In 1947 a Canadian cartoonist penned a cartoon during the IODE’s National Annual Meeting in Halifax. ‘Removing the Red stain – a noble work of mercy’ displayed a mother figure sweeping away Communism from her comfortable sphere of apron and broom. In the accompanying article, ‘The IODE fights Communism’, the national president of the IODE asked C. Bruce Hill of St Catharine’s, Ontario, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, what women might do from their family position to fight war? In reply Hill suggested that women as mothers should exercise extreme care as to what their children were taught both inside and outside of the home. To fight Communism, a woman could ‘keep herself informed on national and world matters and she can be careful of the organizations she, herself, joins’. On top of that advice it would be useful to teach children ‘pride in and loyalty to the traditions of democracy of the British Empire and their application to Canadian life today’.1
Such advice illuminates the importance of women to postwar Canadian citizenship. Citizenship was a place that was gendered through an appeal to women’s enduring domestic positioning. While the postwar years saw women’s place idealized, as wives and mothers women were simultaneously accorded a part to play in promoting good citizenship. 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’. It did this through its work in the areas of education, media relations, civil defence, immigrant training and citizenship courts. Such work continued the IODE’s mission for a British-influenced Canada.
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 its attitude to Communists were influenced by an individualism and a politics more often associated with the USA, and with an ideal of home and motherhood as ‘private’ gendered spaces. Communist threats to democracy, real or imagined, forced the IODE to consider what was ‘Canadian’ and to redefine Canada through the difference that it sought to destroy. This process involved moving away from attachments to Britain and towards an identity located in Canadian space. The IODE’s work with immigrants and citizenship demonstrated this shift, articulating a clear and confident vision of Canadian citizenship that, although still influenced by Britain, was less dependent on the rapidly devolving Commonwealth. With the increased emphasis on individualism, home and gender played an important part in producing Canadian identity. Masculinist conceptions of democracy, however, have not considered how such spaces were vital components of citizenship.
The new enemy: Communism as a threat to democracy
The assumption of the citizen as male has dominated much of the thinking on Cold War democracy, serving to exclude women from public recognition and to focus their concern upon the separated ‘sphere’ of ‘the home’, one that has little or no place in mainstream accounts of the Cold War.2 To the contrary, historians such as Elaine Tyler May refute divisions between political and family values, and instead reveal connections between gender, family and national politics. During the Cold War the IODE, as a group of conservative women, operated between and across constructed public and private spheres. Caught up in an era in which ‘family values’ predominated, the IODE evinced women’s essential place in the home and their moral influence as mothers. At the same time, the IODE confidently intervened in matters of national and international concern, perceiving a growing threat not only to Canada but to world peace itself: ‘Over the entire past decade there has brooded the shadow of imminent catastrophe should a World War develop and our increasing national awareness has been tempered by the tensions of a World divided into mutually suspicious armed camps.’3 Indeed, so great was the perceived threat that the IODE went into an attacking mode, akin to its activities during the world wars.
Throughout the Cold War the IODE advocated strategic voting as a tactic against Communism. The vote had not been available to members in the early 1900s, but by the 1950s it was a tool that women were keen to utilize. It is worth noting, however, that during this period not all Canadian women had the vote, as native Indian women were still excluded. Not surprisingly, the IODE urged members to vote for progressive conservatism. The reasons for abandoning its hitherto non-partisan stance, and instead urging members to use their votes ‘wisely’, at once engaged with the constructed public level of politics and the private gendered domestic realm. Indeed, it was perceived that the
most powerful weapon that Canadian women have today against Communism is the vote. Some of us do not realize that we now have more than fifty per cent of the voting power in the Dominion. Think of it! But the mere casting of a vote is not enough. We should have definite information about the candidate for our support – his or her former affiliations and real aims and objects. Failure to make certain about such matters has already made possible the entry of pro-Communists into our parliaments.4
It was as women, yet women motivated by concern for the nation, that the IODE abandoned its non-partisan stance. And although times had, since the IODE’s beginnings, dramatically changed for women, old ideas were re-presented. For example, on the one hand the language that the IODE used was redolent with Edwardian maternalism, while on the other it was infused with the postwar rhetoric of participatory citizenship. The motion was passed at the1948 National Meeting that as ‘immediate concerted action is imperative’, every member of the IODE must be ‘urged to take an active and intelligent interest in the selection of candidates for Municipal, Provincial and Federal elections and use her vote to influence toward the defeat of Communism’.5 The following year, members pledged to fight the ‘menace of Communism in Canada’. IODE National President McCurdy was quoted as saying: ‘Who can measure the power and influence of 32,000 women in Canada, speaking out and acting in unison when they felt that the principles for which they stand are threatened?’6 The request was reiterated in 1957 by the editor of Echoes:
As every member of the Order is aware, the IODE is non-political and non-sectarian. In these words of comment there is no intention to extol or to condemn any shade of political opinion – other than Communism which we heartily condemn – or any party represented in Parliament … Let us also make sure that each of us may be equally proud of the part we as individuals play in the fields of municipal, provincial and national government in electing those who will form and carry out the policies that will shape the future destinies of our country and in the training of our children in the responsibilities of citizenship.7
There was no place for Communism in the kind of citizenship sought by the IODE. As a women’s organization, the IODE expressed concern for children, a concern which had everything to do with politics and was not confined by public and private borders, but one which justified the IODE women’s place as mothers in politics.
When women’s historians of the postwar era in North America have questioned the image of women’s place in the home, right-wing women have thus far been excluded from consideration. Many of the members of the IODE were, in fact, women leading lives closest to the ‘suburban ideal’ that contributors to Not June Cleaver, a study of women and gender in the USA during the postwar years, set out to complicate: they were white middle-class housewives, with time to devote to women’s organizations.8 These were women who upheld conservative family values, who from their beliefs crafted a specifically female anti-Communism. Primarily, the IODE saw Communism as a threat to its conception of democracy, an important defining component of its Canadian identity. Democracy was viewed by the IODE as embedded in government, constitutional monarchy and the right to vote. ‘Pure democracy’ was ‘a society consisting of a number of citizens who assemble and administer the government in person’.9 It rested upon the four freedoms – freedoms of worship and speech, and freedom from want and fear. The IODE modelled its concept of democracy on its perception of British democracy, and patriotically stated that it was ‘owed to the Motherland to keep Canada free’.10 The words of the provincial president of Ontario in her 1949 annual speech captured that sense of strong attachment to Britain: ‘Therefore, may I say that the undeviating purpose of our Order is to foster and maintain our Dominion and maintain for our Dominion and our Empire our way of life, our freedom of choice and, as a matter of fact, all that we connote or imply in our meaning of the word Democracy.’11 Britain’s battered post-Second World War economic position and the movement towards independence of Commonwealth countries were put aside as the IODE glorified British tradition and empire building with statements such as: ‘The hall-mark of British justice and British law is indelibly stamped on the parliaments of all free nations everywhere. England has stood alone, defending the gates of freedom with head bloody but unbowed, longer than any other nation, either recorded in history or now extant.’12 This was hyperbole, considering the aid recently given to Britain in the Second World War, but it had a logic necessary for the continuation of colonial attachments that set Britain apart as the example to be emulated.
The IODE’s version of conservatism was backward looking, retaining many of the features of nineteenth-century conservatism, and not displaying the pragmatic components of postwar Canadian conservatism more generally. The IODE’s democratic sentiments were grounded in a Tory politics moulded around the time of Canada’s confederation. The ideology for this form of democracy was derived from a combination of Bossuet, Burke, Bentham and counter-Reformation Catholicism, eighteenth-century English Tory conservatism, and nineteenth-century English utilitarianism.13 John Conway notes that ‘British conservatism and its expression in Canada in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are based upon an organic rather than an individualistic concept of society’.14 This conservative democracy stressed that the goals of society could not be achieved in one generation: ‘Change, to be fruitful, must be brought about slowly, so that the desires of one generation will not obliterate its obligations to secure the good for its successors.’ In contrast, American liberalism was based upon a belief in unending progress, with Americans placing value on individualism and individuality above community.15 Whereas American assent had to be constantly renewed, Canadian assent was personified by the monarch and modified as need arose by the crown in Parliament; hence the IODE’s continuing emphasis on Canadian constitutional monarchy and its institutions. For all that postwar Canadian conservatism more generally was descended from such politics, it was nevertheless pragmatic and quick in down-playing the British connection.
On the contrary, the IODE consistently expressed clear organic sentiments, emphasizing 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. For example, proselytizing Communists were portrayed as making full use of the comprehensiveness of their doctrine, so that what they preached appeared to be the means of putting the world to rights; therein lay the appeal of its missionaries’ message. In contrast, the democracy promulgated by the IODE may have seemed to lack such appeal, especially for the young, because it characterized the society in which they had been brought up – it was what they were used to. Echoes put the issue in these terms:
One great difficulty for the mother or the teacher in combating Communist influence is the fact that the Communist missionaries make the one irresistible appeal to the black and white tones of Communism seem to offer a simple, direct answer to ‘what’s wrong with the world’. In this situation, even the mother finds herself regarded as a reactionary, and her thinking dismissed because she ‘belongs to another generation’. And there is another complicating factor: that political science and economics classes did not concern themselves as extensively with Communism in mother’s and father’s day as they do now … Democracy is the fruit of many generations of living and experience. Yet Democracy must be presented to the young in a vital, exciting form if they are not to veer off into the modern political pitfalls.16
Communists were perceived as threatening women’s domain and portraying women who defended ‘democratic’ values as reactionary. Eradicating Communism was therefore the concern of women. In 1951 in Echoes a powerful ‘warning’ appeared, arguing that ‘to break up our free society from within is the main objective of the enemy. Compassion and human feeling are ruthlessly exploited and THE YOUNG ARE UNREMITTINGLY PURSUED’17 (original emphasis). The warning was directed at the National Federation of Labour Youth which was enlisting youth for apparently ‘praiseworthy’ purposes, ‘the better to receive Communist poison later’.18 With youth perceived to be under attack, it was an appeal to motherhood that the IODE used to fight Communism.
Postwar maternal politics
The IODE engaged with the perceived ‘masculine domain’ of democracy and politics not in spite of its status as an organization of women and mothers, but because of that fact. The connection between the space of the home and democracy was clearly put in 1942:
Democracy, like so many saving graces, has its beginning in the home. Consequently women have a special responsibility. In the home members of the family must learn to live co-operatively; they must learn discipline, tolerance, unselfishness, self-restraint and, above all, consideration for the rights of others. These are the first principles of democracy. Building for democracy is a task for the women of Canada. If we have vision, we shall succeed.19
Women were called upon for their qualities as women, to defend and promote democracy. They should do so from their position in the home, defending their families, a frequent appeal made to IODE members during the Cold War. In order to uphold democracy women should exercise their capacity as care givers and moral watchdogs to children and youth. As the editor of Echoes alerted the readership in 1951:
Have you ever wondered how you would behave if any enemy started dropping bombs on Canada and kept dropping them, forcing you and your family and your neighbours to live close to death, perhaps for a matter of years? That is something that did not happen to us in World War I and World War II. But it happened to other people and it is almost certainly that we will have to face if World War III develops. There may be no war – we pray there will not be – perhaps no bombs will fall. Yet today in a grim world, tense with dread, we have the need for clear-eyed courage, steady thinking, unshaken faith. We need civilian morale now, war or no war, and we need women able to create and maintain it. We who love Canada can so serve her now.20
Through women’s capabilities as care givers and nurturers, the task of upholding democracy was theirs. It is interesting that the IODE used maternal identity in support of its politics. At the same time, other North American women, also claiming to be ‘ordinary housewives’, and who, like IODE members, were largely affluent, white and educated, called for peace in the name of motherhood. Women Strike for Peace began in the USA in 1961 when an estimated 50,000 women walked out of their kitchens and left their jobs to protest against escalating militarism.21 Like the IODE, they claimed to be saving children, but from nuclear war, not a Communist threat.
The IODE considered youth to be the most vulnerable and likely targets of Communists. Its fear was fuelled by the moral scare and ‘delinquency panic’ of the 1940s and 1950s.22 It was the place of IODE members as mothers to intervene and rescue children from Communist influences. Democracy at once had everything to do with the home as well as with the nation. A reprint by Echoes of an editorial from the Vancouver Province was indicative of the perceived threat to Canadian youth. In this editorial a mother told how she had lost her son:
From a tractable boy he has become a defiant, unmanageable youngster. All the good old Canadian traditions have gone by the board. Canada, according to him, is a nation of war-mongering capitalists. I am, he says, an ignorant illiterate, when I attempt to argue with him. These children are not old enough to remember when Canada was a sweet and pleasant land. They see their parents harassed by prices and taxation which make even necessities hard to obtain. Communists are appealing to the youth of our country as Hitler appealed to the youth of Germany. Through fun … parties at which their insidious propaganda can be disseminated. If reputable political parties are doing nothing to catch and hold the loyalty of young Canadians, Communism is. In another four or five years these youngsters will be old enough to vote. God help Canada then!23
Women’s intervention, it was believed, would be most successful through the education of youth. An article in Echoes in 1948 stated that the perceived Communist threat to youth was particularly the concern of Canadian women because ‘the training of youth, in the home and in the schools, is particularly the responsibility of women. And a heavy responsibility it is.’24 Fear in the schools was intensified by the belief that North Americans had a complacent lifestyle that left opportunity for the Communist peril to strike. The construction of just who the Communists were had plenty to do with Canada’s southern neighbour.
The IODE’s notions of democracy were challenged and altered by the Cold War, with important consequences for its construction of Canadian identity. Arguably, the events of the Cold War led Canada to ‘choose’ to be positioned next to the USA, turning away from Britain and looking to occupy its own respected place on the world stage.25 This was a shift away from a stronger colonial attachment to Britain, leading to tension between British democratic values and the values of an American individualism situated across the border. Such tensions were played out in the IODE’s definition of the Communist threat and in its methods of ‘combating’ Communism.
Three major types of Communist, all seen as challenging Canada, were constructed by the IODE: Communists in the Soviet Union; Communists in Canada; and immigrants from countries under Soviet influence. Where the Soviet Union was concerned, the IODE believed it to be at the opposite pole to that of ‘British democracy’. ‘The Russian State is omnipotent’, the IODE argued; individual human beings were unimportant, and ‘a Communistic government is inevitably a tyrannical one’.26 Communism was seen as a force undermining Christianity, the churches and morality. Echoes in 1948 published a drawing with the inscription ‘An indication of Communist publicity. Communist workmen throw an effigy of Jesus Christ and of the Sacrament into a garbage pit.’27 This cartoon simultaneously rejected Soviet industrialization and atheism. The presence of a toppled liberty bell indicates that this cartoon was a direct import from the USA. Ironically, it is American republicanism that is under threat here, and not the Canadian body politic. It appears that the cartoon was a hasty import.
The Soviet Union was deemed evil, but who were the Canadian Communists threatening from within? Merrily Weisbord has suggested that ‘the mythology of Communism had always been inextricably bound up with the Soviet Union, the prime example of a Communist State’.28 As was the belief of the Canadian and United States’ governments and many other organizations during the Cold War, the IODE equated all progressive organizations with the Soviet Union, thus discrediting and silencing them as traitors. Purported links to the Soviet enemy were sufficient grounds to denounce Canadian Communist Party members, trades unionists and ‘peaceniks’. As Whitaker and Marcuse have suggested, the Cold War in Canada had an enormous impact upon progressive indigenous politics, which was ‘rendered so difficult by the false choices apparently imposed by the rigidities of the Cold War’.29
So powerful an aura did the IODE build up around its imagined enemy, and so great was the fear generated among members, that the Order was not often called upon to define clearly the characteristics of Communists. Rather, in sweeping statements, as was generally the case during the Cold War, it was common in one sentence to uncritically condemn Communists alongside Fascists. For example:
At one time it was fashionable to dismiss the Communist party throughout the world as a group of blundering malcontents, just as it was once fashionable to tag the National Socialist Party in Germany with the same label. But the Nazis demonstrated that they knew a great deal about introducing propaganda into the education of youth – the Communists are equally expert in this field.30
The reference to Nazi Germany solidified the image of Communists as being to the Cold War what Germany was to the Second World War.
The peace and trades union movements in particular fell victim to this generalized attack. For Canada, the Cold War began with the riveting Gouzenko trial, where scientists and Communist politicians were subjected to humiliating detainment and trial after the defection of a Russian cipher clerk, Igor Gouzenko. Gouzenko revealed a supposed Soviet espionage system that was using Canadian civil servants to supply secret and other confidential information concerning atomic power to Soviet intelligence. Twelve Canadians and a British civil servant were detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and a special Royal Commission was set up.31 The reverberations for left-wing movements were debilitating.
Further to sparking the attack on Canadian Communists, the Gouzenko affair contributed to the silencing of peace activism.32 Labelling scientists as Communists, as was done with the Canadian Association of Scientific Workers, was an effective way of calling a halt to the international control of atomic power.33 Likewise, in the USA, scientists working towards international control of atomic weapons were silenced. The international control movement collapsed; the nuclear arms’ race began.34 As Denis Smith has put it, the Cold War was off to a frightening start and ‘fear was malignant: henceforth it paralysed thought, sustained ignorance, and bred intolerance’.35 The after-shocks of the Gouzenko affair reached all left-wing organizations, as a broad-based highly ideological attack enforced a ‘ready acceptance of the logic of guilt by association’.36 Those with left-leaning politics were not the only ones to suffer. In an era that promoted the home and heterosexual family life as being at the heart of security, those who fell outside of the confines of the nuclear family, especially homosexual women and men, were subject to intensive persecution.37 Although the Canadian Government and public opinion were sympathetic when Canadian scholar and diplomat Herbert Norman committed suicide in Cairo in 1957, for those deemed ‘security risks’ because of their politics and/or sexuality there was much ‘witch hunting’ within the Canadian civil service.38
As the IODE was usually quick to emphasize Canada’s political differences from the USA, there was the potential for Canadian conservatism, on anti-American grounds, to resist the hysteria of American anti-Communist tactics. Whitaker and Marcuse argue that this possibility did not materialize. Instead, the conservative press tended to strike a generally pro-American line, with anti-Communist arguments well received by conservative Anglo-Canadians. Whitaker and Marcuse argue for a shift in Canadian conservative thinking from anti-Americanism to anti-Communism by 1948. With hindsight, the activities of the IODE, as representative of ‘the deepest blue sections of tory opinion’ – those with ‘empire emotions’ – to a certain extent support Whitaker and Marcuse’s argument, especially in the tactics used against Communism.39 Yet in democratic ideology there remained a strong presence of ‘British heritage’, the influence of which led to a distinct Canadian Cold War identity.
During the Cold War the IODE displayed a strong sense of mission in crushing difference, notably in denouncing the peace movement. Here, a framework of domesticity and gender relations was not always a necessity. A vivid example was the IODE’s reaction to the visit of the Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, the dean of Canterbury. The ‘Red Dean’ was worrisome because as ‘a tireless apologist for the USSR’ his cross-country speaking tour of Canada in 1948 ‘attracted large “respectable” audiences and inspired the formation of groups that became local branches of the Peace Congress’.40 Sponsored by the Toronto Peace Council, the dean’s cross-Canada itinerary included Vancouver, supposedly under the auspices of the Vancouver branch of the Council of Canadian-Soviet Friendship.41
The IODE used its influence to try to deny the dean entry to Canada. An emergency meeting of national officers in Toronto resulted in a message to acting Prime Minister Louis St Laurent, describing the dean as ‘a supporter of the doctrines of Communism emanating from Russia’.42 An editorial in the St Catharines’s Standard supported the IODE’s call, stating: ‘The IODE doesn’t want him admitted to Canada at all, and that patriotic body of women is quite right. Communism cannot be combated if we entertain and encourage it right at home.’43 Other newspaper reports called upon supporters of the dean: ‘It is profoundly disturbing’, reported the Vancouver News Herald, in a statement made by Reverend J. Gregory Lee of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Ottawa, ‘to find a body like the IODE in company with the Mosley fascist group of Great Britain, who recently sought to prevent the Dean speaking before an East London audience.’44
The IODE’s reaction to the dean’s visit was fuelled by a fear that Communists would infiltrate the Church. Although the IODE prayed for peace, it branded the peace movement as Communist, in contradiction of Canadian democracy. Later, in 1955, the IODE national executive’s minutes denounced a ‘new Communist snare’, warning Canadians not to sign petitions of the Canadian Peace Congress.45 Siding against the Soviets, the IODE’s view was boldly stated in Echoes:
HERE IS THE TRUTH: – Ever since 1945 the free West has been endeavouring to outlaw the atom bomb for purposes of war and to reduce progressively all other armaments in the only practicable and indeed possible way, that is by international agreement under the United Nations with impartial international inspection in all countries concerned. The Soviet Union’s refusal to accept inspection has been the insuperable barrier to progress in all negotiations so far. A recent suggestion of a Soviet change of attitude on inspection has not yet been converted into a concrete proposal. Meanwhile Soviet propaganda continues to misrepresent the situation, pretending that they alone are prepared to ban atomic weapons. The fact is that Soviet policy has been the only obstacle in the way of world disarmament.46
Following this reasoning, Canada had no choice but to support nuclear armament, and supporting peace rallies and international cooperation was futile, treasonous and encouraging to Communism. In 1958 when the United Church tabled a resolution to support a ‘ban the bomb’ parade around Toronto’s streets, the IODE responded that the ‘reds’ were ‘taking in’ the churches.47
Enemy immigrants and canadianization
Along with Soviets and left-wing Canadians, immigrants as a group were considered Communists or potential Communists. Immigrants from ‘red’ countries, who would arrive in Canada and spread their antidemocratic ways, were cautioned against. In 1946 the Province of British Columbia IODE tabled a motion that led to the resolution by the national executive:
[B]e it resolved that the Canadian Government, when considering the future immigration policy for Canada, be urged to give preference to settlers of British origin and people of Allied countries, restricting admission of people of enemy countries until such time as Nazi and other anti-democratic doctrines shall have been eradicated, and assurance can be given that such immigrants will subscribe to our democratic ideals.48
This is in line with Franca Iacovetta’s suggestion that ‘responses to new immigrants after the Second World War were still conditioned by strident anti-Communism and an overriding desire to preserve and promote as much as possible the Anglo-Celtic, northern, white ‘character’ of the Canadian population’.49 Indeed, the IODE’s traditional preference for British immigrants recalled earlier racist positions when it argued that it was owed ‘to pioneers of the country that future generations will be predominantly white and predominantly BRITISH’50 (original emphasis). These sentiments represented Canadian official policy. In 1947 Mackenzie King made the famous, much-quoted, statement that the Government would attempt to foster the growth of the population of Canada through the encouragement of immigration and that ‘the people of Canada do not wish, as a result of mass immigration, to make a fundamental alteration in the character of our population’.51
Under the 1947 Immigration Act there was practically free entry for people from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and the United States. Citizens of other, ‘non-entry’, countries were eligible only if they had special skills that were in demand, as in agriculture, mining, and lumbering, or if they had adequate means for their own support.52 The skills in demand would permit the taking on of persons displaced by the Second World War, and hence serve the purpose of moving Canada to a more prominent position in international affairs.53 According to Robert Harney, displaced persons provided ideal, almost chattel, labour, and their recruitment satisfied Canada’s reputation ‘for high moral purpose among the community of nations and its image of generosity of spirit in providing access to a land of second chance’.54 In this vein, Canada admitted an increasing number of refugees – between 1946 and 1966 more than 300,000.55 There were special arrangements for those displaced persons possessing skills in demand, with agriculture and resource labour being high priorities; for example, Polish and Italian ex-servicemen received special treatment on such grounds.56
Given the numbers of refugees arriving in Canada following the Second World War, the call for ‘British stock’ was all the more urgent. The IODE carefully monitored displaced persons and, according to its persistent hierarchies of race, classified the types of occupation to which refugees were most suited. In 1946 the unmarried Polish war veterans, stereotyped as strong and rural, were noted as having been tested for physical fitness and farm experience. Finnish men, associated with the sea and the forests of Scandinavia, were thought to be suited to work in lumber and fishing, with Finnish women, cast as clean and orderly, fit for domestic service.57
The IODE was particularly concerned about the arrangements for young displaced women. In 1947, it reported that 2,000 displaced girls, out of a projected 10,000, were due to arrive in Canada. On 19 October 775 persons were due, including 100 girls for domestic service, the rest going into lumber camps in Ontario. After strict medical examinations, the girls would be sent to positions as domestics at prevailing wages for at least one year.58 The IODE suggested that members canadianize these new arrivals and make arrangements ‘for social teaching of our language and facts of our country’.59 Here the IODE displayed much continuity with its work during the first half of the twentieth century. Although there was a perceived need for protection of immigrant girls, domestic service was still considered to be their ideal occupation. Meanwhile, instruction in the English language and canadianization were the ongoing strategies for assimilation.
The IODE was quick to dissociate groups of Eastern European immigrants to Canada from Communism and quickly aided them in canadianizing. That there was need for such rescue work was a common belief in Canada, one that was advanced by the media. Hungarians, for example, were shown as emigrating to escape the dreaded clutches of Communism. A newspaper report in 1956 stated: ‘Hungarians hate the colour red, symbol of Russian oppression. This is one foible discovered by social groups working with the largest contingent of refugees yet arrived from the Communist-suppressed country. Red means Russian, and the refugees don’t want to be confused with their oppressors.’60 In Alberta, the Saint Margaret of Scotland Chapter IODE, founded in 1955, demonstrated the efforts made by the IODE to canadianize newcomers from Communist countries. With an all-Hungarian membership, the chapter made a tenuous yet bold connection between Saint Margaret and Hungary. There were contested claims as to the identity of Margaret, but linking Hungary and Scotland emphasized the similarities between the two ‘heritages’ and legitimized the place of the Hungarian ‘new’ Canadians.61 Chapter members’ activities in canadianizing immigrants included acting as interpreters for immigration authorities, working at the emergency clothing bank, and assisting with English classes. Through the Red Cross, the chapter supplied medicine to Hungary, and during the Hungarian Uprising they met each group of refugees arriving in Calgary.62
It was common for the IODE to portray immigrants from Eastern Europe as fleeing from the perils of Communism to the democracy and freedom of Canada, where complacent citizens took democracy ‘for granted’. This problem of complacency was articulated in a 1948 statement sponsored by the special IODE committee set up to study ways and means of combating Communism:
The trouble is, most of us take democracy for granted. The young men and women coming into Canada these days from the displaced persons camps of Europe don’t take democracy for granted. Some of the young women who have become domestics in Canadian homes were daughters of well-to-do families, university-educated, products of cultured homes. They were hunted out of those homes, they lost their families because of totalitarianism. That they were rescued at all is because of democracy – democracy which won the war and now is sending aid to the suffering.63
As the IODE had sent aid to Europe during the First and Second World Wars to fight the Axis powers, it afterwards sent aid to fight Communism.64
The IODE was involved with every stage of the process for integrating immigrants from arrival to full citizenship. A statement at the National Meeting in 1959 by the immigration and citizenship convenor ran: ‘I cannot stress strongly enough the term integration. In it lies the clue to the successful absorption into Canada of the immigrants who come to our shores, and to their happiness in their new homeland. Our work must thus be directed toward facilitating and hastening this process of integration.’65 As Canada became central to the IODE’s vision, there was, as well as the importance of ‘skills’, a clearer and more important emphasis on citizenship values. Out of the perceived threats posed by the Cold War, the IODE was forced to articulate a Canadian identity, grounded in Canadian space. The IODE began to give more attention to Canadian values than to perceived racial origins.
With the diminished importance of the turn-of-the-century-constructed racial hierarchy, the potential for the canadianization of all immigrants increased, and when combined with an articulated sense of Canadian identity, together with the sense of Communist threat, there was much work to be done. In 1951, for example, the IODE was instrumental in setting up the publication Canadian Scene, a bimonthly non-profit information service which distributed press releases in the languages of the major immigrant groups. IODE members Mrs Osler and Mrs Jennings were acting on fears that foreign-language newspapers were teaching Communist doctrine66 to ‘the tens of thousands of Europeans who enter Canada each year’.67 The immigrants, it argued, were regarded by Communists as ‘fertile ground for their ideological distortions’, and Canadian Scene was created to provide an alternative – ‘a clear and interesting picture of what is going on in this country, emphasizing the institutions of democracy and inculcating a feeling of national pride in their new homeland’.68 In an attempt to control the ethnic press, ‘as a perfect means for creating good Canadian citizens’, Canadian Scene allowed the IODE to exert a degree of control over the content of immigrants’ papers and to re-formulate Canadian identity.69
The articulation of a Canada-centered identity also emerged in the IODE’s work in welcoming immigrants. The initial port contact provided the opportunity to combine welfare work with canadianization, and the IODE used the demand for its gendered work to hand out literature. In the late 1950s, for example, 992 ‘new’ Canadians entering Canada through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, were met by IODE members who offered flags, treats, toys, books, socks and mittens to the children.70 In 1955, Mrs G. L. Hamilton of Windsor, Ontario, national immigration and canadianization convenor, claimed that in the previous year members spent 2,030 hours working at the docks. They handed out 1,204 lbs of biscuits, served 65,000 cups of coffee and 25,280 glasses of milk.71 The objective of this work was that ‘the Daughters of the Empire, as first ranking women’s patriotic organization, can and should by example awaken every Canadian citizen to the contribution they can make towards building a strong and noble national future through Assimilation and Canadianization’.72 From the end of the Second World War through to the end of the 1960s adults were given booklets such as ‘Ten steps to Canadian citizenship’ and ‘This Canada of ours’, 500 copies of which were produced for the IODE by the Royal Bank of Canada.73 At this time, the reading matter was approved by, and often produced in collaboration with, federal government. In 1953 ‘close liaison’ was kept with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, in Ottawa. The IODE saw its position as ‘providing the medium for the distribution of government literature prepared by it for the newcomer’.74 Work at the ports and stations of Canada continued as a staple activity of local IODE chapters until aviation took over. It was not until the 1959 National Meeting that the suggestion was made that the IODE should try to ‘cover the airports’.75 New technology was bringing the IODE’s days of port and station welcomes with coffee, milk, biscuits and patriotic literature to an end.
Through its citizenship work, the IODE was promoting harmonious family life. The provision of home comforts and arranging for the individual ‘adoption’ of some families may have been left to women’s voluntary labour, but happy families were considered central to national well-being. In a 1966 address to Toronto’s Saint George Chapter, Dr Robert Kreem, social worker and director of the International Institute, an agency for immigrant aid, emphasized the importance of family as well as financial comfort in the adjustment of immigrants to life in Canada.76 In the postwar years, along with other women’s organizations such as the YWCA and the WCTU, the IODE continued to support the integration of immigrants into Canadian home life. The IODE swept up after immigrant families which were unable to fend for themselves. In one instance, a Toronto chapter paid the grocery, gas and heating bills of a young Portuguese mother whose husband was in a Toronto hospital suffering from tuberculosis.77 Canada, it was believed, could only benefit from propping up immigrant families in the absence of the male parent, supporting the status quo and fostering peaceful family life.
In the 1950s citizenship courts became a focal point of IODE efforts. As an example of typical chapter activities for the lead-up to these courts, in a 1955 meeting of Calgary’s municipal chapter Mrs C.E. Gray spoke on the work being done with new Canadians. A Miss Halstead had offered to teach the new Canadians basic English, and Mrs Marshall was to assist by serving coffee during the lessons. Plans were also being made to improve the courthouse procedure when new Canadians acquired their citizenship. Books and Christmas cards were still needed, and the Rupert Brooke Chapter had donated six pictures to the reception centre.78 In canadianizing new citizens, education and the English language were considered vital.79 Through the contact provided in the preparation for a citizenship court, the IODE was able to give English lessons and teach ‘Canadian values’. The IODE helped immigrants with preparation for court, in filling out citizenship forms where there was no official help,80 and held classes with new applicants on the rights and privilege of being a Canadian citizen.81
At the citizenship courts the IODE created a special place in the post-ceremony receptions. Its stated aim was to provide new Canadians with an experience such that they might ‘remember the day on which [they were] given … citizenship not as a humdrum one on which [they] had to attend at court, but as a proud, bright and festive milestone in [their] life’.82 The IODE felt that it was fulfilling its mission when individuals wrote to the Order to say, for example: ‘My wife and I will never forget the wonderful reception we had from the IODE the day we took our citizenship. The warmth and kindness of that reception will have a great influence on us for the rest of our lives.’83
In citizenship court receptions the IODE negotiated between the spaces of refreshments and citizenship. In return for its gendered catering services, the IODE was permitted to hand out patriotic propaganda. Amongt the greeting cards, calendars and maple-leaf pins distributed in New Brunswick during the 1960s were tea cups and saucers with the IODE crest on them, with the purpose of triggering drinkers’ memories as to the message of the IODE.84 In Saint Andrews, in 1966, the Passamaquoddy Chapter presented each of six new Canadians with a crested cup and saucer, and, centred on the refreshment table, a large cake covered with small Union Jacks.85 Overall, the courts represented a festive and proud moment for the IODE and Canadian identity. It was an identity that, although firmly influenced by Britain, was now produced in Canadian space.
Part of this more confident Canada-centered identity can be read from the certificates of naturalization that were handed out at citizenship ceremonies. Figure 7.1 is one of the certificates given out during the 1940s in New Brunswick. The responsibilities and privileges of citizenship were more clearly articulated in the post-Second World War years than previously. Yet there was no sense of conflict with the British tradition or recognition of French Canada, and no indication of the move to American individualism which appeared, as we will see, in other areas of the IODE’s work. Here the British body politic of constitutional monarchy and the ‘ancient liberties of the British peoples’ were articulated.
Ironically, the IODE’s confidence came at a time when the percentage of British immigrants in Canada’s total immigrant intake continued to decline. According to Anthony Richmond, of the 2.5 million immigrants who entered Canada between 1946 and 1965, one-third were from the United Kingdom. The number of British immigrants reached its peak in 1957, after which it was eclipsed by other groups.86 Furthermore, in situating Canadian identity in North America, the IODE was employing anti-Communist strategies of the USA to uphold these British-based democratic values.
Combating Communism USA-style
The IODE’s tactics for combating Communism were heavily influenced by the USA’s. In 1948 the IODE set up a special committee to ‘combat Communism’. Made up of representatives from four of the major committees of the Order – the national educational, Empire study, Echoes and film committees – this task assigned to this new committee was to make ‘an intensive study of the whole subject of Communism and to disseminate, as much as possible, correct information to members of the Order’.87 Despite its ardent statements, such as ‘we who believe in Democracy are honestly shocked at the regimentation of minds and affront to human dignity imposed upon citizens of dictator governed states, whether Communist, fascist or modern feudal in form’,88 the IODE’s tactics bore a striking resemblance to those that the IODE accused Communists of using. ‘The Alert Service’, for example, which was run from a Toronto office, was an IODE-funded service started in 1950, with the intention of ‘helping Canadians to equip themselves to meet the propaganda and infiltration efforts of Communists’.89 In this office Marjorie Lamb was responsible for the writing and printing of ‘alerts’: ‘pamphlets written in plain English to keep Canadians accurately and constantly informed about the policies and operations of Communism, and to devise and encourage sound methods of combating Communist subversive above-ground tactics in Canada’.90 Marjorie Lamb was written about as being ‘both nationally and internationally recognised as a qualified expert on Communist above-ground activity in this country and on methods of countering it’.91 A trained interior decorator, with an education in Canada, England and France, and former president of Altrusa International, she was reported to have developed her momentum for combating Communism in 1926 while she was studying at the Sorbonne in Paris.92 The alerts took the form of simply typed texts of approximately four pages, which could be readily copied. Titles in 1962 included ‘Communism and you’, ‘Communist organizations’, ‘Communist literature and propaganda’ and ‘Conspiratorial Communism’.93 The IODE was active in distributing the alerts nation-wide, first to its own members, for discussion at meetings, then to school libraries, church groups and industries. At election times it was anticipated that members would distribute the alerts to areas with Communist candidates.94 It appears that the IODE’s ideas for these alerts came directly from the USA. Guy Oakes has written about ‘Alert America’ and the ‘Alert America Convoy’, a comprehensive information service that distributed pamphlets, dramatized the Soviet threat and convinced Americans that civil defence was necessary for survival.95
IODE propaganda, while overall emulating that of the USA, simultaneously forced the IODE to consider and define more clearly than previously what constituted ‘Canadian’. The IODE was quick to recognize the power of the media in getting its ideas across. In 1948, National President Mrs New set out four objectives of the IODE with regard to the ‘complete eradication of Communism in Canada’.96 The IODE wanted the Government to make information about Communist activities available to the press and to translate information for foreign language newspapers. The IODE recommended that members across Canada set up listening committees to ‘determine whether the cause of democracy is being undermined by radio programmes’, and the CBC was urged to ‘make fuller use of commentators and newscasters who will impress upon the public a greater realization of the menace of Communism’.97 With its history of encouraging British-influenced Canadian arts and culture, the IODE was active in submitting a brief to the 1951 Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts. Meanwhile, at the local chapter level school prizes in arts and music continued across the country.
Attempts to influence the media were made by the IODE throughout the 1950s. In 1955 the Edmonton Journal reported that the IODE was ‘out to combat communism in Canada’. The paper reported that, at its National Annual Meeting in Winnipeg, the IODE had decided that it wanted the CBC to broadcast fuller reports on Communist activities to Canadians.98 In 1957, the special committee to combat Communism was re-titled the ‘democratic action committee’. Its purpose was ‘to mould the thinking of our people along democratic ways and thereby instil true patriotism’.99 The goal was to be achieved through comic books and cartoon stories dealing with Communism (similar to then-popular versions of biblical stories in comic-book form); youth programmes would work through schools.100 In 1959, the IODE was still voicing its opinion that there was not enough awareness of propaganda that threatened Canadian institutions: ‘Books, press, radio, TV, stage and screen advertising, and even on occasion the pulpit have become the tools of propaganda. While we worry about survival in case of atom bomb or guided missile attack, we may scarcely be conscious of the danger we run of losing our precious right of independent judgment.’101 Pushing for Canadian content was all the more urgent, given the pertinence of Whitaker and Marcuse’s observation that, at the time, ‘Canadians’ images of current events were strongly defined by pictures and voices produced by American and British companies (sometimes with short Canadian features tacked on)’.102
In defining ‘Canadian heritage’, entrenched aspects of the British body politic and Canadian conservatism were upheld. One example of the IODE taking the initiative in broadcasting such pro-democratic content was in a patriotic radio series made in New Brunswick. In 1957, Mrs F. L. Miller, as part of New Brunswick IODE’s Canadian Heritage Programme, organized a series of broadcasts around the topic of ‘Canadian heritage’. It was the intention of the producers of this series to ‘awaken the people of New Brunswick to a new consciousness of the freedoms and traditions which they are privileged to enjoy: freedoms and traditions which are becoming priceless in the twentieth century’.103 Present in this broadcast was the intention to ‘keep fast the ideals of British Democracy in New Brunswick’.104 The broadcasts were centred around allegiances ‘to the Crown of England and the justice, freedoms, and responsibilities it represents’.105 The five-minute radio talks were given by ‘respected’ citizens, such as the lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick speaking, as ‘the Queen’s representative in New Brunswick’, on ‘The British Commonwealth and Canadian defence’; the premier speaking on ‘The privilege of the vote in a democracy’; and the chief justice speaking on ‘What British law has meant to New Brunswick’. An historical geographer discussed ‘Our maritime heritage: a basis for a sound economy’.106 In keeping with the IODE’s alignment with Britain, such a programme had much more in common with other parts of the Commonwealth than it did with the democracy of Canada’s southern neighbour.
It was in the IODE’s involvement in civil defence that there should have come the clearest re-alignment away from British influences and towards those of the USA. Because of its location in the home, separate from the public masculine spaces of citizenship, civil defence is largely absent in mainstream accounts or discussions of the Cold War. The success of civil defence, however, depended upon its ability to show the vital interdependence of home and national defence. As Guy Oakes argues, civil defence was constructed as the moral obligation of every household and ‘construed the practices demanded by family preparedness as civic virtues indispensable to the American way of life’.107 In contrast to British Heritage Programmes, which were representative of progressive conservatism, American civil defence was an individualistic activity, which tied national security to the character of family life and family values.
Elaine Tyler May has noted the usefulness of women’s traditional role in American civil defence.108 It was believed that continuing to cope in domestic settings after a nuclear war involved those household tasks, such as cooking, that were deemed women’s work. Caring and nursing were other traditionally female activities to which women were expected to contribute both in the home and in the nuclear shelter. During the Cold War the threat of nuclear war was constantly conveyed to the American public, and its ability to survive such a war as depending upon American family values. Across the border in Canada, the IODE was a strong supporter of Canadian government civil defence programmes. In 1955 the National Chapter established civil defence liaison officers at the provincial, municipal and primary levels. The liaison officers attended special courses at the Canadian Civil Defence College at Arnprior, Ontario, on diverse topics which involved both women’s and men’s work. The tasks were general welfare, emergency clothing, emergency feeding, emergency lodging, registration and inquiry procedures, firefighting, radio monitoring, knots and casualty handling, personal services, evacuation, transport, chaplaincy, maintenance, recreation, medical services, supply, communication, care of pets, and personnel.109 Gender identity was sometimes an important part of the IODE’s contribution to civil defence. On the ground, the tasks that the IODE took an active part in were predominantly those considered to be women’s work. In a letter to convenors, IODE National Civil Defence Liaison Officer Mrs Osler, with substantial Second World War experience, said: ‘There is one phase of civil defence training which no housewife or mother should overlook – basic home nursing. This Course is being taught by St John[’s] Ambulance and the Canadian Red Cross.’110
Civil defence, according to a 1955 advertisement in Echoes, was ‘a common sense way of dealing with any community disaster’. IODE members were urged to learn to do everything that they could to protect their own lives and the lives of their families. As citizens they should make sure that local civil defence organizations were strong and active.111 In emphasizing the home, the IODE was arguably adopting American virtues of self-determination, personal responsibility and self-help. These were virtues believed to be anchored in the family –‘the primary locus of their inculcation and practice’ and the location of the ‘moral structure’ and the ‘spiritual strength’ of American home life.112
To explain the IODE’s participation in an individualistic, American-influenced, civil defence as representing Canada’s shift from a British colony to a nation situated in North America is not an adequate interpretation of the Order’s involvement in civil defence. Canada’s civil defence was distinctively ‘Canadian’, and the IODE’s prominent position in civil defence was based upon its participation in the Second World War. This was a participation that placed work for the common good of community, nation and Empire as of prime importance, with everyone banding together to beat the foe. Such a discourse was very different from the Cold War emphasis on personal fear and individual preparedness. It was the IODE’s work in the Second World War that stood it in good stead to help out during the Cold War. Mrs Osler and Mrs C. L. Brown represented the Order at an emergency clothing course in Arnprior in 1954. Out of the fourteen representatives in attendance, there was only one other woman.113 The value of having the competent women of the IODE involved was recognized by Federal Co-ordinator Major-General Worthington, who noted: ‘Since the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire has been actively engaged in the collection and shipping of clothing over a period of years, it is natural to believe that the members of the Order will not only be vitally interested in participating in this phase of the Canadian Civil Defence programme but, also, will be able to contribute a valuable back-log of practical experience.’114 While the work of the IODE was gendered, preparing to defend Canada came first. The IODE was held in such high regard not primarily because its members were wives and mothers, but because of their grounding in the British body politic, in progressive conservatism and defence of the nation.
Canadian civil defence was a unique brand. Unlike the USA’s programme, however, Canadian civil defence was communitarian, pragmatically stressing ‘community’ above the individual home. This was evident from its emphasis on the importance of huge civil defence exercises, than on individuals securing the safety of their homes. Mrs Mitchie, wife of the Canadian governor-general and herself the Alberta provincial civil defence liaison officer for the IODE, associated the civil defence movement with the British body politic. Commenting on ‘Operation Lifesaver’, a mock evacuation of 40,000 people from Calgary in September 1955, she summed up the IODE’s place in civil defence: ‘Across Canada, many members of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire are participating in Civil Defence activities. The Order has always sought to further the national security. Here is a vital service in which many more of our members could make a valuable contribution.’115
National security through national community was the key to Canadian civil defence. The composition of national community operated along gendered terms. During ‘Operation Lifesaver’ IODE chapters in Calgary worked as units in a variety of tasks, from members who were nurses assisting at welfare stations to ‘those who had taken special Civil Defence courses [and] were in their places at the registration tables or at the emergency feeding station’.116 In this collaboration outside of the home, uniting as a nation to defend the nation was the major emphasis, and not at-home individual preparedness.
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. Gender was integral in both the identification and combating of the enemy. In a period remembered for its harsh treatment of difference, both personal and political, the IODE supported the status quo, its members promoting the conservatism of the era. For all that women’s position in society was vastly different from what it had been at the turn of the century, the importance of maternal identity took on a continued, and specifically postwar dimension, as women’s domain of home and children was believed to be under threat. While the IODE articulated British sentiments, at the same time it was the tactics of the USA that were adapted to fight Communism. It was out of the threats believed to be posed by Communists that the IODE articulated a clear vision of Canadian citizenship. That vision was still based upon British principles and Anglo-Celtic superiority, but was more encompassing in emphasizing the ability of immigrants to assimilate over their perceived racial origins. The Cold War forced a serious engagement with Canadian defence and nation building in the Canadian north. That arena is the subject of the next chapter.