Special Collections & Archives holds many items relating to the women's suffrage movement, many pro-suffrage, but also some anti-suffrage. Complementing our documentary collections, we also have a handful of artifacts, including this bud vase, currently in the Alice Riggs Hunt fonds.
Elizabeth Long maintained the library of the National Council of Women of Canada. We recently redescribed her fonds, and found a speech regarding the donation of the vase, and which places it at the same time that the Council donated the Lady Aberdeen Library on the History of Women to the University of Waterloo. (The Mrs. Patriarche mentioned in the speech is Valance St. Just Patriarche, an active member of the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Women's Press Club.)
We are unsure how the vase came to be in the Alice Riggs Hunt fonds. However, we are most excited to have discovered new evidence as to its provenance!
Transcript of speech
Madame President, Members, and Mrs. Doris Lewis
It requires real courage to present a piece of ceramics to a Librarian, even though this vase can be classified as SOCIOLOGY, and Canadian.
It is 50 years old, and comes from the Women’s Suffrage Association in Manitoba—the first of our provinces to give women the franchise. Leaders of the Manitoba group were mostly writers: Nellie McClung, Harriet Walker, E. Cora Hind, Lillian Beynon Thomas, Ann Anderson Perry.
These women were members of the Women’s Press Club which held a yearly dinner during Christmas week. In 1916, when Mrs. Perry was working on the dinner program she found this bud vase in a Winnipeg store, complete with its gaggle of geese and inscription, “We Want Our Votes”. Mrs. Perry bought it for a table decoration and later presented with great hilarity to Valance Patriarche, who was a movie censor and sole support of her son. Mrs. Patriarche refused to help with the vote. She thought women had too much to do, without taking on politics. And four weeks after that dinner, the Manitoba Legislature did pass their women’s franchise bill!
This vase so amused Mrs. Patriarche that she preserved it carefully through the years, finally offering it for the Aberdeen Collection, as evidence of the once active public opposition to woman suffrage.
The history of women in every country and every age appears to have followed the same pattern. Some day a man breaks down and teaches a young woman how to read, how to keep accounts, how to tend the temple fires, or how to handle the machines of war. And inevitably there comes the day when she not only masters this important skill but ends by equalling, or excelling, the men in a time of national crisis. What happens next? Well from now on, all Canadians have to do is to go to Waterloo University and research it for the whole story in the Lady Aberdeen Collection. We’ll probably get an eyeful, and want to work even harder for equal status of women here in Canada.
[Handwritten: P.S. Mrs. Patriarche suggests in 1917 cigarette smoking became popular. A Matchholder!]
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