Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Here it is! The ONLY photo of a Canadian Suffragette you will ever see!

A picture of the Canadian Delegates at the Washington Suffrage Parade 1913. I wonder where it comes from...oh, the Toronto Sun. Carole Bacchi, in her  1976  McGill thesis Liberation Deferred, nails it when she says that the Canadian movement was so timid NO demonstrations took place in Canada over woman suffrage. (Well, she says there was one lame one out West in 1916.)

That's what my Furies Cross the Mersey pokes fun at. I have two school girls at McGill's Royal Victoria College dare to organize a march.

I've been going over Carole Bacchi's 1976 thesis Liberation Deferred about the Canadian Suffrage Movement.

Her McGill thesis was turned into a book that has become the definitive book on the subject and it's easy to see why. (It's basically the ONLY book on the subject.)

The thesis is almost perfect. Bacchi explains in the opening remarks that little has been written about the subject - and that there's not that much information out there.

This makes the Minutes of the Montreal Council particularly important, she says.

(It was too late in 1978 to get 'first person' account. Even Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, was deceased by then.)

So Carole Bacchi's study covers all the information available, then and now - and does it so well no one else has bothered to continue the discussion.  And she didn't even have the Internet!

Well, I have written a book on the subject, Furies Cross the Mersey, but I am an author - and I can make things up. It's about the British Invasion of Militants to Montreal in 1912/13, a bit of a different angle.

( I know Bacchi discusses the impact of Emmeline Pankhurst's visit to Canada in the era.I'm not sure if she talks about Barbara Wylie's visit. I must check.  I am certain she doesn't mention Caroline Kenney's visit to Montreal. I am the one who dug out that info, all by myself, thanks to the the Internet.)

I emailed  Carole Bacchi a while back and she said she is surprised that no scholar has updated her decades old research - and she admitted there are some things in her thesis she would now change.

My only problem with her thesis is that she takes the Montreal Suffrage Association far too seriously. It was a bit of a bogus organization, I think. (But then again, that was one of the few suffrage organizations that left behind their minutes.)  Otherwise everything Bacchi says is bang on, in my opinion.

She even explains in elegant fashion why this Canadian Suffrage stuff  is important to know. It's a study in how politics unfolds, sometimes.

 Canadian delegates. I don't see Carrie Derick.
Inez Milholland who also participated in NY parade in May, but didn't dress up like this.


Anyway, I looked up her thesis was to read what she had to say about the 1917 Conscription election.

She writes that Arthur Meighan was so afraid of foreigners and French Canadians voting Borden out that he thought up the idea of  limited franchise himself.

Pierre Berton in Marching as to War claims Nellie McClung gave him the idea.

 I think Constance Hamilton of Toronto had a big part in it.

Bacchi says that he could have easily just given all Canadian women the vote, except for 'enemy aliens.' No one would have minded. Indeed, I believe that is what happened in 1918. But there were too many  tried and true Canadians unkeen for war. That included the Nicholsons for the most part.

(Apparently someone suggested that Meighan give the vote to British- Canadian women only. I wonder if that would have included the Nicholsons of Isle of Lewis Scot origin.)

She said the Montreal Suffrage Association (Council of Women?)  was divided upon party lines when it came to this Limited Conscription and that Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Lansing Lewis quit the organization over the issue in 1918 and 19.

They tried to impeach Dr. Ritchie England over the issue and lost. That is all in Tara Brookfield's 2008 article Divided by the Ballot Box.

 Carrie Derick, President of the MSA, was a cagey one. At the AGM of the National Council in 1917 she says she is for 'the conscription of men, women and wealth' making everyone laugh out loud. That's a typical non-statement statement:Very modern of her to talk like that.

Gee. killing young men is fun, ain't it?

It was the Montreal Council of Women that created a resolution for Conscription and sent it to other locals around the country. For instance, Calgary voted Yes and Edmonton No.

(This is confirmed in the Annual Reports of the National Council of women for 17 and 18 and in the Minutes of the Montreal Council of Women.) Stowe Gullen writes in the Citizenship Committee Report in 18 that Ontario and the Western Provinces were (somewhat) against Limited Suffrage, but not Montreal.)

The Montreal Council was split on the issue so declared nothing and then even their President didn't know where they stood.

 The Montreal Suffrage Association came out against this War Times Election Act.

But they were for Conscription big time.

Yet, somehow, later, Carrie Derick used her ability to twist words to say the Montreal Council was non political and never voted pro or con Conscription. BS. A bit of a lie. Well, a total lie.

It's clearly marked in the Minutes: Resolution over Conscription and it is even underlined.

I want to start my next book, Service and Disservice at the Win the War Meetings in August 1917...but what went on there is confusing... Derick is not the only one who rewrote history on the fly.

I'm hoping that I can find one good era source. The Toronto Star has an interesting report, revealing that these meetings were full of religious fervour.

What is cool, Bacchi's thesis has a photo of Canadian participants, Denison et al in the Washington 1913 parade. But the pic is  pretty unclear.

Constance Hamilton discussed her participation at a breathy news conference where she  mentioned a letter from Miss Barbara Wylie, militant suffragette on a tour across Canada, who was so fed up at Canadian women at this time, she was  about to leave for home.

 Flora Macdonald Lapham from Toronto walked at the front of the parade

And what is a suffrage parade without 'a bevy of beauties.'