Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Here - chapter excerpt

Staunch monarchist sparked the idea for Empire Day

The term "Empire Day" is one which much seem quaint and somewhat foreign to those who populate Canada in the 21st century. However, 100 years ago, Empire Day was a very important event in the life and times of early 20th century Hamilton. Specific people and events sparked the idea of celebrating all that was British within the wide expanse of the British Empire.

The originator of this special day was someone who identified herself both physically and spiritually with Queen Victoria and who, like the Queen, dressed in black with white accents.

Clementina Trenholme Fessenden, who was born in 1884, married the Rev. Elisha Joseph Fessenden in 1865. After serving a parish in Chippewa, the couple moved to St. John's Anglican Church in Ancaster in 1893.

As staunch monarchists, Clementina and her husband were concerned with the threatened loosening of Canada's ties with the British Empire because of the close proximity to the United States. Popular talk of continentalism and annexation led them to discuss ways to strengthen ties with Britain through public events such as a flag day or empire day.