Monday, October 10, 2016

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 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.