Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Famous Canadian Suffrage Leader of 1917 was a Pacfist who got to Vote in the 1917 election

Here's an item  revealing that in 1917 Mrs. Chapman Catt, American Suffrage leader, used  Flora MacDonald Denison of Toronto to help promote the Votes For Women cause in New York State.

Right spank in the middle of the very messy Canadian conscription crisis!

Poor Flora. She had been kicked upstairs by Canadian Suffragists in 1914, who did not like her feminist, free-love ways.

That year, in Canada, the social reform suffragists, led by Constance Hamilton, from the wealthy Rosedale section of Toronto, took over from the Equal Rights suffragists, led by Augusta Stowe Gullen, a doctor and Flora MacD, a mere seamstress and lowly journalista.

It is all in my book Service and Disservice, the follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey, the story of the British Invasion of militant suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.

Thanks to this misspelling of Denison's last name, I found an interesting tidbit online in a Pittsburg newspaper.

The report is from 1913 and mentions the Washington Suffrage Parade and the the Canadian delegation, led by Denison.

This is the straw that broke the camel's back, as far as I can see. (And I've already put it in the first draft of my  book.)

Here, Denison is described as the Great Canadian Suffrage Leader in that enormous 1913 American parade and Mrs. Hamilton of Toronto's Equal Suffrage League probably thought she was the one who should lead the Canadian movement, being a much more sensible women, British born, and very well-married to boot.

So, in March 1914, Hamilton mounted a successful coup and started her own National Equal Franchise Union that did little to promote Canadian woman suffrage during WWI except when backing the Wartime Elections Act of 1917 that gave the vote only to women with men dead or active at the Front.

Some thought the Wartime Elections Act to be  'affront to democracy' or shameless gerrymandering. I think it is an embarrassing bit of feminist history largely ignored by historians.

Ironically, pacifist Denison was eligible to vote in the 1917 election: her son, Merrill, had signed up and was an ambulance driver at the Front.

So, these Ontario suffragists wore red hats! Now this picture from the Toronto Sunday World is clearer. This is the ONLY picture of Canadian suffragists marching that you will ever see.