Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Final Resting Place of Two Feisty Women in Montreal

This is the grave marker of Frank Randall Clarke and Sarah Ellen Kenney Clarke of Montreal and their children.

It's in the Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.

Dorothy's death, just the day before Christmas, 2015,  has not been etched in yet!

Did you know that Anna Leonowens of King and I fame is buried in this cemetery? (She was head of the Foundling Hospital in 1910, I believe.)

Also, a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool Pankhurst suffragette.

Nell Kenney was active in the early stages of the UK militant movement. Her sister, Annie Kenney, went on to be a key player, Mrs. Pankhurst's first lieutenant, so to speak.

The Kenney's were former Lancashire mill workers.

According to one source, Frank Randall Clarke was covering an Asquith election meeting when Nell started kicking up a fuss. The police descended on her and Frank spirited her away, all the way to Montreal where they married in 1909 . They eventually settled in St. Lambert.

I see I have to change a scene from Furies Cross the Mersey, my ebook about the 1912/13 British invasion of militant suffragettes to Montreal,  available on Amazon Kindle.

In the quasi-fictional book, I  have Sarah (Nell) and her sister Caroline meet up with two wannabe suffragettes in Montreal at the Edinburgh Cafe on Ste. Catherine, in March, 1913.

Caroline tells these wannabes, who are McGill RVC students, that Nell is exhausted because she has two babes in arms. But, at the time, she actually had three!

In my book, Caroline gives the students the idea to have a march, something that is JUST NOT DONE in Montreal or in Canada.

Caroline Kenney, who was here in Montreal from 1912 to 1915,  tried to start a march, herself, from Montreal to Ottawa to meet the Prime Minister.

I'm guessing it was her.

Caroline was with the Equal Suffrage League. She co- founded the ESL.

The Montreal Equal Suffrage League was more militant than the more famous Montreal Suffrage Association, Professor Carrie Derick's association.

That wasn't hard. The Montreal Suffrage Association was made up of McGill Professors and Pankhurst-hating clergymen.

I've written all about it on this blog and in FURIES CROSS THE MERSEY.

Caroline Kenney also figures in the follow up book, Service and Disservice, about the Canadian suffragists and their involvement in the Conscription Crisis of 1917.

Here's the Scene from Furies Cross the Mersey on

“I must tell you something sort of secret,” says Caroline. “I have been sent here by Mrs. Pankhurst. I am a true suffragette, trained by the WSPU. We have another sister, Annie, Annie Kenney, who is in the thick of it right now, in England.

“She is in Holloway Jail on a hunger strike,” says Caroline. “Mrs. Pankhurst is on house arrest. They took her out of jail and put her in a nursing home. They made a special law. They didn’t want her to die in jail and become a martyr. They will do the same to Annie if she becomes too weak. Did you know? A thousand suffragettes have been arrested, all told.”

“That must make you happy,” says Mathilda. “That they won’t let your sister die.”

“It certainly makes me sis a little less miserable,” Caroline Kenney answers, motioning toward Nell with a small, white hand that is missing the tip of the index finger.  

“She’s been in the thick of the activism herself. That’s how she met her husband, you know.  My older sister interrupted one of Asquith’s speeches, in Nuneaton, in 1909. Frank was covering the speech for his newspaper, the Daily Mail. He saw Nell getting manhandled by the police, so he rushed to protect her. Isn’t that romantic? The Clarkes brought me here to keep me out of trouble, but they haven’t been able to.  Not entirely. I gave a talk to the Jewish Community last week. They were very impressed with what I had to say. They even wrote about it in their National newspaper.”

“We wish we could do our part, too,” says Mathilda. “A march,maybe. But they don’t march here in Montreal. It’s against the law.”

Caroline continues. “Yes, I know. So everyone here seems to believe. They have more liberty in America, don’t they?  In the United States they march and more. Did you read about the huge parade in Washington, with Inez Milholland leading the way on a beautiful white horse carrying the colours of the WSPU? "