Librarianship School: Toronto, 1920

Velma Jane Moore in Toronto, 1921

Librarianship School

Continuing with the story of my grandmother Velma Jane Moore’s time at the Toronto Public Library from 1919-1922, I learned that she was released from duties in 1920 to attend librarianship training:1

I had some difficulty pinning down the exact course of instruction Velma took because librarianship training in Ontario was rapidly developing at this time:

In 1916 the Department of Education established a month-long program to train librarians called the Short Course Library Training School. The course was expanded to two months in 1917, and subsequently in 1919 it was lengthened to three months and renamed Training School for Librarianship. In 1923 the school was renamed the Ontario Library School. In 1928 the program was transferred to the Ontario College of Education, University of Toronto.2

You can only imagine my shouts of jubilation when I found her name listed in the Ontario Library Review as a student completing the three-month Department of Education Training School for Librarianship, 1920:3

The Practice Work

Not only that, there was an entire write-up of the training! I was quite surprised to see that the majority of Velma’s time was not spent on the intricacies of the Dewey Decimal System:

The practice work in connection with the lectures in circulating and work with children occupied a week in October. This was found more satisfactory from every point of view than the practical work extended throughout the term.4

The “practice work” for Velma’s position as a cataloguer consisted of the following:5

The instruction in cataloguing was given by Velma’s boss at the Toronto Library, Winifred Barnstead, whom I wrote about in a previous post.6

Canadian Literature

Velma’s librarianship training included a number of lectures and presentations on Canadian literature. I’ve included highlights below to convey a sense of what her experience would have been like.

Thomas G. Marquis delivered five lectures on “the outstanding literature of Canada, dealing with history, biography, exploration and travel, and poetry.”7 Thomas Guthrie Marquis (1864-1936) was best-known as a writer of Canadian history, including Stories of New France (with co-author Agnes Macher),8 The Jesuit Missions: A Chronicle of the Cross in the Wilderness, and the children’s book Brock.

Hector Garneau, chief librarian of the Montreal Public Library, presented both his personal reminiscences of noted French-Canadian authors and a formal lecture on French-Canadian literature described as “a brilliant résumé of the poetical, historical, and journalistic works of the French-Canadian writers.”9

Gareau was the chief librarian at the Montreal Public Library from 1916-1930. He revised and expanded on a Canadian history written by his grandfather François-Xavier Garneau.10 He also edited a book of poems by this father, Alfred Garneau.11

John Ridington, the librarian of the University of British Columbia, gave an address on “The Poetry of War.”12 Although he had no formal training in the field, Ridington served as the first librarian at UBC, from 1915-1940.13 His biographical information in the UBC archives suggests that he had a bit of a checkered history, holding various jobs as a teacher, newspaper editor and publisher, and real estate salesman, with no known details about his formal education.14

Believe it or not, I actually found the full text of his “Poetry of War” address in the Pacific Northwest Library Proceedings: September 5-6, 1916 on pages 52-90. The proceedings note that at the conclusion of his address:

     Owing to the lateness of the hour, the symposium on books which was to have been led by Miss Kostomlatsky with a talk on recent poetry, was omitted and the meeting was formally adjourned by the President.

     The report of the Resolutions Committee, which for the lack of time, was not read at the meeting, was submitted to the Executive Board . . . 15

Keep in mind that the address Velma heard was given after two more years of war poetry had been written. She must have left that address with a very sore bottom indeed!

The Loquacious Mr. Ridington

Clara Whitehill Hunt presented on her work as the children’s librarian for the Brooklyn Public Library.16 When I looked for more information about her, I learned that she was very influential in promoting the importance of providing children with access to the best available books.17 Her accomplishments included overseeing the design of the world’s first library built solely for children and chairing the American Library Association committee that established the John Newbery Medal for children’s literature in 1921.18

Judging from my mother’s childhood books that she passed on to me when I first learned how to read, Velma took the information from Hunt’s presentation very much to heart!

When I did a little more digging to see if Hunt had written any books, I found What Shall We Read to the Children, published in 1915. I was very taken with this book because it is an in-depth and engagingly-written discussion of how parents and children should interact with books together. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Hunt’s methods are very much in alignment with today’s homeschooling movement.

Here is a just a brief sample:

The baby’s first taste of poetry should be given not later than a month after he alights, trailing his clouds of glory and with the music of his heavenly home attuning his ears to a delight in rhyme and rhythm long before mother’s songs convey word meanings to his mind. There never was a normal baby born into this world who did not bring with him a love for poetry; and the fact that so few adults retain a trace of this most pure delight points to the need of conscious effort on the parent’s part to foster the child’s natural gift.19

Clara Whitehall Hunt and Grace Donaghy in 1936, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection

And a Party, Of Course!

In keeping with the fact that librarians just want to have fun, there was a party involved:20

Final Thoughts

I think Velma would have enjoyed the practice work and the wide range of lectures in equal measure. Throughout her life, she was a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-the-job-done kind of woman, but at the same time, she had a great love of literature and, later in her life, painting.

From my own perspective, I am not well-versed in Canadian literature (expect for a nodding familiarity with the work of Alice Munro). Reading about Velma’s rich literary heritage has me thinking that I need to get in touch with my Canadian literary roots!

1Winifred G. Barnstead, “Reports from the Departments: Cataloguing Division,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Seventh Annual Report, 1920, 16.

2Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, “Applications for Admission to the Ontario Library School,” Archives of Ontario, accessed September 22, 2018,

3“The Department of Education Training School for Librarianship, 1920,” Ontario Library Review and Book Selection Guide V, no. 3 (February 1921): 2.

4“The Department,” 70.

5“The Department of Education Training School for Librarianship, 1919,” Ontario Library Review and Book Selection Guide III, no. 4 (May 1919): 90.

6“The Department,” 72.

7“The Department,” 70.

8“MARQUIS, THOMAS GUTHRIE (1864-1936),” Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, accessed March 3, 2019,

The Jesuit Missions: A Chronicle of the Cross in the Wilderness, February 19, 2007, image, accessed March 3, 2019,

Brock: The Hero of Upper Canada, November 2015, image,

Stories of New France, February 14, 2007, image,

9“The Department,” 70-71.

10“Garneau, Hector,” Archives de Montréal, accessed March 3, 2019,

11“Garneau, Hector,” Archives de Montréal.

Nos Bibliothocaires, 19-, image, CA M001 BM001-05-P0771, Archives de Montréal.

12“The Department,” 71.

13David Strangway, President’s Report on the Library (Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1987), 6.

14Christopher Hives, ed., Ridington Family fonds (Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia, 2015), 1.

15Proceedings of the … Annual Conference of the Pacific Northwest Library Association., September 5-6, 1916 (Tacoma, WA: Pacific Northwest Library Association, n.d.), 90.

16“The Department,” 70.

[unknown]. 1918. “John Ridington.” P. UBC Archives Photograph Collection. doi:

17“Treasures of Childhood: Books from the Hunt Collection of Children’s Literature, Curated by Leonard S. Marcus,” Brooklyn Public Library, accessed March 17, 2019,

18“Treasures of Childhood,” Brooklyn Public Library.

19Clara Whitehill Hunt, “The Poetry Habit,” in What Shall We Read to the Children (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1915), 14-15.

20“The Department,” 71.

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:

Article describing Winifred’s Barnstead’s role in the establishment of librarianship education at the University of Toronto:

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,

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.

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,;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 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,;view=1up;seq=239.




Anyone You Know?

As I’ve been researching additional details about my family history, I’m finding information about various people who touched my ancestors’ lives in some way, which I’m thinking could be of interest to their descendants. I’ve tagged posts in which these people are mentioned and grouped the names on this page below for any descendants who might be looking for them. Clicking on the person’s name will take you to all of the posts in which he or she is mentioned in the text or appears in a photograph. And of course there are the usual photographs of unidentified people from The Family Archives.

Should you happen by this page and find any information of interest about a family member or family friend, I’d love for you to leave me a comment and let me know!