In Search of Velma Brown [Moore]’s Toronto Days

Velma Jane Moore, Winifred Barnstead, Winnifred Reynolds in Toronto, 1921

Our Starting Point

I’m going to start the search for my grandmother’s Toronto days with my mother’s account:

I never knew that Velma lived in Toronto until I saw pictures of her Toronto days. I assume she went there after graduating from Dalhousie. An article in a New Brunswick local paper about Ronald [Brown] and Velma’s visit to Ronald’s Aunt Ann Worden during their honeymoon says that Velma was a graduate of Ontario University Library School. She then worked at the Toronto Public Library. A picture of her and the head of the department she worked in said 1919-1922 on the back. . . . I don’t know if those are the years she worked under the woman or the years she worked at the library. Velma attended a Bible class from 1920-1921. Velma had a very good friend, Winnifred Reid (married name) and fellow worker at the Library. Winnifred and her husband, Jim, ended up in Hamden, Connecticut, where Winnifred worked in the reference department of the Yale Library. They and Ronald and Velma visited back and forth through the years. I used to take Liz to visit them when we lived in New Haven. I don’t know when Velma left Toronto or if she spent time in Economy before going to the States.1

As you can see, there were significant periods of Velma’s life that her descendants knew nothing about until we had the opportunity to go through The Family Archives when my mother’s sister Margaret died in 2009.

Jim Reid, Baby Liz, Winnifred Reynolds Reid, Hamden, Connecticut, 1956

Leaving Economy

After Velma’s brief career as a teacher in Colchester County, Nova Scotia from September 1918 – June 19192, she was hired as an assistant in the Cataloguing Division of the Toronto Public Library in Ontario, the only assistant hired in 1919.3 At a distance of over 1,000 miles, the move from Economy to Toronto would have been no small undertaking for a young woman of twenty-two in 1919. Finishing the school year at Colchester West on June 30, 1919, she would have moved to Toronto sometime between July and December of that year.

The immediate question, of course is, why? Weren’t there libraries in Nova Scotia? With a little digging, I soon learned that Ontario was at the forefront of public library development in Canada at that time; Ontario was also at the forefront of library training, along with McGill University in Montreal.4

The Dalhousie Connection

Also in the frame are two Dalhousie University connections, which I suspect may have prompted the move to Toronto. The Winnifred Reid my mother mentions in her account of Velma’s Toronto days was Winnifred Reynolds before her marriage, one of Velma’s Dalhousie friends. Winnifred graduated from Dalhousie with the Class of 1919.5  She worked as a cataloguer at the Toronto Public Library from 1920-1922.6

Velma’s boss at the library, Winifred Barnstead, was also a Dalhousie University graduate, Class of 1906.7 In reading about the history of Canadian librarianship in the first part of the twentieth century, I discovered that Ms. Barnstead was a very influential figure.8 Velma learned from the best!

Winifred Barnstead, Velma’s Boss in the Cataloguing Department of the Toronto Public Library from 1919-1922

Winnifred Reynolds Reid

Winnifred’s critique in the Dalhousie Gazette shows her to have much in common with Velma; it’s easy to see how they would have been friends:

Stately and dignified, in cap and gown with a scroll in her hand, Winifred [sic] Reynolds will not be recognized by many. Quiet, but nevertheless possessing a deep sense of humor, Winnie was exceedingly well liked by those who knew her, but she was hard to get acquainted with. She took her studies seriously with good results.9

As my mother’s account indicates, Winnifred continued her career as a librarian. I found her listed in the 1955 edition of Who’s Who in Library Service10:

Winnifred retired in 1964 as the Head cataloger and Research Associate at the Yale Law School Library.11

More to come about Velma’s Toronto days! I’m also sorting through information about the public library system in Toronto that might be interest to other family historians looking for social context for ancestors who lived in Toronto in the early part of the twentieth century.


For additional information:

Oral history of Winifred Barnstead, recorded at the University of Toronto in 1974, the year she died: https://play.library.utoronto.ca/aUBKrGlYlUZY

Article describing Winifred’s Barnstead’s role in the establishment of librarianship education at the University of Toronto: https://www.exlibris.ca/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=wiki:newsletters:elan_special_summer_2004.pdf


1Kay Brown Gauffreau, “The Ancestry & Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown” (unpublished manuscript, December 2013), 25-26.

2E-mail from Harold Stewart, Little White Schoolhouse Museum, Truro, NS 11/19/17.

3Annual Report – Toronto Public Library, 33rd ed. (Toronto: Armac Press, 1920), 74.

4Mary Ellen Quinn, Historical Dictionary of Librarianship (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), 72.

5“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 11, 12, 13 (July 11, 1919): 11.

6Dorothy Ethlyn Cole, ed., Who’s Who in Library Service: A Biographical Directory of Professional Librarians of the United States and Canada, 3rd ed. (New York: Grolier Society, 1955), 404.

7“History: Biographies,” Ex Libris Association, last modified February 10, 2016, accessed October 14, 2018, https://www.exlibris.ca/doku.php?id=history:biographies:barnstead_k.

8 Diane Henderson, “University of Toronto: Faculty of Information Studies,” ELAN: Ex Libris Association Newsletter, Summer 2004, 8-9.

9“Critique,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 11, 12, 13 (July 11, 1919): 7.

10Cole, Who’s Who in Library, 430.

11American Association of Law Libraries, Biographical Directory of Law Librarians in the United States and Canada (St. Paul, MN: West Pub., 1964), [snippet view accessed in Google Books].

Velma Was a Teacher After All!

Provincial Normal College, Truro, Nova Scotia, June 2018 – Velma Jane Moore is the third from the left.

After my grandmother Velma Jane Moore graduated from Dalhousie University in 1918, she trained as a librarian and worked in that capacity until her marriage to Ronald Dalrymple Brown in 1926. This was Velma’s early history as our family knew it.

When I inherited The Family Archives, I found a June 1918 photograph of Velma posing with a group of other young women outside of the Provincial Normal College in Truro, which led me to think she might have attended the Normal College prior to matriculating at Dalhousie.

In the summer of 2017, as my husband and I were preparing to make a trip to Economy, Nova Scotia to see where Velma had grown up, I learned that the Little White Schoolhouse Museum in Truro held the archival records of the Provincial Normal College. With photo in hand, I went to the museum, but the volunteers were unable to find any record of Velma’s having attended the Provincial Normal College. Here is a link to the blog post I wrote about my false assumption at that time: In Search of Velma Brown [MOORE]: Another Assumption, Another Rethink.

Upon our return home from Nova Scotia, I wanted to learn more about Velma’s education. What I found in the Nova Scotia provincial reports published in the Journal of Education challenged what our family thought we knew about her early life:1

As I came to learn, this listing indicates that Velma was paid $75. from the Provincial Treasury for working 102 days as a teacher in Colchester West.

I told my mother about what I’d found, and she insisted that Velma had never been a teacher. Perhaps she’d just trained as a teacher? I decided to e-mail the Little White Schoolhouse Museum:

I’m looking for information on my grandmother Velma Jane Moore’s training as a teacher.

I’ve discovered in the Nova Scotia Journal of Education 1918-1919 that she was awarded a Superior First Rank Diploma from Provincial Normal College in 1917-1918 (p.91) and a Teacher’s License, A Superior First in 1918 (p. 95). She graduated from Dalhousie University in 1918 with a BA in Biology with a minor in English.

The two questions I have is what the relationship was between Dalhousie University and the Provincial Normal College at that time and how I might be able to find out whether she actually worked as a teacher. (Her teaching credentials come as a complete surprise to her family!) We’d greatly appreciate any help you can give us.

Sincerely,
Liz Gauffreau

I received the following response with a week:

Hello, Elizabeth Gauffreau:

I am a volunteer at the Little White Schoolhouse Museum in Truro, Nova Scotia, and your e-mail requesting information on Velma Jane Moore was passed on to me.  I will try to answer your two questions.

(1)  I do not think that there was any special relationship directly between Dalhousie University and the Provincial Normal College in 1918.  In the 1917-1918 Register of the Provincial Normal College,  the first 24 transcripts are for students who had university degrees or had attended some university for at least three years.  These twenty-four had attended a variety of different universities.  It appears as if those who had a university degree needed to attend the Provincial Normal College only from May 5, 1918 to June 20, 1918 in order to earn a Diploma,  while those who did not have a degree but had attended a university for at least three years needed to attend Provincial Normal College from September to the Christmas break  in order to get a diploma. It seems as though this was a general rule no matter which university was attended.

(2)  Apparently she did teach for at least one year.  The Nova Scotia Journal of Education October 1919 (page 139), and the Nova Scotia Journal of Education April 1918 (page 13) both show that Velma J. Moore taught in Colchester West.  Between them they show that she taught 102 days from September, 1918 to January 31, 1919, and another 103 days from February to June 30, 1919.  The Journals do not tell which school she taught in, only that it was in Colchester West.  Her home community of Economy was in that area of Colchester County known as Colchester West.  We do not have the Nova Scotia Journal of Education for Sept. 1919 – June, 1920, but I could find no other reference to her in later Journals.

The Transcript for Velma Jane Moore is #18 in the 1917-1918 Register of the Provincial Normal College.  It shows a number of things, such as that she was a Presbyterian,  was 21 years old when she attended PNC,  she had a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dalhousie University, and it was noted that she had a pleasant disposition and was conscientious and industrious.  Elsewhere in the Register it mentions that she lived at the house of Mrs. Robinson Cox in Bible Hill while attending PNC;  this may have been quite a daily walk for her in order to attend classes.  If you would like to have a photocopy of her transcript, please e-mail me  your complete name and mailing address exactly as it should appear on the envelope, and I will send you the Transcript by Canada Post.  Please send your name and address to me at . . . if you want a copy, as I do most of this work from home on my home computer.  Thanks!

I hope that this information is useful and interesting to you.

Harold Stewart,  Volunteer
Little White Schoolhouse Museum
P.O. Box 25005
Truro    NS    B2N 7B8

A huge thanks goes to Mr. Stewart for filling in this year of Velma’s life. The Family Archives now include a copy of her Provincial Normal College diploma.


1Province of Nova Scotia, “Being the Semi-Annual Supplement to the Report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia,” supplement, Journal of Education, 3rd ser., IX, nos. 1918-19 (April 1918): 91, 99, 139, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112106949099;view=1up;seq=239.

Velma Graduates: Convocation!

Velma Jane Brown, Dalhousie University, Class of 1918

Velma Jane Moore, Dalhousie University, 1918

My grandmother Velma Jane Moore was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dalhousie University in 1918. Excelling at her studies, she earned the honor of graduating “With Distinction.”1 Velma’s graduation would have been a very proud day for her and her parents. Oddly, although our Family Archives include photographs of Velma posing with various friends, there are no photographs of the graduate with her parents. I would be very surprised if Baxter and Martha hadn’t been there.

Convocation

Convocation for the Class of 1918 was held on May 9, 1918 in the Studley campus library.2 I was thrilled to find a first-hand account in the Dalhousie Gazette of Velma’s graduation day. Here are the highlights:

Because of the war the programme was necessarily of the simplest, but nevertheless the room was filled to overflowing with friends of the graduates and of the University. . . . At the eastern end of the building a platform was erected upon which the senate and the guests of honor were seated. Above this dais was hung a long white banner bearing the names of the twenty-seven Dalhousians who have been awarded military honors in the present conflict.

. . . .

Promptly at three o’clock, those who were to obtain degrees marched down the aisle to the places reserved for them in the four front rows. The co-eds looked particularly charming in their white frocks and black gowns. There were no bouquets this year, but each girl wore a single daffodil at her corsage. The guest of honor and the professors followed.

. . . .

The awarding of prizes and diplomas . . . followed [the University president’s address]. Although the platform was narrow and the candidates nervous, none of them fell off as they made their parade across it.

. . . .

The programme was closed with a talk to the graduates by Dr. T. Stannage Boyle of King’s College. Dr. Boyle spoke strongly and sincerely, and kept away from the platitudes which usually flow so freely at convocations.3

Velma’s Major

Our family always assumed that Velma had majored in English because she was such an avid reader throughout her life. However, decades later the Nova Scotia provincial records would prove our assumption to be false. In fact, she graduated with a major in Biology and a minor in English.4

In my next post, I will answer the question of what Velma did in the year after she graduated from college, as the provincial records prove another family assumption to be incorrect.


1“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918):10.

2“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918):11.

3“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette: 10.

4Province of Nova Scotia, “Pass List, 1918: University Graduates’ Testing Examinations,” in “Being the Semi-Annual Supplement to the Report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia,” supplement, Journal of Education, 3rd ser., IX, nos. 1918-19 (April 1918): 85, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112106949099;view=1up;seq=239.

 

 

 

Velma Graduates: Parties & Class Exercises!

Velma Jane Moore, Dalhousie University Class of 1918

After three years of intensive study, my grandmother Velma Jane Moore graduated from Dalhousie University in May 1918. This photograph is part of a collage of the Class of 1918 that I found in the Dalhousie University archives. I chose it to head this post because it is not included in the photographs I have from her college days, and when I first caught sight of it on my computer screen, I thought it was a picture of me! (It gave me a bit of a turn, in fact.)

The Dalhousie Gazette devoted the entire June 1918 issue to the graduating class, which now comprised only twenty of its original seventy-two members due to the World War.1 In addition to convocation, commencement events included class day exercises, Senior outings, and several teas: a “dainty” one hosted by Miss Frances Jean Lindsay, the librarian,2 a “soul-thrilling” one hosted by the wife of Professor Murray MacNeil, which also included a contest and dancing,3 and a third one with a wartime “hooverised menu,” hosted by the Alumnae and presided over by the lovely Louise Power.4

I was very pleased to see how Velma and her classmates were fêted at the completion of their baccalaureate education. This stands in direct contrast to my own graduation from Old Dominion University in 1982. My graduating class was so large that commencement was held in the Norfolk Scope arena.  The ceremony went like this: Git up, School of Arts and Letters. I hereby graduate you, School of Arts and Letters. S’down, School of Arts and Letters.

Class ’18 Girls’ Walking Party

On May 2, the girls of the senior class set out for a picnic at a local natural landmark called the Rocking Stone.5 This large boulder is one of many picked up and deposited by retreating glaciers in the northeastern part of North America some 20,000-26,000 years ago.6 Rocking Stone was so-named because it was deposited in such a position that it could be moved from the bottom by applying a lever or rocked by someone sitting on top of it.7

“Rocking Stone,” Spryfield, ca. 1895

I’m sure that Velma would have joined the girls’ walking party, as she enjoyed being out in nature and picnicking. The girls first took a streetcar to the Northwest Arm section of Halifax, where they stopped to take photographs at the Arm Bridge.8 I found this picture of the Arm Bridge in Sketches and Traditions of the Northwest Arm, published in 1908:

Once they’d taken enough photos, the girls continued on foot to find the Rocking Stone; however, only one of them knew where it actually was, and the group became separated.9 The unguided contingent happened upon a soldier who pointed them in the right direction, but they were waylaid once again looking for milk for their tea.10 Luckily, they found “a meek-looking cow and obtained the necessary lactic fluid.”11 After they’d eaten, they found the Rocking Stone and “like the lotus eaters, wished to stay and dream, but the cameras were a continual nightmare.”12

I expect that the impulse behind all the picture-taking was to preserve their last days together as Dalhousie girls before they all went their separate ways for careers or marriage. The account of the day ends with the girls’ yell, which would not be befitting for grown women to utter, even at a class reunion:

As a side note, I got the impression from my readings in the Gazette that all the best class yells (which were obligatory, apparently) had already been taken by previous classes by the time the Class of 1918 rolled onto campus. To wit, the official class yell for the Class of 1918:

The Orpheus Party

Another of the events was an Orpheus Party, which involved a “merry group of Seniors and their guests” going to see a silent movie playing at the Orpheus Theatre.15 I’m not so sure Velma would have gone along with that merry group. My impression was that they would have been a bit too boisterous for her comfort.

A spokesperson for the group penned the following review for the Dalhousie Gazette:

When we arrived, a fair damsel on the screen was sitting at a table going through most heart-rending facial contortions and rubbing her cheeks or ears, we were not sure which. All became sympathetic at once feeling sure that the maiden was suffering either from toothache or earache. However, she apparently recovered and to our surprise we saw her strolling round a desert with a person who might have posed for a cigarette poster. The picture ended with violence and final happiness . . . 16

Barbary Sheep 1917In a subsequent article in the Gazette, I learned that the movie the group had seen was Robert Hichens’s Barbary Sheep.17 That writer declared the movie “rather uninteresting and not calculated to edify,” which was all right because no one paid attention to the screen anyway!18

A motion picture critic of the time had a different take on the leading lady’s acting ability: “There is a continual conflict of emotions in the character and Miss Ferguson brings out both feelings with a skill that has seldom been approached by actresses used to the camera and its exorbitant demands.”19 Toothache or earache, indeed!

The critic did concede, however, that the plot was “rather bare and slim . . . . It presents in brief the old story of the busy husband, the neglected wife and the other man–this time a native of the desert.”20

Class Day Exercises

Class day exercises held in the MacDonald Library the day before convocation provided the graduates with an opportunity for reflection and celebration in a formal setting. The program began with a roll call honoring the members of the class who were serving in the military, including the three who had been killed in action; an address by a Dr. Fraser Harris; the valedictory address by Ernest Parker Duchemin, whom we met in a previous post; two solo performances (presumably singing) as the entertainment; and readings of the class history and the class critique.21

The class prophesy predicted that Velma “went as a V. A. D. [member of a Voluntary Aid Detachment] to England, where her kindness and sympathy did much to cheer her patients.”22 This prophesy must have been a reference to Velma’s work in the hospital wards after the Halifax explosion of 1917.

The class critique, consisting of brief character sketches of the graduates, was read by Lois Smith,23 one of Velma’s friends whom we met in a previous post. It must have been particularly meaningful for Velma to hear her critique read by a close friend:

Velma Moore is not very well known outside of her class. Her college is brilliant. In addition to her class work, to which she devoted the greater part of her interest, Velma always found time to do her bit in affairs of the class and the college in general. Loyal and generous Velma’s friendship is one that is highly appreciated by those who enjoy the privilege of it.24

Next post: Convocation!


Image of Velma Jane Moore, Composite photograph of Dalhousie University Arts, Science and Engineering class of 1918, PC1, Box 26, Folder 40, Climo’s Studio, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

1E. P. Duchemin, “Valedictory,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 14.

2“Class ’18 Entertained,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 2.

3“Orpheus Party of Class ’18,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 10.

4“Social Notes,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 13.

Photograph of Mary Louise Parker, 1916, PC1, Box 13, Folder 32, Climo’s Studio, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Image of F. J. Lindsay: Photographic collage of the Dalhousie University Arts and Science faculty and senior class of 1903, PC1, Oversize Folder 30, Gauvin & Gentzel, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Image: Crowd at Spring 1999 Commencement, May 8, 1999, photograph, rg32-082-001-085.jp2, ODU Photographic Collection RG 32, Special Collections and University Archives, Old Dominion University Perry Library, Norfolk, VA.

5“Class ’18 Girls’ Walking Party,”Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 2.

Image: Notman Studio, “Rocking Stone”, Spryfield, ca. 1895, photograph, “Rocking Stone”, Spryfield, ca. 1895, Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999, Nova Scotia Archives.

Image: John W. Regan, Bridge and Roads at the Head of the Northwest Arm, 1908, photograph, Sketches and Traditions of the Northwest Arm, McAlpine Publishing Co., Halifax, Nova Scotia.

6Jane Hutton, “Erratic Imaginaries: Thinking Landscape as Evidence,” ed. Etienne Turpin, Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Time, Science and Philosophy, last modified 2013, accessed August 26, 2018, https://quod.lib.umich.edu/o/ohp/12527215.0001.001/1:12/–architecture-in-the-anthropocene-encounters-among-design?rgn=div1;view=fulltext.

7Hutton, “Erratic Imaginaries,” Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Time, Science and Philosophy.

8“Walking Party,” Dalhousie Gazette.

9“Walking Party,” Dalhousie Gazette.

10“Walking Party,” Dalhousie Gazette.

11“Walking Party,” Dalhousie Gazette.

12“Walking Party,” Dalhousie Gazette.

13“Walking Party, Dalhousie Gazette.

14“History of Class ’18,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 4.

15“Orpheus Party,” Dalhousie Gazette.

16“Social Notes,” Dalhousie Gazette.

17“Social Notes,” Dalhousie Gazette.

18Peter Milne, “Barbary Sheep,” in Selected Film Criticism 1912-1920, ed. Anthony Slide (Metuchen, N.J. & London: Scarecrow Press, 1982), 11.

19Milne, “Barbary Sheep.”

Image: “Elsie Ferguson,” Moving Picture World, September 1, 1917, 1331.

20“Class Day Exercises,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 2.

21“Class Prophesy, 1918,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 12.

22“Class Day Exercises,” Dalhousie Gazette.

23“Critique of Class ’18,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-11 (June 18, 1918): 8.

24“Critique,” Dalhousie Gazette.

Those Places Thursday: Beaver Brook Falls, Colebrook, NH

Postcard published by The Hugh C. Leighton Co, Manufacturer, Portland, Maine between 1904-1909*

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged my husband into an antique shop to see if I could find any antique or vintage postcards of places in New England associated with our families. I was looking in particular for the hand-tinted ones because the colors aren’t quite natural, which gives the scene a proper feeling of otherworldliness.

The otherworldly scene I found was Beaver Brook Falls, which, for my brother George and me in the mid-1960s, was the real world of pounding water, slippery rock, and the smell of pine so intense we could reach out and grab it. As far as George and I were concerned, Beaver Brook Falls was one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Then one day we spied a couple of men standing in the water at the top of the falls. We were transfixed. How had they gotten there? Had they entered the waterfall and and climbed up some natural stairway under the rushing water? No, our parents explained, there must be a path alongside the falls, and the men had climbed up that way. From that day forward, every time our parents took us for a picnic at Beaver Brook Falls, George and I begged to be allowed to climb to the top of the falls. Our begging was to no avail. Such an undertaking would be foolhardy for the children and irresponsible for the parents.

George and I grew up. Career and family took us out of New England. By the time I returned to New Hampshire after living many years in the South, over thirty years had gone by. Nothing would do but I must return to Beaver Brook Falls and climb to the top. My husband didn’t think it was a particularly good idea, and it became less of a good idea when he saw how eroded the path was, but he went along. I later wrote the following poem about the experience (in a poetry slam workshop, of all places):

Fifteen more years went by, and I found the postcard of Beaver Brook Falls in the little antique shop in Concord. Back I went to the North Country to climb to the top of Beaver Brook Falls once again, this time with the admonitions of my husband dogging my footsteps and ringing in my ears, which I absolutely refused to heed.

Beaver Brook Falls, Colebrook, NH, 7-31-18

Beaver Brook Falls from a Distance

Top of the Falls!


*Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, “The Hugh C. Leighton Co., Manufacturers,” Dumbarton Oaks Research Research Library and Collection, accessed August 12, 2018, https://www.doaks.org/research/library-archives/dumbarton-oaks-archives/collections/ephemera/names/the-hugh-c-leighton-co