The Hilda Neatby Prize French Article
Aline Charles, « Femmes âgées, pauvres et sans droit de vote, mais… citoyennes ? Lettres au premier ministre du Québec, 1935-1936 ». Recherches féministes, vol. 26, nº 2, 2013, p. 51-70.
In her article, « Femmes âgées, pauvres et sans droit de vote, mais… citoyennes ? Lettres au premier ministre du Québec, 1935-1936, » Aline Charles analyzes an important collection of letters sent to Liberal premier Louis-Alexandre Taschereau by women asking him to account for old age pensions promised in October 1935, but still unpaid in January 1936. Taking up the pen, these older women from the working classes showed that neither the right to the provincial vote nor association connections were necessary for them to self-identify as citizens worthy of the consideration and support of the state. With great flair, Charles shows that these women, falling far short of the stereotypes of resignation and passivity sometimes attributed to their class, were active, visible and able to claim their due. If these women often evinced their misery in their writing, a great many among them asked for a pension simply because they felt they had the right to do so, like other Canadian men and women. Aline Charles contributes not only to the history of women in Quebec and Canada, but also to a new historiography of old age while adding to our understanding of Quebec history in the 1930s. Her work stands at the intersection of gender, age and poverty, contributing significantly to current reflections and debates on the need for, and the future of, important social measures, such as old age pensions.