Tag Archives: government

I am Woman — Hear Me Roar? Linda Knight Seccaspina


Robert McDonaldRobert McDonald Photography–From the Mississippi Mudds – Aladdin Jr production on February 18, 2017–Phototaken on the mezzanine of the town hall.

I am Woman — Hear Me Roar? Linda Knight Seccaspina

In 1911 Sir Wilfrid Laurier came to speak in the grand hall of the small hamlet of Carleton Place situated in Lanark County, Ontario. This was an important event for those voting in Carleton Place and the local women worked for days preparing the hall and the luncheon. Some women wondered if they could also hear the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and were soon told that they would be allowed to sit on the upper floor as long as they remained quiet.

For women today this notion seems incredible, but you have to remember that in 1911 artist Emily Carr abandoned her love of painting in British Columbia because Canadian critics and buyers were not ready for her work. A woman could not use the term ‘martial abuse’ in 1911 and would be condemned to life imprisonment for any harm done to her husband, even if she was not at fault.

In 1974 iconic Ottawa Valley writer Mary Cook wrote that there was one area in which Lanark County was completely backward and that was in electing or appointment of women to municipal or community office. Have times changed since 1974 when Mary wrote that article in the Ottawa Citizen?  I was curious, and when the North Lanark Age Friendly group asked me to write an article about the subject I had an inkling of the answer I was going to get.

I asked a few female politicians if they felt they were treated less by men and all of them answered yes. Yet, no one really wanted to give me their names for exactly the same reason Mary Cook received in 1974. Anyone she queried asked her that they remain anonymous so it would not jeopardize their chances of ever becoming appointed to a committee or being elected to public office.

The documented fact is that women are still underrepresented in politics. When I ran for office as a councillor a few years ago; I was asked by some if I should not consider my age or my health. Honestly, I would rather drop dead representing my community than sit on a chair and watch reruns of The Crown. The fact that I am in my senior years doesn’t make me any less effective, nor am I too delicate to lead. Once baby boomers, we are now aging in a society that celebrates beauty and youthfulness and our opinions sometimes become invisible.

In the early 1960s I was passionate, not by politics, but by the incredible social change led by the youth movement.  I told my father that anyone over the age of 30 should be sent out to farms. I really drank the Kool Aid blaming the older generation for the VietNam war and the condition the world was in. In 1981, I turned 30 and the first thing my father asked me was: “When are you leaving for the farm?”

By then I realized that being a woman in the current world was going to be more difficult. Trying to get a job and being discriminated against for wearing avant garde fashion and my strong opinions were my worries now. In my grandmother’s case in 1981, they were still being treated like 1911 and had to listen to a speech by the Bishop from the confines of the church kitchen after organizing complete events.

We as women, and as senior women, are still invisible to some and when we stand up for something we are not acting “like your mother” or having “a hot flash”. After speaking with these women in politics this week I realize we still have issues with female authority, and women are still the most underused resource. While it is no longer the mentality of 1911 I understood these women’s concerned comments of continuing gender bias despite their great performances.

In 1974 one civic minded female from Carleton Place summed up the situation this way to writer Mary Cook. “Women have a lot to offer, but for some reason men are terribly afraid they might lose some of their prestige if they open their doors to women in public office”. Why do women still have more to prove than men when it comes to politics and other issues?

It doesn’t matter where you live–women belong in all places where decisions are being made. As Shirley Chisolm once said: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring your own folding chair”.

Lady Aberdeen and Lady Taylor
Lady Aberdeen (at right), first president and founder of the National Council of Women of Canada with Lady Taylor (at left), her successor as president, Ottawa, Ontario.
(Mrs. John H. Acheson. Library and Archives Canada, PA-057319)

How many women have been in Carleton Place government? Only 7 since 1901 when Dr. Preston became the first mayor (before that there were reeves)

Linda Seccaspina

Theresa Fritz

Wendy LeBlanc (mayor)

Linda Schmidt

Melba Baker (mayor)

Barbara Walsh

Trudie Dickie

It’s Hard for Women to get into Office in Carleton Place — 1974 –Mary Cook

The Mysterious World of the Miss Civil Service Beauty Contests

The Mysterious World of the Miss Civil Service Beauty Contests


Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 01 May 1971, Sat,
  3. Page 20

“The Miss Civil Service beauty contests would solidify the ideology of  femininity and beauty that was at the core of the Cold War cult of domesticity while justifying the gender division of labour.”

Though the 1950s was in many ways a period of conformity with traditional gender roles, it was also a decade of change, when discontent with the status quo was emerging. Popular culture and the mass media reinforced messages about traditional gender roles, consumer culture, and the Cold War ideal of domesticity, but the reality of women’s lives did not always reflect these ideals. Between 1946 and 1964, the largest generation known as the baby boomers, were born. This demographic trend in turn reinforced women’s identities as wives and mothers. Despite societal norms that encouraged women to stay in the home and out of the workplace, approximately forty percent of women with young children, and at least half of women with older children, chose to remain in the work force.

Did you know our local Ottawa government encouraged civil service beauty contests in order to project how females should act like in the workforce? I had no idea that these ‘contests’ existed until I came across them in the news archives and I was immediately floored. Gay people were considered security risks in the late 1950s and it was all about security and keeping your employees in line–especially women. The civil service beauty contests were established as they were what was considered appropriate behaviour for all female civil servants.

When I opened my store Flash Cadilac on Rideau Street in 1976 I not only had the artistic folks come and shop. On bi-weekly cheque days civil servants flocked to my store to buy things that they could use to live out their fantasies in their homes. At Halloween “the crowds went wild” as they say, and the lowly civil servant became alive. They were seeking independence and adventure that their 9-5 jobs did not give them. I heard many  times that they felt like they were in dead end jobs.

Being chosen queen of the department, or queen of the civil service, gave winners instant celebrity status. They became ambassadors of the Canadian civil service and met high ranking officials and opened events. They were like Miss America or any other beauty pageant queen,  and they were told  to project what every other female in the civil service could become if they put their mind to it. These contests were considered proper feminine behaviour and to be encouraged.  Of course talks for Mr. Civil Service came soon after– but it never materialized. These contests were used as nothing more than hidden security props because gender practices were central to the construction of the Canadian national security state.

Screenshot 2018-10-06 at 19.jpg

From —Whose National Security? Paperback – Oct 30 2000

Screenshot 2018-10-06 at 19.jpg

From —Whose National Security? Paperback – Oct 30 2000


Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 24 May 1969, Sat,
  3. Page 3


Would you believe that RCMP operatives used to spy on Tupperware parties? In the 1950s and ’60s they did. They also monitored high school students, gays and lesbians, trade unionists, left-wing political groups, feminists, consumer’s associations, Black activists, First Nations people, and Quebec sovereignists.

The establishment of a tenacious Canadian security state came as no accident. On the contrary, the highest levels of government and the police, along with non-governmental interests and institutions, were involved in a concerted campaign. The security state grouped ordinary Canadians into dozens of political stereotypes and labelled them as threats.

Whose National Security? probes the security state’s ideologies and hidden agendas, and sheds light on threats to democracy that persist to the present day. The contributors’ varied approaches open up avenues for reconceptualizing the nature of spying.-From —Whose National Security? Paperback – Oct 30 2000

51WydAanIsL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWhose National Security? Paperback – Oct 30 2000

  1. relatedreading

    1970s Lanark County Beauty Queens

    Here She Comes Miss Eastern Ontario –Photos

  2. Last Night I Saw Someone I Loved at the Halloween Parade

  3. Here She Comes Miss Almonte — Karen Hirst and other Notes

  4. Miss Civitan Club 1976? Who Are These Women?

The Abandoned Farm House in Carleton Place — Disappearing Farms




Photos by Finz19-Ontario Abandoned Places

Please note I did not take these pictures, as contrary to beliefs I do try to stay out of trouble:)

This is an old farmhouse on HWY 7 – Photos by Finz19

In Lanark County we have many farms that have been forced into abandonment like the one in the above picture. What kind of toll does it take on the former owners of these lost properties?  It would be false to say that farmers don’t become attached to their land and the memories of family connections.  Farmers take nothing and turn it into something, year after year and it becomes their life force.

The farm pictured above used to be the McCrae farm on Hwy #7 near Carleton Place. Murray and Audrey MacRae once proudly owned this home and their children’s names were: Linda, Cathy, Ann, Heather, Don, Jimmy, and Howie.  Now the buildings are in shambles and the walls are covered in graffiti.


Carolann Lowry McRae told me that the family initially sold it to an individual who bequeathed it to his son, who in turn sold it to a developer. As Sandra Hurdis Finigan from MPP Scott Reid’s office pointed out- “I did some research on the McRae farm on Hwy 7 for work. According to both distant family and Beckwith Township the farm was bought by a person who has let it get to this state”.

Miles away another kind of scenario played out in 2014. Frank Meyers on Meyers Creek Road near Trenton finally lost his farm to the government after a long battle. Is this what should happen when your family farms the same plot of land for 2½ centuries? “This is heritage property,” said the 81-year-old, pointing at his freshly plowed fields in Quinte West, Ont. This is the property that was given to my forefathers when they fought for the British army against the Americans. This land was designated for us.”

Today, the Meyers land has finally been expropriated and designated for something else: a new headquarters for Joint Task Force 2, the Canadian military’s top-secret special operations squad.  I am grateful for the military, who protect our freedoms, but what about Mr. Meyer’s freedom to live out his life on his own land and pass it onto future generations, as is his right?

Word is that the government acquires property like this for the “greater good”, whether willingly or by expropriation with not a care or thought into the history. More often than enough they do nothing with it after they acquire it. Frank & Marjorie Meyers are another prime example of what is happening to some of our farmland.  Frank will never cash the cheque they gave him as he wants his farm back.

In my opinion, the right thing to do would have been to let Frank Meyers sign a lease that allowed him lifetime rights to harvest. When they pass away–maybe then the government can take it and use it. Still wrong in my mind, but I don’t control the world. We can deem rights for a heritage building, so why not land? To think this is a unique situation, is to live with your head in the sand.

I feel for the families that have lived and worked their land for generations only to have them either taken away or deteriorate. Surely something better can be done. Have we no respect at all these days? We are now losing farms and farmland at an alarming rate, and I worry for the future as there are fewer resources now to sustain this industry. Each time I look at old photos of our former Lanark farmers from years gone by I know for a fact- one day we will regret the loss of our farms.



Photos by Finz19-Ontario Abandoned Places



Photos by Finz19-Ontario Abandoned Places




Photos by Finz19-Ontario Abandoned Places



So what happened to the old McRae farm?

Ted Hurdis —actually the province paid for the land to allow them to expand hwy. #7 from two lanes to four. I believe they then turned ownership back to the original owner who in turn sold it to a local contractor. There are a number of reasons it hasn’t been utilized since then.