Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rooming Houses and Suffragettes in Montreal 1913

St Famille in Montreal. Still a street with lots of rooming houses or "stylish" lodgings.  In 1910 it was feminist central, I think.

In early May, 1913 the National Council of Women held their Annual General Meeting in Montreal at St. James Methodist Church.

Their Suffrage Evening is the last scene of Furies Cross the Mersey, my e-book about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.


Mrs. Ethel Snowden, moderate suffragist was the speaker. She called Mrs. Pankhurst and her militant troops 'cavemen.'

At the same AGM, Mrs. MacNaughton, President of the Montreal Art Association and also on the Executive of the Montreal Council of Women, gave  a talk on ART.

This is from the Yearbook of the National Council.

EVENING RECEPTION.

After a reception tendered to the visiting delegates by the Montreal Local Council, Dr. Ritchie England, President of the Montreal Local Council, took the chair, and an address was given by Mrs. MacNaughton,  President of the Woman's Art Association of Montreal who spoke of the growing interest in art in Canada, and briefly outlined what the women of [Montreal were endeavoring to do to encourage art in its various forms.

She laid especial stress on the modern drama as showing concentrated pictures of society which could not be obtained by looking at life in the mass. Such dramatists as Brieux, Galsworthy, Hauptmann and Shaw were treating some of the vital problems as were dealt with by the National Council. Drama leagues were being formed to encourage the best plays, and it was hoped that ultimately Canada would have a chain of municipally owned repertory theatres presenting sterling companies in serious drama.  Mrs.  MacNaughton advised those who could not see such dramas to read some of the splendid plays which were being written today.

 Miss Eliza Ritchie, Ph.D., in her address on "The Artist and His Public," spoke of the isolation of the artist of to-day as compared with his predecessors of the classic and middle ages, when every craftsman was an artist. The public should take the trouble to learn what real beauty is before attempting to criticize the artist. On the other hand, the public have a right to select the artist's subjects, although it must allow him to express his own individuality and his own conception of these subjects. 

 I've written a lot, in recent posts, about the Montreal Art Association and the Beaver Hall Group of Painters. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is going to have an exhibition in the fall featuring the Women of the Beaver Hall Group, so I just had to look these women artists up on the Internet.

The Art Association building figures bigtime in my story Diary of a Confirmed Spinster.

I know that the Women's Century, the magazine of the National Council of Women, wrote about the Montreal Art Association during the WWI, an article I will have to consult for my follow up to book to Furies Cross the Mersey, Service and Disservice, about the 1917 Conscription Crisis.

I'm just amused to see that Mrs. MacNaughton (who was also a suffragist) cited George Bernard Shaw as a playwright to watch.

Yes, he dealt with the issues of interest to the Social Reformers, but not exactly in the way these ladies thought appropriate.

I see that  Pygmalion was written in 1912, but only produced later on in 1914, so MacNaughton likely hadn't heard the story.

But Mrs. Warren's Profession had made waves and caused lots of trouble when first produced, I think in 1906..... and Major Barbara had also been written and produced by that time, too.

Anyway, Mrs. MacNaughton, that year, started an Art Guild and its offices were at 82 1/2 St. Famille.

St Famille is also the street where Caroline Kenny, suffragette and founder of the Equal Suffrage League in Montreal  lived while she worked as a teacher on the Montreal Board. Caroline was the sister of famed militant Annie Kenney.

Quite a few teachers lived on St Famille from what I can see from a 1917 report on Education in Quebec. And the YMCA also had a hotel for working women on that street. It was one of three hotels for women run by the YMCA.

 This one of St. Famille took in working girls who could pay their own way, but I am sure there were still plenty of rules.

Caroline lived at 25 St. Famille I can see from the Educational Record, but I don't know if that place was the hotel or a boarding house.

Whatever, that street seems to be Woman Central in 1910... Good woman central, if you know what I mean.

St. Famille runs only  a few blocks, but today one side of the streets is apartments (and lodgings) and the other is turn of the century or earlier homes.