A heart at leisure from itself: Caroline Macdonald of Japan by Margaret Prang

By Margaret Prang

A really outstanding individual, Caroline Macdonald (1874-1931) used to be a Canadian girl who spent nearly her complete operating existence in Japan and who performed an important function there in either the institution of the YWCA and in felony reform. a local of Wingham, Ontario, she used to be one of many first ladies to wait the collage of Toronto, the place in 1901 she graduated with honours in arithmetic and physics. yet instead of persist with a tutorial profession, she opted in 1904, via her connections with the Presbyterian Church and the YWCA in Canada and the us, to maneuver to Tokyo to paintings as a lay missionary and social employee. through the Twenties, she used to be the best-known overseas lady in Tokyo. In ’A middle at relaxation from Itself’ Margaret Prang follows Caroline Macdonald’s lifestyles and occupation, targeting her paintings in Japan on behalf of incarcerated criminals. operating usually with male prisoners and their households, Macdonald turned a global interpreter of the move for legal reform paintings for which she remains to be warmly remembered in Japan. She seemed herself as a missionary yet was once additionally hugely severe of a lot missionary endeavour, her personal paintings being extra within the functional than non secular realm. Her dying in 1931 elicited tributes from worldwide, quite from Japan. might be the main becoming got here from Arima Shirosuke, the legal governor with whom Macdonald labored such a lot heavily. Reflecting on her lifestyles, Arima saw that he concept it used to be her absolute conviction that each individual used to be a baby of God and her ’effortless’ perform of that religion that put Macdonald ’beyond each prejudice’ of faith, race, or type. She was once, he acknowledged, ’a center at relaxation from itself.’ This ebook throws gentle on Japanese-Canadian kinfolk within the first few many years of this century. Macdonald’s profession unearths the cross-cultural effect of the YWCA in Japan, the position of the Protestant church buildings there, and the evolution of legal reform in Japan and the folk keen on it.

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While some interpreters saw the growth of Japanese economic and military 30 A Heart at Leisure from Itself power as 'the yellow peril,' a coming threat to European leadership of the world, many more viewed the new Japan as a beneficial influence throughout Asia. ' One of the most balanced pictures of changing Japan was drawn by the Englishman Basil Hall Chamberlain, whose mastery of the Japanese language and its literature was unique among foreigners. Soon after the turn of the century, his encyclopaedic two-volume work Things Japanese, originally published in 1876, was in its fourth edition.

I do like riding in a kuruma,' I say in the exuberance of youthful feeling. ' If I mention ... that I passed a good medical examination I am reminded that some who have had the best records have been the first to break down. '2 At the beginning of the new year Caroline began to attend a language school conducted by Mr. Matsuda, a teacher at the prestigious Peers' School, and said to be the best teacher of Japanese in the country. ^ Since the YWCA was not yet formally constituted, Caroline had no official position, but she began to work with two groups of girls, one a Bible class for English-speaking Christian students at the Higher Normal School, and the other with girls from the central telephone office with whom discussion was conducted through an interpreter.

At the same time she was gathering statistics about working women and was soon able to announce that there were more than 5,200 women in employment in Ottawa. They included workers in the city's small textile mills, telephone operators, office workers, and domestics. 21 Caroline proposed that a girls' club should be organized to meet in the central part of the city daily from twelve to two o'clock. Working women could bring their lunches and the club would provide soup, tea, and coffee for a small sum.

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