Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Toronto and the Suffragettes

Inez Millolland in March 1913 in Washington.


This morning I updated Furies Cross the Mersey, my story about how the British Suffragettes invaded Montreal in 1912/13.

That's because I found out that George Drummond had a Monet in his collection and I thought that painting would suit my scene in Lady Drummond's library.


I also added a bit about Frances Fenwick Williams, the Press Secretary of the Montreal Suffrage Association, who visited England in 1912 to 'work for the suffragettes.'

She was certainly a militant mole in the very conservative MSA (that promised to be reasonable and sweet and not like a suffragette).  She was the one who suggested that New York Lawyer Inez Milholland be brought in to be one of the MSA's first speakers in 1913, without mentioning exactly how militant she was. (In 1912 she went to England 'to work for the suffragettes' or so she said in a speech in 1917.)


But now I am forced to add a "TORONTO" element to my story. You see, Caroline Kenney, sister of militant suffragette Annie Kenney, came to Montreal in late 1912 to stay with her sister Nell (It's all in Furies)and got involved with a rival suffrage organization, the Equal Suffrage League. She's a key character in my book.

That organization is worth but a mention in Carol Bacchi's authoritative book The Suffrage Movement in Canada,

Because of the magic of the Internet, I've been able to dig out a few tidbits about the organization.

Kenney appears to have started it up with a Mrs. Leggatt in December 1913, after speaking at June Ottawa suffrage picnic with another Mrs. Leggatt. They didn't get much attention.

In Montreal, the MSA controlled the press.

I found this interesting bit from a March 1913  Toronto News, with the President of the Equal Franchise League waxing ecstatic about the recent parade in Washington, the one where lawyer Inez Millholland led the parade on a white horse carrying the colours of the WSPU.

 She also mentions militant Barbara Wylie, who also  figures largely in my Furies Cross the Mersey.

I checked, and who is this Mrs. L. A. Hamilton? She is Constance Hamilton, the first female politician in Canada, who in 1919 became an alderman on Toronto City Council.

Here's her picture. She seems to be wearing the same hat that Emmeline Pankhurst was wearing in that famous picture.

Oddly, Hamilton was one of the Toronto women, with Mrs. Torrington, head of the National Council of Women, who got into trouble for supporting Borden's limited suffrage in 1917, and claiming all the women of Canada did as well. That can be read about in Divided by the Ballot Box, online.

I've also covered that messy issue here, in bits and pieces.


The November 1913 Votes for Women Magazine contained info about the new Equal Suffrage League.  But by that time, I think, that magazine had broken off their relationship with Mrs. Pankhurst's militants.