Box 14-093 TO REVEREND J.W. MACNAMARA from Thomas B. McQuesten
Jul 7 1923
To: Rev. J.W. MacNamara, 73 Simcoe Street, Toronto, Ontario
From: 60 James St. South, Hamilton, OntarioChisholm McQuesten & Robertson,
Office Victoria Chambers
60 James St. South
July 7, 1923
Dear Mr. McNamara,
I see from the papers that you are considering appointing a Woman Organizer. I do not know what the scope of her duties would be. I am quite certain that such an appointment would be a complete mistake. I have had some experience in organizing women and I have made it my business to determine how this is done elsewhere in various matters and the conclusion everywhere is that the best results are obtained from a male organizer. A woman organizer can only go a very limited distance before she stirs up jealousy and animosity amongst the women who are subordinate to her. I wish you would delay any action of this kind until it can be more carefully considered. I am perfectly sure I am right and if you make inquiries as to what is done elsewhere you will find the conclusion as stated. Certain fraternal organizations, more particularly in the United States, have a good deal of experience in organizing women, and any of the Political Organizations right at your door will tell you the same thing. Such an experiment as proposed will be sure to fail. Can you not give the matter more consideration before taking any action?1
I am enclosing to you an account received from C.C. Robinson which I have approved.
With kind regards believe me
P.S. By the way what Committee am I on. I should have been glad to go to your last meeting but I did not receive an invitation.2
1 Thomas's objection to a woman organizer is surprising in view of the fact that his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten was the president of the Women's Foreign Missionary Society for many years, and even in the year of this letter, 1923, she organized the women of the Presbyterian Church and gave a public speech which helped to thwart the "Union" of the churches into the formation of the United Church, see W0127a. Also the women of the auxiliaries were such good organizers that they far surpassed the men in fundraising. See Essay on this site: E2-3, and W4651, and various other reports about "gender conflict" among the missionaries. "Mary's letters record some of the "gender conflicts" that occurred at home and abroad. At home the conflict was between the all-male Foreign Missions Committee (FMC) and the women's executive body in Canada; and abroad the conflict was between the FMC and the women missionaries (W4651, W5172, W5765, W6853). In both cases the dispute involved the control of funds which the women's societies had raised for women's missions and were reluctant to give up to the men for other uses. The WFMS proved to be extremely successful at fund raising, while the FMC had "perennial budgeting problems." Initially "the power of the purse" prevailed and the women insisted on "financing only women's missionaries' activities" (Brouwer 32, 34, 38). The dispute continued for many years while the FMC used pressure tactics, placed restrictions on the WFMS and, in 1910, the provincial WFMS and the WHMS agreed to try to work out a basis for union. In the same year Mary became vice-president of the Ontario Provincial Society and spoke out strongly against the union. However, in 1914 they were "forced to unite" and became the WMS. Although the women provided a "show of unanimity and brave talk" they could not "mask the fact that their leaders had been coerced into union." (From E2-3)
2 It is likely that if they had had a woman organizer, Thomas would have received an invitation and would have known what committee he was on. Note the secretary's initials on the letter "JEY" which is J.E. Yorston, Tom's secretary of many years who kept his life organized; she often did his shopping for him.