers met in Montreal. Likely, I'd think. An entry in the Social Notes for mid January says that Miss Wylie is leaving for the Coast (Vancouver.) So their visits overlapped two months.

And it's taken me time, going through all the newspapers,  but I've figured out that the Equal Suffrage League had a meeting in January at the Baron de Hirsch Institute...and then that Caroline Kenney gave a talk on "the Evolution of Militancy" to the Hochelaga WCTU on March 6, and that in late March she gave a talk at the Baron de Hirsch Institute where it was recorded in the Canadian Jewish News that Kenney did not speak on militantism... because with that earlier speech she had got into trouble.

So that organization aligned itself with the Jewish Community in Montreal. Pretty interesting.

The WCTU speech notice is in the social notes but she is listed as Catherine Kenney from England.

In Furies Cross the Mersey, I have Caroline meet up with my two main characters in March...and she does discuss militantism and she even suggests something, that the girls, RVC students, organize a march on the Mount Royal Club.



Was it a class issue? Militant Barbara Wylie is embraced by the Montreal Council of Women but Caroline Kenney is not.

Wylie was an official WSPU visitor, though. Caroline seems to have arrived on her own, but who knows.

Emmeline Panhurst, who is played by Meryl Streep in an upcoming movie Suffragette, spoke in Montreal in Jan 1911.

Her speech figures large in Furies Cross the Mersey


The wedding of Sarah Nell Kenney and Frank Randall Clarke took place in Montreal in 1909!  The couple had four children. This document is on Ancestry.com.

1912 clipping from the Montreal Gazette.


Frances Fenwick Williams was a journalist and novelist who figures large in my book about the Montreal Suffragettes.

I am getting the impression she might have figured even larger.

She was a member of the Montreal Women's Club (not to be mixed up with the Montreal Coloured Women's Club est. 1902)  that was a member organization of the Montreal Council of Women and she later become Press Secretary of the Montreal Suffrage Association.


Read all about the book here on Amazon.ca or find a free pdf copy here.. Furies Cross the Mersey.

Furies Cross the Mersey: A Story of 1912 (School Marms and Suffragettes Book 6)

In a 1917 article in the Montreal Gazette, Fenwick Williams strongly supports the Borden Unionist Government and therefore Conscription.

She was young and estranged from her husband and had no children.

In the article  she mentions that five years before she had spent time in England working with the suffragettes.

I think I found her travel document on Ancestry.ca. She arrived back in Montreal on November 10, five days before militant suffragette Caroline Kenney arrived in Montreal to stir up trouble.

So it is very likely that Mrs. Fenwick Williams was part of the deputation that descended on Premier Borden in London England in August 1912, while he was there to discuss Naval issues with Asquith and Churchill.

(The report in Votes for Women doesn't include her name, though.)

I know for a fact, from that report, that  Miss Barbara Wylie was one of the suffragettes who tried to get Borden to promise to give Canadian women the vote.

What  a trouble-maker, this Fenwick Williams.

In my book I have her home in October, giving a talk at McGill's RVC and introducing Barbara Wylie to the students. (Creative license.)

Mrs. Weller, who gave a tea for Wylie in September was also part of the Montreal Women's Club, an organization now forgotten.

It is likely her colleague Mrs. Fenwick Williams helped make this happen. She participated in a debate on the last day of the exhibit, that is also in Furies Cross the Mersey.

I found a bit about the Montreal Women's Club upon their 21 anniversary. Their Civic's Committee was a Woman Suffrage Committee. This organization did not leave behind minutes like the Montreal Council of Women. Nor did their members include illustrious people like Julia Grace Parker Drummond, Carrie Derick or Octavia Grace Ritchie England.

But they were the driving force behind the February 1913 Montreal Suffrage Exhibit, although they fought for credit with the Montreal Council in the newspapers (once the exhibit was established as a great success).



I doubt Frances Fenwick Williams figures in the upcoming Meryl Streep Carrie Mulligan movie Suffragette, even if she was in England in 1912, messing around with suffragettes.. That was the summer a suffragette threw a hatchet at Prime Minister Asquith.


Ethel Hurlbatt, Warden of the Royal Victoria College of McGill, a suffrage activist with the Montreal Council of Women who preferred calling suffrage classes 'citizenship' classes. 

Unfortunately, only one person signed up for her classes. Maybe, she should have called them suffrage classes, after all, or even better suffragette classes.

I finally found my missing file containing the notes, taken in 2010, of the minutes of Montreal Council of Women for the 1910 era.

It was lost inside the hard drive belonging to my old laptop, the one that suddenly died with that infamous "black screen of death."

My husband bought a little black plastic envelope thingy and I plugged it into my latest laptop and typed in Minutes Montreal Council and, voila, the missing Word Doc popped up - because Minutes Montreal Council is the first line of my document.

When I entered Notes, the file name, nothing showed up.

But enough about modern day problems.

This happily retrieved document is all about 100 year old problems... not that any of these ugly problems, poverty, etc, have gone away, even with Canadian women winning the vote almost a century ago. (Funny, wouldn't you say? Considering that's why so many wanted the vote, to improve society and the lot of children. Ha!)

If you scan this Minutes document, with your own eyeballs,  it hits you like a tonne of bricks: The suffrage movement in Montreal was all tied up, like a sturdy polymer protein, to the Social Purity Movement.

I took these particular notes long before I decided to write Furies Cross the Mersey, my ebook about the  British Invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13 so I wasn't looking for anything in particular.

I took them long before I dug out No Fool She, the little bio about Carrie Derick by Margaret Gillette, that exists only in one library at McGill University.

I wanted to look over this lost document because I wanted to know if Carrie Derick, McGill prof and suffragist, really said that she wanted to start the Montreal Suffrage Association 'to keep the interest in suffrage alive' after Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst's Montreal speech in December 1911.

You see, I have put that in  Furies Cross the Mersey.

Well, the answer is No, but it makes no difference,  really. I'll consider this divergence from the absolute truth poetic licence. I'm not a chemist after all. I needn't be all that precise.

In fact, according to the Minutes, it is Mrs. Weller of the Montreal Women's Club who says that line, a little later on, after the success  of the Montreal Suffrage Exhibit in February, 1913.

Carrie Derick did propose the motion to bring Mrs. Pankhurst into speak in Montreal, at a meeting in October 1911 'to hear another side of the question.' Mrs. Snowden, a moderate suffragist, had been in Montreal to speak in 1909.

Reading over the typed notes, I can see I got the gist of it right in Furies Cross the Mersey. If anything, I white-washed the reality just a bit...by leaving out the disturbing details of  the extensive Social Purity discussion, in the 1910 era in Montreal...and how that discussion was tied into the Woman Suffrage Movement.

(Well, I put a couple of illuminating newspaper reports in at the end of Furies Cross the Mersey, but only after my historical narrative ends.)


Carrie Derick.
I notice that it is mentioned in the 1909 minutes that McGill students acted as ushers at Mrs. Snowdon's event. I guess I should have put that fact into my story. These were obviously women students and Donaldas, women McGill students, figure large in my book.

And one line in the document just glares at me. In and around June 1913, the Montreal Suffrage Association applies for membership in the Montreal Council of Women, an umbrella group of about 40 social advocacy groups.

Pretty silly.. the Montreal Suffrage Association was spun off from the Council (at one point it is described as 'a daughter of the council.')

This was totally against their own by-laws...which clearly state that the MCW is an association of organizations that have sprung up from the grass roots.



So I guess this formal gesture, applying for membership, made this political sleight of hand seem more legitimate. I bet Carrie Derick suggested it be done. She was a very cagey politician.

Read Furies Cross the Mersey, here or on Amazon Kindle. to see what I mean.