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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

The Struggle for Social Justice in British Columbia

Helena Gutteridge, the Unknown Reformer

Helena Gutteridge was born in England in 1879. A militant suffragist, tutored by the Pankhursts, she learned the politics of confrontation early. Emigrating to Vancouver in 1911, she found the suffrage movement there too polite and organized the B.C. Woman's Suffrage League to help working women fight for the vote. And she kept on organizing. As a journeyman tailor she was a power in her union local, and as the only woman on the Vancouver Trades and Labor Council -- their 'rebel girl' -- she championed the rights of workers and organized women to fight for themselves. In the 1930s, as a member of the feisty new political movement, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, she joined in the struggles of the unemployed for work and wages. Then, in 1937, as the first woman ever elected to Vancouver City Council, she led the fight for low-income housing. Irene Howard made it her task, over a period of years, to search out and assemble details of Helena's life and career, and to interview old comrades who knew Helena and the turbulent times in which she lived. Herself a miner's daughter, the author brings to her subject an affectionate regard and sympathy qualified by the larger view of the scholar and researcher. The result is a lively biography, shot through with humour and pathos, that pays homage to Helena Gutteridge and to many of the people who have been inspired by a cause and who have taught us about the politics of caring.

328 pages

Table of Contents




1. Chelsea Childhood of Nell Gutteridge

2. The Emergence of Helena

3. Fighting for the Cause

4. Dealing with Tricky Dicky: The Vote and Premier McBride

5. The Cause Victorious: September 1916

6. Hours and Wages

7. Back to the Land

8. Rededication: The Vision of the Co-operative Commonwealth

9. 'A Faithful Alderman'

10. Helena at Lemon Creek

11. 'The Holy Fire': Still Burning




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