Mackenzie King a “one-celled animal”

November 28, 2016

I am sure that recently elected-for-president Donald Trump is being called many things right now especially in his homeland south of the Canadian border.

But nothing, I am sure, as tame as being called a “one-celled animal”. Although, despite the lack of curse words, this three word description does have quite a negative ring to it.

Read on about the play that inspired this alternative name for Prime Minister Mackenzie King:

The Uniter

Wednesday, January 23, 1980

Mackenzie King a “one-celled animal”

by Tanya Lester

“Waiting for the Parade” is like looking at snapshots of women in an old photograph album from the war years.

And that’s where playwright John Murrell probably got his first creative glimpse of what the play would become. After he saw those pictures, he talked to several Calgary women who lived through World War II> They provided him with the painful and sometimes happy recollections; the material for the play.

“Waiting for the Parade”, which opened on January 9 at Manitoba Theatre Company Warehouse Theatre in Winnipeg and will be playing throughout Manitoba in the next few weeks, is a series of scenes which take a close look at what different types of women went through during the war years.

It is a play presenting a new angle to Canadian audiences, a new way of dealing with World War II. The characters are women everybody knows existed. But most people never knew much else about them.

They are the women who ‘kept the home fires burning’ bu making bandages and entertaining the passing troops. Murrell delves deeper into the emotions these women felt. Each of the five characters is trying to come to grips with her relationship with the main in her life.

It is surprising, but probably appropriate, that Catherine (Melody Ryane) is the only character in the play who has a husband fighting in the war. She sadly tells the audience that Billy, her husband, could have at least told her before enrolling in the army. But she is not tempted by another man until she realizes Billy is leaving her memory “one piece at a time.”

Marta is a German woman who painfully tries to understand the unfair society that put her father in prison when police found German magazines in his basement. However, the misery she feels about her father being in jail is only magnified when he comes back home. His paranoia makes him suspect even of her. Terri Cheriack plays Marta with an incredibly good German accent that clearly reflects the character’s agony.

Margaret (Maxine Miller) has to deal with not one man but two, Her strongest feelings deal with letting her sons go. Although one son is pro-war and the other is strongly against it, she can mot understand either of them because her reason is clouded by fear of loneliness.

The organizer for the war effort at home is Janet, who’s played by Rosemary Dunsmore. She does not mind being hated by the other women because she is involved in ‘the cause’ to save face for her husband. But when she finds her husband, who did not enroll to fight in the war, is sneaking around behind her back, she falls apart emotionally.

Deborah Grover plays the woman, Eve, who has to deal with her older husband. A school teacher who is strongly against young men going off to war rather than finding careers, Eve has to cope with the rantings of a husband who would have joined in a minute if he had been younger.

Collectively, these characters convey to the audience that they cannot personally support the war of its war heroes. The politicians are, as usual oblivious to the human element and the characters recognize this — “one-celled animal” is Eve’s bitter name for Mackenzie King when he eventually enforces subscription. As the man men overseas much have realized the utter inhumanity of war, these women realize the injustice of it all at home. None are patiently sitting by and waiting for the parade…


Tanya Lester has been a tea leaf and tarot reader for the last 20 years. She is also a reiki master and fulltime housesitter. For more information on her unusual career choices and passions, go to or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. Her email is Her cell phone number is 250-538-0086.


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