Thursday, April 30, 2015

Carrie Derick, Constance Hamilton, Flora Macdonald Denison: Canadians Suffrage Movement Pre-War

Mrs. Denison's Threat..March 1914 So, if WWI hadn't happened, we might have had a real suffragette movement in Canada! Big if, though.

Furies Cross the Mersey is  the story of how the British Suffragettes invaded Montreal in 1912/13.

It is also the story of  Carrie Derick, Canada's first female full professor (at McGill).

In the 1912.13 era, Carrie Derick was also Past President of the Montreal Council of Women, a group that was highly ambivalent about their support for Mrs. Pankhurst and her militant suffragettes in England. So, they spun off the Montreal Suffrage Association in 1913.

Read all about it in my book.

Furies Cross the Mersey takes place in 1912/13 when the suffragettes of the UK were ramping up their militancy, setting fires and such,  and making sensational headlines in the Montreal newspapers for it.

Furies includes two other story-lines, one fictional, one real. The real story centers on the  Nicholson women of Richmond, Quebec, my husband's ancestors, who left behind 300 letters from the era.

The fictional one involves two students at McGill's Royal Victoria Women's college.
From Votes for Women

I am now embarking on the follow-up to Furies, a murky story that will be about the Conscription Crisis of 1917 and explain how Canada's suffragists were involved up to their elbows.

A trip to Toronto is in the air...

The Nicholson's wartime story will be in the new book too: the family left behind many wartime letters. These are compiled in Not Bonne Over Here, also on Kindle.

In the 1912/13 Edith Nicholson was a young, unmarried women and all for Mrs. Pankhurst's window-bashing suffragettes.

 Like many of the era's  'new women,' she was fighting to have more fun in her life in a day and age when unmarried women were considered in need of protection from the evil elements in society and, especially, from their own shallow and erratic  impulses.

By 1919, the end of the war, Edith was a conservative spinster, with much war volunteer experience, discussing the evils of VD and the good of Temperance in her letters and ready to go and work at McGill University,  supervising the 'excitable' younger set.

My Furies ebook ends in May, 1913, with Mrs. Pankhurst's troops acting up and provoking a slew of bizarre and biased stories in the press.

 (The Suffragette movie with Streep and Mulligan soon to be released is all about this time.)

WWI started in August, 1914, and the 12 months prior to this is a telling time for the Montreal and Canadian suffrage movement.

The suffrage movement in Eastern Canada didn't quite know how to behave, or how to 'brand' itself.

You can see that if WWI hadn't happened, there might, indeed,  have been a more in-your-face suffrage movement in Canada.

Maybe Edith Nicholson, dear old Aunt Dee Dee, would have joined in the fun and gone to prison for it ;)

I found a speech by Torontonian Flora Macdonald Denison (my favorite Canadian suffragist) from May 1914, defending her national suffrage organization.

In the speech, she  also defends herself for sending well-wishes to Mrs. Pankhurst in jail. She says the Canadian suffragists shouldn't use force like the militants in the UK, UNLESS.....Dum de dum dum..

Denison cites Lady Grace Drummond in her speech, a Montrealer who was Honourary President of the new Montreal Suffrage Association. She says the fact that Drummond has  joined her rival, Mrs. Hamiltons' new national organization gives it 'some class' but that Drummond isn't really a suffrage worker.

(She must have read my book, where I describe Lady Drummond's tasteful library with the Monet and Art Nouveau statues. ;)

The MSA joined (or didn't) Denison's group in March, 1914. It says so in their minutes, or at least President Carrie Derick and Julia Grace Parker Drummond joined Hamilton's new Equal Franchise Union. (It's complicated, of course. Suffrage politics in Montreal was very complicated. Read Furies Cross the Mersey.)

In this speech from March, 1914, Denison claims that the suffrage movement in Canada started in Ontario.

Carrie Derick didn't agree...

My Furies story ends at the May 1913 AGM in Montreal of the National Council, where Derick claims in a speech on a special suffrage evening  that it is the Montreal delegation who persuaded the National organization, against determined resistance,  to come out in favor of woman suffrage in late 1912.

Flora Denison attended this Montreal AGM as President of the National Suffrage Association and also as a member of the executive of the National Council of Women.

She makes a protest speech against the National Council because that organization had come out in favour of the flogging of men who force women into prostitution.

It is written in the AGM's report on Suffrage that  Denison attended the March Suffrage Parade in Washington, as part of the Canadian delegation with Stowe Gullen and many other Torontonians, including Hamilton.

That is the one where Inez Milholland led the parade of 10,000 marchers on a beautiful white horse, hoisting a flag with the colours of the WSPU militants.

No Montrealers marched in that parade, apparently.

It is likely some of the same TO women attended the May 3rd March in New York. That Fifth Avenue parade figures big time in my Furies Cross the Mersey.. the fictional part, anyway.

Of course, Gullen and Denison couldn't have attended the New York March, they were at the AGM.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Militants Invade Montreal!

In the 1913 era, the year before WWI started, it was hard to keep track of all the old and new suffrage organizations in Canada without a program. The newspapers even got them all mixed up.

Lately, I've gotten a little muddled, myself, between Montreal's Equal Suffrage League and Ontario's Equal Franchise League.

 The ebook Furies Cross the Mersey about the British militants and their invasion of Montreal in 1912/13 is available on desLibris and Ebrary and

Caroline Kenney, sister of Annie Kenney, the famed working class militant in Mrs. Pankhurst's army, came to Montreal in November, 1912 and did some rabble-rousing.

She spoke in March 1913 at the Hochelaga WCTU (in Stevenson Hall) and sounded too militant with her speech about the Evolution of Militancy. She spoke to the Jewish Community later that month and sounded just right. She was described as 'a suffragette of note.'

She visited Ottawa in June for a suffrage picnic and spoke with conviction if not 'word-eloquence' to the local 'association' whichever group that was. Ottawa had a Franchise League, a Suffrage Association and a Suffrage Society.

Her subject was Woman's Life from Cradle to Grave...

"Suffragettes will haunt Montreal now" says a headline. Prime Minister Borden banned them in August 1912, but they came anyway, alerting the press! Miss Barbara Wylie came as an ambassador for Pankhurst's WSPU and was feted by the Montreal Council of Women. Caroline Kenney came to visit her sister Nell in Verdun and was feted by no one, as far as I can see. The browning headline is about Wylie and was clipped by Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt.

She went to the US in September, saying she was a Montreal Teacher. (She likely was. She is listed as a teacher on the Protestant Board in 1915. I wonder if she knew the Nicholson women of Richmond and Montreal, the subjects of many other of my e-books. The women were militant suffragette sympathizers. I stick Caroline and my husband's great aunts side-by-side at a speech given by Miss Barbara Wylie, militant, in November, 1912 at the YMCA. You can do that with fiction :)

In December, 1912, a Montreal Gazette article says the Equal Suffrage League has been organized, with by-laws and officers. A Mrs. Leggatt is part of the group and Caroline is the Chair. The article says the organization has both militant and non-militant members, but that the official policy is for non-militancy.

Then any mention of Caroline stops, except for one in March, 1914, where she is present at a talk sponsored by the Equal Suffrage League.  There are other  mentions of the Equal Suffrage League and their activities, war-related, or speech events (with males speakers) in the newspaper in the 1914 and 15, but that then it stops. Caroline is listed as a teacher in the Quebec Educational Record for 1915.

The main suffrage organization in Montreal in 1913-1919 is the Montreal Suffrage Association - led by Professor Carrie Derick and she is the main character in Furies Cross the Mersey. The book is really all about her, but features Wylie and Kenney.


As luck would have it, in 1915 a book, the Canadian Woman's Annual, was published summing up the state of social work in Canada - great background to Furies.

The directory contains a  short list of suffrage organizations, not at all comprehensive. (The Equal Suffrage League of Montreal is left out ) but it has  a quote by Ethel Hurlbatt, Warden of McGill's Royal Victoria College, also a character in Furies Cross the Mersey.)

"Women's Use of the Vote. The question is often asked, Do women use the powers and opportunities already given to them? With regard to this, it is of interest to quote the opinion of Miss Hurlbatt, Warden of Victoria College, Montreal. 'Many of them are doing so, eg. the Local Council of Women have thoroughly organized the city to bring out about 12,000 women voters to vote for good civic government at the civic elections.'"

In his book  Marching As to War, Pierre Berton, who succinctly sums up the suffrage situation in Canada in the 1910 era, while simultaneously writing the suffragists off as elitist and, yes, shrill, says that 22 suffrage organizations popped up between 1877 and 1918.

There were far more, I suspect.

After the list of about 30 provincial suffrage organizations the directory lists an anti-suffrage organization: Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage in Canada. Pres., Mrs. H. D. Warren; Vice-Pres., Miss Campbell, Mrs. H. S. Strathy, Mrs. H. C. Rae; Treas., Miss Barron; Rec. Sec., Miss Laing; Cor. Sec., Miss Plummer, Sylvan Towers, Toronto.

Talk about being on the wrong side of history! (Yikes, I just checked and Mrs. H.D. Warren was Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides from the 20's to the 40's.)

 "This Association is formed to give those who are opposed to the movement in favor of woman suffrage an opportunity to express their conviction that such a measure would be against the best interests of the State. The Association takes an active interest in questions of civic, social and moral reform, and it claims that these can best be advanced without the extension of the parliamentary franchise to women."

The directory also contains a short description of the Montreal Women's Club.

 I've been looking to find such a document because the Montreal Women's Club was the biggest organization under the Montreal Local Council of Women umbrella and they were the group, under Mrs. Weller, that agitated for the start of a separate suffrage organization in Montreal in 1912.

Only about 11 of the 40 organizations under the Montreal Council of Women were for Woman Suffrage at that time.

"The Montreal Women's Club was founded by Mrs. Robert Reid (1892) promote agreeable and useful relations between women of artistic, literary, scientific and philanthropic tastes. To-day it is trying to assist in solving some of the many complex problems which affect childhood and womanhood, as regards industrial, educational, economic, civic and home conditions Pres., Madame Heliodore Fortier, 404 Metcalfe Ave.; Sec., Mrs. Alexander Murray, 29 Murray Ave., Westmount. Chairmen of Departments: Social Science Mrs. George A. Kohl, 297 Peel St.; Home and Education Mrs. Jas. Thorn, 4110 Western Ave.; Art and Literature Mrs. John J. Louson, 4250 Boulevard Ave., Westmount."

The directory lists two national suffrage organizations.

There was the  one led by Flora McD Denison...The Canadian Suffrage Association.

 Then Constance Hamilton set up a new national organization in March 1914, Canadian Union of National Suffrage Societies led by her and Carrie Derick and Lady Drummond!

One wonders why Derick felt a need to join this group. (Well, I checked their minutes and the MSA executive wondered, in March 1913, whether to join the National Suffrage Association. It looks like they didn't, in the end. A Mrs. Hammond Bullock of the obscure Quebec Provincial Suffrage Association is listed as their Quebec associate in the 1914 directory.

In a March, 1914 speech, Denison claims 'there are  now 3 suffrage associations in Montreal, referring to the Equal Suffrage League, Montreal Suffrage Association and this totally obscure Bullock Organization. The only other mention of Bullock's org I could find is an article from 1910 where she is telling Robertson's Royal Commission that women should be allowed to go to technical school: so she was an Equal Rights Suffragist, shunned by the others in the Montreal movement.

Carrie Derick was already a VP of the National Council of Women and she claimed in a speech that it was the Montreal delegation that convinced the National Council to come out in favor of Women's Suffrage in 1912. Denison was part of that National Organization,too.

My Furies story ends at the special suffrage evening mounted by Derick for the May 1913 AGM of the National Council of Women.

Mrs. Ethel Snowden, moderate suffragist, is speaking. She calls Pankhurst and her troops 'cavemen'.

Carrie Derick was also President of the Montreal Suffrage Association (read all about that in Furies Cross the Mersey.)

The directory also explains the state of voting rights in Canada and the provinces in 1914. See Quebec at right.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Miss Barbara Wylie, The Montreal Council of Women and the Suffragettes in Montreal 1912

Blurb from a City Notes Feature in November 1912 Standard.

Well, my ebook Furies Cross the Mersey is etched in stone, as much as an ebook can be etched in stone.

I've given it an ISBN and sent it to Library and Archives Canada. They have included it their desLibris Collection and sent it to Ebrary.

All very nice for me.

Furies Cross the Mersey is about the Invasion of British Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.

Miss Barbara Wylie, one of Emmeline Pankhurst's troops, came to Canada for a lengthy tour in 1912/13 and figures in my story.

She is brought in by the Montreal Council of Women to speak on November 1912 at the YMCA.

I included this speech in my ebook, using a report from the Montreal Gazette as a template, but now I've found another record of the talk in the Montreal Standard, in EDITORIAL form, so it's more opinion than fact.

But the editorial does mention she was well-dressed in blue silk with lace. (I might add that to the Amazon version of Furies Cross the Mersey.)

The Montreal Council of Women was ambivalent about the Militant Suffagettes in England. Some members supported them, some didn't. I suspect the key members of the organization, Carrie Derick and Dr. Ritchie England, and even Mrs. Hurlbatt, Warden of McGill's Royal Victoria College, supported the suffragettes. But they couldn't state it outright.

I make my case in Furies Cross the Mersey, a book based on the historical record  with lots of made up elements.

This Montreal Standard Editorial claims that the Montreal Council ('not a suffrage organization') was for suffrage but against militant suffragettes in England.

Apparently, this was 'made clear' at the meeting where Miss Wylie spoke. The Gazette report said nothing about anything being 'made clear' at the meeting.

 Indeed, they quoted the President of the Montreal Council and Chairperson for the evening, Dr. Ritchie England, as saying the Council was NOT  there to pronounce on the issue of militancy, one way or another.

Then, again, this Montreal Standard editorial is unclear about who it was who at the meeting spoke out against the militants in England. At the end of the very long editorial piece they sort-of-quote Mr. Holt, a man who wasn't a member of the Council but who would become, in March, a member of the new Montreal Suffrage Association.  A very anti-militant member. (Holt would chair the first meeting of the Montreal Suffrage Association in April (as President Carrie Derick was away )where it would be written in the minutes that the MSA was non-militant. Someone (probably Derick) would have the line crossed out.)

But the Gazette report says that Holt's anti-suffragette tirade was not well-received at the meeting and that Dr. Ritchie England had to shut down the meeting when another man got up and argued against him. Apparently, the men almost came to blows.  It's all in my Furies Cross the Mersey.

So this Montreal Standard editorial was a kind of revisionist damage control!

Precious Remnant of September 26, 1912 news clipping from Montreal Daily Witness left behind by Edith Nicholson that started off my investigation into the Suffragettes in Montreal. The entire article was there. It disintegrated, but not before I transcribed it. See bottom

The question begs: if the Council ladies were against Pankurst's style of militancy, why did they fete Miss Wylie so extensively?  Shortly after she arrived, she was invited into Mrs. Weller's Westmount living room. Weller, of the Montreal Women's Club,  had been to England to visit with the Suffragettes, as had a Mrs. Fenwick Williams.

A few days after her YMCA speech, they invited her to attend a well-attended luncheon of the elite Women's Canadian Club of Montreal  at Royal Victoria College. (It's written up in the same newspaper.)

Derick, Ritchie England and,of course, RVC Warden, Mrs. Hurlbatt were there, as were Dean Moyse of McGill, Mrs. Leacock and Mrs MacIntosh of the Montreal Women's Club, who was one of the City's most ardent supporters of woman suffrage. Dr. McNaughton of McGill was the speaker.

The social note entry  does not say on what topic McNaughton spoke (odd) but since he is the author of the pamphlet I have from Edith Nicholson's collection, "The Women's Vote in Australia" the topic was very likely woman suffrage.

Anyway, this Montreal Standard editorial claims that Wylie, however nice to look at, was not as good a speaker as Mrs. Pankhurst, 'who aroused sympathy' with her technique.  Wylie's  tone was too aggressive for the Editors of the Standard.

Furies Cross the Mersey can be purchased on Amazon.

Barbara Wylie Comes to Montreal 1912

Margaret's Clipping: September 28, 1912. Montreal Daily Witness (abridged for space).

Miss Barbara Wylie, the English suffragist, whose visit to Canada has aroused so much interest and speculation as to what it may eventually lead to, arrived at Place Viger Station at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, but looked so unlike one who had twice been in prison and was willing to fight again for 'the cause' that the small group of newspapermen waiting at the gate had a hard time finding her, and actually let her walk past.  Miss Wylie (it turns out) is a tall really beautiful looking woman with every appearance of refinement and intelligence above the ordinary. She spoke intelligently of the suffrage movement, explaining the larger significance of the demand for votes for women and what she called 'the absolutely unjust, cruel and disgraceful conduct and trickery of the Asquith government.  She spoke as a highly intelligent woman burning with the conviction that her cause was right. She also showed plainly a spirit of resolute intention not to give up the fight for minute until the battle had been won.  This was evident from her tone and voice and the way she threw back her head as she spoke of the conflict and the reasons why they should succeed.

She was going to join the Canadian suffragists in asking Mr. Borden and his government to grant the vote for women. "If the government will not grant the demand, will you encourage suffragists on this side to adopt militant tactics? asked a Witness Reporter.

"The Canadian women are quite able to look after their own case," was her evasive reply.

"What about the hurling of the hatchet at Mr. Asquith," asked another reporter.

"It never touched him and even if he had got a crack in the head, it might not have done him any harm.  It might have pounded a little sense into him," was Wylie's reply.

Asked if there was a deeper meaning to the movement.

"Women will never be respected nor hold the place and influence they should have as long as they are denied the right to vote.  We also want to exert an influence on legislation such as public health and social questions, which we think are more important than commerce and the things that men think most important."

Excerpt from a letter to the Editor, March 1, 1913 Montreal Witness
Summary of the two sides of the issue in Canada.

Dear Sir,

I have read the scathing denunciation of the woman suffrage movement by the Rev. R. L. Ballantyne and must say that the scathing effects would be felt more keenly if Mr. Ballantyne showed a deeper knowledge of the subject.

Mr. Ballantyne thinks that for a woman to give up the home and influence to obtain votes and political position would be to drop the substance for the shadow. I cannot for the life of me see why voting once in three or four years and taking enough interest in the country to read the papers after the day's work is done or even going to a political meeting occasionally with her husband when her children are in bed and asleep, should be supposed to cause a woman to abandon her home. Mr. Ballantyne says that in Canada the suffragette movement is in its infancy, and calls on every pulpit in the land, every law-abiding society, every government, to pronounce against it. Let me assure Mr. Ballantyne that there is no suffragette movement in Canada, nor ever will be. 

There is a movement for the enfranchisement of women, and many of the pulpits of the land and right here in Montreal, are strongly in favor of it.  It is not the law-abiding societies that oppose women's suffrage but the law-breaking elements: the liquor traffic is dead against it.  Governments are slow to move, but the Saskatchewan Government has already intimated that it will give the matter the serious consideration it deserves.  Mr. Ballantyne "calls upon our women to keep in the old tried paths of those who helped by simply being women to make Canada what she is today." 

How delightfully easy: by simply being women. And how absurd to think that our mothers and grandmothers helped to build up Canada by any such positive course. They did their part with downright hard work! Machinery and the factories have taken a lot of this work away from women: Some of them have had  to follow the work away from home, others have more leisure and with an awakened civic conscience are endeavoring to do what they may for the betterment of civic conditions, without  at all ceasing to 'be women.' Rather they think they would lack the womanly qualities of sympathy, helpfulness and response to the call of duty, did they not concern themselves with this.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Carrie Derick, the Montreal Council of Women, and the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Call me paranoid.

My blog posts no longer come up when you Google keywords like "Montreal Council of Women" or "Carrie Derick,"

Despite the fact I post regularly on these topics..

Maybe it is a payment issue.

When I google "Carrie Derick" I get lots of websites with information that, almost always, skirts the issue of her heavy-handed  promotion of the eugenics movement.

Peggy Curran's bio in the Gazette, for International Women's Day a few years ago, mentions over and over that Derick is a geneticist but never mentions the ugly world 'eugenics.'

Here it is Honouring Carrie Derrick (spelled wrong).

The article says Derick was an early proponent of birth control, as if she was a feminist in the modern sense, but, of course, she wasn't.

She wanted birth control to stop the feeble-minded' and inferior races from procreating.

Free love was not in her thinking. Like most people, men and women, she still believed in women's purity. In those days prostitution was referred to as "The Social Evil."

 Freeing average women up from child-bearing wasn't in her thinking, although she believed ethnicities with couples that had too many children were inferior. (They tended to be Catholic, of course.)

Yes, she wanted better pay and better jobs for single women, and many other future-gazing things, but perfect (from our modern point of view) she wasn't. Who ever is, except in heavily redacted historical myths?

 (I think Flora McDonald Denison, another Canadian suffragist of the era, was for free love.)

Minutes from 1914 Montreal Suffrage Association. War changed everything. The Association was divided on the subject of the militant suffragettes.

My story  Furies Cross the Mersey, about the Invasion of Militant suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13, tells the story of Carrie Derick, the good and the bad, without any white-washing.

It's not like I am alone in my opinions. Academics, French and English, know. That's why so many of them just write Carrie Derick off and, by extension, the Canadian suffragists off, as unworthy of  being in the history books. (Pierre Berton does just that in Marching As to War.)

But in the case of Carrie Derick, as in others, there seems to be one truth for ordinary citizens and one truth for academics.

As it happens I stumbled upon another blog post written by a McGill student who attended a Woman in Science and Engineering Symposium  a couple of years ago and heard a lecture about Carrie Derick and Eugenics, given by a Professor Campbell of Queen's University.

Here it is.

Campbell gives a course: The Canadian Nation: Real and/or Imagined. (Perfect!)

She says she had never heard the name Carrie Derick before.

According to her post, Campbell didn't whitewash anything. He explained to everyone that Derick's eugenics philosophy was really about white-washing society, cleansing it of the immigrant elements.

(Derick actually used the term "purify City Hall" to describe the 1910 municipal elections, where the Montreal Council of Women worked to put in their own Reform Candidates.)

But Campbell also explained that her iffy but popular brand of social advocacy had unintended consequences.

That compulsory schooling, which Derick advocated so 'feeble-minded' children could be documented and cut out of the gene pool, actually led to the children of poor immigrants getting a first-rate public education.

It led to Canadians' general acceptance of the concept of multi-culturalism.

The Law of Unintended Consequences can go both ways, of course. A good idea can get twisted.

It does a disservice to women pioneers, in science or in any field, when their accomplishments are ignored but also when they are white-washed.

Great men can have dark sides: it gives them 'character.' Some 'great men' in history are almost nothing but dark, but they are still written and talked about, and even studied in high school.

How Green Was My Valley, Coal Miners and Genealogy

Roddy McDowell in How Green was my Valley directed by John Ford.

The other day I went back to the Valley. How Green was my Valley, the 1940 best-seller by Welshman Richard Llewellyn.

I've read it twice before, the first time as a young teen, the second time, perhaps, in my twenties.

I remember I read the same edition, where the lead character, Huw, was spelled out Hugh.

When I first read the novel, I could not 'pronounce' Hugh, or many of the other Welsh names. I said "HUG" in my head.

This time, I downloaded the Kindle edition from Amazon where the "Roddy McDowell" character is spelled out properly, Huw.

Now, the reason I took this trip in the way-back machine, yesterday, was because of a story someone wrote this week at my genealogy group.

She wrote about an ancestor who was a Scottish coal miner. According to her well-researched story, in 1606 the Scottish Parliament put through legislation binding coal miners to the mine owners.

These workers were essentially slaves!

I hadn't known about this before last week- and I had read How Green was my Valley, twice.

Apparently, Richard Llewelly claimed his most famous novel was 'autobiographical' but that was a bit of a lie, or might we say, a bit of good publicity.

This being the age of Internet, I looked up info about the novel to find out why I loved it so much back then as a child.  (The double LL in the author's name intrigued me, I know.)

Well, apparently, How Green Was my Valley  was a well-written, well-researched block-buster with wide-appeal, and 'not riddled with double-meanings.' It had become an instant surprise best-seller in 1940 without help from the publicity machine. They blamed this on the War but the novel's popularity has endured.

Like those movies that win  The People's Choice Awards, the novel won only a popularity award in its day; no awards with prestige like the Pulitzer.

The John Ford How Green Was My Valley movie, with Roddy McDowell and Maureen O'Hara, however, won Best Picture.

So, it seems,  I liked the book  because it had broad appeal, and wasn't too erudite, so I didn't have to bring anything but my innocent heart to the reading of it.

Looking over a list of 20th Century bestsellers, most of which wouldn't make any BEST NOVELS OF ALL TIME list, I noticed that many of the books I read in my twenties were there.

Novels by A.J. Cronin and Sinclair Lewis. And John Steinbeck, of course.

Why? Because my mother had recommended them to me. How else would I have known to take them out from the library, back in those Dark Ages, before the Internet?

My mom was French Canadian, but she had been educated at the Sacred Heart Convent where she learned English.

I have read most of the novels that make most of the 100 best novels of all time list, so now I have decided to read the century's best-sellers, too, if I can get them off Gutenberg.

Most of these books are out of print.

I will start with How Green was my Valley, a novel Christopher Hitchens cited as an early favorite of his, then  follow To Have and Have Not from 1900.

Oh, I see that Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence and House of Mirth were best sellers. I found an advert for House of Mirth in a 1905 Ladies' Home Journal, and pasted it into an earlier post.

Edith Wharton's popularity endures, due to BBC Radio Four and television adaptations and her stories about women suffering for just being women.

Read my books about the Edwardian Age in Canada, based on real letters. Threshold Girl, Diary of a Spinster, and Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Widow's Pensions and Montreal Politics 1

In my ebook, Furies Cross the Mersey, about the invasion of British Militant Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13, I take the liberty of making McGill Professor Carrie Derick the driving force of the Montreal Council of Women during that time, even though she had stepped down as President in 1911.

After doing the research it was obvious to me that Carrie Derick, Past-President, ran the show back then, even if current President Dr. Grace Ritchie England chaired the meetings.

The other day, I found a snippet in a 1914 document that further supported my suspicions.

In the Women's Annual, a summary of Social Work in Canada in 1914, there's a chapter on Married Women's Rights, a focus of the Montreal Council who often petitioned Quebec Premier Lomar Gouin on the issue. I believe a delegation was sent to Quebec City in 1917.

In the section on Rights in Quebec, there's a very snarky bit. It reads that the Montreal Council is more pre-occupied with controlling the feeble-minded than with the issue of Widow's Pensions.

Eugenics, and the 'care' and control of the so-called feeble-minded, was very much Carrie Derick's baby. As Education Chair of the National Council of Women in the era, her influence was wide-spread and long-lasting - and not necessarily pretty.

 I include a speech she gave on the subject at the end of Furies Cross the Mersey. 

In 1919, upon the dissolution of the short-lived Montreal Suffrage Association (1913-1919) someone (probably a Mrs. Fenwick Williams) writes a letter to the editor of the Montreal Gazette complaining about said dissolution and asking why the monies left over are going to the cause of 'feeble-mindedness.' Carrie Derick was President of the MSA, although she left most of the lobbying during the war to others in the organization.

British Suffragettes came to Montreal in 1912 and 13, Barbara Wylie and Caroline Kenney. Emmeline Pankhurst spoke in Montreal in 1911, invited by Derick and the Montreal Council of Women. The Montreal Council of Women feted Wylie and presided over a meeting where different factions in the audience almost came to blows. The men, anyway. They had nothing to do with Kenney, who founded the rival Montreal Equal Suffage League in late 1913.

Married women's rights was very much a concern of Dr. Ritchie England. She ran for Parliament  in the 1930's on the platform. She lost. Her opponent called her a very smart lady but said the issue of Women's Rights was more a Provincial issue.

Anyway, this will be the focus of my next ebook, a follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey, that will take off where the other left off, in late 1913... and then come the War Years and the Conscription Crisis.

Maybe I will call the book Service and Disservice. Tentative Title. Just thought that up now.

This is  a better known story than the first  (although still not widely known) but also a very complicated one. When it came to the sticky, emotional issue of Conscription in WWI, the female Social Reformers of Canada got all tied up in their own lies.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Italian Widows and Hollyhock War- Zones and Leaden Dandelions.

Here's a still I poached off a DVD video of me and my hollyhocks, circa 1991. (I think I still have that dress. Oh, my!)

When I first moved to the ex-burbs and had a garden, I worked on said plot of land to make it beautiful. The exercise was costly, if I recall.

I started everything indoors in peat pods, moving them from one side of the house to the other each day to capture the direct sunlight.

I transplanted each one in carefully prepared beds with the help of my husband: marigolds along the walk, hollyhocks here beside the fence and a clematis against the house.

I knew nothing about gardening back then, (still don't) but we had a big relatively inexpensive garden center nearby and I had a Reader's Digest Gardening Guide. (That book is still in a box in the garage. Who needs a book when you have the Internet?)

 I planted marigolds, hollyhocks and zinnias that year. The zinnias came in the form of a tall thick plant with many,many blooms that eventually grew way too big and fell over. They stopped producing these huge zinnia plants the next. I recall asking. You can't play around too much with Mother Nature.

But, soon, the cutworms hit the marigolds. Like little spineless lumberjacks, they efficiently chopped the very healthy home-grown marigold plants down to the ground, one by one.

 Then the rust hit the hollyhocks. And I refused to use pesticides, I think.

So, you know...

I didn't want pesticides near my kids, even before the law came in banning pesticides in our small community west of Montreal, a law that set a precedent in the province and the country.

I had nothing to do with this law. I wasn't a lobbyist back then for health issues, just education issues.

 It was a local doctor who pushed for this ground-breaking law.

The little town that could.

 I believe that this law scared the big companies in the US so much, they enacted their own law banning little towns from banning pesticides.

Anyway, back in 1991, why did I choose these  particular flowers?

 Because these were the flowers I chose to grow back in 1965, when I begged my father to allow me to plant a garden.

 We lived on a street called Coolbrook, beside Decarie Boulevard that soon would became the Decarie Expressway, so there was plenty of exhaust fume lead in the ground and in the air for us quasi-feral kids to breath. And it was ugly in our backyard. Back then I knew what ugly was. Who doesn't?

P marks the spot. Maples in front along Coolbrooke and a shopping center where the used car lots (or housing for veterans of the war) used to be in the 60's.

I planted marigolds and zinnia under the gigantic maple that took up the middle of my family's alloted plot of garden.

The hollyhocks I recall grew 'wild' in the dilapidated apartment development adjacent the highway.

(I worried about these plants, in my garden, which for obvious reasons were not thriving, because I got up in the middle of the night, sleepwalking,and took a bottle of milk down to the steep back steps my little garden and poured the white liquid over the spindly plants.

I thought it had been a dream but the next day I found the empty milk bottle by the flower bed. )

This memory in itself may not be true. It was a long time ago.

We kids played around back there, in the place with the random and very happy and healthy hollyhocks, when not playing in the used car lots that lined Decarie back in the day. I  once gave my mother's cooked roast beef to a one legged 'war-veteran' who lived in a Firebird. I cagily told my mom I gave it to a stray dog. She only laughed.

 The place was like a war zone, with huge pieces of quartz strewn everywhere and rubble in the form of broken window frames and chipped red-orange bricks and a broken toilet or two and plenty of hollyhocks, the only bit of beauty around. Well, the quartz was prettyish too.

 I was always searching for beauty back then. After all, Montreal wasn't Tuscany, where (relative) poverty and beauty can go together.

Montreal in the sixties wasn't the prettiest place, even with the colourful cars with big fins. Ah, the aroma of lead exhaust. I liked it and felt guilty, but the smell and taste of lead has always appealed to humans. They put it in food in the 19th century for that very reason.

Now I have a huge garden, mostly used as a dog playground, and a place for my husband to waste time cutting grass and raking leaves on his days off.

There are too many trees in our large yard and little sun, but I could still do much more with it than I have. We've been at this house 15 years, after all.

I planted some pretty bush with red flowers near the driveway years ago. It has thrived and delighted us every summer.

 I tried my hand at an artisanal non-Monsanto vegetable garden last year. The kale and cukes were all that grew, but all summer we ate our own 1960's style kale and cucumbers with lots of prickles.So I saved, probably, 48 cents or so.

(This kale was healthier to consumer than the dandelions that the Italian widows in black would pick from the side of the Decarie Expressway in the 1960's. I always found the site of them quaint. Let's hope the curative powers of the dandelion maybe counteracted the pollutants in the plants.)

Even back then in 1991 with kids, I was a compulsive essay writer and I wrote this about growing gardens and families at the same time. Very schmaltzy. I sent it to Reader's Digest I remember and got a 'positive' rejection, that is a rejection written by hand with a note.

That is supposed to be an invitation to submit something else. I didn't.

One Garden at a Time


t's the first warm day of the year. I look out onto my barren back yard and wonder, will this be the year? Will this be the year I cultivate a gorgeous garden like the one I had in 1989?

My eyes scan the hopeless expanse of mangy yellow grass with the huge brown blob of a pitching mound set plunk in the middle, and it's clear that the only color in my garden this spring afternoon radiates from a sky-blue pair of road hockey pads lying on the ground, a red and white soccer ball lolling in a flower bed, and the neon-yellow Nerf ball hiding in some mouldy leaf material, so I am compelled to answer, "No, probably not. This is probably not the year I cultivate my gorgeous garden."

My sons still feel believe this pale, lifeless plot to be their own private sports stadium. And even though their home runs now have the power to provoke law suits from neighbors, I doubt that they'll give up their territory to me, not without a fight.

Andrew, 10, has exhibited some signs of wanderlust already. He has begged to be allowed to ride his bike the three meandering miles to school every morning, but Mark, 8, well, he's still a homebody. I can hear the comforting thump of his game of "wall ball" behind me as I write.

I first moved into this small, brick bungalow just two days after Mark's birth on May 6, 1988. My husband had spent a few frantic days since the May 1st move-in date unpacking our possessions and making things comfortable for me and the new baby.


The day I brought my strapping blue-eyed newborn home, I hardly noticed the impressive V-shaped flower-bed taking up most of the front yard. All I could see was what that there was no fence around the perimeter, nothing stopping Andrew, then two-and-half years old, from running out onto the fairly busy street.

"Put a fence around this yard or we're all going to stay at Mummy's," I sobbed in a hormone-induced conniption. A homely dark green Frost fence went up the very next day. A compliant man, my husband.

But the V-shaped garden? Well, it succumbed to my husband's flora-phobia. He coldly returned it to Mother Earth with some lame rationale like, "It gets in the way of the new sandbox," or "Rose bushes are dangerous for little kids." Did I care? No. The sum total of my energies was being focused maternally on my little children that summer.

"Blow those dastardly bushes away," In short sighted fashion, I agreed.

But by the spring of 1990, I felt quite the opposite. After spending a biting Canadian winter housebound with two little children, I could only dream of the day the warmth would return. As spring approached I read up on everything I could about gardening. I bought a Time-Life set on the subject, and I borrowed a Reader's Digest opus on eye-popping perennial borders, spending many a snow-brightened afternoon salivating over pictures of other people's blissfully beautiful gardens.


Zinnias, hibiscus, hollyhocks, I wanted to grow them all. (I am convinced that the impulse to grow a garden from a handful of seeds comes from the very same place as the urge to create new life from the seed in the womb.)

And I couldn't get started soon enough. As early as February, I bought these little peat containers and started the seeds indoors: marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos. I covered two card tables in the living room with a couple of hundred boxes of these seedlings, and when they sprouted, I took the time to move them each afternoon from one side of the house to the other so that they could get enough sun. Being so well-cared for, the seedlings thrived, and I beamed like a proud new parent as I transplanted them into the perfectly prepared beds in my garden (one part peat, one part sheep manure, one part black earth) in early May. But spring comes late to Quebec, and I was forced to run out on many an evening thereafter to cover my burgeoning "babies" with large, thick pieces of plastic because of impending night frost.

My husband often scrambled out after me to help. He knew better than to get in the way of the forces driving me to create my first beautiful garden. He knew better than to question the ever-increasing amounts of money I was pouring into the project. Like children, seeds come cheap, but also like children, it takes an awful lot of time, energy, commitment and, yes, money, to bring them to bloom!

Was it worth all the effort? But, of course! That summer, my garden was a glorious vision, the most splendid garden I have ever had, as if sprung from out of the imagination of Matisse, the mind of Monet. My marigolds were thick of stem and a brilliant, buttery yellow, my giant zinnias overflowed with bright blooms, and my cosmos daisies bloomed delicate yet hale.

One day, however, the marigolds started to break. One by one, these robust-looking plants were being felled in their prime by some invisible lumberjack of a pest. Cutworm!? "No problem, just use this insecticide. It's reasonably safe," the florist told me. But I couldn't possibly. I had other babies to watch out for. Clearly, a choice had to be made, here!

Once again, I learned that life is a compromise. I would have no beautiful garden, I decided, if it meant putting poison within a country mile of my children.

And it has been pretty well downhill for my garden since then. Each year, I spent less and less money and less and less time on my "outdoor" room and with the help of erratic weather patterns, weeds, and bugs aplenty, my beautiful garden, my humble little Eden, quickly declined.

Instead, I channeled my creative energy into other areas like gourmet (ha!) cookery, interior design, and, whenever I got some, advertising work. You could even say I have brought my garden indoors over the years: A Matisse here, a Monet there, rosebuds on the kitchen wallpaper, lotuses on the bathroom borders, and my favorite flower -- tulips -- everywhere: tulip paintings, tulip sculptures, tulip-covered ceramic tiles. "You must have been Dutch in your past life," my petal-shocked husband quipped.

But my fresh-air garden? Well, those people who tell you that a garden grows itself, getting better and better as the perennials establish themselves, are plain wrong. I must have planted two hundred perennials over the years and, except for the daisies and black-eyed Susans, nothing has taken. I once dreamed of poppies peaking their broad blushing faces over my back fence, and of hollyhocks, thick with bloom, waving in the summer breeze, and of a Wordsworthian sea of daffodils swirling deliriously outside my bedroom window. But nothing! Of course, the hockey rink didn't help. And flooding a garden every winter for six months does take a toll on ground cover.

Which goes to prove another point: Growing a garden and raising children may have a lot in common, but kids and flowers don't necessarily like to share the same space. Certainly, hockey-crazy, baseball-loving, soccer-mad kids and gardens don't mix, not one whit.

As my boys grew, I made a promise to myself: If it ever came down to a conflict between my kids' need to play hard and fast and the welfare of my plants, my boys would get the nod, as long as they didn't show any deliberate disrespect to my plants.


So, my garden deteriorated even more, my beautiful four-year-old peony bush becoming last year's most noteworthy casualty to a "wicked" blast of a soccer ball. That big brown blotch of a pitching mound set plunk in the middle of the yard seems the only thing actually growing in my garden, expanding out each year in direct proportion to the sweep of my sons' strides and the arc of their home-run swings.
Let's face it, my glorious garden is a dud. (The other day my eldest asked me why sports arenas are often called "gardens," as in Madison Square Gardens in New York and Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. VERY good question, I answered.)

But it's April 18th, the warmest day of the year and I can't help but look out over my long-neglected yard, with the weeds choking the succulents in my rock garden and the overgrown blue spruces blocking every bit of sun. "Will this be the year we trim back the trees and plant a few new beds of tiger lilies and columbines? Is it time once again to cultivate my garden? (If you learn anything from gardening, it is that everything comes in cycles.)

And then I watch my boys argue over who gets to pitch first, like two young saplings rooted for the moment to the center of that even bigger brown blob of a pitching mound swallowing up my garden whole and I think "Not yet."

They'll be uprooting themselves soon enough, my boys, my most precious creations, and taking off like dandelion seeds in the wind. Why hurry things? One garden at a time. "No, I will not make my garden this year. There will be plenty of time for that later."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Another Beautiful Mind, Forgotten.

A family photo of Albert Einstein. 1936 Saranac Lake. My mother in law took it. I figured out he was setting up for an AP Photoshoot, Einstein At Play! She said to her companion disapprovingly, "Look at that man with the messy hair." I think it could be argued that Einstein's hair made him a pop culture figure, not his math. After all, he didn't bother to get a haircut for this national photo shoot.

Although a scientist, Albert Einstein, was named the Man of the Century by Time Magazine a while back, it is more a case of Winner Take All.

Winner take all the recognition, I mean.

Scientists, in general, don't get much recognition. I think this is because they don't make movies about their lives. Too boring. Not 'romantic enough' say, like the lives of painters.

Or because most people relate to what they do, what they are studying.

Up until this year, that saw two scientist-based movies out, the Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, a Beautiful Mind was a glaring  exception.

For women scientists, things are even worse. (Yes, I know they made a famous movie about Mme. Curie, but exceptions always prove the rule.)

Emmeline Pankhurst and Carrie Derick. They met  in 1911. Derick brought her to Montreal and described her militant movement as 'more advanced' than the moderate non-violent suffrage movement.

My blog here is about my work writing about Canadian women of the 1910 era.

 Carrie Derick, McGill University Botanist, is one of my main characters.

 Indeed, she is the focus of Furies Cross the Mersey, my book about the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.

Carrie Derick does have a street named after her in Verdun but, as far as I know, my self-published 'expose'  is the only book about her.

I based some of my story on a speech by McGill Professor Margaret Gillett from 1989, the text of which is in the McGill Engineering Library (and nowhere else).It has been bound into a little book and called No Fool She.

Of course, Derick's story has a dark side; one that is not considered 'romantic.' No, had she had an illicit affair way back then, say with her supervisor, Dr. Penfellow who did, indeed, go mad  it would have been much better for her posthumous public profile.

(Were I writing a Hollywood style movie I would just create a love affair, wouldn't I?)

Her PR problem: She promoted eugenics - as did many elites in the 1910 era. A  taboo topic these days.

Anyway, right now I am writing a short piece for a non-profit website about another forgotten Canadian woman scientist, the first Canadian computer scientist, Beatrice Worsley.

Her memory would be entirely  lost to history, except for the work of  a certain University of Waterloo scholar, Scott. M. Campbell.

I have only his work to refer to.

Worsley doesn't appear to have any dark side, only a studious side. She loved mathematics and lab work.

She did participate in WWII, (and even worked with Alan Turing) but her war work was purely in the laboratory, although she got out on the boats after the war, as a researcher.

PS. Well, then there's the Big Bang Theory, a top TV show that is trying to put the names of physicists out there, but that show, these days,  is mostly Friends with exponents.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

SUFFRAGETTE Teaser TRAILER (Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter...)

Here's a teaser, just released, for the 2015 movie Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep, Carrie Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter. October debut...but the teaser is out in time for the UK election.

You know, it is customary for the film industry to make their famous historical characters more beautiful than they actually were but, in this case, beautiful-suffragette is not a contradiction in terms.

I've explained why many times on this blog.

In fact, Emmeline Pankhurst looked a lot like Sian Phillips who played her in Shoulder to Shoulder, the TV serial.

(Emmeline Pankhurst over a portrait of Carrie Derick, Montreal Suffragist and subject of Furies Cross the Mersey. Clipping of Wylie's arrival (what's left of it).

Barbara Wylie, one of Emmeline's troops, came to Canada in 1912/13 to try to stir things up here.

She was so pretty it confused the Montreal reporters.

What? Not a battle-ax?

Portraying women who lobbied for the vote as man-like battle axes was the way the anti-suffragists did things in the 1900's. (It wasn't hard to do as suffragist speakers were usually older women back then.)

So the militant suffragettes, who acted like men with their acts of violence, made sure their speakers were pretty and well-dressed.

Here's how the Montreal Press described Miss Wylie upon her arrival in Montreal. I put it all in Furies Cross the Mersey, my ebook about the invasion of militant suffragists to Canada in 1912/13.

Suffragettes' actions were theatre. This clip, about Wylie's Montreal visit proves it. It is placed beside the opera review.

Barbara Wylie Comes to Montreal 1912

Margaret's Clipping: September 28, 1912. Montreal Standard (abridged for space). 

Miss Barbara Wylie, the English suffragist, whose visit to Canada has aroused so much interest and speculation as to what it may eventually lead to, arrived at Place Viger Station at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, but looked so unlike one who had twice been in prison and was willing to fight again for 'the cause' that the small group of newspapermen waiting at the gate had a hard time finding her, and actually let her walk past.  Miss Wylie (it turns out) is a tall really beautiful looking woman with every appearance of refinement and intelligence above the ordinary. She spoke intelligently of the suffrage movement, explaining the larger significance of the demand for votes for women and what she called 'the absolutely unjust, cruel and disgraceful conduct and trickery of the Asquith government.  She spoke as a highly intelligent woman burning with the conviction that her cause was right. She also showed plainly a spirit of resolute intention not to give up the fight for minute until the battle had been won.  This was evident from her tone and voice and the way she threw back her head as she spoke of the conflict and the reasons why they should succeed. 

She was going to join the Canadian suffragists in asking Mr. Borden and his government to grant the vote for women. "If the government will not grant the demand, will you encourage suffragists on this side to adopt militant tactics? asked a Witness Reporter. 

"The Canadian women are quite able to look after their own case," was her evasive reply. 

"What about the hurling of the hatchet at Mr. Asquith," asked another reporter.  

"It never touched him and even if he had got a crack in the head, it might not have done him any harm.  It might have pounded a little sense into him," was Wylie's reply.

Asked if there was a deeper meaning to the movement.

"Women will never be respected nor hold the place and influence they should have as long as they are denied the right to vote.  We also want to exert an influence on legislation such as public health and social questions, which we think are more important than commerce and the things that men think most important."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Much Ado About Twigs.

I had a very analogue day yesterday. It was a sunny 22 degrees, and after this horrible, hideous winter I just couldn't resist. I went OUTSIDE.

I raked the lawn! I have the blisters on hands and one splinter in my thumb to prove it. I gathered the sticks and twigs and collected the ocean of chestnuts under our 100 year old Oak and de-thatched the mouldy grass. Never mind the dog poop.

Oh, bliss! Oh, joy!

And I walked the dogs with my husband, who does the dirty deed all by himself all winter long.

It was almost too hot for the dogs, who have thick coats and prefer the weather to be around 0 degrees Celsius, just like it has been all Spring long.

As you can see, there is still a lot of ice in the river, the Lake of Two Mountains, as it is called.

And then my husband, who works weekends so had the Monday off, cleaned out the BBQ and we had our first grilled meal of the year.

Shish Taouk from Adonis in Dollard des Ormeaux!

I'm on a Spring diet (I spent most of this horrible winter sitting up in bed (where I work on ye olde 'puter) eating all the chocolates I got for Christmas and Valentine's Day.

But my husband, the polar dog walker, craved ice cream.

So I said, "Let's go to Riguad to get some ice cream like we do in the REAL summertime.

"I'll come with you. "I just won't get out of the car."

By this time, you see, I was wearing my pyjama bottoms and preparing for an evening of Madmen and Call the Midwife.

So we drove the 10 minutes to Rigaud (where the Dairy Queen was open) but my husband bought his favorite chemical-free ice cream from the I.G.A.

(He was upset because it is half as expensive at Costco.)

Then, we drove to the park to see if perchance 'our' tennis courts were clear. They were, but no nets up.

Then we turned homeword. Soon, I saw this horse made of twigs by the main drag!

It was beautiful! So much movement in the mane and tail.

"Turn around. I want to take a picture," I ordered my husband.

My husband turned the car around. I asked him to get out and take a picture, as I was in my pyjamas.

He did, but when he returned I didn't like his pictures. He didn't get the angles right (I thought) and the orange backdrop from the hardware store detracted from the twig-statue.

So I got out and took more pictures, but wasn't satisfied because no background proved good.

"This belongs in the Tate Modern I thought. Not beside a highway in Rigaud.

I have no idea why this sculpture was put there yesterday. I tweeted its image as 'Ephemeral Art."

A few hours later a storm ploughed through our neighborhood, with high winds and torrential rain.

I wonder what the twig-statue looks like today.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Genealogy, Eugenics and Montreal Women

                                                     This is from MacLean's 1910.

A friend of mine, a writer, author, professor and painter, wants to write about her  ancestors one day - just like I do in my e-books.

That's when she gets the time.

Her ancestors were Russians who came to Canada around 1900-1910 to farm out West.

They were very rough, she says. Indeed, she believes one of her female ancestors may have murdered her husband by poisoning. Great story!

I'm jealous. All I have is my grandfather's bribery scandal from 1914 Montreal to write about. He was Second Assistant City Clerk at Montreal City Hall and local reporter, Edward Beck, entrapped him, also hoping to bring down the 'corrupt' regime at City Hall.

I wrote about dear Grandpapa in Milk and Water (about Jazz Age Montreal -where he was involved in the infamous Laurier Palace Movie Theatre Fire ) and will write more about him in another e-book, a sequel to Furies Cross the Mersey, an ebook I just put out, the story of the British Invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912/13.

My friend's genealogy certainly flies in the face of the Jukes/Edwards study from 1910, the study used by eugenicists to prove people are born bad.

Jukes, supposedly,was a scoundrel who gave issue to hundreds of like losers and Edwards was a fine man whose descendants were all scholars and gentlemen and 'pure' women.

This silly study, based on two people and anecdotal evidence, would be hilarious save for the fact it was widely cited, printed up in the last chapter of the 1911 Ontario Hygiene Reader and spoken about with authoritativeness in various talks given by Miss Carrie Derick, McGill Botanist and President of the Montreal Council of Women, as well as Vice President and Education Chair of the National Council of Women. Derick knew all about Mendel and his pea pods,after all.

Carrie Derick. As Education Chair of the National Council of Women, she influenced School Policy across Canada for decades.

My Furies Cross the Mersey story reveals that the Purity Movement of the 1910 era was strongly tied into the Suffrage Movement.

That's why there will never be a Heritage Minute about Furies Cross the Mersey. It's too ugly a history, although important to know because History Repeats Itself.

Still, not everyone agreed with the eugenics philosophy, especially out West.

MacLean's Magazine ran a story in 1910 about Western immigrants that included graphic descriptions of their wild off-work parties (apparently, some guy got his ear bitten off) but the article said these people were to be refined by the education - and justice -  system. In short, their kids would save them.

This eugenics push was an Eastern thing, made popular at McGill and really all about urban immigrants.

Remember, the policy in Canada at the time was to keep out those Mediterranean types who flocked to the cities and embrace only those hardy northern types, with British Yorkshiremen and such being most welcome.

As I pored over the Montreal Gazettes from November 1913 to March 1914 to learn more about my grandfather's bribery scandal and the Municipal election of that time, I was gobsmacked by something else,  a daily dose of racism on the first page of the newspaper in the form of the Index....When a black person, Italian or Pole committed  a crime his ethnicity was always stated, with no name.

And the editors used tabloid tactics to get the readers' attention.The Index entry didn't say So and So Crime: page 5. It said such things as "Negro laughs as he is convicted of Murder."

I also found an editorial from that period ranting about all the crimes committed by "a certain group of immigrant - and everyone knows who it is."

The group's name isn't mentioned, so I'm not entirely sure what group was meant. Italians, I suppose. They seemed to be getting 'the crime a day' treatment in the press.

So no wonder the women of the Montreal Council of Women were into Social Purity - and  determined to protect young women in the city. (It, still, ALWAYS comes down to protecting young women, doesn't it?)

The newspapers scared them with these stories, daily. (The Jewish Community appeared to be mounting an offensive in the Press: "Unspoken McGill policy makes it harder for Jewish students to be accepted." No, kidding.)

Of course, all the political stories were about crime, too, but crime of another sort, institutionalized crime.

(The newspaper and industrial magnate Hugh Graham was in court all the time during this period, defending himself from one charge or another, but that was, I imagine, like Greek Theatre to the average citizen, like watching the gods on high fight among themselves...)

Needless to say, this kind of thing, this distortion of events in the press to slur the reputation of one group or another, to deflect attention from the gods on high, doesn't happen today, right?

Today, we're  much too media literate and politically savvy to fall for such low brow titillation and tawdry journalistic tactics. Right?