Friday, December 30, 2016

Basque Women, French Canadians and my DNA

Two Isle of Lewis Ladies, by way of Richmond Quebec 1913, my husband's great aunts Edie and Flo.

"Look at this," said my son, tossing some papers onto the dining room table. "I did my DNA and it says I am mostly Spanish, Portuguese and Basque."

I looked at the long list of ethnicities on this print out and, sure enough, those ones were at the top and it was runaway.

"Well, the history of Europe is real mixed up," I said. "Roman Empire and all that." But, Basque? Aren't they some unique, isolated little group of people? That's what I've always heard.

I started entertaining suspicions about my own mother.

Mediterranean ethnicity overwhelmed all others on my son's DNA chart, not that I understood the figures. .59 for Mediterranean with a 10 thousand score, ,47 Western European with a 3 thousand score. Then the Celtic and Norse I would have expected to be more prominent. Then Aegean, Finnic, Polish, Roumanian, North African and... Mesopotamian. How cool! 

My son didn't seem to think so.   He's very good with numbers,you see, and he said this proved, well, ah, that I haven't been 100 percent straight with him.

"Numbers don't lie," he said.


I said, "But look, right after Spanish, Portuguese and Basque, comes Celtic and Norse. There may be a giant blob over the Iberian Pennisula here, but there's a small one over the Hebrides.


That's your Dad's side, your Isle of Lewis side. I have no Isle of Lewis blood. So don't make an Epic of Gilgamesh over this 100 dollar test."

Besides, I added "This test says it details deep ancestry, with deep ancestry underlined!"



My genes, roughly speaking.

.

It seems it isn't so odd that my son's genes (my genes and/or my husbands genes) are from Iberia. Apparently, it is understood that Welsh and Irish people also share Iberian genes (my husband's father claimed Welsh and Irish ancestry) and in 2007 an Oxford geneticist, Stephen Oppenheimer, said native British, too, were mostly from  Iberia and not derived from the savage Germanic Anglo Saxon. 

 Not everyone agrees with Oppenheimer, but I do, after seeing my son's DNA chart.

 I'm not in the least surprised to have Mediterranean genes on my mother's side.

My son's chart reveals that he shares Mediterrenean genes most with people from the Azores, though.  Weird.

But I've read that the New France was colonized very early on by Basque fishermen. And it seems logical that these intrepid voyageurs stopped at the Azores first on their way to the land of ice and maple syrup and, later, greasy poutine.

And, I do look like these Azorean women...

Lately, I decided to take an Ancestry.ca test. Apparently, the tests are becoming more reliable with time. The results came in today and, surprise, no Basque.

 Mostly Great Britain 35% (median) then Caucasus 20% (What?) then Italian and Greek, 17% (well, I knew that in my heart) and Scandinavian, then  European Jew. Yes, the history of Europe is really mixed up!

I knew my father's Yorkshire features were Norwegian!

A trace of North American native. (My son's chart suggests it is South American native, Mestizo.)

Maybe a paltry 3% Iberian Pennisula.

My son's DNA did hint at some Polish, Hungarian and Romanian, maybe that's the Caucasus part.
But there's alot of curly hair in my Mom's family. Crépeau means 'curly haired one' apparently.

Jules Crepeau, Director of City Services at Montreal City Hall in the 1920's - the curly haired one, except he should have been nicknamed "Le Chat" for the way he squirmed out of scandals over the years.


So, it's my husband's father, a fourth cousin to General Douglas MacArthur through his mother's Hardy line, who has Basque blood unless my son's 3 year old test was only about very deep ancestry.

Can I get my hubby to spit into a vile?


Ancestry connected me to a slew of fourth to sixth cousins using their site and most seem French - and I assume French Canadian. That seems right, doesn't it?





Does my husband look a bit like General Douglas MacArthur, his 4th cousin. His Dad sure did.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Strange Bit of Montreal History


It all started toward the end of WWI with concerns over prostitutes around the Montreal barracks. Reverend Herbert Symonds of Christ Church Cathedral sent the Montreal Suffrage Association 1913-1919 (of which had been a founding board member)a request to have them address the issue.

The Executive of the MSA didn't think it in their purview at that time.

It grew into a hurricane of righteousness when a certain Dr. Haywood of the Montreal General spoke in January, 1923 to the Canadian Club about drug-addled prostitutes, victims, he said, of very bad people.

There was a taint of racism about it.


Before the turn of the 20th century prostitutes in Montreal were seen as fallen women, or vain women with a taste for fine things, not victims. But with the immigration booms in the city with other races moving in, these women  suddenly became victims.

Haywood's heart-rending speech sparked fury among his well-heeled and influential audience and soon a group of concerned citizens descended on Montreal City Hall to demand immediate action.

So came about the 1924 Coderre Commission into Police Impropriety and Malfeasance, the first session being held on October 7th, 1924. The Inquiry was to investigate prostitution, drugs, gambling and police money-scams.

Movie theatres weren't on the agenda; but on December 13, 1924 a certain Constable Conrad Trudeau was testifying and he suddenly changed the subject,without being asked, from scale-tipping by coal vendors  to unchaperoned children in motion picture theatres, and brought up the name of my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Director of City Services, whom he said told the police to disregard various infractions, for illegal signs, non-payment of fees, Sunday shows, etc.


All very suspicious.My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, the Director of City Services from 1921 to 1930, had sat with a Dr. Atherton of the Montreal General on The City Cleanup Committee.

Constable Trudeau had apparently lent the Chief of Police, 'a personal friend'  (sic) 600 dollars over the years. The Chief had been accused many, many times of accepting money from his underlings, the previous month's testimony had revealed, even from Rose David, the Madame of a disorderly house frequented by policemen, even from shady underworld figure Tony Frank, who apparently ran a number of such brothels. There were calls for Chief Belanger's firing, even during the Inquiry, but it didn't happen.

On the stand, Constable Trudeau glibly claimed he was guiltless when it came to his loans, and he was not using the money for favors. "After all, I am still a constable and have been for 7 years."



Trudeau offered up another juicy tidbit with respect to over-crowding in theatres.  "One of these days there's going to be a catastrophe. One of these days a fire will break out and no one will be able to get out."

Trudeau was fired by my grandfather on the spot for 'bribery'.  The cop had given money to Belanger on behalf of this brother in law who wanted a liquor license for his business.

The costly Coderre Inquiry ended in January, 1925. Over a year later Juge Coderre published his report culled from 10,000 pages of testimony, claiming that 'vice spread its tentacles in every aspect of Montreal life' and expressing confusion and anger about my Grandfather and his powers over the Police.

And. then, life went on with few changes being enacted.

Two years later, in January 1927, there was a fatal fire in Montreal, the Laurier Palace Fire where 78 children, mostly boys, were killed in a crush of bodies rushing out of the upper balcony after someone yelled "fire" during a Sunday showing.

That fire was a game-changer in Quebec. The Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the Nationalists and Big Labour got together and from then on,for decades, children under 16 were not allowed into movie theatres, even in the company of an adult.

There was a hint of anti-semitism about the proceedings.

Oddly, soon after the January 1927 fire, Le Devoir re-published  the 1924  Coderre Inquiry testimony fingering my grandfather, saying 'it is worth reprinting at this time.' The phrase beginning "One day there's going to be a catastrophe' was left out.

Despite the fact Le Devoir brought up this business, my grandfather, who testified at the Laurier Place Fire hearings on behalf of City Hall, wasn't implicated this time.

(He discussed how the Laurier Palace hadn't paid their license fee on time, but that was OK, according to the Executive Committee.)

The owners of the movie house were exonerated, too.

I can only wonder what the editors of Le Devoir were trying to do by re-hashing Trudeau's testimony, albeit abridged of its sensational last sentence.


In 1930, Camillien Houde was elected Mayor of Montreal and he got rid of my grandfather over a Water and Power Company money flip he had nothing to do with, but not before Grandpapa negotiated a fine life pension, which made him in retirement the second highest paid person at City Hall, after his replacement, Honore Parent.

In a stormy session at City Hall, where alderman debated whether to accept my grandfather's 'resignation' Houde said "The public want revenge for the Montreal Water Power deal and for the Laurier Palace Fire."

Weird, eh?

In 1937 my grandfather, whose large pension was dogging the City during the Depression, was hit by a car driven by an off-duty police officer. He died of complications a year later. Le Devoir was the only Montreal newspaper that wrote him a long eulogy.



My grandfather's brother, Isadore, who had been VP of United Theatre Amusements, a big theatre chain in the city, had died falling out of his 7 storey office window a few years before.

The official line was that he had been waving to his chauffeur and slipped.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Montreal Vice and Corruption and My Grandfather


I never have liked this time of year. You look at the clock, thinking it's about 8.30 at night and it's only 5.25.

And this year, November 2016 is especially crappy. No kidding!  Gosh, I have this sickening sinking feeling in my stomach all the time.

So, what to do? Breath, for one. Then start on another writing project. What else?

So I don't have to read the headlines for the next long while.

I found this photo in an old archived Quebec newspaper: now I just have to describe the architecture. It looks Romanesque. But, is this room in the Old Courthouse from the 1800's or the new one  completed in 1925... I guess the really old one.

There's a newer courthouse now, all black windows and modern. I must figure out where the old one was.


It's of the opening of the Coderre Commission into Police Impropriety, October 1924.

During WWI, a group of Montreal social reformers got very concerned about prostitution around the barracks and that interest led to a post-war inquiry into Montreal vice.

The inquiry lasted a few months, cost many thousands, spawned 10 thousand pages of testimony and the final Coderre Report, published in early 1926, condemned Montreal as a place where vice had its tentacles in every corner of the city, but didn't end up changing much. 

Oh, they pulled back the hour of closing for dance halls by one hour from 1 to 12 am. Woo Hoo!

I've written about it in Milk and Water, my play on Amazon Kindle.  Milk and Water has my grandfather, Jules Crepeau as a character and so will this next bit. He was Director of City Services and embroiled in many scandals at the time. 

Grandpapa's name was brought up at this Commission by a certain Constable Trudeau, who appears to have been a real character, with an agenda.

Trudeau hated movie houses where boys, he thought, picked up bad habits, and while on the stand he was the one who changed the conversation about coal sellers ripping off their customers to the motion picture houses. He said citations against said entertainment venues that broke the by-laws were often cancelled by my grandfather. 

He also said something rather scary, "One day there's going to be a catastrophe. One day there's gonna be a fire and children won't be able to escape." (Paraphrased.)

Then, my grandfather fired him, before the Commission had come to a close.  Then a couple of years later there was a terrible fire where 72 children died, crushed in a rush to the door.

(Some accounts said mysterious men forced escaping children back up into the balcony.)

But, today, I'm starting on a larger, scarier venture. I'm going to write about the Laurier Palace Fire - and it all starts here, for me, with Trudeau's bizarre testimony fingering my grandfather for over-reaching his power.

Luckily the proceedings were well-described by the Quebec papers and this picture, from a French tabloid shows me exactly what Room 24 of the Palais de Justice in Montreal looked like in 1924.

All men in the picture and I can guess who they are. They are representatives of the Group of 16, churchmen and Rotary Club, Montreal General Hospital.  Mostly Englishmen, if not all English.  

Dr. Haywood Sir  Herbert Ames. Reverend Symonds.

The Group of 16 had initially had some radical women on it, but they got shaken off around 1920.

Like I said, Trudeau appears to be quite a pill. He's a lowly Constable but he's lent the Chief of Police 600 dollars.  He's someone's operative, that's for sure.



Stranger Things: 1927 Montreal

From Jules Crepeau's City Hall File.

"One of these days there's going to be a catastrophe. If a fire breaks out these days, many of those inside will not be able to get out."

These are the prescient words of one Montreal Constable Conrad Trudeau, uttered on December 13, 1924 at the Coderre Probe into Police Impropriety. (Yes, another one of THOSE.)

Trudeau was referring to movie houses, where young children all across the Western World, mostly boys, hung out, despite it being illegal for children to attend movies alone.

Trudeau did not like the motion pictures. He felt that boys picked up bad habits there.

Then, in 1927, just as Trudeau predicted, there was a fatal fire in a movie house on Ste. Catherine Street East. It was the Laurier Palace fire, a real game changer in the province of Quebec, whereupon it became illegal for children under 16 to attend the cinema  even in the company of an adult!



Burnt out Laurier Palace.


The  Catholic Church, a huge force in Quebec, also had a big part (despite being a big investor in the new mega-cinemas of the era ) along with the French nationalists, who I suspect were worried about the new talkies, and even Big Labour who didn’t want people working on Sundays.  A 360 degree coalition.

......

Back in the 1960's, my mother explained to me  why I wasn’t allowed into the nearby Snowden theatre.  She described with sadness how ‘little babies’ had died in this big fire in Montreal years before. 

I conjured up images of bawling infants in their mother’s arms, but, in reality, the victims were children 4 to 16.

What my mother didn’t tell me, back then in the Beatles Era, was that her late father, Jules Crepeau, as Director of City Services in the 20's, the top ranking civil servant, was deeply entangled in both the Coderre commission scandal and the Laurier Palace Fire tragedy. 

At the 1924 inquiry, Constable Trudeau also spoke out against my grandfather, charging him with wielding too huge an influence over the police, forcing officers to cancel citations against cinemas that had broken the rules.

Trudeau, whose job it was to police motion picture houses, also said "les theatres de)United Amusements» n’attiraient que des sentences suspendues ou $5. 

He did not mention that my grandfather’s brother, Isadore, was VP of United Theatre Amusements, a huge company in the process of building some of the grand Montreal movie theatres of the era.

A few days later, my grandfather proved the Constable right by having him fired for a bribery incident. (Trudeau was clearly corrupt; he had 'lent' money to the Chief, large sums, many times, as a friend. LOL. But, it wasn't for favors, he said. "I am still a constable, after all" he cheekily told the Court. I know for a fact, from the grandson, that one lowly constable back then owned four homes.)

Still, Juge Coderre tore into my grandfather in his final report. The Chief of Police had testified  that my grandfather was his boss. Coderre wrote he could not see in The new 1921 City Charter how my grandfather had power over the police.

Crepeau family circa 1927 at Atlantic City.

All this got recounted in a full page story in 1926 in the New York Times, because it became part of the testimony at the US Senate hearings into prohibition.

Seventy-two children  died at that Sunday matinee in January, 1927, neither immolated by flames nor asphyxiated by smoke, but killed in a huge crush to the door caused by  someone yelling “Fire!.” 

My grandfather was the first to speak about it at an initial inquiry, one that attracted little interest according to the Gazette article.

“Yes,” said my grandfather,  “The Laurier Palace had been delivered a citation for not paying a license fee, but they had paid and the paper work was going through when the fire happened.”

But, soon, with the many  sad funerals that followed, public indignation grew precipitating a public inquiry where my grandfather was called upon once again to testify, this time along with parents, cops and community leaders and even a few theatre owners.

May policemen lost their children in the fire: they had been given free tickets by the movie houses.

During this second inquiry, the movie houses were condemned, not only as dangerous fire-traps, but as immoral agents.  There was a hint of anti-semitism about the proceedings. 

School principals, counter-intuitively, stood up for the cinema, one claiming that children’s learning was enhanced by the movies. 

Suspiciously,  no one brought up Constable Trudeau’s 1924 testimony at these 1927  hearings.  However, Le Devoir reprinted some of Trudeau's testimony right after the fire saying this:

À l’occasion du sinistre du «Laurier Palace», il est intéressant de relire la déposition de l’agent de police Conrad Trudeau lors de l’enquête de la police présidée par le juge Coderre:

This according to a bit re-published in Le Devoir, 2010, that is online.

The paper did not seem to reprint Trudeau's prescient words: One day there's going to be a catastrophe, (maybe they were expunged from the record) or mention the fact that he was fired by my grandfather, on an unrelated bribery charge, right after he gave testimony. 

...
As far as I can see,  Le Devoir liked my grandfather. That paper published a long tribute to him after his death in 1938, basically saying he was the smartest man at City Hall. This obit also explained how no other paper has bothered to give my grandpapa his due.







Grandpapa’s big career would end a few years later in 1930, when new Mayor Camillien Houde forced him to resign, over a Montreal Water and Power money-flip that cost taxpayers  4 million; one that hugely benefited the big English industrialists of the era.

Jules should have informed the hapless aldermen of City Hall that the people were being swindled, so the story goes. (Read about it in Milk and Water.)

Houde gave an impassioned speech at a 1930  City Hall debate over my grandfather’s resignation (his lower dentures flew out, apparently, and he deftly caught them and popped them back in) “People wanted revenge for the Water and Power scandal, “ he said. “They also wanted revenge for the Laurier Palace Fire.”

Funny that Houde brought that up, right then. I think anyway. 

27 alderman voted to accept my grandfather’s resignation, 8 ( Jewish aldermen among them) didn’t. 
My work-a-holic grandfather, 60 years old and in perfect health, would leave City Hall, still the second highest paid employee with  a huge pension of 8 thousand a year.

He would soon go bankrupt due to bad investments and the Depression, I guess. I have a ledger that shows he was betting on Greek olive oil and cheese...lol.

In 1937, he was run over by an off-duty policeman on Royal in NDG .  He died a little later from complications from the X-Rays he received for his broken bones.

My mother, 16 at the time of her father's death, always told me it was an accident that the policeman in question was quite contrite, she remembers.

Other older relations believed it was attempted murder.


Jules' brother, Isadore Crepeau,had died four years before, falling out his 7th floor St James Street office window!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

100 years ago, many women said they didn't want the vote.

Here's a 1909 Editorial from the Ladies' Home Journal claiming women don't want the vote, an oft-cited anti-woman-suffrage argument.

I write about it in Furies Cross the Mersey.


A Few 'Restless' Women
Suppose we take the noisy clamor for the right of women to vote and reduce it to a practical test or two. Now we are certainly led to believe by the speeches of the female suffragists, that the American women really want the ballot - in fact, that definite statement is repeatedly made.  But just what is meant by the phrase "the American Woman" isn't always made clear.  How large a part of American Womanhood does it include?  Let us take an expression or two direct from women. Not many years ago an American President received the customary petition that is familiar to every President, asking him to incorporate into his next message to Congress a recommendation that the subject of women's suffrage be seriously taken up with the view of giving women the right to vote. The President was fair-minded. He was willing to see both sides, so he determined to test the truth of the phrase in the petition, that is " this was practically the unanimous desire of American womanhood as a whole," but that "men had refused to recognize the fact." That evening he handed the petition to his wife and asked her "What do you think of that?" "I really don't know," she answered. "I have never thought about it." The President said, "but the petition says it is the unanimous desire of American women."
"Perhaps it is," she answered. "Why don't you find out. Pick fifty women whose opinion you respect and write and ask them."

The President did.

There were 46 answers. Thirty four had no desire at all to vote. They were 'too busy' or left politics to their husbands. Eleven were absolutely indifferent.  One lonely lady said "she might vote" but added "probably, when the time came, I wouldn't bother to vote." Here, then, were forty-odd intelligent, representative women, and yet not a single one actually wanted the ballot!

…The simple fact  of the matter is that the vast majority of American women have not only no desire to vote, but, to use their own words, they are not bothering about the question. This is the actual condition that American suffragists confront, not the antagonism of men, for men, as a body, are not antagonistic, they are indifferent, perfectly content to let women fight this question out among themselves and find consensus among themselves. And up to this date that consensus is distinctly that the average woman's common sense, and particularly her knowledge of her own sex, teaches her that she is unwilling to run the risks, which she knows, far better than men, would accompany an extension of the franchise to her sex.  The field of politics as a new excitement for a few restless American women is barred to them by their own sex
.
Ladies' Home Journal February 1909

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Militant Episode that Swayed Canadian War Politics

Barbara Wylie. She was pretty and well-dressed, so she confused the Montreal Press, who thought all British suffragettes were supposed to be battle-axes. 


Read Service and Disservice: How some Canadian Suffragists influenced the 1917 Conscription Crisis. On Amazon Kindle.


The Carrie Mulligan/Meryl Streep movie Suffragette was released in October - and if you think that a tale about beautiful suffragettes playing cat-and-mouse with the police is a "Hollywood" fiction, you are wrong.

It really happened.

And the truth is stranger than fiction.

A few years ago, while working on my book Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13 I traipsed over to the library at McGill to find a copy of Annie Kenney's 1930's autobiography.

Annie Kenney was Mrs. Pankhurst's First Lieutentant, a working class mill girl from Lancashire.

Two of her sisters, Nell and Caroline, lived in Montreal in the 1912 era and they got involved in the local movement. This, of course, intrigued me.

Well, the Kenney book tells a funny Cat-and-Mouse anecdote. Apparently, Annie Kenney once put on a grey wig and stuffed two plums in her cheeks to escape the police.

Very visual, eh? It would make a good scene in a movie, right?

As it turns out, all this crazy Cat-and-Mousing had an effect on the Canadian Suffrage Movement - and by extension on Canadian politics - and in a very specific way.

In August, 1913, Flora Macdonald Denison, President of the Canadian Suffrage Association, an organization started by the legendary Emily Howard Stowe, was in London, visiting with the militants.

In one day she attended two rallies. The first was at the London Pavilion, where she witnessed a very weak Annie Kenney speaking and where she also saw Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, who was on the lam, whisked away by police when she unexpectedly turned up. (Pankhurst had come just to meet with Flora McD.)

Denison then saw some suffragettes taken to a back room and heard violent noises and learned the next day that 'blood had been shed, by both suffragettes and police'.

That same day, Miss Barbara Wylie, her hostess (you can read about her in Furies Cross the Mersey) took her to the East End of London to a rally where Sylvia Pankhurst, also playing Cat and Mouse, was to speak.

Denison wrote a powerful description of the scene in her Toronto World column, a description that likely scared the bejeezus out of suffragists back home in Canada because she was deposed as CSA President soon thereafter and effectively pushed out of the Canadian suffrage movement.

Torontonian Constance Hamilton, a future Win-the-War fanatic, would launch her own National Equal Franchise Union and use her influence to help Premier Borden fix the vote in the 1917 election. Only women with close relations at the Front got to vote.

Canadian suffrage politics was a very complicated business during the World War One years and I will explain it all in my next book Service and Disservice. That ebook will be about the iffy involvement of all the Canadian Constitutional Suffragists in the 1917 Conscription Crisis, where they got plenty of youthful male blood on their hands.

Ironically, Denison was eligible to vote: her only son, Merrill, signed up in 1916.

Premier Borden banned the militant suffragettes from coming to Canada in 1912, but they came anyway. Barbara Wylie came for a year long cross-country tour in September 1912.  Caroline Kenney came over in November, 1912 and stayed for four years and started her own Equal Suffrage League. This REALLY scared the Canadian suffragists. 

Here's an excerpt from Denison's Toronto World Column, August, 1913

The crowd was filed with poorly clad women, but also was made up of 3/4 men, apparently. (This suffragette business in the East End was more about class, I guess.)

Syliva P had turned up disguised in a 'grand woman's clothes' and then peeled them off to reveal her humble dress of khaki. (Very theatrical.)


"What Sylvia Pankhurst had to say, she read from a paper. She had arranged, if it were possible, to escape the police, to take refuge in a small baker's shop directly opposite the hall. She said the police were many, but the men of Bow and Bromley were more and if they believed her cause to be right she believed they would protect her. The audience was a difficult one to manage, but to a man they shouted they would protect her.

First the nurses and two of these other women half carried her. Then a half dozen big strong men locked arms about the center group and then another group around them. They had a flight of stairs to go down before reaching the street. When they were about at the street door, the fire hose was turned on by policemen who were outside guarding the entrance. This caused a commotion. A girl dressed as Miss Pankhurst hurried up a side street with many of the crowd protecting her, the police followed and in the meantime, Sylvia Pankhurst was being put to bed in the humble bedroom of the poor baker's shop in Bow.

A spray of water made me turn around and the hose had become disconnected and a two and a half inch stream of water was fast flooding the hall. Miss Wylie and I started to leave the hall. Cries on all sides were "Heaven bless the angel." "Praise the Lord she has escaped." "Curses on the government."

When we got outside, the police were trying to disperse the crowd. The automobile of the WSPU was standing in front of the hall and Miss Emmerson asked me to get in. Miss Wylie thought it might be dangerous but I thought if a young woman like Miss Smith could drive the car through such a crowd, I could at least be a passive spectator, so I got in amid the cries of "We'll not let the police touch you."

As a matter of fact, the police had no wish to touch anyone. They were busy assisting women with babies, old lame men and protecting anyone who needed them in a terrible crush."


Well, you could imagine how Canadian Suffragists felt when reading this. Most thought that a peaceful march down the street was too militant. 

The Montreal Gazette Editorial that Scared the Suffragists

Edith Nicholson in her 'mannish' shirtwaist and the same shirtwaist in a Delineator Magazine. She also read the Ladies Home Journal writing in a letter home, "Curls are in this year. I read it in the Ladies' Home Journal."


In February 1913, an editorial cropped up in the Montreal Gazette. No doubt it was part of a 'disinformation' campaign to diss the suffrage movement and, most importantly, the militant British suffragettes who were invading Canada and Montreal and also making big headlines in the press (true and exaggerated) for their warrior-like ways at home.

This editorial is special for another reason: it just might be one the worst one ever written. It isn't really an editorial at all because it largely quotes someone else from another print venue.

I guess the Gazette Editors, all men, felt that they needed to quote a woman about suffragists.

I wonder what Edith Nicholson of Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster thought of this editorial, calling her and her ilk unfeminine and manly. She was such a girly girl when it came to fashion.

This editorial was published a few months after militant suffragette Barbara Wylie came to speak in Montreal and mocked British Prime Minister Asquith. Wylie had written a note to Votes for Women Magazine saying she had lined up a possible meeting at Royal Victoria Women's College of McGill.

  Caroline Kenney, sister of militant suffragette Annie Kenney, was possibly already in Montreal stirring up trouble. She gave a rabble-rousing speech in early March that did not impress your average Montrealer.

In late March, the Montreal Suffrage Association would  be launched and with a loud promise to be NON Militant and 'reasonable.'

Miss Ethel Hurlbatt, a suffragette sympathizer from London, England  and Matron at McGill's Royal Victoria College, the Women's College, did not sit on the board of the M.S.A. She had bowed out of suffrage activities at the Montreal Council of Women recently citing work conflicts.  This article may have been one reason why.


The Efficient Citizen 

So far, the severest condemnation of the militant suffragette has, apparently, come not from men, public or otherwise, but from women.

This, it may be said, is rather in the favor of the militant suffragette than otherwise, as it is well known that women are the harshest critics of women’s shortcomings or excesses.

We do not care to weigh the value of such a judgement from that point of view, but simply to note it as among the facts or considerations that may lead to the attainment of an ultimate just conclusion.

In the last issue of the National Review, Miss Helen Hamilton undertakes to account for the appearance in Great Britain of the militant suffragette by the taking of certain English schools.

As she has been a teacher herself, she probably knows something of what she is discussing.

Her article is headed “Suffragette Factories.”

She begins by representing the manufacturers as pointing proudly to the ‘finished article, the public school and college trained girl” as not a mere woman, but an “efficient citizen.”

This expression is, she says, a favorite one in certain scholastic circles. Miss Hamilton does not approve of it, although it has won the admiration of some simple parents. To her it is ‘inhuman, so superior – so neuter” suggesting to  a startled and unwilling world “an almost sexless creature.”

She knows that her statements may meet with contradiction and that it may be urged that school and college have had nothing to do with evolving such a type as the armed suffragist. But such a type could not, she holds, have come into being save by artificial means.

 It is well known that some of the militant suffragettes are highly educated women, and her education must, to some extent, have been responsible for her opinions. It is just after the completion of her training that she begins to reveal her most striking characteristics.

And what are the characteristics that she displays? “Independence, self-assertion, self-importance, a desire to make a mark in the world, a somewhat aggressive and dogmatic attitude toward others, especially to men, a want of tolerance to those whose opinions she does not share, combined with a contempt for ideals which are not her own.”

How so undesirable a type can have been developed, Miss Hamilton is at some pains to make clear to her readers.

The explanation lies in the fact that she has been educated on pretty much the same lines as a boy, and that, at the most impressionable period of her life, she came under the influence of women who had undergone a similar training.

If the influence is strong and the girl is by nature malleable, she discards the home and is subdued by the school influences, and develops into a ‘bad imitation of a man, in other words, into a suffragette type of woman.”

Another  influence on which Miss Hamilton lays stress is the varied succession of entertainments, rehearsals, literary clubs, debating societies, and other attractions and distractions, which make a constant demand on the girls’ time, and estrange her more and more from home and its claims. It may be thought that instructions in domestic science, cooking, sewing, house decoration and management ,  ought to be a counter –irritant, as it were, to the distractions, and make for love of domestic life. But Miss Hamilton’s experience has convinced her that girls who pass through courses rarely settle down at home.

But why do parents lose control of their daughters? Miss Hamilton says that mother have a blind faith, not untinged with fear in the college trained woman.

There is another reason for the alienation. After living for years by a time table, the girl of “the suffragette factory” is at a loss what to do with herself , when it is all over.  As for the general character of education, Miss Hamilton says that the pupil is crammed with a smattering of a multitudinous subjects.  The result is that often instead of finding pleasure in reading, she acquires a distaste for it. Art, which would stimulate the imagination and emotional qualities, is pushed into the background.

The Efficient Citizen: must be a creature  of reason blind to beauty and gentleness – otherwise she might develop into a "mere woman.” But the central aim of all this training is to give life and exercise to the ‘man vs woman spirit.” The girl is taught to compete with men in the same kind of work, and ignoring the fact that nature has given him an advantage in some kinds of labour, as he is physically stronger, she learns to look upon him as a tyrannical oppressor.In fine, Miss Hamilton concludes, the Efficient Citizen, who becomes the militant suffragette, has ‘shed her femininity” with all that made it attractive.

For her own part she has no use for such a hybrid.

Hmm. The word hybrid. Was it Hamilton's or the Gazette's? It suggests a non-human, doesn't it?


Next bit is about Auto Vehicle show. (Oddly, the Montreal Suffrage Association has a booth there the next year.|The motor show opens today in the Drill Hall on Craig Street and the 65th Armory on Pine Avenue will have on exhibition the latest devices in the way of automobile bliss, which are rapidly growing in favor in Montreal as elsewhere.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bye, Bye Blue Jays

Here's my snap of Kevin Pillar in a game in late June, I think, or was it July Against Baltimore at the Rogers Center. The Jays lost in extra innings.

I had good seats. Given to me, they were, But I had to pay the 300 dollar train trip to Toronto.

The Jays' season is over. An up and down one, for sure.

I only became a fan last year, with the other playoff run, the Bautista bat-flip one.

Before that, the last time I'd been to a ball game was in Montreal way back. I think my kids were around 6 and 8.

My brother, a huge fan, who, as a boy, searched the short wave universe for Yankees signal and who taught me to score the game,  was visiting us from Denmark. The blue plastic Big O roof was glued on. We had seats high up behind the plate. I hate to sit behind the plate.

The humidity was through the roof (not literally) and my brother drank about 17 beers and never once had to use the loo.

My husband and I spent a fortune on drinks and ice cream for the kids.

Two 'old' women, with grey concrete hair were smoking cigarettes in front of me. Choke. Choke.

I wrote about if for....hmmm. Compuserve?...The article was much funnier than this blog post.

Before that I hadn't been to a baseball game in years, either. Not since around 1980.

Lately, I've wanted to go to Fenway Park. I have a  1912 letter written by my husband's great Aunt Edie, where she says she is going to a game with her cousin, Henry, a Boston doctor. Fenway Park was opened that year, I believe.

Today, my husband tells me, is the anniversary of "Blue Monday."

I told him, I can't remember when it was.

35 years ago. He said.

"When I was a kid," I said.  I told him how my brothers and I were in the stands, behind 3rd base for that win where the Expos took the fore-shortened pennant.. or division. Can't recall. (I checked, division.)

Lots and LOTS of fun.

"You weren't a kid," my husband said. In 1981 you were grown up.


"Yea, right." The star players these days are pretty well the same age as my kids.

Yes, I was more than grown up. The next year I would get a job writing copy at CFCF radio.

CFCF was the baseball station, so I must have heard all about Blue Monday, in retrospect.

In the past few years, while on the treadmill, I tried to watch baseball, but I found it too boring.

And the spitting! And those retro haircuts! And those beards!

Then the Jays 2015 season and I realized, if you don't know the players, the stories, it's no fun.

Now, I know the stories. Russell Martin is a Montrealer. Who wudda guessed?  He's making,what? 82 million?

The game has changed a lot since the days of Dave Van Horne. Moneyball and all that. So, so technical.

Anyway, in 1982, I wrote an ad for Dick Irvin, the hockey broadcaster, and he said he'd get me hockey tickets as a thank you.

I said "I prefer baseball tickets." Not a nice thing to say.

Actually, I liked hockey too, back then, but I didn't like the stands in the Forum. I get vertigo.


Monday, October 10, 2016

The Very Pretty and Very Angry British Suffragette Who Came to Canada in 1912

What's left of the September 1912 clipping from the Witness about Barbara Wylie's arrival in Montreal.


I've written a great deal about Miss Barbara Wylie, suffragette, here on this blog. She figures in my ebook Furies Cross the Mersey, the story of the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.

The first time I heard her name (well, read her name) was when I found the Nicholson family letters and the yellowed press clippings saved by Edith Nicholson, one of which was about Wylie's Montreal landing on September 28, 1912.

The story was written in a semi-comical tone. Apparently all the reporters almost missed her, expecting a real battle-ax to de-train, but getting a tall, slim pretty girl, instead, and one attended by a male escort!

They interviewed her on the fly and asked her about a summer incident in England, where a suffragette threw an axe at Prime Minister Asquith.

"If it had hit him, it might have knocked some sense into him," she replied.

The reporters knew of Miss Wylie. She was one of three suffragettes who accosted Canadian Prime Minister Borden in London in August, demanding the vote for Canadian women.

This had prompted Borden is September, 1912 to ban suffragettes from coming to Canada. I guess the ban didn't work.

Wylie, from WSPU Magazine, September 1912, mentioning her trip to Canada. Her visit was official!

Anyway, as I start work on my sequel to Furies Cross the Mersey, Service and Disservice, about the Conscription Crisis and the involvement of the women suffragists of Canada, I started to read about Wylie's Toronto visit.

Wylie arrived in Montreal on September 28th, and she was invited to speak at a parlour gathering at Mrs. Kathleen Weller's Westmount home.

Mrs. Weller was with the Montreal Women's Club and would become a leader in the Montreal Suffrage Association 1913-1919 She also mounted the Montreal Suffrage Exhibition in February 1913.

(She was a closet suffragette sympathizer, who visited England in 1913 to learn more about the movement.)

The newspaper report from this Montreal meeting says the women were not convinced by Wylie, although Wylie wrote to Votes for Women Magazine saying the ladies  snapped up her copies of  said magazine and she also got 3 women to take out subscriptions.

Wylie later gave a rousing talk at the YMCA in Montreal, in November, a talk that is in Furies Cross the Mersey, but in between, in October, she  made a visit to  Toronto.

The trip didn't work out, apparently.

Her August meeting with Borden had made the front page of the Toronto Star. At that meeting she 'bragged' to Borden that she had been to jail.

The Toronto star covered her October visit in a condescending, mocking tone, as if Wylie was a curiosity of some sort, an angry, well-bred little girl.

Wylie was pretty, well-dressed and a 'college-girl' so they had to report about her, out of respect. They didn't have to like what she said, though.

And what she said was pretty incendiary, if the quotes are correct.

 (One article did mention that the British suffragists had reason to be upset and were being badly treated. A window-breaking suffragette was dragged into a Private Club and flogged, apparently.)

The Toronto Star claimed there were a few members of Pankhurst's WSPU in the Ontario city (Denison? Hamilton?) but no suffragist in Toronto wanted to host Miss Wylie.

But Wylie did end up giving  a talk at the home of the Secretary of the Toronto Local Council.

In October, all told, Wylie spoke to Toronto reporters a few times and gave one public talk to a men's group.

Wylie was described as a "fiery young creature" and an "up-to-date and well-gowned avenging archangel."

She said: "I would as soon fill Parliament with a lot of Teddy Bears than with men."

Also: "So long as  you set all in a row, with your mouths open, you will get nothing. You need the termagant spirit."

 "I would carry a gun and not be afraid to use it and no jury in the land would convict me because it would be in self-defense."

"Any woman who sits down under the colossal wrongs of woman kind is damning her own soul."

In March, 1913 there was a famous suffrage march in Washington. Prominent Toronto suffragists participated. Speaking to the press about this march, Constance Hamilton, head of a Toronto Equal Suffrage League, quoted from a letter of support she had recently received from Miss Barbara Wylie.

Hamilton would one year later launch her own National Organization, the National Equal Franchise League, and steal half of the Canadian Suffrage Association's membership saying that Flora MacDonald Denison, the CSA President, was a brazen Pankhurst supporter.

Wylie went back to England in May 1913, but not before a trip out West, where she had better luck with populace and even acquired a few supporters.

Back home, she was soon arrested in a protest in front of His Majesty's Theatre.

Here's the pic:








Militant Moles in Montreal

A patriotic cartoon in the South Shore Press, the St. Lambert newspaper, in very early WWI. The  local newspaper was full of war propaganda stories and photos of war, too. I hope I can find a picture of the suffrage play, How the Vote Was Won, put on in September, 1914. It's a long shot, but still worth going to the Archives in Ottawa to find out.

I am writing Service and Disservice, about the Canadian suffragists and their iffy involvement in the 1917 Conscription Election. It is a follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Montreal, Canada in 1912/13.  

The 'maternal' suffragists of Canada did not allow the feisty young unmarried equal-rights suffragettes into the national movement, but some of them managed to sneak in.


Yes, I guessed right.

Caroline Kenney, sister of WSPU militant suffragette Annie Kenney, did participate in a suffrage play in Montreal put on by the Montreal Suffrage Association, an organization that promised at launch to be 'sane' and 'reasonable' and to 'go about a quiet education of the people.'

Caroline had launched her own more militant local organization in December, 1913, the Equal Suffrage League. She was the one (probably) who threatened to hold a 'suffrage tramp' from Montreal to Ottawa in the Spring of 1913, that forced the Montreal Anglo Elite women to start up the MSA, a very exclusive club where, to become a member, required an endorsement from two executive members.



The MSA was an organization made up of  elite women and men; stodgy men, mostly professors and clergymen, all of whom simply DETESTED Mrs. Pankhurst and her militant suffragette troops.

One clergyman said at the launch press conference, in March, 1913, that he hoped the suffragettes starved to death in jail.

And, yet, there were many women on the Board of the M.S.A. who greatly admired Mrs. Pankhurst and the militant suffragettes, mostly in secret.

Some of these women admired the militants A LOT, like author Frances Fenwick Williams, Press Secretary, and Mrs. Kathleen Weller, Literature Committee, the wife of a prominent 'transport and electricity' man, who appeased the fear-mongers and mounted a successful suffrage exhibit in Montreal in February 1913, by making it all about red valentines and sweet suffragette chocolates and sunny jonquils.

On the surface, anyway. In the basement you could hear debates and find the latest feminist literature for your personal library.

It was Frances Fenwick Williams who put on the suffrage play "How The Vote Was Won" using the St. Lambert Players. The Gazette claimed the acting was very good.


That was my clue.

Annie Kenney's older sister, Nell,  a former British suffragette, lived in St. Lambert with her husband. Frank Randall Clarke of the Montreal Witness.

How The Vote was Won was just the kind of play the clergymen on the MSA board were afraid of!



But it was put on as a fundraiser for the Patriotic Fund right at the beginning of WWI, so, I guess, they hardly could complain.


Above: A character speaks for the anti-suffragists in How The Vote Was Won. Below: A woman speaks her side. (from Hathitrust.org where you can read the whole thing.)


I know, for a fact, because it is in the minutes of the MSA, that the production was planned before the declaration of War in Europe, in February, 1914 by a group called the Fidelis Players, who wanted the MSA to back it, but the Executive refused. That society was run by Miss Brittain, a spinster teacher member of the M.S.A. but not on the executive.

I suspect if war hadn't broken out, Montreal might have had a genuine militant suffrage movement. Maybe.

Canadian Suffragettes on the March - A UNIQUE photograph.



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.

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, the MSA 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. Oh, but they are all Ontario suffragists.
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,1917.

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.

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  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.  The same Mrs. Scott at the Montreal Council of Women 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.

Well, 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 Conscription, but not Montreal.)

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.

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  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.'



The Reporter who Rescued a Suffragette and Spirited her off to Montreal.



The Suffragette Movement is a 'romantic' movement, in that we've romanticized these social activists, to a degree.

It will be interesting to see how Carrie Mulligan/Meryl Streep's new movie, Suffragette, will deal with history. The movie is slated for release in October.

We forget how much these suffragettes were feared and loathed in 1912/13 by many people, even by those people who wanted women to get the vote.

But I've just uncovered a TRULY romantic Hollywood-Style romance about one  of Mrs. Pankhurst's troops.


And, yea, it's got a Montreal angle!

I've written an ebook, Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.It's available on Amazon.

Mrs. Pankhurst visited Canada on two occasions to speak. She made just one visit to Montreal, in late 1911.  She was the guest of the Montreal Council of Women. Carrie Derick, Past-President, had requested that she be invited to the city, 'to hear the other side of the question.'

Barbara Wylie of the WSPU came to Canada in early September, 1912 and stayed until 1913.  In her speeches, Wylie  bragged about having been to jail.

The pretty suffragette traveled all the way to British Columbia, during a winter of record cold.

 Then she returned to England and became the spokesperson for Mrs. Pankhurst for a while - and then she got arrested in a protest in front of His Majesty's Theater in London.  You can read all about her Canadian escapades in Furies Cross the Mersey.

Caroline Kenney, sister of prominent militant Annie Kenney, came to Montreal, Canada in December, 1912 and stayed a few years.

Iconic Image of Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst.

I'm the one who figured this out: no biographer had done so before.

 I write about Caroline in my Furies book, too, and will write more in the follow up, Service and Disservice about the years 1913-19 and the Conscription Crisis of 1917.

Caroline came to stay with her older sister Nell in St. Lambert. I have seen her immigration documentation. She intended to stay in the country and work as a teacher.


While in Montreal, she helped found, in late 1913, the Montreal Equal Suffrage League. It was to be a group made up of militants and non-militants.The ESL didn't get much press. Caroline, herself, gave a couple of talks upon her arrival, to a Jewish Group and to the Women's Temperance Union.

She got bad press for her first talk, about the "Evolution of Militancy." Militancy was a very dirty word in Montreal and Canadian suffrage circles in 1912/13, even though many, many women sympathized with Mrs. Pankhurst's WSPU.

Caroline's sister, Nell, had immigrated to Canada in 1909 and married Frank Randall Clarke, a journalist, late of the Daily Mail of London.

 I figured out that Nell Kenney had acted on behalf of Mrs. Pankhurst's militants in 1908 in England. There are mentions of her meetings in Votes for Women Magazine.

And, just lately, I read an account of that romantic 'suffragette' story I told you about.

 Lyndsey Jenkins, an Oxford scholar, soon to release a new biography of prominent British Suffragette Lady Constance Lytton (and now researching the Kenney Family) sent me a certain biographical document saying that Frank Randall Clarke met Nell at an election rally for Lord Asquith, one she disrupted on behalf of the suffragettes.

The police fell on Nell hard, apparently. (Naturally!)  And who came to her rescue? A young reporter covering the Asquith speech, one Frank Randall Clarke.


Clarke fell in love with the suffering suffragette, followed her to her 'safe haven' in England and ...well... the document says he married her in England.. but, that's not right.

I have seen their marriage certificate. They came to Canada in 1909 and married here in Montreal.

It seems that they had to get out of England quickly.

Now, isn't that romantic? Reeealllly  romantic? Hollywood-style romantic?

I'd say so.

I see nothing in the newspapers to indicate Nell worked for the suffrage cause while in Montreal, but by 1913 she had two infants.

Frank Randall Clarke's new place of work, the Montreal Witness Newspaper, was for woman suffrage, but covered the British Suffragettes in the most sensational way! See the pic at top.


Still, I can see from the membership list of the Montreal Suffrage Association that St. Lambert, a community of Anglos south of Montreal Island, was an enclave of suffragists. The MSA had lots of members from that place. (The MSA, upon launch in 1913, promised to be peaceful and reasonabland to go about a quiet education of the people.)

 That seemed weird to me at first.  Why St. Lambert, of all places?

Now, I know why. A dyed-in-the-wool militant suffragette moved there in 1912-13, at the height of the movement, at the height of all the controversy.

Anyway, Frank Randall Clarke became a prominent social activist in Montreal, lobbying for better labour conditions, and the author of the biographical document assumes that Nell helped him along.

His fonds are at the McCord Museum in Montreal. They include photos of the Royal Princes on their Montreal visits, wearing suits so sleek, so finely threaded, they shimmer, and also pictures of homeless men during the Depression sleeping in their rags on park benches.

Whatever, Frank Randall Clarke appeared to adore his wife all through their time together. They had more children.



Mrs. Pankhurst in WWI. THe Voice of the Martyr

Mrs. Pankhurst spoke in Toronto Canada on two occasions before the start of WWI. She visited in 1916, recruiting in Toronto and talking on behalf of the Serbs in Montreal.


Here is proof that Flora Macdonald Denison, Toronto journalist, continued to be active with the Canadian Suffrage Association, even after she was kicked out as the President in 1914.

The following  article is from the 1916  Bon Echo Sunset, a literary magazine Denison edited.

 Denison is discussing Mrs. Pankhurst. She says that Mrs. Pankhurst is an effective wartime speaker only because she has been a martyr in peacetime - so the mothers of Canada, who must give up their sons to the war, can relate to her.

Denison, supposedly, was ousted as President of the CSA because of her vocal support for the militant Mrs. Pankhurst.

This article, I'm assuming, is in the public domain. Flora Denison died in 1921.

...."What a difference whether one is for or against the government.

Before the war the world was ringing with the name of Mrs Pankhurst, because she had the courage to defy the British Government, break its laws, get imprisoned, hunger strike, thirst strike and sleep strike,  and do all manner of outrageous and difficult things –get herself punished so that she was time and again at the very doors of death.All for what reason?

For Democracy’s sake – that she might have a say in the Government that made the laws that governed her.

Her daughter, Christabel, had passed her legal examinations, but could not practice her profession because of her sex.

Mrs. Pankhurst was acknowledged by all to be a woman of the rarest ability.

Refined and gentle, but with a volcanic force and fire that swayed vast audiences to do and dare and sacrifice for her cause.

Surely she had a real grievance – the British Government not only denied her the right to vote, but had even denied her the right to petition.

The boasted democracy of England was but a name when it came to their women.

They were being flung in and out of prison- ghastly victims – under the “Cat and Mouse” Act.
War is declared against Germany –WHY?- because of German autocracy, because German ideals are ‘might makes right’ and England says ‘right is might.’

England calls for all the Empire’s sons from all colonies to come fight for Democracy, to help keep the flag of freedom waving.

Help – and the Empire – rallied around the flag.

Then Mrs. Pankhurst, English first and Democrat second, called a truce. She was pardoned and she has been with the government ever since.

Twice before Mrs. Pankhurst had been in Canada; she loomed large both in Canada and the United States.

She gave an impetus to women’s suffrage that all must acknowledge and that now nothing can stop, and her very name was anathema in government circles.

Today, she is in favour with the government. She is fighting with them and not against them.

From 1916 Toronto Sunday World Newspaper.

It is an easy role that she is playing now.

But is the government, today, any less guilty today in its attitude toward its women?
Premiere Asquith says, “Two years ago we did not know we had such a wonderful woman.”

He knew right well (and no one knows better than he how wonderful is Mrs. Pankhurst) but did he give her the vote then, and has he given her the vote now, after acknowledging the country’s debt to them?

What has this all to do with Mr. Hearst, Premier of Ontario?

Well, the other day, the Canadian Suffrage Association waiting on Mr. Hearst.
The deputation was received ‘graciously’ – whatever that may mean.

Dr. Margaret Gordon was armed with 40 referenda,including Toronto, on the basis of awarding married women the vote on the same basis of widows and spinsters..

Dr. Stowe-Gullen showed conclusively that the organized women of Canada wanted the vote,there being only one dissenting organization in the whole Dominion.

Dr. Margaret Gordon, a staunch Conservative, wanted the Ontario government to do the big thing, since the Ontario women had done such noble and self-sacrificing work.

Flora Macdonald Denison (me)reminded the Premier of how eulogistic the men of Canada were about the women now the war has broken out.

Mr. Hearst said that Mrs. Pankhurst had done more to popularize the suffrage since the war than she did before, and that he would give more for unorganized opinion than organized.

As a matter of fact, if Mrs. Pankhurst had not been known before the war, anything she has done since would simply have made her one of thousands, not one of millions.

No,Mr Hearst, it is the martyr’s voice from Holloway Prison that has made her the power she is now for the Conservative government, since the war.

Why do we not hear of Mrs. Millicent Fawcett, a brilliant scholar and head of all the Constitutional Suffrage Associations in England, while Mrs. Pankhurst never had but a handful of followers?

Mr. Asquith always praised Mrs. Fawcett’s lady-like demeanor, but he never gave her the vote.

He refused Mrs. Pankhurst the right of petition, and Mrs. Pankhurst made him the laughing stock of the whole world, dodging down coal shoots and over back-fences trying to escape her.

When she needed help for her democratic ideals, he threw her into jail.

When he calls for help for his democratic ideals, she calls a truce and helps him.

And it is not that England is right, but that Germany is more wrong and of the two evils, Mrs. Pankhurst must choose the least, and that is all."




 Read Furies Cross the Mersey, the story of the British Invasion of Militant Suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13. The follow up will be Service and Disservice, about the Canadian suffragists during the war and the Conscription Crisis.