Anne-Marie Huguenin (née Gleason, pen name “Madeleine”), writer, journalist and editor (born 5 October 1875 in Rimouski, Québec; died 21 October 1943 in Montréal). Anne-Marie Huguenin was one of the first female journalists in Canada. For more than 19 years, she wrote and edited the women’s pages in the newspaper La Patrie. She then founded and managed her own magazine, La Revue moderne.
Education and Early Career
Born into a well-to-do Rimouski family, Anne-Marie was the daughter of John Gleason, an Irish Canadian lawyer. Her mother, Eugénie Garon, was the daughter of notary Joseph Garon, the first member of Québec’s National Assembly from Rimouski (1867–71). Anne-Marie studied at the Sœurs de la Charité (Sisters of Charity) convent in La Malbaie, and then at the convent in Rimouski until 1890. In 1897, she wrote for Le Monde illustré under the pen name “Myrto” and for the Courrier de Rimouski. She then moved to Ottawa, where she became a columnist for Le Temps.
Royaume des femmes
In 1901, Joseph-Israël Tarte put Anne-Marie in charge of the women’s pages in the Montréal newspaper La Patrie. For 19 years, Anne-Marie, known as “Madeleine” to her readers, wrote and edited “Royaume des femmes” (Women’s World). At the time, women’s pages like “Royaume des femmes” were found in most large-circulation daily newspapers. Their purpose was to attract female readers, a clientele increasingly sought after by advertisers. Poetry, recipes, biographies and fashion were mixed with advertising aimed at women, with letters to the editor occupying a prime spot in the pages. Readers regularly sent in questions about literature and the theatre, and Anne-Marie was happy to provide reviews of plays that were on stage, to recommend readings, and even to review texts submitted by her readers.
Improving Working Conditions for Journalists
In June 1904, Anne-Marie was among the 16 female journalists from Canada (8 francophones and 8 anglophones) selected to cover the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Travelling aboard a special car on a Canadian Pacific train, the group included Kathleen “Kit” Coleman (first accredited war correspondent in Canada), Kate Simpson Hayes (first female journalist from Western Canada), Robertine Barry, better known under the pen name “Françoise” (first woman employed by a large daily newspaper in Québec), and Léonise Valois (first woman to publish, in 1910, a collection of poems in Québec). On the trip, the women forged friendships and discussed the challenges of their occupation. This experience led to the establishment of the Canadian Women’s Press Club, of which Anne-Marie was one of the founding members. In the 1920s, a total of 400 women were members of this network, and the number climbed to more than 700 in the 1970s. The group was dissolved after celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2004.
In 1903, Anne-Marie also helped create the Association des journalistes canadiens-français with male colleagues who worked for the various Montréal newspapers, including Omer Héroux, Amédée Denault, Arthur Côté and Hector Garneau. The organization’s aim was to improve the working conditions and status of journalists in French Canada, in particular by establishing local press clubs, employment agencies, retirement homes for elderly journalists and a mutual aid society. Despite these laudable objectives, the association ceased its activities around 1907.
Founder and Editor of La Revue moderne
In 1904, Anne-Marie married a wealthy Montréal doctor, Wilfrid-Arthur Huguenin. Being lovers of the arts, the Huguenins opened their home to a group of writers, architects and musicians who later founded the literary magazine Le Nigog (named for an instrument used by Aboriginal peoples to spear salmon) in 1918. The couple had a daughter in 1905 (whom they named Madeleine), but this did not stop Anne-Marie from pursuing her career at La Presse.
In 1913, Anne-Marie founded La Bonne Parole, which would be published in Montréal until 1958. La Bonne Parole was a publication of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, an association of francophone Catholic women) (see Women’s Organizations) that was created in 1907 by Caroline Béïque and Marie Gérin-Lajoie, née Lacoste. In November 1919, Anne-Marie left La Patrie and founded La Revue moderne, which she initially edited alone for five years and then with the help of various collaborators. Anne-Marie gave the magazine a twofold thrust, publishing both intellectual and popular culture material. Scientific, literary and political articles were mixed with lighter fare provided as entertainment. In 1928, Anne-Marie created another magazine, La Vie canadienne, which she merged with La Revue moderne in October 1929.
After Anne-Marie left La Revue moderne around 1930, the magazine published content of a more general nature. Women had become the main target of advertisers; thus, more than half the content focused on subjects of interest to women. It was apparently this success with women that enabled La Revue moderne to adapt to the times and increase its circulation. From 23,000 copies per month in 1922, the magazine’s monthly circulation increased to 80,000 in 1944, then 97,000 in 1956, and finally 101,000 in 1960. That year, the Toronto publisher Maclean Hunter bought La Revue moderne and made it the French version of the English-language magazine Chatelaine, while keeping “La Revue moderne” as the subtitle for a few years.
In 1934, Anne-Marie was literary editor of Action conservatrice, a political and literary weekly openly in favour of the Conservative Party. From 1897 to 1943, the year of her death, Anne-Marie published more than 3000 columns and articles on all types of topics. Apparently, she never retired.
In addition to her writing, Anne-Marie gave lectures and talks to a variety of audiences. In 1912, at the first Congrès de la langue française, she gave a lecture entitled “Le foyer gardien de la langue française” (The home: guardian of the French language) in which she shared her ideas on the importance of women, and particularly mothers, to the dissemination of the French language.
As she had in her writing, Anne-Marie promoted access to education for women (see Women and Education) and the improvement of their working conditions (see also Status of Women) in her lectures. She did not speak out, however, on the question of women’s suffrage. In 1921, Anne-Marie gave her assessment of the status of women in Québec to the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Seeking to reconcile a liberal, militant feminism with the so-called “maternal” feminism that she espoused, she invited women to cast off their supposed intellectual and moral inferiority by joining an emerging solidarity movement: the women’s movement.
Anne-Marie was the author of several collections of columns, including Premier Péché (1902), Le long du chemin (1912) and Le meilleur de soi (1924). She also wrote two plays: L’Adieu du poète, staged on 12 June 1902 at the Théâtre national français in Montréal, and En pleine gloire!, staged for the visit of a French dignitary in 1919.
In 1938, Anne-Marie published Portraits de femmes, which included a preface by Senator Raoul Dandurand. This work, which was reissued many times, contains biographies of women who, each in their own way, had an impact on the history of French Canada. She wrote a novel, Anne Mérival, which appeared in the pages of La Revue moderne in 1927 but which was never published as a book.
In 1910, the French government awarded Anne-Marie the Palmes académiques (Silver Palms), and then, in 1916, the Palmes de l’instruction publique (Golden Palms). Her work as a journalist and her charitable work during the First World War (notably as president of the French section of the Red Cross) earned her the Médaille d’argent de la reconnaissance française (Silver Medal of French Gratitude) in 1920 and the Médaille d’or de la reconnaissance belge (Gold Medal of Belgian Gratitude) from King Albert in 1921.
Despite the fact that several academic research projects have focused on “Madeleine,” this pioneering female journalist is not well known to the general public. A street in Rimouski (rue Madeleine-Gleason) and a street in Montréal (rue Madeleine-Huguenin) were named in her honour.