Saturday, February 13, 2016

Parades, Processions and Tramps


The Thomas Fisher Library at U of T reminded me of Labyrinth at Expo67. 

I went there to see the collection of Flora Macdonad Denison papers. 

I have written a book, Service and Disservice, about the iffy involvement of the Canadian Suffragettes in the 1917 Conscription Crisis.

For this book, Service and Disservice,  I have five Canadian suffragists tell their side of the story, Flora one of them. 

I make no secret of the fact that Flora MacD is my favorite suffagist.

Flora's papers contained little about Montreal or the Conscription Crisis. In 1917, she is in a bad way financially, apparently, and working for the New York suffragists, who seem to appreciate her much more than the Canadian ones.

But, the American suffrage movement was much less anal than ours.

The poster below was in the collection. (This one is from the Library of Congress website.)

The 1913 Washington Suffrage parade, which Flora attended, was called a procession.The colours of the poster I saw were in the green purple and white of the militant  WSPU. Rosalie Jones, of New York, held a 'tramp' to get to the Washington procession.

Here's Flora et al in the very same Washington parade. 

One of the other Ontario suffragists in the picture is Constance Hamilton, of the Toronto Equal Franchise League, who conspired to have Flora thrown out as leader of the Canadian movement in March, 1914.

Here's a quote from the Flora MacD Denison papers:

"From the time of the formation of the Equal Franchise League (1912) the society has displayed a spirit of antagonism to Chief National Officers, and since its affiliation its members have adopted an obstructive tactics which were incompatible to the harmonious cooperation of the Executive Council and an absolute detriment to progressive work."

So, right from the start, as soon as Mrs. Hamilton, a social reformer, adopted the suffrage cause, she wanted to take over the entire movement.

I figured out that it is likely Miss Carrie Derick of Montreal who convinced Constance Hamilton to adopt women suffage. Derick had been thrilled with the 'success' of the Montreal Council of Women in the 1910 Municipal Elections in the city, getting the 'spinster' vote out and putting a new 'reform' ticket in at City Hall.

Derick referred to it as a 'purification' of corrupt Montreal City Hall.

I really hoped to find correspondence between Derick or any Montreal suffragist and Denison in the papers, but no.

Derick and Denison did not correspond,although they surely knew each other and worked together at the National Council of Women.

Derick joined the National Equal Franchise Union as a VP as soon as it was founded by Hamilton  in 1914.

I did find something most interesting in the files: a brochure (just typed on plain yellow paper) belonging to the Equal Suffrage League of Montreal  with their 1914-15 agenda - where Frances Fenwick Williams, a member of the Montreal Suffrage Association, was a speaker!

FFW figures in Service and Disservice, too.

Caroline Kenny, sister of British militant Annie Kenney, founded the Montreal Equal Suffrage League, but wasn't mentioned on the sheet.

I know for a fact that  Caroline was a teacher on the Protestant Board that year, so maybe she had to give up the suffrage advocacy. 

She had played a part in How the Vote Was Won, mounted at the start of WWI, in October 1914, by Frances Fenwick Williams for the Montreal Suffrage Association.

The Montreal Equal Suffrage League had a slogan: "To go in with man, not to get from man, is the goal of women's freedom."

A Mildrid Bain was on the board , as was a Netta B. Brown, Rose Henderson, James A. Wright, Hilda Harrison. They held a mock parliament (or planned to hold) in May of 1915. When was Nellie McClung's? 1914, I think.

I looked up Rose Henderson on the newspaper database and can see that she is a probation officer. In March, 1914, just as Denison and Hamilton's feud was peaking, she attended a feminist talk in Montreal with Caroline Kenney... and Caroline is identified as the sister of British militant Annie. (That wasn't the case before, from what I can see.)