Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Letter 15: The Longest Ride

Tighsolas, August 10, 1911

Dear Norman,

Your letters of the 5th and 8th reached here in a short time.

You will have Marion's and Flora's by this time so you see Flora has her certificate to enter Macdonald; all we have to do now is to get her ready.

We are trying to but the hot weather and a good many interruptions we do not accomplish much.

You will know now that Parliament is dissolved and you better try and make some arrangement with Tobin.

Yesterday morning they had their Liberal convention; he was chosen again without a dissenting voice.

In the afternoon they had the speeches in the Town Hall. I went, of course, with Marion and Flora.

Edith was out at Kingsbury for two days. She just got down as the meeting was nearly over. She heard Began of Three Rivers and McKenzie (Provincial Member of Parliament).

The first speaker was Tobin in English and French and Began of Windsor Mills and R Smith RC of Montreal.

He,of course, was the finest orator. And after hearing him I am quite in favor of Reciprocity. And he also explained Sir Wilfrid's stand on the Navy Bill.

Dr. Hayes is the Conservative candidate. They have the Oddfellows hall for their meetings. The Liberals are trying to get the Barrie Block, which will be quite central near the hotel and post office.

I don't think Tobin has anything to fear. If the other counties are as sure, Sir Wilfrid will be returned to power.

I shook hands with Tobin.

He asked for you. I said you had not been home since you went up there.

There were so many around or I was going to say that likely the election would bring you.

Quite a number (of people) are asking for you. We are saying you will be home for the fight, so we will look for you then.

The time will pass quickly. Dr Skinner is quite interested in it. I said it was bad if you were away. He said "I have not gone yet."

Nathan (Montgomery) and his wife are quite off about this election. She does not believe in Reciprocity and he does not like the stand Sir Wilfrid took at the Imperial Conference.

I am going to tell Rowatt to fix them up. I think Dr. Moffatt has been talking to them.

I am glad you are feeling some better. Drink boiled water all you can.

Tuesday Mr. and Mrs. Wales (town tycoon and shop-keeper) and his chauffeur came up to the house in their fine new car and asked me to go for a ride. They took me to Windsor Mills, the longest ride I have had. I enjoyed it very much indeed. Mr. Wales has been quite ill but better. He has not run the car yet himself.

Last eve Marion and Flora went to play tennis. Mr. Skinner asked Edith and me to go out with them, we went out seven miles in the Spooner Pond Road but could not find the pond. We had the ride and the air: that was what we wanted.

Jack McMorine is not in the store yet. He is not getting on very well, is able to be out at the door a little.

Marion had a letter from Henry Watters. He is leaving Montreal today for his Western Trip. He has to be back in Boston the 6th of September so it came on hurriedly. He said he will see Herb.

Mr. Neilson got home a few days ago. Said Herb was looking well. He was there all the afternoon.

We are dreading the visitors from the South and the West as we are so busy. Sophia Nicholson called. I gave her your message. She did not stay a night, although we asked her and she promised to. She has gone back to Flodden and will leave from there. She says she is going to Winnipeg by boat (?) Too common to go all the way by rail.

Dan and Grandma are well.

Our wood is holding out all right. Will have plenty to do until you come.

I will mail you the Times tomorrow.

Yours with much love,


E.W. Tobin was a self-made man, a Roman Catholic of Irish Extraction with only an elementary school education. (Unlike Peter Mackenzie, the MNA for Richmond, who was a graduate of St. Francis College.)

Tobin, who owned a saw mill, was MP for the region for 33 years and the letters and telegrams to the Nicholsons, in good times and bad, reveal why. Tobin was loyal to constituents and especially to his workers on the ground.

Women did not have the vote in 1910, but the suffrage movement was at its peak in Canada, not that Canada had much of a suffrage movement. This letter suggests some women already had a say in the 'family' vote. All the Nicholsons (including Norman) support the suffragists. In the era, Edith goes to hear UK speakers brought in by the Montreal Council of Women. In the 1920 election, Margaret goes out to cast her first vote ever early in the morning. "How I love this country!" she writes in a letter to Marion. Mrs. Montgomery arrives home from out of town too late to vote.

The shopkeepers of Richmond, Quebec were well-off and influential. McMorine (dry goods, ready-made clothing, boots and rubbers) McCrae (groceries, provisions and hardware) Pope's Butchers, and a Miss Eugenie Hudon, milliner, who in 1909 tricked mother Margaret into buying a big fashionable hat she was embarrassed to wear to church. Well, Miss Hudon was probably losing her young fashion-conscious customers to the big city, which is why her terms were firm: "Accounts must be paid by the end of each month."

J.C. Sutherland sold his drugstore to Mr. Bedard in 1911, when appointed Superintendent of Schools.

Mr. Wales, who owned a General Store, advertised fabrics and dress goods each week in the Richmond Times-Guardian. According to the Richmond Historical Society's book "Tread of Pioneers" Wales was the first person to own a car in Richmond. Upon his death, he left money for an Old Age Home to be erected, which still exists and still bears his name. Norman, a leading citizen who was embarrassed financially, was an executor of his will.

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