Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Third Book about the Canadian Suffrage Movement, not counting my Furies



Back in January, 2015, when they thought the Meryl Streep/Carrie Mulligan movie Suffragette was soon to be released, the Guardian came up with an article listing the 10 best books about the Suffragettes.

The movie's release got delayed and it's to come out on October 24, here in Canada, anyway.

That made me smile, because as a Canadian who blogs about the Canadian suffrage movement, I know that no one in the world could possible come up with such a  list for us.

Why?

Because only two books have been written about the Canadian Suffrage Movement. TWO. That's it.

Or, so I thought, up until today: a 1940's book, the Suffrage Movement in Canada, by Catherine Cleverdon, a master's thesis; and another book by Carole Bacchi in around 1980, based on her PhD thesis at McGill.

Bacchi's book "Liberation Deferred" is considered the definitive account - and she sure did a fine job. She did such a good job, no one has followed up on her work, even with all the great tools available to dig out hidden history.

Until me :)

 I've recently published  a piece of literary non-fiction, Furies Cross the Mersey, an ebook, about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13 and I'm busy working on the follow up called Service and Disservice, about the Canadian suffragists' iffy involvement in the 1917 Conscription Crisis.

(I'm thrilled because I've finally figured out how to tell this complicated story.)

As I was scoping the Internet for info on Kathleen Weller, a Montreal Suffragist who will be a character, so to speak,  in Service and Disservice, I stumbled upon a pamphet of sorts written by one Hilda Ridley, also about the Canadian Suffrage Movement.

Another book on Canadian Suffrage exists!

There's no publisher or date cited, but Ridley states that Quebec Province doesn't yet have the woman's vote, so it's before WWII.
Emily Davison death as reported in the Montreal Witness. June 1913.

Ridley's is an interesting little book for what it leaves out,  or WHO it leaves out, Constance Hamilton, who was directly involved in the Conscription Election and what I call "The Great Deception."

Flora McDonald Denison is mentioned, but her 1914 feud with Mrs. Hamilton  is not.

(That year Constance Hamilton of Toronto led a coup to depose Flora McD Denison, President of the Canadian Suffrage Assocation, then she started her own National Organization, the National Equal Franchise Union.)

The author says she consulted the Emily Howard Stowe's fonds for the book. That explains a lot.

Carrie Derick's name is misspelled Derrick by Ridley.

This little book is particularly useful to me because it explains what Margaret Gordon, the President of the Canadian Suffrage Assocation after Denison, was doing during WWI. She was lobbying all the municipalities in Canada, trying to get them to give women with property the vote.

Constance Hamilton, President of the NEFU, had given up the suffrage battle in 1915 to give her all for the war effort, although she didn't give up her position.

And then came the Win-the-War Meetings in Toronto and the Conscription Election in late 1917...and all that shameful meddling engaged in by Mrs. Hamilton in the name of her Suffrage Organization on behalf of Prime Minister Borden.

And there's a bit of interesting Montreal Suffrage history in the Ridley pamphlet. She claims that the Montreal Suffrage Movement started with the local chapter of the WCTU endorsing women suffrage quite early on before 1900.

Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association, in a May 1913 speech, claims it all started with the Donaldas, female McGill students.

 It wasn't the first time Derick gave short shrift to the local Women's Christian Temperance Union (run by Mrs. John Scott) and their efforts promoting woman suffrage in the province.

Derick knew that the temperance movement wasn't that popular in Quebec!

And there's a bit more of interest: according to records, Barbara Wylie, British suffragette, spoke in Toronto in 1912 about the Social Evil, prostitution.

She didn't speak on that topic in Montreal. I put her entire speech in Furies Crosss the Mersey.