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The trial and tribulations of Miss Agatha Chapman: statistics in a Cold War climate.

Agatha Chapman devoted her professional life to what many of her peers believed was an impossible task, and in so doing helped to ensure that generations of Canadians would enjoy unprecedented peace and prosperity. What is more, she made her mark in what was very much a man's world. None could deny her brilliance, dedication, and incredible capacity for hard work. How is it that such a person was to find herself on trial, accused of nothing less than treason?


THE ORDEAL began in what the Toronto Telegram described as a "drab, Victorian courtroom" in downtown Ottawa. The 39-year-old woman "attired in a light blue dress with black hat and purse" was unlike the other miscreants arraigned before Magistrate Glenn Strike that morning in September 1946. Miss Agatha Chapman--"Aggie" to her friends--projected an air of professional decorum--her hair drawn back in a bun, wire-rimmed glasses, and a crisp, almost patrician, manner. She was, after all, the great-granddaughter of Sir Charles Tupper, a Father of Confederation and one-time prime minister. Her uncle had lately been lieutenant-governor of Manitoba. Aggie's father had been a High Court judge in India, and her own credentials seemed impeccable--early education at the progressive Cheltenham Ladies' College in England, a prestigious Maurice Cody Fellowship leading to an MA at the University of Toronto and a respectable job as an economist at the Bank of Canada, a coup for a woman. "The record of responsible citizenship in my family goes back a long way," she told the Montreal Star. "This is a record of which I have always attempted to be worthy."


Yet there she was in a dingy Ottawa courtroom with the eyes of not just a magistrate but the whole nation on her. In the gallery, fellow economists from the Bank of Canada and the Dominion Bureau of Statistics sat in silent support of their colleague. Finally, the clerk called her name. Chapman "fidgeted nervously" as the charge was read. That evening the Telegram splashed the case across its front page: "Charge Agatha Chapman In Big Espionage Probe With Aiding Soviet Spies." She was being tried under the 1939 Official Secrets Act for conspiring to communicate secret information to the Soviet Union. Chapman elected trail by jury. The judge set bail at $2,000 and adjourned the case.

Aggie's day in court hardly came as a surprise. She had become the eighteenth person charged in what Canadians were quickly coming to call the "Gouzenko affair." A year earlier Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, had bolted for Western freedom with a satchel full of codes and secret messages indicating that the Russians were siphoning industrial and military secrets out of the Ottawa bureaucracy. Since then, the Mounties had hauled in the men and women alleged to be the master agents. A royal commission in the spring of 1946 had hurriedly concluded that the nation's capital was rife with treason. The June report of the Kellock-Taschereau commission alleged that Agatha Chapman was a "cell leader" in this nest of traitors. Trials soon began. In the words of Winston Churchill, the West began to fear that an "Iron Curtain" now separated it from its erstwhile allies in the Soviet Union.

The year 1946 would prove to be the annus horribilis of Chapman's life. The start of the year found her riding a wave of professional attainment and international acclaim. Like a character in a Greek tragedy, it would end with her spurned in her own country and forced into exile. Throughout the summer, the allegation that she was a communist cell leader hung over her like a sword of Damocles. Early in August, she did something that no Canadian had ever done before. She wrote to federal justice minister Louis St Laurent and asked to be put on trial for treason. She must be allowed to clear her name. The Globe and Mail editorialized on her behalf, not for her innocence, but for her right to be tried: "... to leave the situation where it is is either injustice toward those over whom the commission has cast a shadow, or evasion of the duty to punish threats to the national safety."

St Laurent relented, and so Agatha came to stand before Magistrate Strike that September morning. She pleaded "not guilty." Her loyalty to Canada was rock solid. "My work in the Government," she protested, "has been undertaken out of the conviction that this was the best way to make a contribution to my country." But just what was Agatha Chapman's "work," and what made it so crucial to Canada's well-being?

AGATHA CHAPMAN was a national accountant. Not a nuclear scientist, or a defence researcher, but a number cruncher--a number cruncher of quite a new variety, a variety indispensable to Canada's postwar plans for social and economic prosperity. Canadians were well acquainted with what an accountant did; he balanced the books, measured profit and loss. A national accountant did much the same for the whole nation. "These accounts," Chapman had written in the stuffy but authoritative Canadian Banker, "are designed ultimately to portray the functioning of the national economy in all its phases, of production, transportation, distribution and merchandising through to final consumption and external trade." National accounting thus supplied the political arithmetic of the new Keynesian world of managed capitalism and public policy.

Fifteen years before, as Canada plunged headlong into the Depression, there was no such political arithmetic. The nation flew statistically blind. The Dominion Bureau of Statistics, founded in 1918 as Canada's national records keeper, did a thorough job of measuring the girth of the economy--wheat grown, cars built, butter churned, and rails laid. But beyond these crude benchmarks, there was no way of looking inside the economy, no way of determining the flows between income and expenditure, of isolating how one sector relied on another and how wages and taxes affected overall economic performance. The 1935 Price Spreads Royal Commission complained that "all the problems presented to this Commission have been complicated by a general lack of economic facts of critical significance.... Accounting and statistics may seem dull and pedestrian proposals, but they are the keys that will unlock the first barriers to better conditions."

Canadians were not alone in seeking better conditions through better statistics. The economics profession sensed this need and haltingly began to alter its approach to analysis from inductive to deductive logic. Hitherto, inductive reasoning had been applied to economic behaviour--explain what was happening by drawing down on some general principle. Hence, the Depression was best explained by the workings of laissez-faire. The economy would "correct itself" along lines set out by Adam Smith generations before. The "invisible hand" would work its magic. But in the early 1930s, the invisible hand seemed paralyzed. A precocious English economist at Cambridge, John Maynard Keynes, decried the bankruptcy of Western economic thinking. World leaders, he wrote, had "no cat in the bag, no rabbits in the hat, no brains in the head." They were all victims of "an obstinate adherence to ancient rules of thumb."

Some economists thus turned to deductive logic to explain economic behaviour--determine the facts and base policy on empirical observation. In 1932, a US Senate resolution called upon the secretary of commerce to compile "estimates of total national income of the United States" for the traumatic years of 1929-31. From these figures, the real problems of the economy might be deduced. The job went to a brilliant young Russian emigre, Simon Kuznets, who meticulously broke the US economy into all its constituent flows of income and expenditure. Early in 1934, Kuznets reported that America's national income had plummeted from $89 billion in 1929 to $49 billion in 1932.

Across the Atlantic, Keynes at Cambridge pondered ways to revitalize economies locked in stagnation. The problem seemed to be a chronic shortfall of purchasing power. In his famous 1936 General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes suggested freewheeling laissez-faire be modified to allow the state to stimulate or curtail purchasing power, using its own spending and taxing powers. One of Keynes' fellow economists, Colin Clark, coined the term gross national product to capture the entire macroeconomic workings of a national economy. Keynes then suggested that GNP was the sum of three variables: consumption, investment, and government activity. Thus emerged the classic Keynesian equation: C + I + G = GNP.


But to determine GNP, Keynes argued that you needed reliable numbers--a set of national accounts. Clark likened such statistics to a "scaffolding" which would support intelligent economic policy. "How can economists be expected to produce a clear and unanimous diagnosis," Keynes wrote to The Times in 1939, "when the facts they have to go upon are so obscure and imperfectly known?" The outbreak of war exacerbated the need for better statistics. In 1940, Churchill obliged by establishing the Central Statistical Office in London. Two of Keynes' young acolytes, Richard Stone and James Meade, were recruited to open the shop. The Chancellor of the Exchequer--England's finance minister--announced that no future British budget would be presented without reference to the national accounts, "a quantitative record of the total economic activity of the nation."

IN CANADA, this new statistical frontier was slow to materialize. The Dominion Bureau of Statistics seemed untouched by Keynes' wisdom. Donald MacGregor of the University of Toronto, a consultant hired by the Rowell-Sirois Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations, caustically observed that DBS gave less attention to long-term economic problems than to "the work of providing schoolboys and the daily press with statistics without tears." The royal commission called for a "fresh approach to the problem."

And then the war came. Suddenly, there was a pressing need for statistical analysis to support the overstraining wartime economy and the first planks of the welfare state--unemployment insurance arrived in 1941. DBS clung to its old ways, compiling descriptive statistics but never getting inside the economy. "Canada's Unsolved Problem--How Big is Our National Income?" the Financial Post wondered. "In a land flowing with statistics and statistical experts, our failure to agree on a procedure for estimating the national income stands as our unforgivable statistical sin of omission." In Ottawa, senior policy makers, soon to be dubbed "mandarins," grew impatient. Deputy Minister of Finance W.C. Clark and his right-hand man Robert Bryce found an ally in their campaign for better national accounts in Graham Towers, the governor of the Bank of Canada, and John Deutsch, an academic turned bank economist. Bryce had studied under Keynes at Cambridge. "Figures of the national income are now recognized as the most comprehensive measure of the economic activities of a country and of its capacity for taxation, war expenditure, etc.," Bryce told his boss Clark early in 1942. Deutsch agreed, arguing that the DBS figures were based on "faulty methods" and were a "hodge-podge."

The national accounts revolution finally dawned in Canada in April 1942. At a hastily convened meeting of mandarins in the living room of his Rockcliffe home, Clark declared that the time had come for a "radical improvement" in economic statistics. The decision was made: Canada would create a "special unit" at DBS headed by a man of "absolutely first class" to calculate our national accounts.

That man was George Luxton, a brilliant young economist from British Columbia. Luxton had trained at the University of British Columbia and then earned an MA at McGill in economics. He possessed a steel-trap mind for statistics. When he graduated in 1935, one of his professors, Stephen Leacock, assured him that he would "do my utmost" to get him a "statistical job." Luxton found a job at the Sun Life Assurance Company in Montreal. In 1939, he was off to Harvard for doctoral studies. There he soaked up "New Deal" economics at the knee of economist Alvin Hansen and, in passing, came to the attention of Robert Bryce, who had also worked for Sun Life and studied at Harvard. Weak lungs kept Luxton out of the military, and so by 1940 he was in Ottawa helping to collect labour statistics, eventually joining the research staff at the Bank of Canada. Bryce saw in Luxton the kind of stellar mind that could unravel the intricacies of the Canadian economy.


Luxton needed help. Montreal supplied the brains. There was Eric Adams, a Harvard MBA working in advertising at Cockfield Brown, Canada's leading ad agency. There was also Claude Isbister, a Manitoba lad who had gone to Sun Life to do investment analysis. And finally, there was Agatha Chapman, a newly minted MA in economics from Toronto and another former Sun Lifer. Although Isbister would soon disappear to Harvard to study for a doctorate under budding national accountants like Wassili Leontief, Luxton had his team--young, open to new methods, and dedicated. Through 1942-44, they worked with boiler room intensity to statistically pry apart the Canadian economy and to sort its flows into the engines of income and expenditures.

By 1945, the nation had something to show for their work. Luxton's calculations revealed that the war had jolted Canada out of the Depression; the nation's GNP had leapt from $5,060 million in 1938 to an astonishing $11,727 million in 1944. Emboldened by the country's newfound productive ability, Ottawa unveiled a "white paper" in April 1945 in which it declared its "primary goal" in the postwar would be "a high and stable level of employment and income." Canadians would build a society based on the shared control of the state and private enterprise. And national income statistics would be used to calibrate that so-called Keynesian world. A young Canadian-born economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, writing in Fortune magazine, confidently declared that "One good reason for expecting prosperity after the war is the fact that we can lay down its specifications." A good set of national accounts, Galbraith liked to quip, was worth a "division of fighting men."

Back in Ottawa, Prime Minister Mackenzie King opened the first postwar Dominion-Provincial Conference by tabling a document prepared in Luxton's shop--"National Accounts--Income and Expenditures, 1938-1945"--that would serve as the footplate for all discussion of the economic state of the union. While the premiers and the prime minister predictably squabbled about jurisdiction, nobody voiced scepticism of national income figures. With a reliable set of national accounts at their disposal, programs such as "equalization"--redressing the "have" and "have nots" of the federation--were now possible.

Canada had joined the age of national accounting. American economist and Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson has remarked that "while the GDP and the rest of the national accounts may seem to be arcane subjects, they are truly among the great inventions of the twentieth century." For the first time, Western man was able to look inside the economy supporting his material well-being. No wonder that four of the economists cited in this article--Richard Stone, Simon Kuznets, James Meade, and Wassili Leontief--later won Nobel Prizes for their work in national accounting.


BUT IT was not to be so for George Luxton or Agatha Chapman. The fever pitch of work piecing Canada's national accounts together took its toll on Luxton. Always frail, on 5 January 1945, just as the fruit of his labours was maturing, he died in Ottawa's Civic Hospital of tubercular meningitis at age thirty. Alex Skelton, the research director at the Bank of Canada, wrote that George possessed "a growth that could have gone on indefinitely." He had "imbued statistics with a human spark." But with Luxton in his Victoria grave, there was an imperative need to appoint a new director of national accounts.

Chapman seemed the natural successor. "There is no one in the Bureau," a senior administrator at DBS wrote, "elsewhere in the Government Service, in the universities, or in private industry, who could be obtained with anything like the qualifications equivalent to those possessed by her. Experience coupled with ability have developed her for this particular job." But the job went to a man--Claude Isbister. Isbister had just returned from Harvard with a PhD; Chapman only had an MA. Furthermore, economics was still a male domain. Yes, there were exceptions. Joan Robinson at Cambridge was at the cutting edge of growth economics. Closer to home, Mabel Timlin at the University of Saskatchewan had broken the glass ceiling by publishing the first Canadian interpretation of Keynes. But economics was still largely a boys' club.


Chapman took being passed over with equanimity. Isbister was a friend and was undeniably equipped for the challenge. Chapman was put in charge of day-to-day national accounts research. She worked well with Isbister. In February 1946, they jointly published an article in The Canadian Banker introducing national accounting to the Canadian financial community. In December of 1945, Isbister took Chapman with him to Princeton University to attend the first United Nations sponsored meeting on national accounting. The postwar multilateral world would depend upon a reliable foundation of global economic statistics. The meeting was chaired by Richard Stone, now back at Cambridge. Economists from all over the developed world attended. Chapman was the only woman in attendance. Stone was so impressed with her grasp of national accounting that he insisted her name, despite the absence of "Dr" in front of it, be added to the official report of the meeting as an "addition." "Miss Agatha Chapman" had made it onto the world stage.

And then the fates turned against Agatha. A single woman in wartime Ottawa, she had rented an apartment at 282 Somerset Street West, walking distance to the Bank of Canada. It would be the cru-ellest coincidence of Chapman's life that the man who would so inalterably damage her existence lived down the street. Igor Gouzenko lived at 511 Somerset West. Although Chapman never knew Gouzenko, the satchel of secrets he carried out of the Soviet embassy contained the names of several of Chapman's friends. Prominent among them was Eric Adams, a fellow economist who had left national accounting work to join the federal Industrial Development Bank. Code named "Ernst" by the Soviets, Adams seemed actively involved in feeding information to the Russians. Fred Rose, the Montreal Communist MP, was also on the list. So was Kathleen Willsher, a clerk at the British High Commission. Early on the morning on 15 February 1946, the Mounties scooped up Adams, Willsher, and eleven others and detained them at the RCMP Rockcliffe Barracks. "Canadians Suspected: Atom Secret Leaks to Soviet," the Globe and Mail headline screamed.

Chapman's name never surfaced in the initial surge of outrage. But she instantly sensed that her past was about to come back to haunt her--an innocent past full of youthful activism and social engagement. But a past that now looked suspicious in the accusatory dawn of the Cold War.

AGATHA CHAPMAN was a child of privilege. Born in England in 1907, her Canadian mother connected her to Sir Charles Tupper, a Tory warhorse of the Macdonald era and, briefly, prime minister in the 1890s. Her English father had served as a High Court judge in India before emigrating to the interior of British Columbia in 1918 where he became a fixture of the Vernon legal community. Agatha's academic promise unfolded at the University of Toronto, where she held a prestigious Cody Fellowship. She served as president of the University College Women's Literary Society, extolling Walt Whitman's poetry. With an MA in hand in 1935, she headed to Montreal to take up a job in Sun Life's investment department. In her bright floral dresses, Chapman appeared every bit the "new woman." And she was good, very good, with numbers.

But the numbers in Depression Montreal were grim. On any day, Chapman would, for instance, have witnessed the human cost of the Depression on her walk from her Mansfield Street apartment to her office on Dominion Square. Unemployment and bankruptcy were everywhere. Monopoly capitalists like Sir Herbert Holt seemed to control every aspect of Montreal's economy from its streetcars to its banking system. Municipal welfare was underfunded and overwhelmed. Chapman began to lose her faith in the Canadian way.

In these years, Luxton and Chapman's paths first crossed, perhaps in the lunchroom at Sun Life but undoubtedly at the evening meetings of the McGill chapter of the Student Christian Movement. Founded in 1921, the SCM strove to apply Christian activism to the ills of the urban-industrial world. Its motto--"The Bible in one hand, the newspaper in the other"--conveyed this sense of engagement. Egged on by reform-minded professors like labour economist Eugene Forsey and constitutionalist Frank Scott, the movement focused its attention on poverty, disarmament, fascism, and the "experiment" in the Soviet Union. The students marched against the Japanese invasion of China, visited the slums of Montreal, and harassed military parades. In the evenings, they held study groups to continue their "intellectual search for the highest truth we can find about the situations which face us in the modern world." Luxton, for instance, offered study group sessions on topics as varied as Social Credit, Marxism, and the life of Christ.

Other young Montrealers wandered into the SCM circle. Eric Adams took time away from his advertising career to visit the Soviet Union in 1934 and wrote up the experience for the Financial Post. Claude Isbister, busy by day at Sun Life, met his future wife Ruth up at McGill at the SCM. Luxton's future wife Mildred ran the SCM'S tea room, The Pit. The Montreal establishment took a dim view of the McGill SCM. Why, sugar mogul J.W. McConnell asked the McGill principal, were such "radicals" allowed on campus? "One swallow does not make a summer," the principal shrewdly replied.

Throughout the war, Luxton and Chapman kept up the study group habit in Ottawa. Chapman's apartment became a favourite evening rendezvous. Over coffee, cigarettes, and cookies, books were read and ideas thrashed out. Chapman recalled that everything from Keynes to Mein Kampf was read. Luxton and Adams began drawing up plans to write an economic history of Canada, a history that would reveal the economic substructure of the nation's development and displace the traditional, dry constitutional outline of Canadian history. Chapman, for her part, became a member of the Canadian-Soviet Friendship Society and joined in its efforts to send aid to Canada's new Soviet ally. The interior of 282 Somerset thus became an intellectual speakeasy for war-weary bureaucrats eager to keep their pre-war idealism aglow.

THREE frequent Somerset visitors were Eric Adams, Fred Rose, and Kathleen Willsher. All three were now under Mountie lock and key. With the electric news of Gouzenko galvanizing the nation, it was only a matter of time before Aggie's wartime evenings came back to haunt her. The Kellock-Taschereau royal commission was hastily empowered to investigate the spy ring. Its deliberations were far from the usual, slow-paced investigation that Canadians were used to from royal commissions. The commission adopted an accusatory style, hectoring witnesses and projecting the sense that their guilt was assumed. The term "kangaroo court" comes to mind. By March 1946, charges started to be laid under the Official Secrets Act. Adams, Rose, and Willsher were soon in court.


The royal commission called Chapman to appear. Naively, she approached the exercise much as one might approach an academic seminar. She parried the meaning of the commissioners' questions; she quibbled with their definitions. June Callwood later described Chapman's style as "dreamy, vague, [and] patrician." Chapman asserted her loyalty and her right to freedom of speech. But the commission was fixated on the study groups she hosted. They were the incubus of sedition. Surely, the commission's counsel insisted, their purpose was to study Marxism? Chapman replied that the purpose was "not to study definitely what you might call communism, but to discuss, as I understand it, current affairs, political ideas in general, or different viewpoints"--"progressive" ideas. She joined the Canadian-Soviet Friendship Society because she thought that the Russians were our allies. What Chapman failed to do was mention that department store tycoon John David Eaton was an executive of the society. Nor did she point out that Ottawa mandarins like Robert Bryce and Graham Towers also participated in wartime reading groups.


The commission's final report had no qualms about labelling Chapman a "cell leader" in the conspiracy. The commissioners reported that they found fault with Chapman's combative style. They did not like "the way her mind works." She was, in effect, not meekly ladylike and, it seemed, she was definitely not loyal. Thus began Agatha Chapman's summer from hell.

Letters to the federal justice minister and Globe and Mail editorials finally brought her to court that September morning. At every opportunity, she told the press that she was "shocked" by the charges brought against her. But by the time her trial arrived in late November, Chapman was hardened to the realities of the nascent Cold War. She retained the services of a seasoned Ottawa lawyer, A. Warwick Beament, to face the feisty Crown counsel, the up-and-coming J.J. Robinette.

The trial opened on 26 November before Ottawa county judge A.G. McDougall. Chapman's economist friends again sat in the gallery. Robinette called three witnesses. It helped that the first, Eric Adams, had already been acquitted in his own case. What helped more was Igor Gouzenko's testimony that he could not recall ever seeing Chapman's name in the messages he encoded to Moscow. Neither could he recognize her in person. Robinette's principal contention was that Chapman had orchestrated a meeting between Willsher and Adams on Ottawa's Bank Street at which documents and money changed hands. Beament repeatedly challenged Robinette to produce direct evidence. He had little. After only four and a half hours of testimony, Judge McDougall announced that the Crown had failed to produce any persuasive evidence that Chapman was a Soviet agent or even a Soviet dupe. "No case has been made out and, as far as this trial is concerned, the accused is dismissed." Chapman thus got her day in court without ever opening her mouth.

Chapman left the court "smiling," surrounded by friends. She told reporters that she was "very, very glad that my name has been cleared." She noted that the Bank of Canada had "treated me very fairly" and that she looked forward to returning to her national accounts work. Hers had been the shortest Gouzenko trial to date. Agatha Chapman may have been guilty of naivete, but she was innocent of treason. Many of those closest to her, notably Adams, had also been acquitted. Eleven others, including Willsher and Rose, were convicted and went to jail.

DESPITE her innocence, life would never return to normal for Chapman. In August, as the legal tempest swirled around her, the Civil Service Commission posted a job competition for a statistician grade seven at the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. The job was essentially a confirmation of the work that Chapman had been doing since being lent by the bank to the bureau in the fall of 1944--"to organize, develop, and take charge of national income statistics." Chapman applied. Just before her trial in November, she was informed that she would be given "further consideration." The day after her acquittal Chapman was told by the bank to take a month's holiday and await the outcome of the competition. On 6 January 1947, she and two other candidates--both male--were interviewed. Late in January, the Civil Service Commission informed Chapman that the position had gone to Angus Sinclair Abell, a University of Toronto economist trained by Harold Innis. Abell was affable but unenergetic with little intellectual tuning to Keynesian macroeconomics. Chapman was furious and asked for clarification. None was forthcoming. All she encountered was a bureaucratic chill that left her feeling persona non grata at both the bank and the bureau. In March, the bank informed her that it would not reinstate her in her research post. Unemployed, Chapman was on her own.

A cone of silence descended around the ostracized economist, a silence that extends to this day. Her fate was undoubtedly decided in whispers, nods, and unspoken understandings. One lonely exception came from the desk of Claude Isbister, her old colleague, in a letter to Richard Stone at Cambridge just days after Chapman lost her job. In light of the fact, he wrote, that Agatha had left the court "with a clean sheet," it was "unfortunate she is not to be allowed to return to government service. My own views on the ethics of this situation are strong although I hesitate to commit them to paper. She is now in search of a job and if you know of any position in which her very considerable talents could be used I am sure she would be pleased to hear from you." Stone knew talent when he saw it, and within days had convinced Cambridge's Department of Applied Economics to make her a research associate. Late in March, Agatha sailed for England. "I have enjoyed living in Canada and have no bitterness whatsoever in my mind," she told the Toronto Star.

Chapman spent three productive years in Cambridge, the academic epicentre of postwar national accounting. In 1953, the Cambridge University Press would publish her only book, a study of British wages and salaries in the interwar period. In the early 1950s, she returned to Canada to form a research consultancy with Eric Adams in Montreal. Research Associates Inc. was dedicated to applying the insights provided by national accounting to the needs of unions and the labouring man in Canada. It never was a lucrative concern, but it allowed Chapman and Adams to live out their ideals. Aggie stayed in touch with her erstwhile DBS colleagues, requesting statistics or suggesting ideas for the fine tuning of GNP estimates.

But in reality Chapman was condemned to live out her life on the margins. In that she was serving the interests of labour, she was pleased to be there. But, on an existential level, one can also sense that Chapman never recovered from the Gouzenko affair. In the 1950s, she married Richard Edsall, an American advertising executive who had fled the intolerance of the McCarthy era. There were no children. Chapman's income dwindled, and the arthritis that had always plagued her worsened, turning her days into a constant physical misery. On 17 October 1963, she climbed to the top of the stairwell in her Bishop Street apartment building and jumped to her death. The newspapers failed to remark on the event. Her husband asked for donations for the Arthritis and Rheumatism Society.


JUDITH ALEXANDER has written in the Canadian Journal of Economics that "many women economists must lie in the literary equivalent of unmarked graves." On the slopes of Montreal's Mount Royal Cemetery, there is perhaps one such grave. Yes, you can find Agatha Chapman's 1953 book in most university libraries. But otherwise, her memory has been suppressed, smothered under a blanket of gender bias and ideological prejudice in the early Cold War.

Yet, her monument is all about us. We are a country envied the world over for the quality of our national accounts. In the 1990s, Canada placed first in The Economist's "good statistics guide" for "trustworthy" economic statistics. Indicators like the GDP, productivity, and international trade figures are the illuminating vocabulary of our economic democracy. Canadians long ago came to trust these measures of their material well-being. And Aggie Chapman's handwriting is all over the first chapter of this indispensable Canadian guidebook.


DUNCAN MCDOWALL, a winner of the National Business Book Award, teaches history at Carleton University. This article draws on his upcoming book, The Sum of the Satisfactions: Canada in the Age of National Accounting, to be published by McGill-Queen's University Press, in English and French, early in 2008.
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Author:McDowall, Duncan
Publication:Queen's Quarterly
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 22, 2007
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