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Picture, Flora

Image - Picture, Flora
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Nom de l'objet : Picture, Flora
Numéro d'accession : 1973.1.173.d
Description : Dried, pressed flowers encased in a frame. Pale yellow flowers (Lady's slippers) pressed against a blue and yellow watercoloured background with, "MB 1933" signed in black ink. Holding the flowers in place is a cream netting which is then framed with a gold edged cream matboard and held in place by glass and a gold painted wooden frame.
Commentaires : Born in February 1866, Martha Louise Munger grew up in Chicago in a wealthy family. Her first memory was of the Great Fire, which the Mungers fled when their home was destroyed. She had a "finishing school" education, excelling at elocution and botany. She married Will Purdy in August 1887, and two sons followed shortly thereafter. Purdy's work for the railroad often kept him away from home, and Martha found outlets for her energy in addition to raising her family. She worked for the organizing committee for the Women's Pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and later at Hull House, providing relief for families stricken with poverty during the hard times that arrived on the doorstep of the 20th century. In 1897, a palmist predicted that Martha would travel far outside the US within a year, face danger and privation, and give birth to another child. The following summer, Martha undertook a quest chasing a fortune in gold dust left in an obscure will by a Klondike miner. Parking her sons with family in Kansas, she left with her brother for the Yukon in June of '98. She never saw Will Purdy again and eventually they were divorced. After climbing the Chilkoot and riding the mighty river, the 631st woman through the Mounted Police checkpoint at Tagish, Martha arrived in Dawson. Claims were staked on Excelsior Creek. As the prediction continued to become reality, she gave birth that winter to her son Lyman, alone in their small Lousetown cabin, although the missing gold dust was never located. Martha's father arrived the following spring to bring her back to civilization, but she soon was drawn back to the Klondike. The claims were paying off, and with the money they brought in, Martha financed two sawmills. By 1901, she was rejoined by her sons and became a pioneer businesswoman in Dawson City, Yukon. Martha met Dawson lawyer George Black, originally from New Brunswick, and they married in August 1904. George soon became involved in politics, elected first to the Yukon Council and ultimately to the position of Commissioner. In 1911, they took up residence in Government House. Martha performed routine duties as mistress of the mansion, and also pursued her botanical studies, completing a collection of pressed Yukon wildflower specimens as well as an exhibition collection for Canadian Pacific Rail assembled on a trip across the country by train. She battled for the crocus, fuzzy harbinger of Yukon springtime, to be accepted as the Territorial flower. She worked continually for the service group, the International Daughters of the Empire, and the Dawson Chapter was named after her. In 1916, George enlisted to join Canadian troops headed for the Great War in Europe, and commanded the Yukon Infantry Company of 275 men including son Lyman. Martha insisted on joining him and went to England on the troopship, where she continued the Yukon Comfort Fund work started in Dawson. She did YMCA canteen work, sewed for the Red Cross, visited injured Yukon soldiers in hospital, gave lectures and wrote columns for the newspapers at home. George was wounded in 1918, but recovered in a French military hospital. As the war came to an end, the Blacks were invited to Buckingham Palace to meet King George and Queen Mary. In 1921, George Black was elected to Parliament, returning to his seat through 1930 when he became Speaker. Martha's strongest feminist comments were made in 1924 when she said in a Toronto Saturday Night interview, "The House of Commons sat long this year. I have never been an ardent suffragist, but the longer I live the more I realize that women couldn't do any worse than the 200-odd so-called statesmen that Canada sends to Ottawa each year." When illness forced George to resign in 1935, Martha ran to replace him as an Independent-Conservative. In winning, she became only the second woman to sit in the Canadian Parliament. Tough times followed however, when Lyman was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario in 1937, followed shortly thereafter by the death of oldest son Warren. When George recovered sufficiently he returned to his parliamentary seat. After dividing their time for decades between Dawson, Vancouver and Ottawa, the Blacks came to live in Whitehorse in 1944. Martha was still much in demand socially but as age began to take its toll a broken hip confined her to a wheelchair. She still made the social rounds with G.I. Cameron often chauffeuring her, carrying her to her engagements, bringing along her chair, and returning her home. Martha Black passed away in 1957.
Fonctions : The flora picture was made by Martha Louise Black in 1933. Mrs Black was greatly interested in wild flowers. In 1909, the Yukon Government offered a prize for the best exhibit of native flowers. Mrs Black, who was known for her fascination with flowers, was helped by the Dawson residents and by the time her exhibit was complete she had gathered 464 varieties in her display and won the prize. For the next two summers, she was commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway to gather and mount wild flowers for their stations and hotels. This endeavor she called artistic botany. In her biography, there is an eleven step guide to pressing and mounting flowers; when it comes to pressing Lady's slippers, Martha suggests that you stuff the pouch with a tiny wad of cotton. Whyard, Flo, ed. Martha Black: Her Story from the Dawson Gold Fields to the Halls of Parliament. Whitehorse: Wolf Creek Books, 2003.
Sujet ou image : Yukon People, Everyday Life, The Natural World
Établissement : MacBride Museum
Ville de l'établissement : Whitehorse
Province de l'établissement : Yukon Territory
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