Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst in Montreal in WWI 1916

Mrs. Pankhurst and her Serbian Diplomat in the Montreal Daily Mail, 1916. She dressed nicely, didn't she?


Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst spoke in support of the War Effort in Montreal, on February 28, 1916.

She spoke at the Princess Threatre in support of the Serbs.  She brought along a Serbian diplomat from Britain.

She was on a North American Tour and had had trouble getting through at Ellis Island. 

They didn't realize she had become a war supporter, I guess.

The diplomat spoke too. He said the War was not Serbia's fault.

In her speech, sponsored by the Montreal Equal Suffrage League, a small organization founded by Caroline Kenney, Annie Kenney's sister, Pankhurst praised women in the war effort; the women in Europe; the women in Canada and even the women  in the US, although they weren't in the war yet, and not suffering for the cause.

She saved the best for the Serbian women:

"Spoke of the magnificent devotion of the Serbian women, how they made clothes, tended the sick and wounded, and even fought side by side with Serbian men."

Caroline Kenney, sister of militant Annie Kenney, came to Montreal in 1912 and stayed for a while, trying to create a militant movement here. You can read about her in Furies Cross the Mersey. I am the one who figured this out.

I am right now writing my book Service and Disservice, about the iffy involvement of the Canadian suffragists in the 1917 Conscription Election.

There was no mention of this speech by Pankhurst in the minutes  of the Montreal Suffrage Association. No surprise, that, as her speech was sponsored by their annoying, more militant rivals.

There is no mention in February in the minutes of the Montreal Council of Women (as far as I can remember.)

But in December, Mrs. Hurlbatt, Warden of McGill's Royal Victoria College, and Miss Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association resolved to raise money for the Serbs as explained in Mrs. Pankhurst's speech.

So, they were there, I guess.

Hurlbatt was so successful raising money, she was given a commendation by the King of Serbia after the war. 

I saw it in her papers at McGill.

No mention of her earlier Suffrage advocacy in these fonds, though. She had been active in the movement since she arrived in Montreal in 1907. Like so many Montreal suffragists, she defended Mrs. Pankhurst and her militant troops in her speeches, but in a sideways way.

She had many friends in the suffrage movement, both constitutional and militant, back home in England.

Hurlbatt figures in Furies Cross the Mersey, my book about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13. So does Caroline Kenney.

Caroline Kenney left Montreal in 1916 to go and work as a Montesorri  teacher in the US with a sister. Since she was a teacher in Montreal in 1915,  I suspect she was still in the city for this talk.