"International Friendliness" and Canadian Identities: Transnational Tensions in Canadian Junior Red Cross Texts, 1919-1939.
To-day, amid all the turmoil following on the war, we are turning with renewed interest to the child, realizing that in a very few years the child will rule the world. And for that reason, if for no other, we are anxious to see that the boy or girl of to-day obtains not only a sound education but that he obtains sound ideals as to what constitutes a good citizen. --"The Red Cross Junior," 2
Officially formed in February 1920 as a youth wing of the Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS), the Junior Red Cross (JRC) in Canada aimed to inculcate school-aged children and youth with habits of good health, good citizenship, and service to others. In classrooms across the country, the program encouraged young people to behave in ways summarized for later generations by the slogan "think globally, act locally." As part of a worldwide network of national Red Cross societies inspired by a transnational ethic of humanitarianism, the CRCS sought to inspire children with respect and concern for the people of other lands and to see themselves as linked to others by shared values. Yet the society also considered the JRC an important tool to achieve its interwar nation-building goals in the realms of good health and citizenship. This article explores the tensions inherent in the national and transnational lessons conveyed by adult JRC leaders and attempts to trace the ways young Canadians embraced, modified, or perhaps rejected those perspectives.
Two sets of texts are central to this investigation: the Canadian Red Cross Junior magazine produced by adult CRCS leaders for the young people of the JRC, and the scrapbook-style portfolios created by Canadian JRC members to be sent overseas to JRC members of other countries. Adult Red Cross leaders' belief in the utility of the JRC as a means of promoting global peace by fostering a shared sense of humanity often appeared in subtle ways within the magazine's pages, which more overtly emphasized the characteristics and qualities of good national citizens. Overall, the Canadian JRC promoted a version of transnational-national citizenship that embedded a sense of shared global humanity within a framework of white, anglophone, British Canadian identity. Many young Canadians seem to have embraced this approach, but others found small spaces to assert their own rather different types of transnational identities--ones organized around "race," language, and ethnic diaspora. In this way, transnational identities took many forms for interwar Canadian JRC members.
Internationalism, Transnationalism, and the Red Cross Movement
During the 1920s and 1930s, both the Canadian Red Cross Society and the global Red Cross movement described their efforts at global cooperation and understanding in terms of "internationalism." In practice, this meant providing humanitarian relief through money and supplies, but also what Akira Iriye terms "cultural internationalism": that is, "a variety of activities undertaken to link countries and peoples through the exchange of ideas and persons, through scholarly cooperation, or through efforts at facilitating cross-national understanding" (3). Interwar Red Cross internationalism is a subset of the broader, more complex and nebulous entity that scholars now term "transnationalism." This article adopts the definition of transnationalism advanced by Kevin Grant, Philippa Levine, and Frank Trentmann, who describe it as "a multifaceted set of ideas, networks, identities, and movements transcending the state in specific historical circumstances" (8)--ideas, identities, networks and movements that have varying and occasionally oppositional relationships with one another (4). They emphasize that "[i]mperial rule, and especially the institutions of empire, shaped these historical circumstances..." (8) and add that international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) are considered "leading agents of transnationalism" (10)--both of which are significant points for understanding the Canadian Junior Red Cross as a youth-focused INGO based in a white settler colony of the British Empire.
The texts produced by the Canadian JRC reveal three of the six "conceptual premises" identified by Stephen Vertovec as pertaining to the study of transnationalism. These are transnationalism as a type of consciousness (fostering a sense of shared humanity across borders); transnationalism as a site for political engagement (taking action to improve the health and welfare of oneself and others as a form of global citizenship); and transnationalism as social morphology (diasporic and minority communities within Canada maintaining strong connections with their historic homelands) (Vertovec, qtd. in Grant et al. 4). While the CRCS used the JRC to promote transnationalism as a type of consciousness and site for political engagement, some Juniors additionally used the JRC to perform transnationalism as social morphology. However, the contemporary term "internationalism" will also be used, either in direct quotations or to refer to the specific subset of today's transnationalism that interwar JRC supporters or members called internationalism.
The Canadian Red Cross Society was founded in 1896 to aid the sick and wounded in war, emerging from the First World War as Canada's leading humanitarian agency. During the interwar years the society expanded into peacetime public health work, eager to foster a citizenry that was both physically and metaphorically healthy (Glassford, Mobilizing Mercy 133, 140). The new school-based Junior Red Cross program--an outgrowth of the successful wartime mobilization of children's labour--was one of the organization's principal strategies to achieve this broadly conceived national health (Glassford, "Bearing the Burdens"). It found keen adult supporters within schools and homes because, as Cynthia Comacchio writes, in the minds of interwar adults, "the sorting of young Canadians into approved clubs and activities... was just as vital to ensuring their cultivation as productive citizens as were schooling and training for work" (189-90). JRC participation was never mandatory in Canada, but by 1928 it was endorsed by every then-existent provincial department of education (Robertson 16; Sheehan 79). The JRC made no inroads into Quebec's French-language Catholic schools until the 1960s (Glassford, Mobilizing Mercy 259), but grew by leaps and bounds in English Canada, so that its transnational-national vision of Canadian citizenship was reaching 425,000 members by the 1939-40 school year (Glassford, "Practical Patriotism" 232; Sheehan 80).
The Canadian Junior Red Cross was organized around three key areas: the promotion of good health, service to others, and what was alternately termed "citizenship" or "international friendliness." Each pillar was reinforced through weekly activities, such as improving one's physical health by following the twelve rules of the Health Game, serving others by raising money to fund medical treatments for children with orthopedic disabilities, and using parliamentary procedure during Friday afternoon meetings. The Canadian Red Cross Junior magazine [hereafter CRC Junior], which appeared monthly during the school year, reinforced the program's messages of health, service, and citizenship through articles, stories, plays, crafts, games, and songs. Because it brings together adult-created articles and editorials with child-created texts including letters, branch names, and portfolio descriptions, it is a valuable source for studying transnationalism and nationalism in the Canadian JRC. Special projects such as the international correspondence program added interest and novelty to the JRC program, and surviving examples sent from rural Saskatchewan to Australia (ca. 1927) and from rural Prince Edward Island to various countries during the 1930s offer insight into the translation of adult principles into youthful products. None of these texts provide unfiltered access to young people's thoughts and actions, however. Adults supervised JRC branches and vetted portfolio and magazine content. Nevertheless, because branches were run by student leaders elected by their peers, and Juniors were encouraged to choose their own activities, branch names, and portfolio content, these sources do offer glimpses into young people's attitudes and understandings.(1)
Youth, Internationalism, and Peace
Like most successful youth movements, the JRC in Canada gained support and took the specific form it did because it was the product of ideological forces then prevalent (Springhall 19). The interwar years, and especially the 1920s, witnessed a vigorous flowering of "internationalist" thought and action, especially of the cultural internationalist variety. Iriye defines cultural internationalism as both the inspiration behind and the collective achievements of "individuals and groups of people from different lands" who "sought to develop an alternative community of nations and peoples on the basis of their cultural interchanges..." (2). While internationalism took many forms during the interwar years, one of its core principles was a consistent belief in the necessity of cross-national understanding if the world was to secure lasting peace (akin to Vertovec's transnationalism as a type of consciousness). In this view, "intellectual cooperation" was just as important as cooperation on issues related to politics, the economy, or security (Iriye 60).
A discernible "international society" emerged in the 1920s, led by institutions like the League of Nations, but equally spurred on by "international voluntary organizations, church groups, and international networks of academics, sportsmen, women, pacifists, humanitarian activists, and other private actors" determined to build links to their fellow "international citizens" (Gorman 2). Within this context, the Red Cross movement demonstrated many of the characteristics identified by Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink as pertaining to a transnational advocacy network, namely "the centrality of values or principled ideas, the belief that individuals can make a difference, the creative use of information," and a concerted effort "to transform the terms and nature of the debate" (2). Through the JRC (a prime example of interwar cultural internationalism in action), the CRCS and the wider Red Cross movement hoped to create what Ludger Pries calls a "transnational social space": that is, to make international friendliness and humanitarian sympathy for others a frame of reference that would structure young people's identities and everyday practices not only during their time as JRC members, but also during adulthood (qtd. in Satzewich and Wong 5).
As this interwar surge of transnational thought and activity suggests, the unparallelled destructiveness of the First World War weighed heavily on the minds of many people. The idea that the JRC might help to avert mass slaughter in future was a recurrent theme in adult discussions of the program through the interwar years. In essence, this view saw Vertovec's transnationalism as a type of consciousness as a road to his transnationalism as a site for political engagement. A poem frequently reprinted in the CRC Junior throughout the 1920s and 1930s succinctly expressed this belief:
In hearts too young for enmity, There lies the way to make men free. When children's friendships are world-wide, New ages will be glorified. Let child love child and strife will cease; Disarm the hearts, for that is Peace." ("Children's Friendships" 17)
Some Juniors, such as ten-year-old Margaret Gooding of Torbolton, Ontario, integrated this view of the JRC as a transnational movement for peace into their own understanding of its activities. In her 1936 speech at the Carleton County School Fair, Margaret explained that the JRC "develops a spirit of thoughtfulness, kindness and unselfishness in the children. If this spirit could be firmly established in the people of the world, we would have no need to worry about future wars" ("A Junior Addresses").
Two mid-1930s anecdotes related in the CRC Junior suggest that adult leaders believed they saw this transnational spirit of friendliness developing. In both stories, two non-English-speaking girls are ill at ease in their new Canadian school until an adult comes along with a JRC badge. (In 1935 it was Romanian girls in Montreal; in 1937, Polish girls in Toronto.) The familiar symbol of the international Red Cross movement transforms forlorn looks into broad smiles, and the JRC becomes a point of connection between native-born and newcomer children ("Comrades All"; "Something in Common"). Here, if the stories are to be believed, was the epitome of adults' wildest hopes for the JRC as a transnational youth movement building a consciousness of shared humanity. Yet very few of Canada's JRC branches named themselves in a way that reflected any identification with this international spirit, preferring instead references to cheerfulness, health, service, or their local community. Reports and letters from Canadian JRC branches that appeared in the CRC Junior during the interwar years often described health and local service work but did not mention any kind of international study or correspondence, or acknowledge any connection to a wider transnational JRC movement. This is hardly conclusive evidence, but it suggests that adults' vision for this aspect of the Canadian JRC never fully came to fruition.
Teaching Transnational Sympathy to Foster Transnational Action
In classrooms where the JRC's transnational character was embraced, possible activities included performing plays which encouraged international cooperation, as well as classroom study of other countries. A 1928 mass meeting of 1400 Juniors in Lachine, Quebec, included an illustrated lecture about the activities of Juniors elsewhere in the world ("Mass Meetings"), and most issues of the CRC Junior contained one or more captioned photographs of Juniors in other countries. The magazine's international content in the 1920s was plentiful but not aggressively didactic: articles about global public health leaders joined plays, short stories, and essays on international topics. Articles such as "The Boys and Girls of Old Japan" (1924) read like lively travelogues, highlighting interesting cultural differences. This particular article followed an earlier editorial appeal for contributions to an earthquake relief fund in aid of Japanese children ("A Letter")--a JRC example of Vertovec's transnationalism as a site for political engagement.
No doubt alarmed by rising nationalisms and extremist movements, CRC Junior editor Jean Browne used the magazine to more aggressively promote a transnational humanitarian spirit during the second half of the 1930s. Light stories and playlets depicting generic goodwill toward others gave way to articles praising disarmament conferences and the League of Nations, and reviews of books promoted by the League of Nations Society in Canada (Hewett; Lawrence; MacDermot; MacKaye). As Ken Osborne points out, by this point the League of Nations had lost most, if not all, of its credibility on the international stage, and enjoyed its lowest levels of public support in Canada (17-18). Perhaps this reality contributed to Browne's decision to enlist prolific Canadian author Blodwen Davies to bang the internationalist drum in the magazine. Her inaugural "Science and Peace" series profiled scientists and explorers from around the world whose work benefitted humankind. For the 1937-38 school year, Davies wrote of renowned artists, musicians, and poets whose work fostered cultural understanding; her 1938-39 series "Adventures in Sympathy" profiled international figures whose sympathy for others in some way contributed to their success (19). Each series strove to develop a transnational consciousness in its readers and emphasized the need for Juniors to apply these principles in their own times and places. It is difficult to assess Davies' impact on her child readers, but a 1928 letter from a JRC branch in Harvey, New Brunswick, suggests her message did not fall on deaf ears. The letter-writer observed that the CRC Junior "encourages us to be good citizens by telling us of famous men and women who have been good citizens, and who have done so much for mankind" ("Happy Workers" 7). "Go and do likewise" was the obvious takeaway lesson.
Davies's emphasis on the power of individuals to do good in the world was echoed by a tangible project that united Canadian and American Juniors in the later 1930s. The 2200-acre International Peace Garden straddling the Canada-USA border in Manitoba's Turtle Mountain district serves as a delightful example of Vertovec's transnationalism as a site for political engagement. Established in the early 1930s by governments and service organizations in Canada and the United States, it was dedicated to a pledge of eternal peace and friendship between the two countries. In 1937 the Canadian and American JRC organizations jointly undertook to plant and maintain a garden plot (Moore). One can read a quiet desperation in Jean Browne's recurrent appeals for cash-strapped Canadian children of the Great Depression to contribute any amount, no matter how small, toward the planting of the JRC plot, as the world spiralled toward war. Yet many Juniors responded. For a year and a half, small donations--like the ten cents contributed by the Joan of Arc Juniors in Wine Harbour, Nova Scotia--flooded into CRCS national headquarters from branches across Canada ("Peace Garden Contributions" 18).
Building Transnational Sympathy through International Correspondence
The JRC's international correspondence arrangement was another means by which the program hoped to foster transnational consciousness in children. As Kristine Alexander has shown, it was an activity similarly embraced by the international Girl Guide movement for much the same reason ("Girl Guide Movement" 50). Annmarie Valdes notes that across the Western world, "Peace Education, international correspondence, model Leagues of Nations, exchange programs, and foreign language study" were popular techniques for inculcating a commitment to the cause of peace and internationalism in this era (162). It is therefore no surprise that the League of Red Cross Societies (LRCS) supported and fostered the exchange of JRC correspondence around the world. The LRCS believed international correspondence would enable a Junior "to cultivate feelings of goodwill and friendship, which he will know how to express when, for instance, the young people of other countries are affected by a calamity" (League 84). In Vertovec's terms, the League saw transnational consciousness as a precursor to transnational political engagement.
By 1930 more than fifty countries were exchanging hundreds of portfolios each year. The scrapbookstyle portfolios were a form of "collective school correspondence" in which an entire class or school assembled
news of Junior activities, messages of friendly interest, school work, information about their country, national costumes, folk-lore, national art and products; and illustrations, pictures and photographs accompanied by explanatory notes. (League 87)
As promoted by the LRCS, the JRC international correspondence program attempted to build relationships of sympathy and personal understanding--recognizing the humanity of other individuals--while simultaneously teaching Juniors about the collective life of young people in other lands, with an emphasis on the cultural characteristics that made them unique. In the CRC Junior, branches were urged to approach portfolio creation as "an illustration of your interests as Juniors. Naturally you will write of history, geography, [and] interesting things in your national life," while "the description of your Junior Red Cross activities deserves a privileged place" (Milsom 10).
The comments of JRC teacher-supervisors suggest that international friendliness was in fact fostered in classrooms and one-room schools that participated in the international correspondence program. "It was a great day when the portfolio from Latvia arrived," wrote a teacher in Victoria, British Columbia, of her grade five and six students: "their interests and sympathies with other people and other children have been considerably widened" ("Annual Reports" 17). Marshall H. Wallace, the roughly thirteen-year-old president of The Knights of King Health's Round Table JRC branch in Toronto, described how JRC international correspondence brought geography lessons to life:
We begin to think that the boys and girls in these places are just like ourselves, although they talk a different language. They go to school the same as we do, play games the same as we do, and are just as fond of having their own way as we are. It makes us realize that instead of being just spots on a map, all these places are the homes of thousands of boys and girls." ("The Sphere" 2)
Principal S. G. Deane of Stanislowow School in Mundare, Alberta, wrote that portfolio-making "added zest to the English work" in his small school, while increasing "our sympathy for children in other lands" ("Alberta Teachers" 16). International correspondence was within the means of the most poverty-stricken classrooms of the Great Depression, and was often mentioned as an element of the JRC program that newly formed branches looked forward to participating in ("Happy to Belong"; "New Branches").
The JRC as a Tool of Cultural Assimilation
As the LRCS portfolio guidelines suggest, the JRC's emphasis on international sympathy did not preclude a parallel emphasis on national identity and belonging. The ongoing demographic shifts arising from pre-war immigration, the losses of the First World War and subsequent Spanish flu epidemic, and the social, economic, and political dislocations of the interwar years raised concerns over the type of citizens that would populate a modern Canada, and what sort of country they would inhabit (Brown and Cook 302-303; Thompson and Seager; Vance 228-32). In its interwar public health work, the CRCS therefore strove to address both the physical and metaphorical health of the nation. For instance, by teaching and advocating changes to traditional health and hygiene habits, clothing, and diet, the CRCS worked to assimilate new immigrant groups. The JRC's presence in schools was a real strength in this regard: behavioural modification strategies were far more effective on young people and when reinforced by repetition in a controlled setting. The CRCS also hoped that children would go on to serve as agents of change within their families. Nancy Sheehan has demonstrated in the case of Saskatchewan that part of the JRC's appeal to school officials lay in the fact that it offered a convenient means of "Canadianizing" the foreign-born population while also improving the standards of rural life overall (68-69). Vertovec's transnationalism as social morphology--that is, maintaining homeland customs and practices in a new setting--was very much not the type of transnationalism the CRCS wanted to cultivate through the JRC. Teacher-supervisors' reports to their provincial JRC directors sometimes explicitly reflected this concern with cultural assimilation, as when a teacher from a school near Kakabeka Falls, Ontario, wrote that among her twenty students "there is not one who belongs to an English-speaking family" ("An Independent Group" 2). Her description of their efforts to play the Health Game, fundraise, and run meetings was clearly meant to be read as proof of how the JRC was fashioning them into good Canadians.
Canadianness in the CRC Junior
The type of "Canadianness" adult JRC leaders hoped to foster in Juniors can be readily gleaned from the interwar content of the CRC Junior. As portrayed in the magazine, Canada was a country of vast distances, majestic mountains, open prairies, and silent forests. It was a place of boundless economic potential, growing cities, and technological achievements, but modern urban life was treated with ambivalence: rural life, open spaces, animals, plants, and birds were celebrated more frequently. Excerpts of nature poetry by Canadian poets such as Archibald Lampman, Charles G. D. Roberts, Bliss Carman, and E. Pauline Johnson reinforced this anti-modern view. Canadian history was presented as a narrative of adventure and struggle: European explorers, French settlers, and British allegiance were recurring themes.
At a time when observers lamented the loss of a so-called "pioneering spirit" in adolescents and its replacement with a hedonistic materialism (Comacchio 152), the CRC Junior offered children tales of pioneers, inventors, and creators. It sometimes explicitly invited them to consider themselves nation-builders, as when CRCS chairman J. W. Robertson asked in 1925 that Juniors set aside five minutes each day "to think about what more you can do and be to help Canada to become great, beautiful and glorious and yourself worthy of our Country" (16). Young people who chose branch names like "Red Maple Leaves," "Beaver branch," and "Canada Builders" seem to have embraced these aspects of the Canadian identity promoted by the JRC. However, early twentieth-century Canadians were also expected to aspire to greater elegance and beauty than their forebears, through familiarity with European high culture. To elevate young Canadians' cultural sensibilities, the CRC Junior provided articles on Western art and architecture and the glories of great European cities.
The vision of Canadianness put forward by the JRC through the CRC Junior is most concisely conveyed in a May 1939 play by Doris Bell and Winifred Kerr, entitled "Canada's Royal Feast." Written in honour of the 1939 Royal Tour of Canada, it imagines a gathering of those who have shaped modern Canada. "Builders of the Nation" (John Cabot and Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, a Hudson's Bay Company fur trader, a Canadian soldier of the First World War, and a nursing nun) are joined at the table by representatives of Canada's three "historic races." Despite the play's claim that "British, French, and Indian people" built Canada, this depiction of the country's founding figures excludes any meaningful contribution by Indigenous peoples, glosses over the existence and contributions of modern francophones, and completely ignores the more recent non-British, non-French immigrants who poured into Canada during the forty years prior to the First World War.
Canadianness in the Juniors' Portfolios
Elements of this version of Canadianness found their way into Juniors' portfolios, starting with their covers, which often featured maple leaves and/or Union Jacks, frequently in tandem with a red cross.(2) Canadian songs and poems appeared regularly, as did essays tracing Canada's history from European discovery through French settlement, British conquest, Confederation, and the First World War ("Highlights"). But portfolios most often focused on their creators' small corners of their very large country: local flora, fauna, and industry; local leisure pursuits, landscapes, seasonal activities, and weather conditions; the age, size, and amenities of the local community, and how far it was to the next-closest community or railway line. They also described their class, school, and JRC activities. A similar trend can be seen in many JRC branch names--from the "Rocky Mountaineers" and "Prairie Rose Juniors" to the "Muskoka Juniors" and "Sea Breeze branch"--which closely identified young people with the places where they lived.
The twenty students (ages two to approximately sixteen) enrolled in the Nightingale JRC at Beadle, Saskatchewan's one-room school, followed this pattern almost exactly when they created their portfolio (ca. 1927) for Australia. The first few pages present Canadian and provincial coats of arms and the Fathers of Confederation, but most of the rest of the book is devoted to the Juniors, their school, Kindersley ("the nearest town of any size"), and Saskatchewan. Captioned images cut from books and magazines depict prairie life, augmented by postcards showing scenes in and around Kindersley, short handwritten compositions, dried leaves and flowers, and a hand-drawn map of Canada. It is not a particularly attractive portfolio compared to many others, but it makes the most of limited resources and suggests a sincere effort to convey the essence of "home" to children on the other side of the world. The impact of the international correspondence program on this rural branch is perhaps hinted at in the text accompanying the map of Canada. Pointing out the location of Kindersley, the author muses: "It seems a small place on the map, on such a big territory" (Nightingale).
The relatively simple Nightingale portfolio stands in stark contrast to those produced over the course of the 1930s by the grade nine and ten students who belonged to Excelsior branch JRC at the Notre Dame convent school in Miscouche, Prince Edward Island. Each portfolio contains extensive information about class members and school life, while other elements are unique to a single portfolio but still speak to the importance of the local. These include a PEI tourism booklet and coat of arms, cut-outs of lobsters and a sailboat, provincial crests, a detailed map of the village, and Catholic postcards. A notable element of the Excelsior Juniors' albums is their celebration of the Royal Family. Newspaper articles and photographs are pasted into the album, and specially decorated pages are dedicated to the Silver Jubilee, the subsequent death of George V, and George VI's coronation (Excelsior).
As the Saskatchewan and PEI portfolios demonstrate, and descriptions of other branches' portfolios affirm, each album painted a different portrait of Canada. Two elements, however, were commonly invoked as defining features of the country: the maple sugar bush and traditional Indigenous cultural practices. Sugar maples only grow in certain parts of the country, and Indigenous peoples were actively being marginalized and targeted by assimilationist strategies designed to eliminate their ways of life. Yet the culturally constructed symbols of maple sugar and "Indians"--both of which frequently appeared in the CRC Junior--were held up as resonant features of home.
CRCS leaders claimed in 1922 that the basis of good citizenship was to get children "to realize that their first duty to their country is to become stalwart, healthy citizens" and "to get them to believe that they have obligations to their fellows" ("The Red Cross Junior" 2). Indeed, the three pillars of the JRC program were inextricably bound together: good global citizens offered voluntary service and worked to save the lives and health of themselves and others as a form of civic duty (Irwin; Valdes), just as service and good citizenship were seen as markers of health. All three are highlighted in the 1937 JRC play "To Castle Health." The Spirit of the Junior Red Cross proclaims to the audience, "You may all serve your community, your country and the world by being healthy, happy citizens. The greatest joy in the world is service" (Anderson 12). The progression from local to national to international is notable: JRC members were encouraged to work locally in ways that would strengthen their country as a whole, while recognizing that their efforts were part of a wider transnational movement of like-minded Juniors. As Julia Irwin writes of the American Junior Red Cross in this period, JRC leaders did not reject nationalism, but instead "redefine[d] it as a more inclusive, more culturally accepting ethos, one that acknowledged the interconnectedness of the modern world" (257). While it seems likely that the nuances of this local-within-national-within-transnational relationship were lost on some students (particularly in the younger grades), older students' writings suggest they internalized this framework for citizenship. The grade seven students of the Goodwill Club JRC at Oriole Park School in Toronto, for instance, composed an essay on citizenship in which good behaviour at school was a building block toward world peace: multiply such behaviour by all the schools in Canada "and you would have a nation of young citizens so busy doing things to build up our country that they would not even have time to think about destroying it with war or revolution," the author(s) concluded ("A Programme" 2).
Imperial Internationalism and the British Connection
Like most English-speaking Canadians of this period, adult JRC leaders were committed to Canada's place in the British Empire (Buckner 192-98; Gorman 11, 14). CRC Junior content therefore cultivated pride in the British Empire, a knowledge of British history, and affection for the Royal Family, as did school curricula. From 1925 to 1928, an elegant souvenir banner given to Canadian Juniors by the British JRC was taken on a cross-Canada tour and exhibited at mass meetings in each province. By the end of 1928, tens of thousands of Juniors had seen the banner, hundreds of thousands more had read about it in the magazine, and at least a few had pondered the significance of the exercise. An illuminated address prepared by Juniors in Chatham, New Brunswick, described the banner as "symbolic of the love and unity which binds our Empire together" ("The Journeys" 4), while Prince Edward Island Junior Mabel Mathieson explained that the banner helped her and her peers "understand better than ever how closely our work is linked with that of the children in the Motherland and the other parts of the Empire" (Untitled, Oct. 1927, 12).
As the banner's travels imply, adult JRC leaders wanted to encourage Canadian Juniors to see themselves (much like the interwar Girl Guides studied by Kristine Alexander) as "citizens not only of Canada but of the British Empire and the World" (Alexander, "Canadian Girls" 276). During the 1920s the British Empire promoted itself as an example of how self-governing territories (meaning Britain and the so-called "White Dominions") could cooperate and peacefully coexist, with global cooperation seen as a natural extension of the British imperial project (Gorman 319; Trentmann 35). When the Uncle Jack's Juniors branch of Englehart, Ontario, prepared a portfolio to send to Australia, their introductory letter conveyed a clear internalization of the metaphor of imperial family: "Dear Australian Cousins," they wrote, "Because we are part of the same Great Empire and have read about you in books and papers, we would like to become better acquainted" (Untitled, Sept. 1935, 17). Although not particularly common, branch names like "Prince of Wales," "King George," and "Union Jack" clearly claimed a share in this imperial identity. Yet, as Alexander writes, the wider British Empire "was intimately linked to inequality, violence, and hierarchical racial thinking" (Guiding 192)--its policies and practices largely responsible for the lack of peace in Ireland, India, and parts of Africa during this period. It is impossible to know how conscious Canadian youth might have been about unrest in other parts of the empire, but this instability may be the reason adults in organizations like the JRC worked so hard to put a friendly, familial face on imperial political institutions and relationships: promoting transnational sympathy within the empire was a way to paper over the cracks.
Competing Visions of National and Transnational Citizenship
Canadian JRC leaders' affinity for the British Empire led them to produce texts that implied that regardless of origin, people living in Canada should emulate the socio-cultural and health practices of white, British Canadians. International diversity was something to be embraced, but primarily outside of Canada's borders. The CRC Junior normally touched on Canada's internal diversity only when depicting francophones as Canada's first European settlers, or Indigenous peoples as a source of distinctive arts and crafts. Non-British immigrants were rarely mentioned in content produced specifically for the magazine. Yet the true diversity of the Canadian population--and examples of Vertovec's transnationalism as social morphology--can be glimpsed in letters from teacher-supervisors, branch names, and reports of Juniors' activities.
In one example, the effects of ongoing immigration upon the country's demographic profile were celebrated in an "international meeting" held by the Jolly Red Cross Band at an intermediate school in Hull, Quebec, in 1931. After concluding the business of the meeting, the Juniors heard recitations or prayers by their classmates in German, Assyrian, French, Yiddish, and Latin. Jean Browne editorialized that since international friendliness was one of the aims of the JRC, "it is a good plan to begin at home, as the Hull Juniors did" ("Common Ground" 2). The multicultural nature of the Jolly Red Cross Band had many equivalents elsewhere in the country. When the CRC Junior published a list of common school-related words in English, French, Spanish, and German provided by the LRCS, a Junior branch in Mapova, Alberta, sent Finnish and Slovakian equivalents, while children from Devon Mission in The Pas, Manitoba, contributed Cree vocabulary. All three were printed in subsequent issues ("An International Vocabulary"; "International Vocabulary (continued)").
Multicultural JRC branches like these were implicitly held up as examples of successful co-operation despite cultural differences--a local application of the transnational sympathy the JRC strove to develop. But in other cases, children and youth expressed diasporic and minority identities--Vertovec's transnationalism as social morphology--that the JRC's official version of Canadianness did not embrace. And they used their JRC branches to do so. For instance, the Health Brownies of Bengough, Saskatchewan staged "a Dutch play" on "the Dutch Day" in 1936 ("The Health Brownies" 2), while the Acadian Juniors in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia, composed a French-language portfolio for their correspondents in France ("An Acadian"). The Hungarian JRC branch of Winnipeg put a Hungarian twist on many of their activities: they corresponded with a JRC in
Hungary, provided clothing and shoes to impoverished Hungarian Canadian families in Manitoba, celebrated a traditional Hungarian Santa Claus day, and had a photo taken with all members wearing traditional Hungarian costume ("The Hungarian Branch"). But their obvious sense of membership in a transnational diasporic Hungarian community did not preclude them from expressing a parallel sense of membership in a transnational British imperial community. In a 1935 letter to their Hungarian correspondents, they described their enthusiastic celebrations in honour of George V's Silver Jubilee, calling him "our beloved and rightful king" ("Juniors Assist" 2).
The national, imperial, and transnational identities promoted by the JRC also had to be negotiated around identities that predated settler colonialism in Canada. The country's Indigenous peoples possessed strong national identities and developed complex networks of international relations among themselves long before the arrival of Europeans in North America. Yet from the time of Canadian Confederation (1867) onward, Canada's Indigenous peoples were denied the basic rights of citizenship, their lives framed by the restrictions of the Indian Act (1876) and associated federal government policies designed to facilitate their assimilation into settler colonial society. The Department of Indian Affairs considered the JRC complementary to its assimilationist goals, so during the interwar years it paid for a subscription to the CRC Junior for each Indian Day School (where pupils lived at home) or Residential School (where students boarded at the institution) in the country (Ferrier). But that did not necessarily mean Indigenous youth bought into the JRC's British Canadian vision. The Wa-Ka-Tas-Kat Juniors of the Indian Day School in St. Regis, Quebec (Kana:takon, Akwesasne), present an interesting case. While the use of Indigenous mother tongues was generally forbidden in school, these Juniors were allowed to give their branch an Indigenous name. A CRC Junior article explained that "the Indian term 'Wa-Ka-Tas-Kat' means 'Jolly Juniors'" ("Wa-Ka-Tas-Kat" 2). The direct translation seems unlikely, but the anglicized phonetic spelling makes it difficult to determine what the original Mohawk (Kanien'keha) phrase might have meant. Did these Juniors democratically vote to give themselves a branch name reflective of their Indigenous heritage in defiance of their school's assimilationist efforts? Why was it allowed by the teacher-supervisor? Or was the branch name something invented by the teacher-supervisor and bestowed in the "playing Indian" spirit that prevailed in interwar summer camps for white children (Wall)?
As Andrea Walsh explains, the Juniors of Inkameep Indian Day School in Oliver, British Columbia, had the uncommon experience of being taught by a white teacher who valued Indigenous culture and encouraged his students to express it through art and drama at school. In this context, the Inkameep Juniors were empowered to assert their Indigenous heritage within their JRC activities. For instance, they drew on their tradition of transmitting knowledge through animal stories by producing paintings of animals that demonstrated the JRC health rules and featuring Indigenous characters and settings in depictions of the Nativity story. Both were reproduced in the CRC Junior amid fulsome praise--subtly undermining the magazine's erstwhile implication that Indigenous culture and identity were confined to the misty past (Inkameep Juniors; Mary and Baptiste; "Health Rules"; Walsh 286-87, 290-96). As the JRC encouraged young Canadians to build transnational sympathy with youngsters outside Canada, whether consciously or not, some of its Indigenous members subtly alerted their peers to the opportunities for transnational sympathy within the country.
In the pages of the CRC Junior, and through the JRC's international correspondence program, English-speaking, Euro-Canadian adults tried to cultivate a mindset of "international friendliness" in order to undermine the strident nationalism that led to the First World War and was dangerously reasserting itself during the 1930s. The magazine promoted a version of "Canadianness" grounded not only in health, service, and citizenship, but also in whiteness, Britishness, and European culture. At the same time, the magazine asserted transnational humanitarian sympathy and action as additional elements of Canadianness. This approach aligns closely with Vertovec's conceptual premises of transnationalism as a form of consciousness and transnationalism as a site of political engagement, as well as with Grant, Levine, and Trentmann's model of imperially infused transnationalism. In JRC texts, children may be glimpsed embracing elements of this officially endorsed set of national and transnational values, but also sometimes rejecting them in favour of the local and personal, embracing them in addition to diasporic transnational identities (an example of Vertovec's concept of transnationalism as social morphology), or complicating them through the assertion of persistent Indigenous identity in the face of state-sanctioned settler colonialism. In the absence of relevant sources, it is impossible to determine the long-term impact of a class portfolio project on a JRC member's adult attitudes toward the international community. However, JRC health lessons painted in the guise of Indigenous animal stories, Hungarian ethnic identity reflected in a branch's choice of activities, and the British imperial enthusiasm woven into a decade's worth of portfolios all suggest the presence of both approved and alternate approaches to transnational-national citizenship thriving in the lives of interwar Canadian youth.
(1) Drawing on the "Junior Red Cross News" and "International Correspondence" pages in the CRC Junior between 1922 and 1939, and lists of contributors to the International Peace Garden project (1938-39), the author compiled a list of more than 800 individual branch names. All references to branch names in this article draw from this master list.
(2) Unless otherwise noted, any analysis of portfolio contents is based upon the author's survey of all descriptions of Canadian portfolios to appear in the CRC Junior between 1922 and 1939.
"An Acadian Portfolio." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 8, Oct. 1935, p. 23.
"Alberta Teachers Report on Junior Red Cross." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 4, no. 8, Oct. 1935, p. 16.
Alexander, Kristine. "Canadian Girls, Imperial Girls, Global Girls: Race, Nation, and Transnationalism in the Interwar Girl Guide Movement."
Within and without the Nation: Canadian History as Transnational History, edited by Karen Dubinsky, Adele Perry, and Henry Yu, U of Toronto P, 2015, pp. 276-92.
--. "The Girl Guide Movement and Imperial Internationalism during the 1920s and 1930s." Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, vol. 2, no. 1, 2009, pp. 37-63.
--. Guiding Modern Girls: Girlhood, Empire, and Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s. UBC P, 2017.
Anderson, Mabel E. "To Castle Health." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 16, no. 3, Mar. 1937, p. 12.
"Annual Reports from British Columbia." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 18, no. 1, Jan. 1939, p. 17.
Bell, Doris, and Winifred Kerr. "Canada's Royal Feast." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 18, no. 5, May 1939, pp. 19-21.
"The Boys and Girls of Old Japan." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 3, no. 4, Apr. 1924, p. 4.
Brown, Robert Craig, and Ramsay Cook. Canada 1896--1921: A Nation Transformed. McClelland & Stewart, 1974.
Buckner, Phillip. "The Long Goodbye: English Canadians and the British World." Rediscovering the British World, edited by Phillip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis, U of Calgary P, 2005, pp. 181-208. Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS). Annual Report for 1920. CRCS, 19 21.
"Children's Friendships." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 10, no. 2, Feb. 1931, p. 17.
Comacchio, Cynthia. The Dominion of Youth: Adolescence and the Making of Modern Canada, 1920 to 1950. Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2006. "Common Ground in Junior Red Cross." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 10, no. 2, Feb. 1931, p. 2.
"Comrades All." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 6, June 1935, p. 2.
Davies, Blodwen. "Stefansson--The Man Who Became an Eskimo." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 17, no. 8, Oct. 1938, 19-20.
Excelsior JRC portfolios. 1930-1942. Fonds C-47, Junior Red Cross, Miscouche, 44.2-2. Le Centre de recherches acadiennes de l'I-P-E, Miscouche, Prince Edward Island. Manuscript.
Ferrier, Russell T. Circular letter to Indian Schools. 20 Feb. 1925.
Department of Indian Affairs RG10, vol. 6032, file 150-39 (part 1), reel c-8149. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. Manuscript.
Glassford, Sarah. "Bearing the Burdens of Their Elders: English-Canadian Children's First World War Red Cross Work and Its Legacies." Etudes canadiennes/Canadian Studies, vol. 80, 2016, pp. 129-50.
--. Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross. McGill-Queen's UP, 2017.
--. "Practical Patriotism: How the Canadian Junior Red Cross and Its Child Members Met the Challenge of the Second World War." Bringing Children and Youth into Canadian History: The Difference Kids Make, edited by Mona Gleason and Tamara Myers, Oxford UP, 2017, pp. 231-45.
Gorman, Daniel. The Emergence of International Society in the 1920s. Cambridge UP, 2012.
Grant, Kevin, et al. "Introduction." Beyond Sovereignty: Britain, Empire and Transnationalism, c. 1880-1950, edited by Kevin Grant, Philippa Levine, and Frank Trentmann, Palgrave, 2007, pp. 1-15.
"Happy to Belong." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 13, no. 9, Nov. 1934, pp. 15-16.
"'Happy Workers' Like the Junior Magazine." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 7, no. 6, June 1928, p. 7.
"The Health Brownies of Bengough, Saskatchewan." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 15, no. 8, Oct. 1936, p. 2.
"Health Rules." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 18, no. 1, Jan. 1939, back cover.
Hewett, Jean. "A Book Review: The United World." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 16, no. 7, Sept. 1937, 21.
"Highlights of Canadian History." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 6, June 1935, p. 6.
"The Hungarian Branch of the Junior Red Cross in Winnipeg." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 10, Dec. 1935, p. 2.
"An Independent Group at Ellis School, Ontario." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 9, no. 9, November 1930, p. 2.
Inkameep Juniors, illustrators. Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 17, no. 5, May 1938, back cover.
"An International Vocabulary." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 3, May 1935, p. 23.
"International Vocabulary (continued)." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 6, June 1935, p. 22.
Iriye, Akira. Cultural Internationalism and World Order. Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.
Irwin, Julia. "Teaching 'Americanism with a World Perspective': The Junior Red Cross in the U.S. Schools from 1917 to the 1920s." History of Education Quarterly, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 255-79.
"The Journeys of the Banner." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 5, no. 1, Jan. 1926, pp. 4-5.
"A Junior Addresses the School Fair." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 15, no. 10, Dec. 1936, p. 2.
"Juniors Assist in Jubilee Celebrations." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 8, Oct. 1935, p. 2.
Keck, Margaret E., and Kathryn Sikkink. Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Cornell UP, 2014. Lawrence, Margaret Isabel. "The Disarmament Conference." The Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 11, no. 3, Mar. 1932, p. 8.
League of Red Cross Societies. "The Junior Red Cross in Relation to National and International Red Cross Organization." Reports of the League Secretariat, 14th International Red Cross Conference, 12th Meeting of the Board of Governors of the League, Oct. 1930, pp. 78-94.
"A Letter from the Editor." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 2, no. 9, Nov. 1923, p. 3.
MacDermot, T. W. L. "The League of Nations." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 13, no. 6, June 1934, p. 4.
MacKaye, Hazel. "Good Will, the Magician." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 10, no. 5, May 1931, pp. 13-14.
Mary, Ernest, and Francis Baptiste, illustrators. Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 16, no. 10, Dec. 1937, back cover.
"Mass Meetings in Quebec." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 7, no. 8,
Oct. 1928, p.2.
Milsom, George. "Correspond, but Correspond Well." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 16, no. 7, Sept. 1937, p. 10.
Moore, Henry J. "The International Peace Garden." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 16, no. 9, Nov. 1937, pp. 4, 22.
"New Branches." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 9, no. 3, Mar. 1930, p. 19. Nightingale JRC portfolio. Ca. 1927. Archives box 52. Canadian Red Cross National Archive, Ottawa. Manuscript.
Osborne, Ken. "Canadian Schools, the League of Nations, and the Teaching of History, 1920-1939." Historical Studies in Education, vol. 30, no. 2, 2018, pp. 1-23.
"Peace Garden Contributions." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 17, no. 4, Apr. 1938, pp. 18-19.
"A Programme of Good Citizenship." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 16, no. 3, Mar. 1937, p. 2.
"The Red Cross Junior." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 1, no. 1, March 1922, p. 2.
Robertson, J. W. "To the Juniors from the Chairman." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 4, no. 1, Jan. 1925, p. 16.
Satzewich, Vic, and Lloyd Wong, editors. Transnational Identities and Practices in Canada. UBC P, 2006.
Sheehan, Nancy M. "The Junior Red Cross Movement in Saskatchewan, 1919-1929: Rural Improvement through the Schools." Building beyond the Homestead: Rural History on the Prairies, edited by David C. Jones and Ian MacPherson, U of Calgary P, 1985, pp. 66-86.
"Something in Common." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 16, no. 5, May 1937, p. 2.
"The Sphere." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 12, no. 6, June 1933, p. 2. Springhall, John. Youth, Empire, and Society: British Youth Movements, 1883-1940. Croon Helm, 1977.
Thompson, John Herd, and Allen Seager. Canada 1922-1939: Decades of Discord. McClelland & Stewart, 1985.
Trentmann, Frank. "After the Nation-State: Citizenship, Empire and Global Coordination in the New Internationalism, 1914-1930."
Beyond Sovereignty: Britain, Empire and Transnationalism c. 1880-1950, edited by Kevin Grant, Philippa Levine, and Frank Trentmann, Palgrave, 2007, pp. 34-53.
Untitled. Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 6, no. 8, Oct. 1927, p. 12.
--. Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 14, no. 7, Sept. 1935, p. 17.
Valdes, Annmarie. "'I, Being a Member of the Junior Red Cross, Gladly Offered my Services': Transnational Practices of Citizenship by the International Junior Red Cross Youth." Transnational Social Review: A Social Work Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, 2015, pp. 161-75, doi: 10.1080/21931674.2015.1038094.
Vance, Jonathan F. Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War. UBC P, 1997.
"Wa-Ka-Tas-Kat Juniors Have Active Year." Canadian Red Cross Junior, vol. 8, no. 8, Oct. 1929, p. 2.
Wall, Sharon. "Totem Poles, Teepees, and Token Traditions: 'Playing Indian' at Ontario Summer Camps, 1920-1955." Canadian Historical Review, vol. 86 no. 3, 2005, pp. 513-44.
Walsh, Andrea N. "Healthy Bodies, Strong Citizens: Okanagan Children's Drawings and the Canadian Junior Red Cross." Depicting Canada's hildren, edited by Loren Lerner, Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2009, pp. 279-303.
Sarah Glassford holds a Ph.D. in Canadian History (York University) and a Master of Library and Information Science (Western University), combining the two disciplines in her professional life as an archivist and historian. She is the author of Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross (McGill-Queen's UP, 2017), and co-editor of A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the First World War (UBC P, 2012).
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|Publication:||Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2018|
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