Monday, July 6, 2015

Carrie Derick Speaks Out

On March 30, 1914 Carrie Derick became 'the first woman to appear on a local platform during a civic election' in her hometown of Montreal.

I know because it says so in the Daily Mail.

Other people spoke, including Sir Ames, but Derick's speech got the headline.

It is very amusing to me.

Derick's many affiliations are not mentioned in the article, although also on the dais where members of the Montreal Council of Women, including Dr. Ritchie England, the President.

Their affiliation is not mentioned either. They are just ladies presiding...

And yet the same newspaper features a grand advertisement for a Montreal Council of Women meeting on the elections.

So unfolded the messy politics of Montreal in 1914.

Derick, at the time was President of the Montreal Suffrage Association; Past-President of the Montreal Council of Women; and Vice President Education of the National Council of Women. She was also a full professor of Botany at McGill, a bit of a courtesy position.

Read all about it in Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.

The newly formed Montreal Suffrage Association had recently voted at an Executive meeting, a rather messy meeting, to support candidates who supported women suffrage, whatever their politics. After all, that was their mandate.

Anyway, in 1917, the Montreal Council of Women's President, Ritchie England, would get into hot water, supporting Laurier's party and not Borden's Union government. England was not in favour of conscription like most of the other Canadian suffragists in the East.

At that time, Miss Carrie Derick did a lot of damage control in the press, publishing a press release that claimed that the Montreal Council of Women is non-partisan... that their involvement in the civic elections was about good governance and not about politics.


In this speech in March, 1915, Carrie Derick swore that EVERY woman voting in the elections (unmarried women with property could vote)would vote for Stephens.

Not quite getting the concept, I guess.

Another speaker suggested that Mederic Martin, the opponent running for Mayor, was evil. Well, he spelled it out.

In 1910, the Montreal Council of Women, along with the French Federation St Jean Baptist, worked tirelessly to get out the spinster vote and a Reform Ticket was, indeed, elected, along with Mayor John Gerin, 'the last English Mayor of Montreal' before Applebaum's recent stint.

The thinking goes, women wanted social reform because they cared about family, except that it was single women who got to vote in municipal elections. Single women, on the English side, tended to be equal rights suffragists, for obvious reasons. They usually worked and wanted to be valued for this work. Of course, a woman property owner probably didn't have to work. (My head is spinning.)

The Montreal Local Council of Women was over the moon with the result - and the women used this happy event to propel themselves big time into the local and national woman suffrage movements, but not without some controversy, spinning off the Montreal Suffrage Association in March, 1913.

In 1912, they didn't enjoy such pleasing results in the municipal election and in this 1914 election they lost out big time. Mederic Martin, won as Mayor. The Citizen's (Reform) Committee lost.

La Fédération St. Jean Baptiste had bowed out of this election.  I can only guess why.

Alderman Mederic Martin, the man of the people, got in as Mayor - and he'd stay there for a long while.  According to Le Pays, a French newspaper, he got in because the English press ridiculed him so much, the average voter was touched, seeing Martin more as an 'everyman' and their pal.

But a few days before this article appeared in the Daily Mail, my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, the Assistant City Clerk, was caught in a bribery sting by a local reporter, Edward Beck. (No doubt, this was timed to sway he election.)

This unfolding scandal wasn't mentioned at the Carrie Derick election meeting, apparently. Or was it?  My sequel to Furies Cross the Mersey, Service and Disservice, will cover all this messy business, but focus on the 1917 Conscription Election.

Grandpapa  got off here, and served with Martin through the 1920's as Director of Municipal Services, a huge post, until he was forced out by new Mayor Camillien Houde, another "man of the people."