Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Motherhood and the Conscription Crisis of 1917

Isis, Mary and the WWI mother-goddess. (The last is from an advert for a biscuit, I think.) NOT BONNE OVER HERE is the Nicholson Family Letters from WWI

During WWI, the Mary as Martyr trope was used often as documented in the book Mother of Martyrs: Mothers of Heroes by Suzanne Evans.

Mary didn't show up until around 400 AD. And then the Protestants during the Reformation did their best to destroy her image.... but her memory lived on, even in Protestant spheres, or they could not have used her in WWI.

Letter 31. Marion to Margaret. (From Not Bonne Over Here)

May 25, 1917

39 York Avenue, Westmount

Dear Mother,

Your letter came this morning and I was glad to get it. I feel a little lost without Flora a comin' and a goin'.

 I intended writing you sooner but you will have to take the mentions since you did not get any letter.

Margaret was quite good coming in. Of course she did not sleep and wanted to make 'bad bad' every few minutes in the spittoon.

Flora met us and saw us safely home and she will tell you all the news so you will not have to hear it twice.

Friday, one week later.

I started this letter when Flora was away so you would have it last Saturday and now I doubt you will get it this week.

No doubt Flora has told you all the news.  The baby has been so sick all this week I have not done anything but sit with her for the Dr. does not allow her out of bed.  

Perhaps you can imagine better than most people what that means.

However, today, she seems better and had a sleep this afternoon and is asleep now. I hope for the night.

Hugh and Willie Ledden are making a garden. What success they will have I do not know. One thing may be sure, the 'beds' are straight and square.

I would prefer to have more in them, myself.

Everyone here, that is the Aunts and Grandma B are terribly worked up about conscription.*

All they say would fill a book and some of the sayings I do not find very deep.

I would like to tell them that they are not the only ones who have sons who will be called, or they may think that theirs are more to them.

I think myself that is a political move on Borden's part 'to hold his job' as the saying goes, but that does not alter the fact that the bill will doubtless go through.

Flora tells me that this is the day or rather night of the "big sing' as father says. I hope it will be a success. Then tomorrow night you go to Sherbrooke.

What gay times you are having. Do you intend visiting Montreal?

Below: the Minutes of the Montreal Suffrage Association where they send a Resolution to Borden against Limited Conscription but where they say they 'warmly' approve of National Compulsory Service...1917. (Carrie Derick, later denied the Montreal Council of Women was for conscription, saying they were apolitical. )  Of course, the reason women wanted National Compulsory Service was to ensure their own sons had a better chance at surviving by sending out someone else's sons.

Furies Across the Mersey:How Canadian Women got the Vote, my storyboard video documentary. Read Furies Cross the Mersey here on