Sunday, February 6, 2011

Letter 23: Everything is so Grand!

Macdonald Teacher's College 1910 campus. This is now John Abbott College's main building. I got this picture from the Education McGill website. In 2007, they celebrated the Faculty of Education's 150th anniversary and posted a page about Macdonald which included information about the Nicholson girls taken from http://www.tighsolas.ca/ and every year, student teachers about to embark on their practicum learn about Marion and Flora's experiences.


3 Tower Avenue,

Sept 10, 1911

Dear Father,

I am sure you must be wondering why you have not heard from me, but I waited until I could tell you that I had seen Flora quite settled in Macdonald.

I was not able to go out with her as I had to be at school but I saw her safely off.

Mabel Shaw was with her. As she had been there before I thought she could look after her better than I could.

Henry was in town the day that she came in and he took Flora, May Watters and Mabel Shaw to the Windsor (Hotel) for lunch.

Then I got away from school and saw her off for Ste Anne's.

Yesterday Marion Watters and I went out and spent the day with her.Left here at 10 am and did not get back until 10 in the evening.

I think she is just a little bit lonesome but she would not give in that she was.

Everything is grand there. She has a fine room and her room mate seems to be a very nice girl and I am sure she will like it very much.

I only wish I were young again.

I suppose you will be home soon so I will leave anything that I have forgotten till then.

When you write Flora, put Box 55 on it and she will be sure to get it.

I want to get this into the mail so will stop for now.

Lovingly Marion

... Excuses, excuses. Letters in those days often began with an excuse (for not writing earlier) and ended with an excuse (for not writing more).

The Windsor was the fanciest hotel in Montreal in 1910. It was where High Society, on the Anglo side at least, held its balls, and art shows and such.

It is where powerful men lunched. So that fact that Dr. Henry Watters of Newton Center, Massachusetts took the girls there is worth noting. Dr. Henry Watters was May's older brother and Norman's nephew.

Macdonald College was built in 1907, with tobacco money and meant to be an agricultural school for men and a school of domestic science for women. The campus only absorbed the McGill Normal School (Teaching School)under pressure.

The Macdonald-Robertson movement was concerned with reversing the falls, so to speak. By teaching farmers advanced principles it was hoped they'd return to their farms and not stream to the cities for work. And by teaching girls 'the science of homemaking' it was hoped that fewer of them would aspire to jobs in the males sphere of the wider, outside world.

Those teachers were problematic. Some of them were career women -out of choice - and others were prime examples of those irksome 'new women' restlessly agitating for Universal Suffrage and social reform.

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