Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Suffragettes and the Big Sell-Out 1917

This graphic essay on video describes how the Montreal Suffrage Association distanced itself from the Militant Suffragettes.

Well, in August 1912, Premier Borden, Prime Minister of Canada, was in England and he allowed a group of militant suffragettes to see him.

They asked him if he would open the question of votes for women upon his return to Canada.

Borden said he hadn't had the time to study the suffrage question and besides, in Canada, this was the provinces' domain.


The three WSPU militants who talked to him, one of whom was Barbara Wylie, two of whom had been in jail and who bragged about it, said they were inclined to tell women who wanted to leave England NOT to emigrate to Canada.

Borden said he objected to threats and would never be swayed by militant actions.

"When the women of Canada want the vote they will get it," he said.

Then someone in Canada suggested that any militant suffragettes coming to Canada should be branded criminals..

So no wonder the Montreal Suffrage Association took over a year to get organized...and then when they did launch, they totally distanced themselves from the British militants.

Miss Wylie of the WSPU came to Canada in September 1912 and sounded very defiant when she spoke in Montreal as a guest of the Montreal Council of Women.

She claimed that it was OK to throw an axe at Asquith...If it had hit him "it would have knocked some sense into him."

My husband's great aunt Edith cut out a press clipping with said quote and likely attended the talk.

Apparently, members of the audience at her speech almost came to blows. (I put this in the stories Threshold Girl and Furies Cross the Mersey.) Furies Cross the Mersey has the most detailed blow-by-blow account. Read Furies here on the Cloud.

Wylie went out West to try to start a militant group in Saskatchewan, spent about a year and then went back to England.

From a Saskatoon newspaper

And in Montreal, Caroline Kenney, sister of militant suffragette Annie Kenney, came to live with her oldest sister in Montreal in November, 1912,  hoping to find employment as a teacher and worked with a rival Equal Suffrage League, an organization totally forgotten by history. My ebook Furies Cross the Mersey explains all.

So Canada had no suffragettes, no parades, no civil disobedience and no suffrage riots, but in 1917 they did have Conscription Quebec and it is all tied in to the Montreal and the Canadian suffrage movement. In an ugly way.

And Canadian women got the vote, but they had to sell their souls...(some of them)