Velma’s Dalhousie Friends

Dalhousie Picnic, 1918 (Ottillie Caddell is on the far right. Velma Moore is on her left holding a cup.)

In my last post, I shared pictures of my grandmother Velma Jane Moore in 1917 posing with two of her friends at Dalhousie University: Ottillie Caddell and Lois Smith. In a recent conversation with my mother, I learned that Velma was a loyal friend who kept up with her friends years after she’d moved on to the next phase in her life–unlike many of us who have good intentions about staying in touch and then gradually drift apart as time passes.

Velma’s character sketch in the Class of 1918 Critiques published in the Dalhousie Gazette the year she graduated also attests to the quality of her friendship: “Loyal and generous Velma’s friendship is one that is highly appreciated by those who enjoy the privilege of it.”1

Christine MacKinnon

Another of Velma’s friends from her Dalhousie days was Christine MacKinnon. Her character sketch in the Dalhousie Gazette portrays her as studious and driven:

The mental capacity of Christine MacKinnon has been for three years the amazement and wonder of her fellow students and the pride of her professors. However, Christine would scorn to be a mere plugger but has a large amount of college spirit, and has spent much time in Y. W. C. A. work and in debating. When up against problems which she can so easily surmount Christine might allow her fine sense of humor wider scope.2

The Young Women’s Christian Association (Y. W. C. A.) was a very active student organization on the Dalhousie campus, meeting every week on Thursday afternoon.3 I have found its activities featured frequently in issues of The Dalhousie Gazette from that time period. Christine served as Vice-President of the Y. W. C. A. for the 1916-17 academic year.4 The year after graduation, she went on to teach at Halifax Ladies’ College “with great success” before resigning at the end of the term to marry the Reverend J.K. MacInnis, Presbyterian minister at Upper Stewiake.5

Christine MacKinnon, Dalhousie University, 1918

Velma & Christine on Graduation Day, 1918

 Class of 1919: Lois, Ottillie, and Winnifred

After graduating from Dalhousie in 1919, Lois Smith and Ottillie Caddell also went on to teach at Halifax Ladies’ College:

Ottillie Caddell and Lois Smith are inmates of the Halifax Ladies’ College. Oh no, not as pupils, but as teachers. It is rumored that the terrific strain of discipline and strict hours is harder upon the instructress than the pupil.6

Lois’s Critique in the Dalhousie Gazette the year she graduated shows her to have been a very active member of the student body (although I have no idea how a fear of umbrellas played into it):

Loyal and conscientious (as her umbrella fears proved), Lois has been pronounced by the general college opinion to be one of the largest hearted girls in the University. Always able to see the sunny side of anything, Lois was a general favorite with boys and girls alike. She brought honor upon her class by graduating with distinction and left a host of genuine friends behind her.7

Lois served on the Student Council in 1917-188 and again in 1918-19. She served as Vice-President of Delta Gamma in 1918-19.9 Delta Gamma was a student organization for women featuring “debates and literary programmes.”10 As an associate editor of the Dalhousie Gazette, Lois was recognized for her “most efficient work among the girls.”11

I looked among various online sources to see what might have happened to such an accomplished young woman her in later years, but outside of the small Dalhousie context, her name was too common for me to identify whether the Lois Smith I had found was the same person. (I resisted the urge the go burrowing down that series of rabbit holes.)

Dalhousie Student Council, 1918-19 (Lois Smith is the young woman seated on the left.) Image: The Dalhousie Gazette, July 11, 1919.

I will write about Ottillie Caddell in an upcoming post. Winnifred Reynolds, Velma’s third friend from the Class of 1919, will enter later in Velma’s story.

Halifax Ladies’ College

Since Halifax Ladie’s College figured in the post-graduation lives of three of Velma’s college friends, I’ll provide a brief description from 1918:

The College was founded (1887) to provide a liberal education for girls and young women. It aims at providing thorough and well ordered courses of instruction, sufficiently elastic to admit of each pupil’s pursuing the studies best adapted to her needs. While it amply provides for University Matriculation it strives to educate with equal care the girls that are not intending to proceed to the University . . . . A pupil may enter any grade of the School, the Headmistress and teachers deciding upon the one for which she is best fitted.12

Just for fun, here’s a photo I found in the Nova Scotia Archives of two young ladies at Halifax Ladies’ College, presumably taking a break from their “well ordered courses of instruction.”

Gwen Kerr & Thelma Alward, 1916 – Image: Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives Album 11 no. 54

The Legacy of Friendship

Although Velma was not an active member of student organizations while pursuing her university education, she would later become very active in the P.E.O. Sisterhood (Philanthropic Educational Organization) in the 1940s, continuing into the 1960s.13 I think the current description of the P.E.O. sounds very much like the Velma I’m only now coming to know:

Friendship is the cornerstone of P.E.O. – it is the legacy left by our Founders and it thrives in our unique Sisterhood. P.E.O. . . . . True to the mission of promoting educational opportunities for women, education continues to be the primary philanthropy of the P.E.O. Sisterhood. (PEO website)14

1“Critique of Class ’18,” The Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-12 (June 18, 1918): 8.

2“Critique of Class ’18,” 9.

3Dalhousie University, Calendar of Dalhousie University: 1916-1917 (Halifax, Nova Scotia: W.m McNab & Son, 1916), 133.

4Calendar: 1916-1917, 133.

5“Personals,” The Dalhousie Gazette LI, no. 20 (December 15, 1919): 4.

6“What Some of Our Last Year Graduates Are Doing,” The Dalhousie Gazette, LI, no. 14 (October 29, 1919): 8.

7“Critique.,” The Dalhousie Gazette LI, no. 11-13 (July 11, 1919): 6.

8“Council Elections.,” The Dalhousie Gazette XLIX, no. 7 (March 15, 1917): 7.

9“Delta Gamma.,” The Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 15 (December 5, 1918): 3.

10Calendar: 1916-1917, 134.

11“The Gazette–Past and Present,” The Dalhousie Gazette XI, nos. 11,12,13 (July 11, 1919): 12.

12“Aim of the College,” “College Buildings,” et. al., Halifax Ladies College and Conservatory of Music and School of Expression (In Affiliation with Dalhousie University), Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1918, pages 9, 16. <accessed;

13Katharine Brown Gauffreau, The Ancestry and Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown (unpublished manuscript, 2013), 39.

14P.E.O. International, “About P.E.O.,” P.E.O.: Women Helping Women Reach for the Stars, accessed March 4, 2018,

2 thoughts on “Velma’s Dalhousie Friends

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