At the turn of the nineteenth
century, women were beginning to leave their roles as strictly
housewives, and were entering the workforce. One of the fields they
were entering was journalism.
Journalism was still primarily a man’s field of work;
however, due to its significant impact on both man and women, it was
becoming more gender equal quicker than other fields of work. Greater
technology in communications meant news being reported was more timely
and relevant to the Canadians reading it, and journalism was becoming a
very important industry.
As well, there was the creation of many wholly Canadian newspapers
across the nation; there were now hundreds of papers for both smaller
towns and larger cities, and many were circulating daily. Papers now
included advertising sections, and spanned a number of pages to include
different daily and weekly features that had become staples for any
paper, many of which are still common in papers today.
Trips were often being funded to allow newsmen to travel to all kinds
of different events and report for their newspapers. This opportunity,
however, was still not being afforded to any of the newswomen working
in Canada. This all changed with the creation of the Canadian
Women’s Press Club in 1904, after a group of 16 women were
granted a fully-financed trip to the World Exposition in St.
Louis. In their private car on the train ride home, these women formed
a club that vowed to assist and promote women in the field of
journalism. One of the founding members making this trip and
beginning this powerful movement of Canadian female journalists,
was Irene Currie Love.
Currie Love was born on March 14, 1880, in London, Ontario. Her parents
were Francis Love, a Scottish immigrant who had been born in Saltscoat,
Scotland in 1850, and Jessie Campbell Currie, a native of Canada, born
in London, Ontario in 1856. The couple were married on December 22,
1875 at the ages of 25 and 19 respectively. At the time of her birth,
Irene’s father, Francis, worked as a Barrister, and later a
(known in the community as Magistrate Love), and her mother, Jessie,
remained in the home. Irene was born into a young family, and by
observation of census records it is clear that the family grew to have
many children throughout Irene’s childhood.
raised and educated in London, Ontario. She attended the Central
Collegiate Institute in London, and after winning a contest for The
London Advertiser, Irene regularly acted as a freelance contributor to
the newspaper. Due to her contributions to the paper Irene was awarded
a trip to attend and report on the happenings at the St. Louis World
Fair in June 1904, with 15 female journalists from other Canadian
newspapers. The London Advertiser was to send a female member of its
staff to attend the trip; however, in 1904 the newspaper did not have
any women officially on staff.
The 16 female journalists were treated
like royalty, receiving fresh-cut flowers and 5 o’clock tea in
their private train car during the 10-day trip. The group worked hard
during this trip, reporting on the Fair to many Canadian and American
news outlets. It was on this monumental trip that Irene and the female
journalists formed the Canadian Women’s Press Club. This would
have been an incredible experience for any female journalist, and for
Irene to be able to participate as a young up-and-coming journalist, it
was a chance to meet many experienced and well-regarded women.
From the Central College Institute, Irene won a scholarship to
the University of Toronto. Upon her graduation, she joined the
advertising staff of The Toronto Star. Irene later became editor of
the women’s page in The Toronto World (no longer in print).
From there, Irene worked in many different positions, from testing out
freelance writing in New York, to working on the staff if The Hamilton
Spectator. Irene was later invited to Calgary to do publicity work for
the Canadian Pacific Railway, and was the first woman to work in this
specialized field. From there Irene joined The Montreal Star. She wrote
under the byline Margaret Currie, and through her work in Montreal she
made a great impression on any editors who may still have been wary of
women working in journalism.
In 1914, shortly after the outbreak of WW1, Irene
received an important opportunity within her journalism career. After
suggesting to the managing editor of The Montreal Star at the time that
the paper organize a department dedicated to helping the war effort,
Irene was asked to take over the women’s page of The Montreal
Star for the duration of the war. The column, originally titled
“Economy Corner”, was very popular among women readers, and
the column soon became a full page receiving an average of 65 letters
per day from readers. These letters suggested ideas and requested
advice on situations that women were commonly facing during this time
period. Margaret Currie gave advice on many issues to wives,
mothers housewives, and female readers of the workforce
faced during the early 20th century, discussing everything from
how to be a good mother., to making Swiss cream. Eventually the page
became known as Margaret Currie’s Page”. During the 1920s,
1930s and wartimes Margaret Currie acted as a counsellor for women in
Montreal, helping them through all kinds of situations, and providing
them with advice that was free of ethnic and racial discrimination. By
means of her page Margaret Currie became a very important figure within
the newspaper and within Montreal society at the time.
Throughout her movement and success within journalism, Irene
very involved within the Canadian Women’s Press Club. Montreal
newspaper women had been holding informal meetings throughout
1914; however, it was not until June 1915 that the Montreal
branch of the CWPC was formally organized. Irene became a charter
member, and eventually the president of the branch, As well, Irene was
elected Quebec Vice-President of the CWPC on October 7, 1920, at the
club’s triennial convention.
Irene made many appearances in
the Montreal Gazette (no longer in
print), participating in many social gatherings, hosting many events
held by Montreal branch of the CWPC, and speaking about different
topics affecting Canadian women to visiting clubs and groups. Her
efforts in establishing the Montreal branch of the CWPC were
successful, and by 1924, membership has increased to 48 members.
While her life
in journalism flourished, changes were occurring in her personal life
and family life as well. On January 14, 1911,
Irene’s father, Francis, passed away when her mum Jessie
was 56 years old. The 1911 Census reveals that Irene was no longer
living at her family home during this time, and her mother was now
widowed and living at home with a few of her grown children. Jessie
passed away a few years later, on June 16, 1915.
On September 25, 1912, Irene
married Mr. Eldred James Archibald.
Eldred Archibald was born in Eastern Ontario was raised in the
town if Clinton, Ontario, attending Clinton High School before entering
the University of Toronto. Eldred worked in journalism as well, and
worked for a number of years as a colleague in the Press Gallery in
Ottawa representing The Toronto Star, before moving on to
work as executive editor and editorial writer for The Montreal Star.
Mr. and Mrs. Eldred Archibald were married for 33 years until
Irene’s death in 1945. The couple never had any children,
although Irene was able to give much advice to the readers of her
women’s column in The Montreal Star in the topics of parenthood
and raising children.
her later years Irene’s health was poor and she was
confined to her home. However, she continued to write for her
column in The Montreal Star. Irene Currie Love passed away in
October of 1945, just after the end of World War 11, at the age
of 65. Through her life, Irene encouraged young journalist to get
a good education and lots of experience in order to be successful in
the field. She played an important role in breaking down many barriers
women faced in the field of journalism, and for convincing both the
journalism world and the Canadian public of the capabilities of
women to become extraordinary journalists. Margaret Currie’s
messages from her page in The Montreal Star encouraged women to
take credit for their own actions and live life in a way that brought
them happiness and success.
Her assistance in
founding the Montreal branch of the Canadian
Women’s Press Club and developing the club over its first 40
years is noticeable through events she hosted and the numerous images
she appears in, supporting social groups and participating in the
club’s functions. Ultimately Irene Currie Love was a very
important figure for any Canadian women of the 20th century, and
continues to be an empowering individual for people today.