Prince of Wales Coming to Town? Call the Library!

By Rembrandt Studios – This file has been provided by the British Library from its digital collections. It is also made available on a British Library website.Catalogue entry: HS85/10/36284, Public Domain,

As I’ve been reviewing the annual report of the Toronto Public Library for 1919, the year my grandmother Velma Jane Moore began working there as a cataloguer, much was made of the Reference Department’s role in preparing the City of Toronto for a state visit by the Prince of Wales:

 . . . no day passed that we should have to wrestle with problems such as: The correct way to address the Prince of Wales; the meaning and the origin of the motto “Ich Dien”; the standard of the Prince of Wales; when flown; his crest and coat of arms; the flag of the Prince of Wales in color; a portrait of the Prince of Wales in his trench coat; the words of the song “God Bless the Prince of Wales”; a description of aiguelettes worn by a Naval A.D.C., to send to a Naval tailor for the Prince of Wales’ reception; material on Rear Admiral Halsey (Chief of Staff), account of the Prince of Wales’ (King Edward) visit to Canada in 1861, etc., etc.1

Let’s see how well I can do with Google:

An account of the Prince of Wales’ visit to Canada in 1861 can be found in Chapter II of H.R.H, the Prince of Wales: an Account of His Career, including His Birth, Education, Travels, Marriage and Home Life; and Philanthropic, Political, and Social Life by Marie Lowndes, published in 1898 by Grant Richards of London. (Retrieved from Hathitrust 1/10/2019. )

Biographical material on Rear Admiral Lionel Halsey can be found in Chapter IX of Admirals of the British Navy: Portraits in Colour by Francis Dodd, published by the Offices of “Country Life,” LTD in 1917. (Retrieved from Internet Archive 1/20/2019.)

The lyrics to “God Bless the Prince of Wales” can be found in the program for the 1882 Christmas Music Festival held at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. (Retrieved from Internet Archive 1/20/2019.)

I found answers to the other questions as well, but the sources were dated after 1919 or located in online archives with no original source listed, so I didn’t include them. I wouldn’t want to have an unfair advantage over our doughty band of reference librarians!

And now, for a historical oddity found along the way:

Photograph appears in The Prince of Wales’ book: a pictorial record of the voyages of H.M.S. “Renown” 1919-1920, published by Hodder & Stoughton, LTD, 1921. (Retrieved from Internet Archive 1/20/2019.)

And a mystery to be solved!

I found this invitation to meet the Prince of Wales in The Family Archives. Ronald Dalrymple Brown was my maternal grandfather. (He and Velma married in 1926.) At the time of the invitation to meet the Prince of Wales, Ronald was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The only connection I can see between him and the reception to meet the Prince is that it was held in New Brunswick, and Ronald’s mother was originally from New Brunswick. However, that seems like an extremely tenuous connection. Figuring this one out is going to take some doing!

1Frances M. Staton, “Reports from the Departments: Reference Department,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Sixth Annual Report, 1919, 13.

Sepia Sunday: Ronald & His Mother

This Sepia Sunday is a follow-up to my last post, “Military Monday: Honoring Ronald Brown’s WWI Service.” When the Lexington Historical Society contacted me about the exhibit honoring my grandfather, I learned that they had a photograph of him wearing his Army uniform, but they didn’t have this one of him posing in his uniform with his mother, Margaret Robertson Gunn Brown (1871-1924). I sent them a scanned copy, which, I am happy to say, they are adding to their digital collection.

Military Monday: Honoring Ronald Brown’s WWI Service

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

At the beginning of November, I was contacted by the Lexington Historical Society about an exhibit they were working on to honor the military service of my maternal grandfather, Ronald Dalrymple Brown (1899-1985). The exhibit would be displayed at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, Massachusetts throughout the month of November as part of the Lexington Remembers WWI project to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice that brought to a close the War to End All Wars.

The Saturday the exhibit opened, the members of my family still in the area met for lunch and a catch-up before heading over to the Cary Library to view the exhibit. It is particularly fitting that the exhibit be held at the Cary Library because the library was originally designed in 1906 by Willard Dalrymple Brown (1871-1944), Ronald’s uncle.1

The exhibit came about in part because of a personality quirk: Ronald could never throw anything away. When he died in 1985, he still had his WWI uniform, his helmet, his mess kit, his canteen, his regimental photographs, and his field manuals. His second wife, Ethel Lavilla Wright Brown (1908-1997), donated the items to the Lexington Historical Society.

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

Ronald Dalrymple Brown’s WWI Memorabilia Displayed at the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2018

I’d always wondered about my grandfather’s service in the Army because the dates coincided with his enrollment as an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I figured he must have participated in some kind of an R.O.T.C. program. The information accompanying the Lexington Remembers exhibit confirmed this suspicion and gave me those all-important search terms to find out more:

In June 1918, following his graduation from Arlington High School and Phillips Exeter Academy, he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (R.O.T.C.) in Plattsburg, NY.

On October 1, 1918, Ronald was inducted into the United States Army. He was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and therefore became a private in the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C). He was honorably discharged on December 9, 1918.2

My new search string, “Student Army Training Corps,” yielded over 300 hits on The September 18, 1918 edition of The Boston Globe provided the conditions under which Ronald entered M.I.T. in the fall of 1918:

[Massachusetts Institute of] Technology is particularly fortunate in that its president, Dr. R. C. Maclaurin, is also chairman of the War Department’s committee on the Student Army Training Corps, the new plan which provides that a large proportion of the 18-year-old boys who come under the draft laws may get a college education before they are called into active service.

For the coming year Technology will be one great military barracks, with the students living under military discipline and studying a course constructed to meet the requirements of the War Department.

A boy of 18 who has registered will enter as usual on the first day. Then, if he can pass the army physical tests, he will be given voluntary induction into the Student Army Training Corps. Instead of paying tuition, he will be given quarters, private’s pay, uniform and subsistence by the Government. He will live in barracks, have military drill every day and live the life of a soldier, except that he will be getting what few drafted men get, a technical education.

When his turn comes to be called into active service, around next July, if he is 18 at entrance, he will be dealt with according to his military and scholastic proficiency at the Institute.

The best men will be detailed to the Institute to finish their intensive course to become engineers, chemists, health officers and the like. Men less fitted for hard technical study, but still first-class students will be sent to an officer’s training corps. Others will go to a non-commissioned officer’s school. The least promising will be sent to camps as privates.

. . . .

Every student in this Student Army Training Corps, which will exist in 400 colleges and technical schools in the United States, will have also a thorough training in the history of the causes of the war and the issues at stake for the United States. This course has been given successfully this Summer in the 150 training detachments where drafted men have been detailed for technical and mechanical instruction by the War Department.3

Fortunately for Ronald and his descendants, the War ended before he was eligible to be called for active service in July of 1919.

1“History of Cary Memorial Library,” Cary Memorial Library, accessed November 11, 2018,

2“The items in these cases belonged to Ronald Dalrymple Brown of Lexington and Arlington, Massachusetts,” (Lexington, MA: Lexington Historical Society, 2018).

3“Tech as a War College,” The Boston Globe (Boston), September 15, 1918, Sunday edition, 28.

In Search of Velma Brown [Moore]’s Education: The Big Picture

After discovering that I needed to understand the Canadian system of education at the time my  grandmother Velma Jane Moore attended school (c. 1902 – 1918), I decided to approach my review of the relevant sources I’d found in HathiTrust systematically, from national to provincial to county to local. I will share the relevant national, provincial, and county information in this post and the local information in the next installment.

National: The Canada Yearbook 1916/1917, is a government report published under the auspices of the Minister of Trade and Commerce. The Imperial Yearbook for the Dominion of Canada 1917/1918, which at the time was in its third year of publication, appears to be a reference book with information and statistical data compiled from government reports. Both sources provide  description and analysis of the Canadian public education system, including an overview of its history.

Provincial: The 1902-1918 editions of the Annual Report of the Superintendent of Education on the Public Schools of Nova Scotia include discussion and analysis of topics such as, “School Libraries,” “the Three R’s,” “Examination Week Difficulties,” and “Defectives, Truants, and Criminal Youths.”1 Statistical data tables, including attendance, teacher salaries, government expenditures, and the classification of schools, provide a clear picture of the education system at the time.2

County: Each of the provincial reports includes a report of the division school inspector,  who was responsible for overseeing administration of the local schools, evaluating their effectiveness, and reporting their status to the provincial department of education.3 Economy Point was in Division No. 10 (West Colchester County and Cumberland County) up until 1907, when Colchester South and Colchester West became one division, No. 12.4 These reports tend to focus on the educational environment (condition of the school building, availability of outdoor space for exercise and play), teacher qualifications (primarily lack thereof), and instructional methods.

Setting Education Policy in the Province

The Free School Act of 1864 established the framework for the public education system in Nova Scotia,5 and it is frequently referenced in the sources I consulted. In 1867, the British North American Act gave the provincial legislatures in Canada exclusive control to legislate education policy.6 Of particular note for Velma’s story is that the system of public education had been in place in Nova Scotia for only thirty years when she was born in 1897, and the provincial compulsory school attendance statute of 1895 was not enforced in the country schools of unincorporated towns such as Economy.7

Religious Observances

The Free School Act allowed for each province to determine the extent of nondenominational religious instruction and observances, subject to a conscience clause allowing parents to exempt their children from participation:  “In Nova Scotia the question of devotional exercises is left to the local board of trustees, subject to the conscience clause, but in fact such exercises are generally held.”8

Velma’s religious faith was a very important part of her life, so the fact that her education would have included religious observances isn’t surprising. What did surprise me was my own memory of starting the school day with the Lord’s Prayer–until one day the teacher announced that we would not be doing it anymore. I remember not understanding why we could no longer recite the Lord’s Prayer in school. Everyone recited the Lord’s Prayer in church; what was the problem? I was also upset because the Lord’s Prayer was the first thing I ever memorized, and I was very proud of this accomplishment. So what’s this memory all about? A quick Google search confirms that I started second grade the school year immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 1962 ruling that prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional.9

Common School and High School

Similar to the United States, elementary and secondary education in Nova Scotia comprised grades I-XII, with grades I-VII referred to as “common school” (i.e., basic knowledge which should be common to all citizens) and Grades IX-XII referred to as “high school.”10 Under the system of education at that time, in the rural areas in particular, multiple grade levels were frequently taught by one teacher in a single classroom, known as a “school.”11 The intent was for grades I through VIII to be taught in this manner, with the pupils then attending a separate high school  for grades IX through XII. However, high school instruction could be provided in the common schools and frequently was, particularly in the rural areas.12 In his annual reports to the Superintendent of Education, the  inspector for West Colchester County, the division where Economy was located, consistently expressed concern that this practice was detrimental to both the pupils who received high school instruction from teachers who weren’t qualified to provide it and the younger pupils who needed the full attention of the teacher.13

The Importance of Education

The information I found about the common school education children in the rural areas of Nova Scotia would have received, particularly the concerns raised by the West Colchester inspector, shed additional light on the decision of Velma’s parents, George Baxter Moore and Martha Faulkner Moore, to send their only daughter away to high school in Truro, ninety miles away from their farm in Economy Point. At the same time, the information raises additional questions. Both George and Martha were born in Economy, George in 1866 and Martha in 1872, only a few short years after the Free Education Act. Why was education so important to them? What education would they have had? Did Economy even have a common school when they were growing up?

Of the research I’ve done so far, a small table of enrollment statistics in Monograph on the Curricula of the Nova Scotia Public Schools has made the greatest impression on me. For the school year ending July 1913, a total of 105,269 pupils were enrolled in the Nova Scotia public schools. Of those 105,269 children, 206 were enrolled in grade XII.14 That’s only 0.2%!

The importance of a college education was taken for granted in my family by the time I reached high school age in 1969, so the fact that my grandmother had a university degree–as did my grandfather Ronald Dalrymple Brown [1899 -1985]–didn’t register with me as anything out of the ordinary. I see now just how remarkable a woman Velma was to have successfully completed a university education in that place and time. I wish I’d known that when she was alive.

1Nova Scotia, Annual report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia, for the year ended July 31st, 1904, 1903-04 ed. (Halifax, Nova Scotia: McAlpine Publishing Co., 1904).

2Nova Scotia, Annual report, 1904, 3-56.

3George E. Foster, Minister of Trade and Commerce, K.C.M.G., M.P., comp., The Canada Yearbook: 1916/1917 (Ottawa, Ontario: J. de L. Tache, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, 1917), 128.

4Nova Scotia, Annual report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia, for the year ended July 31st, 1907, 1906-07 ed. (Halifax, Nova Scotia: McAlpine Publishing Co., 1907), 134.

5Nova Scotia, Annual report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia, for the year ended July 31st, 1900, 1899-1900 ed. (Halifax, Nova Scotia: McAlpine Publishing Co., 1901), 227.

6Foster, Minister of Trade and Commerce, The Canada Yearbook 1916/1917 , 118.

7Nova Scotia, Annual report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia, for the year ended July 31st, 1903, 1902-03 ed. (Halifax, Nova Scotia: McAlpine Publishing Co., 1903), 125.

8Foster, Minister of Trade and Commerce, The Canada Yearbook 1916/1917 , 120.

9Encyclopædia Britannica, ed., “Engel v. Vitale law case,” Encyclopædia Britannica, last modified April 10, 2017, accessed September 10, 2017,

10Foster, Minister of Trade and Commerce, The Canada Yearbook 1916/1917 , 125.

11Foster, Minister of Trade and Commerce, The Canada Yearbook 1916/1917 , 148.

12Foster, Minister of Trade and Commerce, The Canada Yearbook 1916/1917 , 118.

13Nova Scotia, Annual report, 1907, 134.

14 A. H. MacKay, Mongraph on the Curricula of the Public Schools of Nova Scotia (Halifax, N.S.: King’s Printer, 1914), 4.

In Search of Velma Brown [Moore] (1897-1975)

Ronald & Velma Brown, Hannaford Cove, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

VELMA JANE MOORE joined the Brown family when she married RONALD DALRYMPLE BROWN on June 30, 1926 in Economy, Nova Scotia. Ronald was the last male descendant of JOHN BROWN (~1595-1686) through his son BENJAMIN BROWN (1647-1736).

Ronald and Velma were my maternal grandparents, and although we had family visits on a regular basis, I never really knew either one of them. Unlike my parents, whom I knew had once been children, college students, and newlyweds, Ronald and Velma had never been anything other than grandparents, more specifically, my grandparents.

 When I was twelve, Velma took me into her bedroom and gave me an amethyst ring she had received as a gift on her twelfth birthday. She made a point of telling me  that she had waited to give it to me until I was the same age she was when the ring was given to her.

What makes the memory of that day so clear is that not only did she give me something that had been hers from that far-away time in Nova Scotia, it was the first and only time I had been allowed to cross the threshold of my grandparents’ bedroom at 27 Edgewood Road while they were alive.

From that time forward, I have been searching for Velma Brown.

The bare facts are that she was born in Economy Point, Nova Scotia in 1897, and she grew up on a farm. She then attended Dalhousie University in Halifax so that she wouldn’t have to remain in Economy, Nova Scotia and live on a farm. In her family history of the Moores, my mother writes of Economy:

I think Economy was at its peak at the time Velma was born and during her growing up years. The census of 1901 shows 805 people in 175 households. There were five schools at the time. Those who weren’t farming found work in saw mills and the woods, in shipbuilding yards with other men being in the crews for the ships, and fishing. . . . Many men fished for shad, which was very plentiful at that time but is no longer. (I remember Ronald going to Parrsboro for shad right off the boat for our dinner. Shad is the boniest fish I have ever eaten.)1

Not long after Velma gave me the amethyst ring, I mustered the courage to ask her what her childhood had been like. What I remember of her response was that life on the farm lacked modern conveniences, they churned their own butter, and, unlike the children of today (which would have been 1968 or thereabouts), she had only one doll, which had a painted porcelain head.

There was something about Economy, Nova Scotia, then.

When I was growing up, my notion of Economy was formed by a single photograph, which hung in one of the bedrooms of Velma and Ronald’s summer cottage in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. There was something about this picture–the small, white house with its four blank windows, the narrow dirt road–that just seemed so desolate, almost as if it were a road to nowhere. Years later, when the picture resurfaced in The Family Archives, it conveyed such a sense of sadness.


1Katharine Brown Gauffreau, The Ancestry and Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown (unpublished manuscript, 2013), 3.