While scoping the November 1909 Montreal Gazettes for any information on the Turner Exhibit or the Industrial Fair I came across two interesting articles about education, the education of Men and the Education of Women.
Edith Nicholson of School Marms and Suffrgettes wrote in a November 1909 letter that she saw Mrs. Reford, society woman, at the Industrial Fair and that she was short and fatter than expected.
I was hoping for more information to add colour to my book as this was the month when Edith's fiance took off to Cornwall, leaving her distraught.
Now, Edith did not read the Gazette. The Gazette was the newspaper of the merchant class(and their wives) and non-evangelists, its pages filled with business news and stock market quotes and advertisements for booze and popular literature and popular entertainment.
That newspaper did not openly support the suffragettes either, as did the evangelical Montreal Witness.
But had she happened upon this edition of the Gazette and picked it up, (perhaps looking for jobs as a stenographer for she had originally trained to be an office worker) she would have come across these articles. I wonder what she would have thought.
The article about men's education was actually an Editorial, pondering whether all working men might benefit from a 'liberal arts' education, meaning the study of Greek and Latin.
Businessmen and tradesmen and professionals.
Similar to what they had in England, but only for the elite.
This material wasn't of practical value, that was a given, but it elevated 'character' the author of the piece suggested. And such knowledge would prove useful in retirement or in times when a man is depressed, as a kind of spiritual balm.
(I myself studied the classics in school. I don't re-read Suetonius in my 50's, but I do like to go on YouTube and visit Pompeii and download pictures of their wall art, print it out and put it on my wall. And I do enjoy looking at classical art. Looking at beautiful things does lift me out of depression, but I'm a woman..)
The other article - about women's education - was in the Women's Section, squeezed between drawings of the latest fashions.
"Youthful and stylish chapeau. In 1909 hats were big and hats figure big in my story School Marms and Suffragettes."
It was rather cruel in tone, even though aimed directly at women readers.
"A woman goes to college and comes out of it hurt instead of helped because she has somehow gained the crazy notion that the mere taking of a collegiate course and the incidental acquiring of a smattering of incident knowledge of a few of the arts and sciences are in themselves an excuse for claiming or asserting mental superiority to men who have been trained in another way.
It is women of this class who men dislike and shun."
The warning here to matrons, Don't educate your daughter or she won't find a husband!"
Yes, I wonder what Edith Nicholson, the teacher without a diploma, thought about such ideas. No doubt she came across them all the time.
I ask this, because to some Edith could have come across as a dilettante. But her thirst for learning was genuine. (She went on to work at McGill in the Registrar's Office and as Assistant Warden of Royal Victoria College.)
The Presbyterians were all for women's education. They were generally Scots who valued education, but they also believed that it was women who elevated the race, even at the family level. Well, especially at the family level.
That's why they supported the suffragettes. They wanted women to get the vote so that they could change the world for the better, because all men cared about was making money, and booze and the 'other'.
For business men, like Reford of the Reford Transportation Line, their wives (with their good works) played a different part, "Good Cop" to their "Bad Cop".
This still happens today, even with the American President and his wife. Romney's wife Anne, played that part at the Republican Convention this past week. The news articles praised her warm side. If you don't like him, you might like her. They were using her to appeal to female voters who generally don't go for candidates who are "all business." "I love you, women, and I hear you voices," she is quoted in the press as saying.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, she was overshadowed by Clint Eastwood and a Chair.
Some Popular Titles in November 1909.
Edith preferred George Eliot. I have her two volume set of Middlemarch.