A Great Rural Sisterhood

A Great Rural Sisterhood: Madge Robertson Watt and the ACWW

LINDA M. AMBROSE
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt130jwdb
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Great Rural Sisterhood
    Book Description:

    InA Great Rural Sisterhood, Linda M. Ambrose uses a wealth of archival materials from both sides of the Atlantic to tell the story of Watt's remarkable life and the creation of the Associated Country Women of the World.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6901-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Framing the Life of Madge Robertson Watt
    (pp. 3-19)

    In the 1980s, one researcher who attempted to write a full-length biography of Madge Robertson Watt gave up in frustration. In her words, “after searching for her life story for about three years and finding very little, one can only think of a high diver who rises in the air, twists, turns, swirls and twirls then disappears into the water with hardly a splash.”¹ It is true that despite an impressive literary reputation among her North American contemporaries in the late nineteenth-century world of popular writing, and despite the fact that she went on to become the founding president of...

  5. Chapter One Formative Years: Family Influences and University Life
    (pp. 20-48)

    “Every social location offers a limited number of possibilities from which individuals can create a possible self.”¹ While postmodern biographers make such claims about the ways that individuals consciously and unconsciously make and remake themselves, historians still debate to what extent individuals are shaped by their circumstances and to what extent they shape themselves by accepting and rejecting various influences around them. Either way, one thing is certain: the historic context in which one finds oneself has a bearing on that person.

    Growing up as the privileged daughter of a lawyer and a church-woman in Collingwood, Ontario, in the last...

  6. Chapter Two Scripting the New Woman: Writer and Editor
    (pp. 49-68)

    In July 1891, a short story by Madge Robertson entitled “The Heart Knoweth” appeared in a Saturday edition of the Toronto newspaper, theGlobe. As the title suggests, it was a love story, and in typical Victorian prose, it told the tale of a young man named Edmund travelling overseas who was completely preoccupied with thoughts of the young woman, Margaret, whom he had left behind in her hometown of Collingwood, Ontario. The young woman had fallen hopelessly in love with the man, but he, fearful of making a commitment to her, had ended the relationship abruptly to pursue his...

  7. Chapter Three Playing Multiple Parts: Family, Society, and Sorrow
    (pp. 69-96)

    After writing so much about romance themes in her fiction it is not clear whether Madge Robertson, like the fictional new women she wrote about, initiated the proposal of marriage to her fiancé or not, but on December 14, 1893, theEnterprise and Collingwood Messengerrecounted that

    [a] very pretty house wedding took place at the residence of Henry Robertson, Esq., Q.C., last Thursday afternoon, when his eldest daughter, Margaret Rose (Madge) was united in marriage to Alfred Tennyson Watt, M.D., of Victoria, B.C. The bride, who looked charming, carried a magnificent bouquet of white roses … The knot was...

  8. Chapter Four Role Reversal: From Colonial Widow to Imperial War Hero
    (pp. 97-123)

    After her husband’s death, Madge Watt found herself in circumstances that, perhaps for the first time in her life, she had not planned. As she emerged from mourning, she would meet her new circumstances headon and embrace a whole new set of roles; this time she took on a role that, even more than before, made her a very public figure. During the next thirty-five years of her life she would spend most of her time travelling, sometimes based in Britain, at other times back in Canada and the United States, but also travelling internationally, doing the work that would...

  9. Chapter Five On the World Stage: Forging International Networks
    (pp. 124-169)

    When Madge Watt left England in 1919, she was showered with farewell gifts and tributes for the wartime contributions she had made to the Empire. She spent the next two years in Canada, during which time she was involved in the affairs of the newly created federation of Canadian Women’s Institutes (Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada, hereafter FWIC). In 1921 Watt returned to England with an enlarged vision of what cooperation among rural women worldwide might mean. Her experiences after the war with Women’s Institute groups in Canada and the various state extension efforts in the United States had convinced...

  10. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  11. Chapter Six Sidelined by War: Waning Influence, Denial, and Death
    (pp. 170-215)

    With the whirlwind of activity surrounding the London conference behind her, Watt set her sights on returning to Canada to rest and to visit with family members. To honour her hard work on the ACWW conference and to acknowledge the contributions that Watt had made to the English Institutes as a member of the Executive Committee, the NFWI planned a luncheon in her honour before she departed, inviting all the members of the Executive Committee and its subcommittees, informing them of the event. “As you are probably aware,” Frances Farrer, the NFWI secretary, wrote, “Mrs. Watt resigned from the Executive...

  12. Conclusion: Interpreting the Significance of Madge Watt
    (pp. 216-238)

    In 2007 Parks Canada designated Madge Watt as a person of national historic significance, citing the fact that she was a “key driving force in the foundation of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) in 1933, first president from 1933 to 1947.”¹ The application requesting this designation came from a group of BC Women’s Institute members, and after historians at Parks Canada completed background research, it was determined that Watt was indeed worthy of this prestigious designation. With that decision, Watt joined an elite group of just over seventy Canadian women who have been so designated; in her...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 239-290)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 291-312)
  15. Index
    (pp. 313-326)