Winds of Change: Reforms and Unions
Mrs. George A. Drummond, Montreal, QC, 1894
Wm. Notman & Son
1894, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: female (19034) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
Keys to History
In Montreal as in other large Canadian cities, a wide range of private and religious institutions made it their mission to help the indigent. Influenced by methods used in the United States, the city's reformers wanted to make social assistance more «scientific». Thus was founded in 1900 the Charity Organization Society to co-ordinate the work of several organizations. Both francophones and anglophones sat on the board of trustees. Under the chairmanship of Lady Drummond (1851-1942) from 1910, the Charity Organization Society of Montreal recognized the following year that poverty is society's fault, not the individual's. A «scientific» study carried out by the group estimated that unemployment and illness were the cause of 60 per cent of the «disabilities» of poor people.
The photograph shows the portrait of an important reformist: Grace Julia Parker, the wife of the prominent Montreal businessman George A. Drummond (1829-1910). She had the necessary education, means and connections for useful social commitment.
The portrait was painted in Montreal, Mrs. Drummond's favourite sphere for social action.
It was in the early 1890s that Mrs. Drummond began her philanthropic activities. Her goal was to help her neighbour in a practical way by offering him the means of improving his situation by himself. With her husband she established the home for incurables.
Mrs. Drummond held a number of influential positions, including being chair of the Montreal branch of the National Council of Women (1893-1899) and the Charity Organization Society of Montreal (1911-1919), an umbrella organization that co-ordinated philanthropic activities in the city.