Through a study of the British Empire's largest women's patriotic organisation, formed in 1900 and still in existence, this book examines the relationship between female imperialism and national identity. It throws light on women's involvement in imperialism; on the history of ‘conservative’ women's organisations; on women's interventions in debates concerning citizenship and national identity; and on the history of women in white settler societies. After placing the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) in the context of recent scholarly work in Canadian, gender and imperial history, and post-colonial theory, the book follows the IODE's history through the twentieth century. Chapters focus upon the IODE's attempts to create a British Canada through its maternal feminist work in education, health, welfare and citizenship. In addition, the book reflects on the IODE's responses to threats to Anglo-Canadian hegemony posed by immigration, World Wars and Communism, and examines the complex relationship between imperial loyalty and settler nationalism. Tracing the organisation into the postcolonial era, where previous imperial ideas are outmoded, it considers the transformation from patriotism to charity, and the turn to colonisation at home in the Canadian North.
Empire, migration and the 1928 English Schoolgirl Tour
This chapter focuses on the lengths to which the IODE would go to produce a Canada that emulated Britain, with a case study of the 1928 English Schoolgirl Tour of Canada. The IODE placed high hopes that, on a micro level, the tour would directly encourage British migration to Canada, and collaborated with the Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women (SOSBW) in this impressive cross-Canada tour. The itinerary formed a narrative of superior British-based culture, economy and politics in a modern resource-rich, technologically advanced, democratic Canadian nation. The tour captured a 1928 moment in the narrative of hegemonic Anglo-Canada. As a result of this tour, the 1920s saw nationalism and imperialism modernise, with the schoolgirls' experiences tied up in an era of technological improvement.
Daughters of the Empire, mothers in their own homes, 1929–45
This chapter examines the changes in Anglo-Canadian identity through the 1930s, and also documents the effects of the Second World War in re-defining and shifting this identity towards centering Canada. During the Second World War, when Canada came to Britain's aid, stringent organisation led to a massive contribution to the war effort by large numbers of IODE women. The IODE used its maternal position to reinforce allegiance to Britain, but its perception was ever more Canada-centered. With women's increasing status in society, the IODE's war work was ever confident and impressive. The Second World War accentuated the contradictions between feminism and patriotism. During the war, women had shown that, in the absence of many of Canada's men, they were capable of keeping the country going, whether in the home or in gendered male occupations. The IODE's metaphorical conception of home as nation and Empire became, during the Second World War, more assertive, more confident, more proven and more Canadian in its focus.
This chapter examines the innovative work of the IODE in memorialisation and considers war memorials as producers of identity, tracing the shifts from colonial British space to national Canadian space. Through its war memorials, the IODE has used memory to produce identity, instilling a shared sense of the past and defining aspirations for the future. It has also demonstrated its capacity for insight, initiative and innovation, exerting efforts well beyond the erecting of stone memorials, and was involved in memorialising Canada's part in war through gendered feminine activities concerned with the care and nurture of the national family. Memorialisation was also achieved through the process of naming. Many IODE chapters were named after war heroes or military contingents, while others took the names of battalions to which they were attached. The IODE has known how to utilise education and encourage young minds to perpetuate imperial and national ideology based upon memorialisation.
This chapter looks at Cold War Canada, including the often-ignored gendering of democracy, and considers the effects of the perceived Communist threat on Canadian identity. It argues that the IODE's representation of democracy changed during the Cold War and that this change involved an ideological as well as a spatial shift away from Britain towards North America. The IODE believed that Communism within Canada posed a severe threat to Canadian citizenship, and its women and mothers sought to rigorously ‘sweep away the Communist stain’. The IODE's reaction to the Cold War reflected a forced reconsideration of Canadian identity. While the IODE promoted democratic principles of progressive conservatism, its methods and attitude to Communists were influenced by individualism and a politics more often associated with the USA, and with an ideal of home and motherhood as ‘private’ gendered spaces. The IODE consistently expressed clear organic sentiments, emphasising the importance of training future generations in its construction of Canadian identity. In the Cold War, it was against the Communist threat rather than the USA that these beliefs were directed. During the Cold War, the IODE's response to perceived threats to Canada caused a shift whereby colonial attachments weakened and there was a move to a focus on Canadian space. This shift was influenced by diverse ideologies from Britain and the practices of the USA.
This chapter places the IODE in a historical context, revealing its substantial contribution to the making of an Anglo-Canadian identity in the image of Britain. This study, which is about a group of women and the collective identity and vision they forged, focuses on the IODE's invention of ‘Britishness’ as a part of its vision for Anglo-Canada. That focus makes necessary the complicating of notions of imperialism as beginning in a European metropole and expanding outwards. Instead, colonialism becomes ‘a moment when new encounters with the world facilitated the formation of categories of metropole and colony in the first place’. In addition, the chapter looks at the imposition of hegemony, not by the direct force of a colonising power, but by the mimicry of descendants from the constructed British imperial center. It also takes up Buckner's challenge, and examines the development of a British Canada through the work of a group of female imperialists.
The chapter offers a genealogy of the IODE, detailing the structure of the organisation and placing it in imperial context. It shows how the IODE's set-up has itself represented its vision for Anglo-Canadian identity, and Canada's place within the Empire. The IODE fitted very closely with the imperial propaganda clubs, a number of which were founded at the end of the nineteenth century in Canada and other parts of the Empire. These were conservative movements that sought to foster imperial patriotism. Furthermore, patriotic expression was the initial primary objective of the IODE. Formed during wartime, the IODE set out to bolster and support nation and Empire, and all work took place in a patriotic context that was concerned with citizenship. In this way, it differed from other charitable organisations that did not have patriotism as their primary concern. As an organisation of female imperialists, the IODE was situated between the mostly male patriotic clubs and the women's organisations.
This chapter covers the beginning years of the IODE, through to the end of the First World War, and introduces the ‘racial hierarchy’ of the IODE and its preference for British immigration. It covers the IODE's work with immigrants and its maternal wartime labour. The IODE was not a pacifist organisation, as, during the First World War, the goal was victory for Canada and the Empire. Its military involvement refutes the arguments of some contemporary theorists, who consider war and peace as opposites, with women as ‘beautiful souls’ and life-givers, and men as ‘just warriors’ and life-takers. During the IODE's first years, immigration and war work had in common the intended construction of a strong British Canada. The IODE was able to use its élite social status and gender to achieve its objectives. It supported a ‘racial hierarchy’ which asserted that British people and their Anglo-Celtic Canadian descendants were superior to all other races, and discriminatory immigration laws which legislated this preference.
The chapter discusses the growing importance of ‘canadianisation’ during the 1920s, at which time the IODE was heavily involved with immigration and the canadianisation of immigrants. As canadianisation was based upon mimicking Britain as much as possible, British people were considered the easiest to canadianise. It was the IODE members' place to attempt assimilation in the homes of ‘foreigners’, this being considered ‘women's work’. As female imperialists, they used techniques familiar to those of other patriotic organisations around the Empire, promoting the English language and an imperial curriculum at every opportunity. Furthermore, the standards the IODE applied in rural areas reflected the urban aspirations of its members, and were often based on theories far removed from the realities of lived experience. It was with a great sense of citizenly mission that the IODE attempted to influence immigration and the subsequent life of immigrants.
The Conclusion examines the contemporary fragmented construction of an Anglo-Canadian identity based upon mimicking Britain, while also revealing the considerable continuity with, and re-presentation of, the past that exists. The IODE has played a key role in the making of Anglo-Canada in the image of Britain, and has been an important part of British imperial and Canadian national history. In focusing on the IODE, this study makes a contribution to the new area of female imperialism. The IODE's unique position, as the oldest and largest female imperialist organisation, is easy to argue for. The IODE was by far the most active organisation of those composed of twentieth-century female imperialists, encompassed the most diverse membership and carried out the widest variety of projects. Having originated in Canada, it constitutes an intervention in British imperialism and in the developing nationalism of the white settler societies, because imperial histories have often seen imperialist attitudes as originating in Britain rather than in other parts of the Empire. The IODE's history shows how British imperialism and settler nationalism worked in one twentieth-century white dominion.