Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TIFF and Beautiful Suffragettes

A cartoon from the Montreal Standard showing an average woman reading Votes for Women, Mrs. Pankhurst's Magazine.


Today I scoped the Internet to see if there was any more news about the upcoming movie Suffragette, starring Carrie Mulligan and Meryl Streep and a bunch of other great actors.

The answer is Not Much.

Suffragette wasn't shown at Cannes this year, but it may be shown at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival. If that's the case, I may have to visit Toronto in August.

For the first time for TIFF.

A blurb for Suffragette, distributed by Focus Films, said that Carrie Mulligan plays a working class mother who gets interested in the movement. Not totally unlikely, not in the UK, anyway.

The UK had a much broader and deeper suffrage movement compared to Canada.

In Canada, working class women were NOT invited in the suffrage movement, although in Toronto, at least one suffrage leader, Constance Hamilton, was talking in 1912 about getting a 'working girls movement' started.

Read my book Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.

 Caroline Kenney, sister to famed Militant Annie Kenney..a Montreal teacher for a time.
 Mrs. Kathleen Weller, Montreal Suffragist with her daughter. (Odd, this was an old photo: her daughter was 19 at the time of the 1913 Woman's Suffrage Exhibition. Mrs. Weller was a 'closet' suffragette. She supported Mrs. Pankhurst and her militants but pretended not to most of the time.

Barbara Wylie. She came to Canada in 1912 to kick start a militant movement, but it didn't work. Or did it? Reporters were surprised that she was so pretty! So the 2015 movie Suffragette isn't lying when it shows beautiful suffragettes. 


My ebook explains, how back in those days, Montreal was the seat of power in Canada and therefore more conservative than Toronto. (Well, except for the institutionalized vice in Montreal.)

No working girls were invited into the Montreal movement, which was led by clergy, professors and elite women, mostly Presbyterians.  It's all there in my book Furies.

And the only mothers invited into the movement were members of the social elite, usually with grown children.

Indeed, the only young women members of the Montreal Suffrage Association (1912-19) were the daughters of older members.

In order to become a member, TWO members of the Executive had to approve.

However, this created a vacuum and one organization, the Montreal Equal Suffrage League, was accepting unmarried women.

That short-lived  and obscure organization accepted both militant and non-militant members and was co-launched by Caroline Kenny, British suffragette, and sister to famed WSPU militant Annie Kenney.

Caroline was about 30, unmarried and had come to Montreal in late 1912 to work as a teacher.

Her oldest sister, Nell, was her sponsor. Nell was married to Frank Randall Clarke, the City Editor of the Montreal Witness, and living in St. Lambert at the time.

The Montreal Witness was Pro Suffrage and Pro Temperance... but that paper also published hugely sensational headlines about Mrs. Pankhurst and her militants.

These people are all 'characters' in Furies Cross the Mersey. Real life characters. You know that crazy line from the movies, "Based on a True Story." Well, I preface my book by writing: "Based on real historical characters. Some of these characters have had their stories embellished or re-imagined.