Veronica (Nikki) Strong-Boag, a UBC professor in the Departments of Education and Women's Studies, is a former Director of the Centre for Research in Women's Studies and Gender Relations and a former coordinator of women's studies programming at SFU. She has co-edited a B.C. coursebook on women, B.C. Reconsidered: Essays On Women, with UBC's Gillian Creese, and studied adoptions in English Canada.

With her doctorate in history from University of Toronto, Strong-Boag arrived at SFU in 1980. Her other books include New Day Recalled: Lives of Girls and Women in English Canada, 1919-1939, which received the Canadian History Association's John A. Macdonald Prize for best history book of 1988. With Carole Gerson, she co-wrote two E. Pauline Johnson studies, Paddling Her Own Canoe in 2000 and E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake: Collected Poems and Selected Prose in 2002.

John Campbell Gordon was Canada's seventh Governor-General, from 1893 to 1898. Originally from Scotland, he and his wife Ishbel Marjoribanks Gordon, collectively known as 'the Aberdeens,' were known for their passion for social reform. Strong-Boag's Liberal Hearts and Coronets (University of Toronto Press, 2015) explores the compelling story of the progressive Aberdeens and their contributions to Canada. It is also "the first biography to treat john Campbell Gordon as seriously as his better-known wife.";

The couple's first visit to the country was part of a world tour undertaken in 1890. They immediately felt an affinity with Canada and in 1891 bought Coldstream Ranch in BC's Okanagan valley (the purchase was reportedly touted in local newspapers as "the best advertisement the Okanagan country has ever had";). In 1893 John was appointed Canada's Governor-General and the Aberdeens settled in at Ottawa's Rideau Hall. The couple was dedicated to worker's rights, women's rights and home health care. Ishbel helped found and was elected president of Canada's first National Council of Woman and the Victorian Order of Nurses. John travelled extensively through Canada, driven to meet and speak with the everyday Canadian. Through their beliefs and actions, the Aberdeens transformed the perception of Canada's Governor General. Previously viewed as an upper-crust representative of the monarchy, the position was now seen as one that listened to and spoke of Canadian citizens' concerns.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
E. Pauline Johnson Tekahionwake: Collected Poems and Selected Prose
Paddling Her Own Canoe: The Times and Texts of Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)
Painting the Maple: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Construction of Canada
Working Lives: Vancouver, 1886-1986
Liberal Hearts and Coronets: The Lives and Times of Ishbel Marjoribanks Gordon and John Campbell Gordon, the Aberdeens


In Times Like These (Social History of Canada Series) by Veronica Strong-Boag, Nellie L. McClung (1972)
Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women's History, edited by Veronica Strong-Boag and Anita C. Fellman (Copp-Clark Pitman, 1986)
The New Day Recalled: Lives of Girls and Women in English Canada, 1919-1939, by Veronica Jane Strong-Boag (Penguin, 1988)
"Janey Canuck": Women in Canada, 1919-1939, by Veronica Jane Strong-Boag (Canadian Historical Association, 1994)
Painting the Maple: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Construction of Canada, edited by Veronica Strong-Boag et al (1998)
Paddling Her Own Canoe: The Times and Texts of E Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), by Veronica Strong-Boag, Carole Gerson (UTP, 2000)
E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake: Collected Poems and Selected Prose,
by Carole Gerson (Introduction), et al (2002)
Nellie McClung, The Complete Autobiography: Clearing in the West and The Stream Runs Fast (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2003) (Editor)
Children's Health Issues in Historical Perspective (Wilfred Laurier University, 2005) (Editor with Cheryl Krasnick Warsh).
Finding Families, Finding Ourselves: English Canada Encounters Adoption from the 19th Century to the 1990s (Oxford, 2006).
Liberal Hearts And Coronets: The Lives And Times Of Ishbel Marjoribanks Gordon and John Campbell Gordon, the Aberdeens (University of Toronto Press, 2015) $32.95 9781442626027
The Last Suffragist Standing: the Life and Times of Laura Marshall Jamieson (UBC Press 2018) $89.95 978-0-7748-3868-9

[BCBW 2018] "Anthropology" "Women" "Pauline Johnson"

The Last Suffragist Standing: The Life and Times of Laura Marshall Jamieson by Veronica Strong-Boag (UBC Press $89.95)

Review by Patricia E. Roy

From a variety of sources ?including interviews with descendants and records left by contemporaries?Veronica Strong-Boag has uncovered many details, and has set them firmly in the context of the times, for The Last Suffragist Standing: The Life and Times of Laura Marshall Jamieson.

After growing up on a poor Ontario farm, Laura Marshall Jamieson (1882-1964) briefly taught in the Crow?s Nest Pass, graduated at the University of Toronto, worked for the YWCA in Stratford, Ontario, married lawyer John Stewart Jamieson, a member of the Liberal Party, and moved to Burnaby.

The focus of this book is on Jamieson?s work for reforms, especially those affecting women, and her election to the provincial legislature to become, according to her biographer, the last Canadian suffragist to serve in a legislature.

Her education, her active role in Vancouver?s University Women?s Club, and her husband?s position put Jamieson into the middle class, but she was uneasy with that status. She criticized the ?patronizing? attitude of some middle class women to the impoverished, their non-recognition of the rights of domestic servants, and the failure of suffragists such as Nellie McClung to seek other reforms, such as minimum wage laws, to improve women?s lives.
Similarly, in the mid-1940s when women were still cautious about participating in public life, Jamieson complained of their ?strong inferiority complex? and hesitation about taking on tasks of citizenship that would have the public see them ?as ordinary people first and as citizens, before it thinks of them specifically as women.?

Jamieson practised what she preached. She saw education and internationalism as the keys to solving ?global problems? and achieving ?a fair deal for women.? As the mother of young children, her involvement in the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) seems natural, but Strong-Boag suggests that Jamieson wanted to use the PTA to ?promote internationalism.? Active in the feminist and pacifist Women?s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), she sought to ally the League with other progressive bodies. Yet, she was realistic.

When the international situation deteriorated in the late 1930s, Hitler changed Jamieson?s belief in pacifism. She called for trade embargos on belligerents.

Given her husband?s part-time position as a juvenile court judge in Burnaby, a position to which she succeeded after his death, Jamieson became known as an expert on child welfare. She called for sex education, even for young children, and for the establishment of nursery schools and of community centres where older children could enjoy recreational and cultural activities.
In 1938, she resigned her judgeship to resolve, through politics, what she considered the root cause of juvenile delinquency, the lack of ?food and clothing,? an argument she was still making in 1953.
Although she could not vote for them in 1916, Jamieson favoured the provincial Liberals because they supported women?s suffrage. Despite their introduction of such reforms as Mothers? Pensions, Jamieson thought the Liberals abandoned their progressive sympathies after granting the franchise, so she looked elsewhere. Attracted by the ideas of socialists about public ownership of utilities and equal pay for equal work, in 1920 she announced that she had joined the Federated Labour Party.

By supporting socialism and internationalism in the 1920s, Jamieson put herself ?on the periphery of women?s political activity.? Yet, when she ran as a CCF candidate for a provincial seat in a 1939 Vancouver by-election, some Liberal and Conservative women helped her successful campaign.
Strong-Boag suggests that moving away from ?mainstream clubwomen? may have contributed to Jamieson?s defeat in the 1945 provincial election. That may be so, but in 1941 the Liberals and the Conservatives split the non-left vote; in 1945, Coalition candidates secured both Liberal and Conservative votes.

Jamieson was not long out of electoral politics. Elected as a Vancouver alderman, she argued for progressive reforms, particularly low-rent housing, but could not persuade city council to adopt this idea. In 1952, she re-entered provincial politics after the Coalition disintegrated, but lost in 1953 by a narrow margin to a candidate of the new Social Credit government.

A feminist champion of social democracy, Jamieson had been deeply involved with the CCF from its beginnings even though, as Strong-Boag notes, many party members assumed that men had the right to lead the party with women serving only in an auxiliary role. It is telling that one of Jamieson?s last public appearances was at the founding convention of the New Democratic Party in 1961 where she presided over a meeting of 300 women.

In relating Jamieson?s story, Strong-Boag presents fresh material on the well-known divisions within the CCF, especially between democratic socialists or social democrats like Jamieson and doctrinaire Marxists, notably Dorothy Steeves, at times, the only other female member of the CCF caucus.
Outside the legislature, jamieson combined her belief in the importance of educating people, especially women, about current events, and the need to supplement her income. When her husband died of blood poisoning, he left only a modest estate and two school-aged children. Jamieson created study groups from whose members she collected a fee.

She also applied her belief in the value of co-operative housing by taking in boarders, a precedent for the communal residences for employed women she set up in Vancouver. Her favouring of co-operatives was sincere; she urged CCF members to patronize co-operative ventures such as grocery stores.
Strong-Boag rightly concludes that Jamieson was more concerned about injustice based on class and gender than on race. Jamieson did favour an easing of restrictions on immigration from China and India to permit family reunification but was cautious in speaking about the Japanese. Yet, during the war she endorsed the Vancouver Consultative Council?s demand for justice for Japanese Canadians while favouring their dispersal across Canada.
Strong-Boag recognizes Jamieson?s imperfections especially in respect to Indigenous peoples. In British Columbia, Jamieson appears to have had little interest in its Indigenous residents, but in what was likely a draft for a speech relatively late in her career, Jamieson wrote approvingly of efforts to integrate Indigenous children into the public schools of Oliver.

The Last Suffragist Standing is lively and informative; the descriptions and analyses of the times make a valuable contribution to the wider historiography of women?s political activities in Canada and to British Columbia politics in general.

Laura Marshall Jamieson would undoubtedly be pleased with this study of her life and times. 9780774838689

Patricia E. Roy is professor emeritus of history at the University of Victoria. She is best known for her trilogy of books, A White Man?s Province (1989); The Oriental Question (2003), and The Triumph of Citizenship (2007).

[BCBW 2019]