Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Carole Bacchi, Liberation Deferred and Furies Cross the Mersey



Here's to Mrs. Hammond Bullock, Montreal suffragist totally forgotten by history.

She isn't even mentioned in Carole Bacchi's thorough and comprehensive thesis Liberation Deferred, about the English Canadian Suffrage Movement, the McGill thesis that was published as a book in 1980 and that has become the definitive book on the Canadian Woman Suffrage Movement, so definitive no one  has bothered to write anything more on the subject.

At least, until now. I've written Furies Cross the Mersey.

Well, no books have been written, but there have been a few academic papers published on the subject.Tara Brookfield's Divided by the Ballot Box, for one.

In her book, Carole Bacchi states that there were two suffrage organizations in Montreal, the Montreal Suffrage Association and the Equal Suffrage League, and she says the ESL started in 1910 (with a question mark).

The Equal Suffrage League  was launched in December 1913 by Caroline Kenney, sister of British militant Annie Kenney. It was the Provincial Franchise Association that was around in 1910, led by Mrs. H. Bullock.

I actually make a mention of Bullock in Threshold Girl, my story about a college girl in 1910 Montreal.

The lady was a bit of a bull-ock in a china shop type of suffragette. In 1910 she stormed the City Hall meeting of Robertson's Royal Commission on Technical Training and Industrial Education, demanding that women be allowed to attend technical school, a very Equal Rights thing.

 Carrie Derick's very bad 1912 year is featured in Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of militant suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.

What Bullock might not have known is that the French Canadians were wary of men going to technical school, let alone women. It would disrupt their guild system.

The Montreal Suffrage Association were in favour of women attending technical school. They just didn't push for the issue very much.

Bullock is listed in 1914 as the Quebec Representative of Flora Macdonald Denison's National Suffrage Association, started by Augusta Stowe Gullen.

The Montreal Suffrage Association considered joining the NSA  in October 1913, but declined, joining  Mrs. Hamilton's rival national organization, instead 6 months later, just when Toronto Suffragists rose up and deposed Denison for being too dis-organized, dictatorial and militant.

(Actually, Denison was too Equal Rights oriented and too Working Class.)

Indeed, Carrie Derick and Julia Parker Drummond became marquee members of Constance Hamilton's National Equal Franchise League.

Denison smeared Julia Parker Drummond in a March 1914 speech, saying she is just a figure-head and not a real suffrage worker.

True, but not a thing to say to win brownie points with anyone in Montreal.

If you read only the summary of Carole Bacchi's thesis, it is all explained: how the Equal Rights Suffragists, who started the Canadian movement in Toronto, were pushed out by the Social Reform Suffragists who were all about traditional family (ie Protestant) values. Hence the title of her book, Liberation Deferred, a bit clumsy for a title, I  think, but also bang on.

People like Carrie Derick, head of the Montreal Suffrage Association, put their Equal Rights sentiments aside and played politics in order to stay in the Canadian suffrage game.

Derick was a cagey woman, a McGill Professor  who wanted women's work valued, but she was also big into eugenics and a VERY influential social reformer.

Derick also spoke to  Robertson's Royal Commission, at Macdonald College in 1911, saying a woman's work meant as much to her as to a man.

She didn't push for technical schools for women, although she likely wanted to.

She knew Robertson was a conservative who wanted the 'restless new women' of the 1910 era pushed back into the kitchen.

His Royal Commission's final recommendation in 1913 was to create domestic science programs for girls, so that middle class girls would learn to be good home-makers and poor girls could train to be able domestic servants and not go to work in factories.