No Daughter of Mine:
The Women and History of the Canadian Women's Press Club, 1904-1971.
Grades 10 - 13 / Ages 14 to Adult.
No daughter of mine will ever become a reporter. . .
. . .
. . . but had just not thought of women . . .
. . .
. . . none has included a representation of Canadian newswomen.
VETERAN TORONTO JOURNALIST Kay Rex (Canadian Press, the CBC, The Globe and Mail) gives us a comprehensive look at the sixty-seven-year history of the Canadian Women's Press Club with grace and wit. Begun by a feisty group of women fourteen years before women had the vote, and in a time when women were discriminated against not only in the professions, but even in acquiring education, the CWPC provided a much-needed support, network, and educational centre for women working as journalists and authors.
Today newswomen travel the world and work in all media, but these victories were hard won, and Rex's book pays tribute to the "founders and fighters" and their successors along the way. There are delightful insights into women who played historic roles, such as Kit Coleman, the first club president and the first woman war correspondent; Emily Murphy, who took her fight to have women declared "persons" to the British Privy Council; and Nellie McClung, the suffragette and satirist.
At its peak, in 1957, the CWPC had 675 members and 17 branches across the country that met in a triennial national conference.
Highlights of the CWPC's history included a break-through tour of post-war Britain (though that does not sound like a big deal today), and an extensive 1955 trip to Europe for seventy-odd women journalists that culminated in a hard-won tour through the iron-curtained USSR, when the "Red" carpet was actually laid out for them (note that future Prime Minister Lester Pearson was to follow their lead).
As a result of this trip, for the first time news stories from Russia were filled with "the little human details missing for so long in dispatches sent out from behind the Iron Curtain." While the CWPC journalists were unable to get all of their pictures and collected literature out of Russia, they did obtain film that gave North America "its first look inside the USSR in 20 years."
Pictures and articles filled Canadian publications for weeks, confounding "members of the world press, who were having a hard time getting anything tangible in the way of news out of the Kremlin-dominated USSR."
Other noteworthy events included sponsoring thirty-three foreign journalists to come and participate in Canada's centennial.
Everything in this multi-faceted book is interesting, except for the boring list of rules and regulations and the catalogue of difficulties in collecting dues. Organizing this much material was likely a major challenge. The book begins with a discussion of the personalities, and then follows with the history, of the club, and there is some overlap and repetition between the sections.
Most readers will enjoy the picture section and be touched by the humanity revealed in the women photographed -- as when the Vancouver chapter arranged the funeral for their beloved Pauline Johnson.
This book will appeal especially to women, and will be particularly instructive for young or aspiring members of the media, those who study the role of women in history, and all those who take their present rights and privileges for granted. And of course, it will be an education for men.
Grace Shaw is a teacher at Vancouver Community College.
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