Female Imperialism and National Identity: The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire

By Katie Pickles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
Conservative women and democracy:
defending Cold War Canada

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

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