British women are wanted in Canada in their thousands. Agnes Laut, a recognised authority, says: "The need for domestic help is chronic and continuous. If all the domestics of the United Kingdom who are out of work poured into Canada for the next hundred years, they would not suffice to supply the help that is needed, at wages from £2 a month for common help to £b, £8, and £10 for specialists."
At "first sight this appears to be an impossible estimate. But Miss Laut explains that domestic servants who are " any good," who are capable, and who know how to take hold of things, do not long remain domestics. They prosper, rise in life, set up establishments of their own, and require domestics for themselves.
Wanted-How Immigration is Encouraged grade, and there is none whatever for the lazy, the incapable, the shirker. Life is strenuous in Canadian homes. Early rising, and every hour of the day packed with work, is the rule. Such a programme would frighten the ordinary English servant; but the wages are high, and there is greater independence than at home. The fact that there is such a demand for servants (the word is never used out there) makes girls exacting, unwilling to stay long in one situation, capricious, fond of change. All are not so; but, as a rule, mistresses are at their wits' end to know how to manage these volatile domestics.
Here is the point where the British women of a higher social class come in. They possess more firmness of character, a higher sense of honour, more steadiness of purpose than young women of the domestic class, whose heads are turned by high wages and consciousness of their value-a fictitious value consequent on their scarcity.
But it must always be borne in mind that every girl or woman emigrant who hopes to succeed must be thoroughly domesticated, willing to wash, mangle, iron, cook, sew, clean, scrub, do the housework, and help with children, if there are any in the house:
To set against this are good wages and kind treatment, to say nothing of the fact that too much work (as at first it seems) is far better than too little. An amiable, competent woman soon makes her mark, and she is valued, treated as an equal, often as a superior in a certain sense, and usually marries well after a time, and has servants of her own-if she can get them.
In "A Woman in Canada " the illuminating book by Mrs. George Cran (Milne), the authoress advocates the emigration of middle-class women. "The working-class woman," she says," does not bring the intelligence to bear in domestic emergencies which a cultured woman can. Out of her ignorance how can she reduce disorder to comeliness, and make the prairie home a beautiful thing? . . . A woman of refinement, of culture, of endurance, of healthy, reasoning courage, is infinitely better equipped for the work of home-making and race-bearing than the ignorant, often lazy, often slovenly, lower-class woman."
Canadian farmers, well to do and on the way to make a large income, often marry domestic servants in order to keep their services. Constant change frets and worries a man whose business lies outside his house all day, and who appreciates comfort and good cooking in his home after the day's work is done. Such marriages tend to lower the social level of the country. The children grow up rough, ill-educated, often spoiled, even if the father is a man of decent breeding.
But all this brings us back to the one point -viz., that women who emigrate to Canada must expect to do domestic work, and should qualify themselves beforehand to do it well.
A bachelor who had lived six years in Canada wrote from Saskatchewan to an English paper that " the crying need of Western Canada is women; it is like the heathen cry that comes to the missionary, 'come and help us.' Canada needs the missionary spirit of women to make it a crowning success."
Yes, the great problem of the West is female labour. The Bishop of London, after a visit to the Dominion, said: " Canada is the ' land of promise' for all working girls. It is practically impossible to get a servant for love or money. I could find places for 200 girls tomorrow if we had money to send them out."
Writing of the miserable lives led by thousands of well-born, educated women in England, who earn a pound a week or so, have to economise on food, clothes, and fuel, and cannot afford amusements, Miss Laut says: "There are 10,000 places in Canada in direct need of just such women."
But they must begin by domestic work. Here is a sketch of the day's routine for a home-help. Up at six, breakfast at seven, which she will have to prepare. Menu-porridge, followed by hot dishes, with tea, toast, and stewed fruit. Then cleaning rooms, washing or baking, or ironing, and the midday meal to prepare. Washing-up is followed by sewing or other work till tea-time, and only after supper is there leisure for either mistress or maid.
Good cooking is highly appreciated. A clever cook can command high wages. There is competition for her. In the cities she is paid from five guineas to ten guineas a month; in country parts much less than this, but at least 60 per cent. more than she would be paid at home in England.
At the Girls' Home of Welcome, 130, Austin Street, Winnipeg, twenty-four hours' free board is given to all women arriving in Canada to earn their living. They seldom stay longer, being snapped up at once by eager employers.
A Help to would-be Emigrants Countess Grey, wife of the Governor-general, and Lady Laurier, wife of the Premier of Canada, are giving their support to a recently formed immigration guild, the offices of which are at 47, Yonge Street Arcade, Toronto. It is an association of leading ladies of Canada formed to secure good domestic servants, cooks, helps, and housekeepers for service in the members' homes. Fares are advanced by the mistress requiring a servant, and are repayable in instalments of about £1 a month deducted from the wages until the whole cost of the passage to Quebec and the railway fare to Toronto, £7 8s. 7d. in all, has been repaid. The girl has plenty left to send to relatives at home or for her own personal use. The new Royal Line has entered into a contract to take the girls out. The first party sailed by the Royal George from Bristol on October 13, 1910, and a party sails each fortnight. A matron takes charge of them on board, and keeps them separate from other passengers throughout the voyage.
Mrs. Cran, eager advocate for the emigration of women to Canada, is yet obliged to point out one great hardship to be faced-the lack of nurses. Expectant mothers have to travel very long distances in some cases, or else go without necessary assistance. This may be remedied in the future; but there it is in the present, a glaring fact, one that makes women shrink from the country. But for this, why should not a considerable proportion of the superfluous women in Britain go to this vast continent, where they are so badly, so universally wanted?