Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Puzzling Connection between the Girl Guides and the Anti-Suffragists


Emmeline Pankhurst, Carrie Derick, some clippings about suffragettes coming to Canada and Julia Parker Drummond's Scottish Baronial Mansion across from McGill University.

Read a free copy of Furies Cross the Mersey here

The Canadian Woman's Directory from 1915(on archive.org) provides interesting fodder for me; I just discovered that a woman who was President of the Anti-Suffrage League, Mrs. H.D. Warren, was also on the National Council for the Canadian Girl Guides.

In the 20's to the 40's, I further figured out, she led that organization..

Warren's position with the Girl Guides in 1914 is undefined. Mrs. Torrington, President of the National Council of Women, is President of that organization in 1914.

There is an enormous section in the directory about the National Council of Women.

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN. What It Is. Amongst the great voluntary associations of the Dominion, none is organized on broader, more comprehensive lines than the National Council of Women of Canada; which is itself a member of the yet more comprehensive Inter national Council of Women. 

Their position on woman suffrage, however, is not mentioned.

In a May, 1913 speech, before the AGM of the National Council, Carrie Derick said that it was the Montreal delegation to the National Council Conference that convinced the National Council Executive, against great resistance, to come out in favour of woman suffrage.

 Carrie Derick led a suffrage evening on the 5th of May, with Mrs. Snowden of  the UK as speaker.(My husband's grandmother and two great aunt's attended.)

This is the last scene in my Furies Cross the Mersey: about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.(Read an excerpt at end of this post.)

Carrie Derick, in 1913, was Past President of the Montreal Local Council and President of the brand new Montreal Suffrage Association. She also worked at McGill as a full-professor but  without the privileges.

And she was  Education Chair at the National Council of Women.

The National Council's recent accomplishments are listed in the directory. They are mostly about education and other issues supported by Derick, so it seems as if Miss Carrie Derick was powerful within that Organization, no surprise.

It has been insistent in urging changes in many directions, making for the reform of social conditions. At the annual meeting referred to above, the National Council adopted resolutions in favor of ; (1) Compulsory education for all children between the ages of five and fourteen; (2) Trade and technical education for girls in Government institutions, all departments of which should be opened to both sexes; (3) Employment bureaus in close connection with the public
schools; (4) The taking of a yearly school census; (5) The establishment of women's hostels and clubs for wage earners; (6) The admission of women to the professional faculties of all universities and to the practice of all the learned professions; (7) Equal reward for equal work, regardless of sex; (8) Reasonable hours of work and good conditions for men and women wage-earners without discrimination between the sexes.

That means she influenced Protestant education in Canada for years to come. This was a good and bad thing; Derick was a proponent of eugenics.

During the Conscription Crisis in 1917, Mrs. Torrington of the National Council got into hot water over one of her declarations in support of limited suffrage, as did Mrs. Ritchie England, President of the Montreal Local Council for supporting Laurier's anti-conscription stance.. Carrie Derick managed to steer clear of controversy, usually by re-writing history on the spot.

Derick is the main character in Furies Cross the Mersey... here's a snippet from the final scene.

Scene 1: St. James Methodist Church, just east of Phillip’s Square.

Edith arrives with Marion. They climb up to a top tier. The seats below are awash in colour from the lavish trim on all the ladies’ fashionable big hats.

“Did you know,” says Edith to Marion, with an angry edge to her voice, “that you cannot join this new suffrage organization without having friends on the Executive? How democratic is that? And Mrs. Campbell is not on the Executive.”

Marion says nothing.  She just spreads out the fingers of her left hand and watches the three diamonds on her new engagement ring twinkle in the natural evening light filtering in through the stained-glass window beside them.

A tall, trim woman rises from the head table at the front of the nave, strides up to the chancel, finds the pulpit and begins to speak. It is Miss Carrie Derick.

“As Vice President of the National Council of Women and President of the Montreal Suffrage Association, I would like to welcome you all to this special suffrage evening.

Our guest speaker today is suffragist Ethel Snowden, who is here in our city for the second time in four years.”

The crowd claps lightly.

“But before Mrs. Snowden takes the stage, I would like very much to sketch a short history of the feminist movement in Montreal.”

Clearly, this is a woman who is not afraid to speak in public; who enjoys speaking in public; a woman, even, who likes the sound of her own voice.

“In many ways, it can be said that the suffrage movement in Montreal started last century with the Donaldas, the female students of McGill.

When Dr. Ritchie England, current President of the Montreal Local Council of Women, gave the valedictory speech at her graduation in 1888, she defied her superiors by leaving in a passage that they had insisted be taken out.”

Derick  briefly, here, looks pensive, as if thinking of something far off.

“It is this spirit of defiance that lives on...”

Our Miss Derick speaks for longer, invoking legendary females from Sappho to Boadicea and then, finally, she gets around to introducing Mrs. Ethel Snowden, the wife of British Labour MP Philip Snowden, who is, without question, a real English beauty.

 ‘A child of the gods, divinely fair’ is how one reporter will put it in his report for the next day. But unlike the reporters in the room, Miss Derick isn’t concerned with the young Englishwoman’s radiant good looks.

“It is Mrs. Snowden’s Montreal speech in 1909,” Derick explains to the large crowd, “that inspired the Montreal Council of Women to get involved in the 1910 municipal elections. Shortly after that success, the Montreal Council voted in favor of giving the Federal vote to women.

And in November, 1912 it was the Montreal contingent who, against great opposition, persuaded the National Council to also come out in favor of Canadian woman suffrage.”

Mrs. Snowden, all golden curls and rosy cheeks, rises and in an unusually clear and powerful voice comments, as an icebreaker, on the nice cool weather, “So different,” she says, “from the American South, where I have been on a speaking tour.”


“But, first,” the ravishing creature remarks, smiling through cherry-red lips to reveal a row of small even milk-white teeth, “I must set the record straight. Because I know you all are anxious to know. Because I know you can’t wait to hear.” She pauses for dramatic effect. “I believe Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst and her troops are behaving like CAVEMEN.”