Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Printer Ink, Banks, and Wartime Propaganda

A Roman design of Apollo.  I could  print it out and put it on the wall, if I had any colour ink!

Gosh. A warm December but little sun. Not much of  a trade-off. What dollars I save in heating, I lose in SAD lighting.

Printers make me crazy, and not only at this bleak time of the year.

 Well, they make everyone crazy, I'm told.

When they work, they are nothing short of miraculous; I can print out a beautiful Byzantine fresco  or Pompeian mural, just for my fun and scotch tape it to the wall, just for my pleasure.

(OK. It costs about 10.00 for the ink, each time.)

But, it you decide to be cautious using said expensive colour inkjet ink, the stuff just dries up over time and you've wasted 80 dollars.

I don't use coloured ink anymore.

And, then, of course, the printer stops working for no particular reason, just when you need to print out your latest draft of your latest book, when you are on a roll with everything clear in your head, except you need to edit the draft on a hard copy, without a bright light behind the words making you stupid.

(I once read that's what backlighting does. It makes the critical thinking parts of your brain shut off.)

 You tell your husband (who is the de-facto techie in the house) "I preferred it back in the 1990's, when the printer was totally reliable, except for continual paper jams, before you hooked it to the stupid network."

Anyway, the draft I am working on right now is from my  book Service and Disservice - about the iffy involvement of the Canadian suffragists in the  1917 Conscription Crisis.

It's a follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Canada in 1911/1912.

An article in the Ottawa newspaper about a certain Suffrage Tramp from NY to Washington in 1913. No surprise, some young suffragettes  in Montreal tried to organize their own Tramp to Ottawa. Did that ever scare the reform-minded suffragists of Montreal, who quickly started their own organization, the Montreal Suffrage Association, that no one could join unless approved by the executive made up mostly of McGill professors and leading Presbyterian clergymen and millionaire's wives.

I am working on something no one will read. Well.

I told this to a friend who works high up in marketing at a big bank and he said, "I write stuff no one reads, too. "

Yes, but he gets paid big moolah for it.

I found this on my website yesterday and was happy. I'd forgotten about it.

It's my facsimile  of a poster that the Montreal Suffrage Association stuck up in the Edinburgh cafe on Ste. Catherine Street during WWI.

Unlike Constance Hamilton, the President of the Toronto-based National Equal Franchise Union, Carrie Derick, President of the MSA,  did not give up the suffrage fight for patriotic work during the war.

She did both war work and suffrage advocacy. And she worked at her job in the Botany Department at McGill University. The woman was super-energetic.

Indeed, in 1917, May, 1917, when Premier Borden in Ottawa hinted in the Press that he would give ALL Canadian women the vote in the next election, Derick tried to organize all the suffragists of Canada to go to Ottawa to make sure he did just that.

There were people who thought that Borden was obligated to give  the vote only to women who could already vote provincially.

Quebec women didn't have the vote provincially. Ontario women had just won the right in February.

Carrie Derick invited Constance Hamilton's NEFU to join them. The NEFU declined, saying this wasn't the right time to ask for votes for women.

It didn't matter because Borden officially promised the vote to ALL Canadian women in late May, 1917 - and, then , he took it all back.

His office had had intelligence from out West; intelligence suggesting women voters out there would not support his government and his Conscription Bill.

Later, in early August, 1917, Premier Borden consulted with Mrs. Hamilton and Mrs. Torrington of the National Council of Women and a Mrs. Gooderham of IODE and asked these ladies to see if this was, indeed, true. He wanted them to ask their nation-wide members, point-blank, whether he'd win an election if he gave women the vote.

He told them to ask only respectable ladies and be discreet about it.

The answer came back NO.

So Borden's Union Government (made up of Conservatives and Liberals who were for Conscription) ended up giving the vote only to women with close relations at the Front, rigging the 1917 Election, and mocking the very democratic principles suffragists stood for.

Most women in Quebec didn't get to vote.

And here's what I discovered.

In July, 1913, Mrs. Constance Hamilton had called an emergency meeting of the NEFU in her home (even though she hadn't been doing anything as President for years) and what she said was quoted the next day in the Press.

Don't have an election. It's not fair that women  slackers out West and in Quebec get to vote and the soldiers  in the trenches don't. (I paraphrase.)

So, Constance Hamilton, soft suffragist leader of the upstart NEFU,  was the person who gave Premier Borden (or Arthur Meighen, his right hand man) the moral authority to pass this Wartime Elections Act, where only a certain group of women got to vote.

"All the women of Canada support the measure," Borden would soon say to the Press.

In that same July newspaper item, it is reported that the Montreal Suffrage Association ('which represents a large body of women throughout the Province of Quebec') couldn't send a delegate to this NEFU meeting, but, they sent this message:

"We heartily support the policy of the Borden Government for a Union Government to enforce conscription and to ensure vigorous prosecution of the war but we regret a General Election during the war. Is Canada going to fail? Never! If we break faith with those who die 'They will not sleep though poppies grow in Flanders Field.' Canada's honor is at stake, she must not fail to carry on to break faith with our brave fighting men and glorious dead."

This message was a plant to make it look like Quebec would be on board with limited suffrage!

There's not a chance in Hell that Carrie Derick approved a message like that.

The MSA held no meetings July, 1917.  And no way would the MSA want anything they said quoted in a news item with the word 'slackers' in it.

The MSA's resolutions were always very carefully worded, whether they were about Pankhurst style militancy: ("the MSA is neither militant nor non-militant for that label is irrelevant in Canada.")
or conscription: ("The MSA never claimed to be for Conscription, just warmly in favor of  mandatory overseas service.")

I suspect Frances Fenwick Williams, a fanatical win-the-war type on the executive of the MSA, wrote that emotional paragraph. She was a poet, you see.

As it happens, the MSA, led by Derick, sent a resolution to Borden in September, protesting the Wartime Elections Act and this ploy of limited women suffrage.

Borden wrote a crazy letter back: "You don't understand the situation I am in. Would you want women who had only been in Canada a few months to vote?" He was alluding to western 'alien' women.. He didn't mention Quebec, of course, not in this letter. He  certainly didn't mention slacker women or slacker men.

Anyway, I think I'll start my book with this WAR poster .