The Rise of Agrarian Democracy: The United Farmers and Farm Women of Alberta, 1909-1921
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Mining and Society Series. By Brian James Leech. In , at the age of 50, Macphail enlisted as a medical officer for the First World War, and spent twenty months at the Front with a field ambulance corps. He was knighted by George V, January 1, , for his military and literary contributions. Macphail passed away in Montreal in The play is a loose adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew , which MacPhail uses to critique market speculation see also Albert Ernest Knight's Canada, Fair Canada , class inequality, and what he saw as the disintegration of the family.
His solution is a return to "the land" and to a rural agrarian society.
The agrarian solution posited by Macphail was in sync with the longstanding notion of acriculturisme in Quebec, that is, a belief in the values of sustaining an agricultural society in which Catholic, domestic values were the norm. Agriculturism was seen as one of the major impediments in the just and equitable treatment of women in Quebec society until, that is, the Quiet Revolution.
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Macphail conducted agricultural experiments with his brother Jim at the Macphail homestead in Orwell, now a national historic site. They are credited with starting the seed potato industry on Prince Edward Island, and experiments in tabacco growing. Macphail's writing, however, reveals a disturbing and cynical misogyny in his thinking that overpowers his agrarian idealism.
Milicent Moray is MacPhail's 'Kate,' but while Shakespeare's Kate is sharp and witty, Macphail's Milicent is obnoxious and rude; she complains to her husband: "My life has been full of obstacles; first my father; then you; then both of you" When her father Benjamin Haszard dies, Milicent believes she has inherited her father's fortune and can now purchase her "freedom" from her husband, and demands a formal separation.
After she discovers that her father's fortune was lost on the stock market, she "surrenders" to her husband and agrees to live within what MacPhail sees as the "normal" relation between man and wife-"master and subdued" Macphail is equally backward in his treatment of women in the workforce, revealed in a conversation between Milicent and the nurse:. Milicent: There seems to be a conspiracy against women who work.
Nurse: The traitor hides in our own hearts.
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