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.

Who is a Political Prisoner?









I was transcribing this piece from VOTES FOR WOMEN, May 27, 1910.. for my story, Edith's Story, the follow up to Threshold Girl and I realized that this piece is relevent to the discussion happening today. (Well, things. Do they ever change?)

 Militant Suffragettes were considered hooligans by many and treated as such by politicians like the Home Secretary (who was Winston Churchill at this time, I think) but this beautifully written article proves otherwise.

Of all the actions of the Suffragettes none have been so widely misunderstood as the prison mutiny and the hunger strike. Even among those who have nothing but admiration for the women who have faced ill-usage and imprisonment for protesting at Cabinet Minister’s meetings, or for taking part in deputations  to the Prime Minister at the House of Commons, there are many who regard the hunger strike not merely as tactically and perhaps morally wrong, but as justifying to some extent the statement that the militant Suffragists are hysterical and unbalanced.

This criticism is partly due to the fact that the prison mutiny and hunger strike were the latest phase of militancy – and it has been a noteworthy feature at every stage of the present campaign that critics have fastened upon the latest militant methods for attack, while condoning and even sometimes expressing approval of earlier militant methods – and partly due to the fact that the outside public have never properly realized that there was an important principle underlying the apparently unaccountable behaviour of the Suffragettes in prison.

To incur WANTONLY additional punishment in prison, to undergo GRATUITOUSLY the terrible ordeal of starvation, to submit to the torture and forcible feeding rather than act rationally – these might be evidences of hysteria; but to determine, FOR A SUFFICIENTLY IMPROTANT PURPOSE, on a course of action without flinching, and to carry it through to the bitter end – these are evidences of a well-balanced mind and an heroic and untameable spirit.

To understand the action of the Suffragettes it is necessary to go back in history and trace in brief the treatment which has been adopted in past centuries and in other countries towards those who, like the present day Suffragettes, have incurred imprisonment, not on account of degrading crimes implying moral turpitude, but on account of actions taken with a political object.

In ancient days shoe who conspired to reform the government were dealt with barbarously; first they were tortured, then they were killed, and finally their bodies were mutilated. Later on, though the death penalty was still enacted, the savage accompaniments were omitted. As times advance, public opinion demanded greater and greater differentiation between the treatment of ordinary criminals punished for their selfish anti-social actions and that of men and women who had run counter to the law in consequence of their political views.

Even in the Bastille, we find political prisoners given considerable privileges; thus Parades was allowed to have what books he pleased, to carry on correspondence, and to be visited by friends. In the early part of the last century Cobbett was imprisoned in this country; not only did he have books and correspondence, but he was actually allowed to have the constant company of one of his children, who took up his abode in the prison to be with him. The condition of the political prisons of Neapolitan King Bomba in the forties raised a storm of indignation in the is country, because though they had certain privileges as to writing and reading, they were in other respects treated as common criminals and subjected to unhealthy and degrading conditions.

From the commencement, in dealing with the Suffrage prisoners, the Government departed from this honourable tradition.

Christobel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney, in October 1905, were sentenced to the third division in Strangways Gaol, Manchester, and were thus classed as the lowest criminals.  Again in July, 1906, Annie Kenney and the others suffered imprisonment in the second division (a slightly better class, but still totally different from that allotted to political offenders.) In October 1906, ten more women were arrested and nine were sent to the second division and one to the third. This time, considerable feeling  was aroused, because among the number was the daughter of Richard Cobden.

Liberal members appealed to the Home Secretary, Mr. Gladstone, and he made representations to the magistrate, and they were transferred to the first division and received treatment approximating to that of political prisoners. For some twelve months, this practice prevailed, then once again, the old methods was adopted. Suffrage prisoners were sent to the second and in some cased to the third division and there suffered the full  treatment of prison discipline. Visitors and correspondence were only allowed at rare intervals, and the latter was always open to inspection by the authorities. Permission was refused Christabel Pankhurst to write a book in prison, which was not to have been published until she came out.

At first women suffrage prisoners accepted this without protest the punishment which was meted out to them; their compassion for the ordinary prisoners (many of whom for quite trivial offences were being treated in a way which would evidently unfit them for life when they came out) prompted them to protest rather against the whole system of prison treatment than against the absence of differentiation in their favour.

But as time went on they realized that by remaining silent on this matter they were allowing the traditions of proper treatment of political offenders  to be abrogated, and in order that the future political prisoners might not suffer It was necessary to protest.
At first their protest was confined to words; the Home Secretary appealed to. He refused to make any change, and offered two excused for his position – firstly, that the matter was one for the magistrate and not for himself, secondly, that the offenses were ordinary breaches of the law and to be punished as such. To these he subsequently added a third excuse to the effect that the prisoners had for a time been put in the first division but had abused their privileges. There is an element of inconsistency in these replies, which are to some extend mutually destructive, but in addition each can be directly answered.

The Home Secretary undoubtedly possesses the power by the use of the Royal Prerogative of mercy to order the removal of a prison to a higher class. Even without using this he can make recommendations to the magistrate, as was actually done in 1906. …

With regard to the second assertion, that the Suffragettes are not political offenders, we have the decision of an English Court in the year 1891 in the extradition case of Rex vs. Cathioni, in which it was laid down that an offence is political if it is committed with a political object, even thought it be the offence of murder itself. Moreover, we have the test offered by the Rr. Honorable Gladstone, of public opinion , whether in the eyes of the public the offender is considered guilty of moral turpitude.
According to both these, all the women suffrage prisoners have been political offenders.
As for Mr. Gladstone’s third excuse, no charge was ever made at the time, nor has any charge whatever been formulated since.

When Mrs. Pankurst and Christable Pankhurst had been in prison together in the autumn of 1908, Mrs. Pankhurst had claimed the right to speak to her daughter while in exercise. This led to a severe reproof from the wardresses, which roused the anger of the other suffragettes present., who made a protest.  Punishments were meted out all around, and Mrs. Pankhurst was kept in close confinement, but at length, the Government gave in and she was permitted to talk to her daughter at stated times.

It was not, however, till June 1909, that prison tactics were decided on by the members of the WSPU, as a definite ploy. The essential feature was that a claim was to be made for treatment as political offenders. If this was disregarded a protest was to be made inside the walls of the prison. This would take the shape of a passive resistance to prison regulations, to wearing prison dress, to confinement in separate cells, to routines of prison life; and this was to be followed by breaking the windows of the cells, at once a vigorous protest against prison discipline and a concrete and effective method o f remedying a serious abuse, the absence of proper ventilation.

All these methods were, in fact, carried out, but by the heroic courage of one woman a still more terrible method was been put into operation. Miss Wallace Dunlop adopted as the strongest protest she could make, a method used in the Russian Prisons by the prisoners –hunger strike. The hunger strike is passive resistance carried to its supreme limit. It offers no active resistance to wrong, but it frankly stakes life in the effort to win justice.

Mrs Wallace Dunlop said in effect to the Government; “I hold the rights of political prisoners so sacred that I am willing to die in their defence; choose, therefore, between doing justice and allowing me to die in prison.”

It was a terrible step to take, involving untold suffering as well as risk of life, but Mrs. Wallace Dunlop with a full sense of seriousness of what she was doing, had made up her mind and intended to go through with what  she had undertaken. In sprite of threats and cajoling, in spite of great physical distress, she remained firm. And the end of four days, the Government gave in. They would not give her political treatment, it is true, but equally, they would not let her die in prison. They ordered her release.

Thirteen other woman suffrage prisoners who went to Holloway a few days later also adopted the hunger strike. They first they carried out the protest against prison discipline which they had premeditated. For this they had to face the severe rigours of prison punishment, close confinement for  several days without exercise in narrow, airless and semi dark cells, and under under these conditions may of them faced hunger for three, four, five and some for over six days.

 In the end they all won; their spirit proved triumphant over physical suffering. They were released by  order of the Government lest that great releaser, Death should free them from their bondage before their sentences expired.

An Anti-Suffragette Editorial: A Really Stupid One

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.

Of Suffragettes and Settlers


Barbara Wylie, Beautiful Militant Suffragette who came to Canada in 1912  for many reasons, it seems.


1912 was the year Canada accepted the most new citizens, in proportion to the population.  That was the 'immigration boom' era.

What the Powers-that-Be were looking for were strapping types to work the farms out west, as in families with lots of boys.  Technical World Magazine of 1910 said they were building a new town a day out in Western Canada.


The ethnicity of preference was the Yorkshireman, except they were finding that men from the North of England didn't make ideal farmers for wheat in the blistering cold.

Non anglos, like Slavs, were better suited to the task.

I've already written a lot about the immigration boom on this blog, about how Maclean's magazine wrote an article about 'refining new citizens' in the same way our refine wheat, through the children, through the schools.


But,  yesterday, while researching my new book Service and Disservice about the iffy involvement of the Canadian suffragists in the 1917 Conscription Crisis where these strapping new citizens were suddenly turned on due to WWI (a follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey available on Amazon Kindle) I came across something new and interesting.

I was looking up Barbara Wylie, the WSPU militant suffagette who came to Canada in 1912 and who I write about in Furies Cross the Mersey.

I've written an awful lot about Ms.Wylie on this blog, too.

Upon her return to England in 1913, Wylie contributed a piece to Christabel Pankhurst's Suffragette Magazine about The Canadian Suffrage Movement. (I'd have to to go England to find out what it says, but I can guess.)

This piece, according to an online academic article The Argument of the Broken Pane, Jane Chapman, Lincoln University, was in response to the CPR's advertising in the magazine.

The Canadian Pacific Railway.

That company was plastering England with ads for new settlers, apparently, but it is amusing to think that they thought the organ of the militants a good place to advertise! And this despite the fact the windows of their offices in London were smashed by these very same suffragettes.

According to the thesis, one advertisement shows a woman out in a field with a cow! (From what I have gathered about suffragettes, they were educated 'new women' who preferred city life.)

Some people responded by saying "We need settlers, not Suffragettes."

From www.historymuseum.ca from the National Archives.

This is especially intriguing, because in 1912, the National Council of Women was trying to change the rules so that unattached women could immigrate to Canada sponsored by any relative, an aunt or uncle or even a brother, as long as they were home-owners.

That was kind of a brash idea. Many people considered women immigrants without husbands a bit of problem. Ahem, likely to fall into prostitution.

The National Council of Women was trying to solve The Servant Problem here.  The rich were finding it harder and harder to find good help.

In the era, the Census shows, many servants were young girls from the UK or Sweden.

Constance Hamilton, President of the Toronto Suffage League (1912) and soon to be President of the National Equal Franchise Union (1914), was convenor of the Immigration Committee on the National Council of Women

Her much older husband, Lauchlan Hamilton was a famed surveyor with the CPR.

Barbara Wylie's brother was a MLA in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

So, it seems, maybe, that Miss Wylie's cross Canada trip to England in 1912 was about more than Votes For Women.

For all you know, it was paid for by the immigration people.

A Tale of Montreal Corruption and Politics

Edward Beck, pictured above, didn't like my grandpapa, Jules Crepeau, Second Assistant City Clerk at Montreal City Hall in 1914.  He called him a grafter and set up up in an elegant bribery sting designed to make sure the Mederic Martin camp didn't win the Municipal Election. But they did anyway. Don't mess with the big guys. My grandfather was a little guy who was aligned and very useful to the Big Guys. He would end up Director of City Services in the 1920's. Beck possibly was just a pawn of industrialist Lorne McGibbon.


A year ago, I took a train and the subway (the tram!) into Montreal, Point St Charles, to watch a little outdoor play about Carrie Derick and her fellow Donaldas, female McGill graduates. In  1912  biologist Derick was awarded a courtesy post at McGill making her the first woman full professor ever in Canada.



I have written an interesting ebook about Derick (Furies Cross the Mersey) covering the same territory and a follow up novel, Service and Disservice, about the WWI years and the iffy involvement of the Canadian suffragists during the 1917 Conscription Crisis.

Both books are availabe in Amazon Kindle format.

This 'Canadian suffrage story' in not an easy one to tell. Even the polished scholars who have written about it tend to make errors in their papers.

You see, people didn't tell the truth back then, during the War, so it's doubly hard to figure out what really happened.

To make things worse, there's a Big Wig side-bar I'm attaching to this little feminist tale that is especially steeped in mystery and murk. It's the story of the controversial Montreal tramways contract.

 Mederic Martin, who was considered a joke candidate in 1914 would be Mayor until 1928 with a hiatus in 1922-24.(OOPS...I'm thinking Donald Trump.) One newspaper portrayed him as a baboon.

Cartoon of Montreal Star owner Hugh Graham as a chicken and Municipal aldermenas his eggs.

And the scandalous story involves my grandfather, who was Assistant City Clerk in 1913 - and the Montreal subway.

Now, when the Montreal Subway, ah Metro, opened in 1966, my brothers and I spent a lot of time riding it for fun.

It was a pretty, clean subway. It cost 10 cents to ride, I think.

Today, it's $3.25 I think.

The reason I have to put the story of the Montreal Tramways into my Suffrage and Conscription Story is that the Suffragists of the Montreal Council of Women got all caught up in that controversy

 Edward Beck, Editor of the Montreal Herald in 1913, got them involved by giving them a special suffrage insert in his newspaper, in return for their official condemnation of the Tramway Deal.

Beck simply hated the City Hall and this proposed 40 year Tramways Deal, because his former boss, Hugh Graham of the Montreal Star, standed to make millions from from the deal.

Or maybe Beck, like grandpapa, was just a pawn of industrialist Lorne McGibbon, a former partner of Hugh's who had had a falling out in 1912.

The Toronto newspapers say as much, that this is feud or vendetta between McGibbon (owner of the Herald until 1913) and Hugh Graham.

The papers describe McGibbon as a business man of many interests. I found only Rubber and Mining interests on the web.

And I also found a very interesting 1916 news report about this McGibbon giving a rousing recruiting speech, saying they must get the 500,000 men for Borden. (Canada only had 8 million people, imagine!)

McGibbon says in that speech that Montreal Companies are seriously thinking of hiring only ex-soldiers. So that would be an interesting insert into my story Service and Disservice, where the Social and Moral Reform Ladies are working so hard to raise money and roll bandages, but also very proud of how some young women are taking over men's jobs during the war.

A small character in Montreal history, but he figures big in my story Service and Disservice, maybe. (Later: Actually, the Internet records that McGibbon caught TB and used his money to fund a TB recovery hospital in Ste. Agathe, the famous one on the hill we passed on trips up north.. my parents always pointed it out.)

Opponents said this Tramways Deal was about some people making millions and then funnelling some of the ill gotten gains into the coffers of certain, see Liberal, political parties.

A few days before the Special Suffrage Issue of the Montreal Herald was published, in late November, 1913, with a greeting from  Christabel Pankhurst in Paris, Beck (McGibbon) published a full page rant against the Montreal Tramways Deal, in huge bold print!

The Tramway Company’s Brazen Demands! was the headline of the full-page editorial/rant in 16 or 18 point.

“It is well-known that the tramway company has City Hall under its thumb and it can work its sweet will with the people working there.”

It is known to have an alliance with a sector of the newspaper industry, stifling public opinion.

The President of the Tramway and several of his henchmen occupy seats in the Legislative Assembly and unblushingly vote away people’s rights.

Luckily, the Daily Mail and Toronto World, newspapers that were also against the big industrialists of the Laurier Era, printed long-winded explanations of the genesis of this controversial deal.

Apparently, it all started in 1910 when a company was launched to build a Montreal subway. Well, the Tramways people (Rodolphe Forget, one of my grandfather's relations) didn't want that.

They created a counter proposal about improving tramways in the City, but first they wanted a 40 year contract.

A certain Monsieur Robert, a MNA in Quebec, took control of the tramway company in 1912. Hugh Graham was aligned with him.

The funny part is, I only need to write a few paragraphs about the deal in the book, but even for a few paragraphs, I have to understand it.

That's because Beck caught my grandfather in a bribery sting in late March,1913, a few days before the April 1, 1914 municipal election, and the suffrage ladies of Montreal were VERY BIG into these municipal elections, because spinster and widows with property could vote.

Indeed, their interest in  the Woman Suffrage issue stemmed from one successful intervention in the 1910 Municipal Election.

That year, the  Social Reformer Ladies (both the English and the French)  worked hard to 'purify' City Hall in 1910 and now, in 1914, they English side hoped to do it again. They also passed a resolution condeming the Tramway Deal, not exactly a social reform issue.

The French Women (La Fédération St Jean Baptist and Mme Gerin Lajoie) bowed out of the 1914 election and I suspect the Tramway controversy is the reason why.

But, in 1914, no cigar, as they say.( After all, Martin was a tobacconist.) Mederic Martin got in as Mayor...Rodolphe Forget's candidate... and my grandfather survived his little embarrassment to be the very functionnaire who announced to the Press at City Hall late on April 2, 1914, that Monsieur Martin was the new Mayor of Montreal.

Sweet Revenge.

If was Honorable Perron's law firm that got my grandfather out of trouble and Perron also benefitted from the tramway deal.

And Rodolphe Forget's daughter, Thérèse Casgrain, would end up leading the charge for Woman Suffrage at the Provincial Level in Quebec. (Her 1970's bio didn't mention any of this. She married in 1917 and lunched with Sir Wilfrid.)

 My poor Grandmaman. She must have freaked out during that week! Maybe she kept herself busy making all those tourtieres. She did her own cooking and cleaning, even when they were very well off. Why they needed all that extra money, I don't know.

Emmeline Pankhurst and Carrie Derick. Possible the least idle ladies in history.



Mederic Martin would resent the meddling of the Montreal Council of Women or these "idle women" as he dared to call them in the Press. He had to publically apologize. These Protestant women were many things, but they were never idle.
Grandpapa Jules was no idler either. He had total recall memory, it appears. .He would rise to be Director of City Services and then be pushed out by Camilien Houde, over another controversial contract  flip by the Big Guys. La plus ca change. I wrote about it in Milk and Water.

P.S the William Fong bio of  McConnell touches on this Dictaphone affair, but doesn't pretend to understand it. The tramways deal is explained, but it takes pages and pages.