Dalhousie & the Great War: A Call to Arms

Fred Laurence Moore, B.A., Dalhousie University, 1915. Photograph taken in 1915.

One of the defining moments of my college education as an English major was my Craft of Poetry professor’s lecture on Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory.  I had already been deeply affected by reading war poet Wilfred Owen’s portrayal of a gas attack in “Dulce et Decorum Est,” and that lecture confirmed just how profound an impact trench warfare and the writing of those who experienced it had on western consciousness. As Fussell writes in his Preface, ” . . .  the dynamics and iconography of the Great War have proved crucial political, rhetorical, and artistic determinants on subsequent life.”1

Learning that my grandmother Velma Jane Moore had pursued her college education at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia while Canada was fully engaged in The Great War of Nations was, therefore, of particular significance to me. I wanted to learn more.

First and foremost, how would the war have affected Velma personally? Second, how would it have impacted the Dalhousie campus community of which she was a part?

The immediate impact of the war on Velma would have been concern for the safety of her older brother Fred, pictured above in full regimental regalia. While I have reserved researching his military record for a future project, I do know that he was in the Canadian Army for the entire time Velma was at Dalhousie (1915-1918), spending at least part of that time serving overseas in England and France.2 He was seriously wounded in a gas attack at Valenciennes, France on November 6, 1918.3 He recovered, although he was to suffer some aftereffects.4

To get a sense of how the war affected the Dalhousie campus community, I reviewed issues of the student newspaper, the Dalhousie Gazette, from 1914-1918. The Gazette has been my primary resource as I’ve been researching Velma’s university experience. In addition to information about faculty, students, and campus events, it provides a good window into prevailing attitudes of the time and how they were expressed.

The campus response to Canada’s declaration of war on Germany on August 4, 19145 was consistent with the history I’d studied in college: a fervent call to arms and an optimistic belief that King and country would prevail if enough stalwart young men volunteered to fight for the cause.

The front page of the October 12, 1914 issue of the Gazette was devoted to a call for Dalhousie to to establish an officers’ training corps, as had McGill University in Montreal, as well as other universities in the British Empire: Oxford, Edinburgh, Dublin, Cambridge, and Sydney.6 The crux of the argument for establishing the officers’ training corps was that modern warfare required highly specialized officers who needed to be well-educated.7 Despite the logic of that argument, the rhetoric of the following section of the article appears to be an appeal to the emotion of manly pride:

Nova Scotia has ever sent out the master statesmen, the captains of industry, the doctors of learning; her soldiers shall not be hewers of wood and drawers of water.

Canada is too democratic a country to reserve her army commissions for the scions from the aristocracy of wealth or for her blue bloods imported or of native growth. Her commissions should, and will in a large measure, go to the tried, steeled men of the universities.

If the modern university, like Bacon, claims all knowledge for her province, let her then train men in the art of self defense as well as the mental pleasures of an arts education or in the breadwinning science of the professional schools. If the university man is to lead, not follow, in the years to come, then in front of the company is the place for him.8

The following description of how the Dalhousie campus itself had been transformed by war also appears intended to stir the embers of patriotism into flame:

War makes many changes. The old Campus, once the stamping ground of many a football hero has become the tramping ground of the Dalhousie Overseas Unit. The old Medical building, the home of poker and stiffs, has become the barracks of real, live men fitting themselves for war. The campus re-echoes with the orders of the mechanical soldier and the erstwhile Mortuary reverberates with the notes of the brazen bugle. Khaki has taken the place of yellow and black [Dalhousie’s school colors].  War heroes have taken the place of football heroes. It is a never to be forgotten sight. No Dalhousian past or present should miss it. The squads of soldiers marching up and down in front of the old Red tower in the day time and the myriads of lights that shine from the old Medical Building at night.9

For me, this drawing from the November 9, 1914 edition of the Gazette encapsulates the spirit of the times on the Dalhousie campus at the beginning of The Great War:10

Campus support of Canada’s entry into the war was not universal, however. In my next post, I will share representative excerpts of a debate sparked by a letter to the editor titled, “Don’t Let Patriotism Blind Your Vision.”


1Paul Fussell, “Preface to the Original Edition,” preface to The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), xv.

2Katharine Brown Gauffreau, The Ancestry and Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown (unpublished manuscript, 2013), 25, 51.

3“Honors for Colchester Office: D.S.O. for Lieut. Fred Laurence Moore of Economy,” Truro Daily News (Truro, Nova Scotia), March 2, 1919.

4Gauffreau, Ancestry and Life of Velma, 33.

5Province of Nova Scotia, “An Act of Remembrance: First World War Publicity Posters at the Nova Scotia Archives,” Nova Scotia Archives, accessed April 15, 2018, https://novascotia.ca/archives/warposters/default.asp.

6[Illegible] Training Corps.,” The Dalhousie Gazette  XLVII, no. 1 (October 12, 1914): 1-2.

7“Training Corps.,” 1.

8“Training Corps.,” 1.

9“War makes many changes,” The Dalhousie Gazette XLVIII, no. 3 (December 4, 1915): 2.

10“Dal. Men to the Front!,” The Dalhousie Gazette XLVII, no. 4 (November 19, 1914): 1.

Mystery Monday: Unidentified Dalhousie Friends

Anyone You Know?

These two unidentified photographs were with Velma Moore’s Dalhousie photographs from 1915-1919. However, I’ve been unable to identify the subjects. The profile photo was probably taken a little later, in the early 1920s, judging from the style and fabric of the dress.

Unknown Subject, Dalhousie University, Class or 1918 or 1919

 

Ottillie with the Rippling Voice

Ottillie Law Caddell, Dalhousie University, Class of 1919

In my last post, I mentioned Ottillie Caddell as one of my grandmother Velma Jane Moore’s friends at Dalhousie University. I had first learned of Ottillie in the Moore family history my mother wrote for our family in 2013:

[Velma] had a very good friend, [O]tillie Caddell, while at college and kept in touch with her for years. [O]ttille visited the Moores in Economy, where she had her picture taken with them.1

The photograph my mother is referring to is below. Having been to Economy Point this past summer, I can attest to how beautiful the landscape of the farm would have been on that day. Sepia tones don’t do it justice.

Ida Cross Moore, Ottillie Law Caddell, Velma Jane Moore, Martha Faulkner Moore

I expect that being invited to travel with Velma from Halifax to the Economy Point farm would have meant something to Ottillie, and it would have meant something to Velma for her family to welcome her close friend into their home. The fact that the visit was documented with a photograph of the four women suggests that it was a special day. (The fourth woman in the photograph is Ida Cross Moore, the wife of Velma’s older brother Fred Lawrence Moore.)

There is something I find very appealing about this photograph. When I first encountered it, my eye was immediately drawn to the woman in the dark dress, my great-grandmother Martha Faulkner Moore. Seen here in the prime of her life, she was quite a beautiful woman. (She and later Velma both went gray prematurely.) Her demeanor strikes me as serene. I’m also struck by the fact that Ottillie has one arm around Ida’s waist and the other around Velma’s shoulder. This was not at all a typical pose for my family.

Once I became keeper of the Family Archives, I discovered a second photograph taken on the day of that visit, which shows Velma and Ottillie wading in the Bay of Fundy. I am particularly fond of this one as well. Velma’s sleeves are rolled up, her dress is hiked up, and her hair is disheveled. This is a very, very different image of her from the one I remember growing up. (I recall her wearing a gossamer-fine hairnet on special occasions to keep her hair in place.)

Velma Jane Moore, Ottillie Law Caddell, Bay of Fundy, 1918

Issues of the Dalhousie Gazette from 1917-1919 yielded a brief but telling description of Ottillie as possessing a “poignant tilt of the head, and a voice as rippling as a silver bell.”2 Her class critique describes her as perhaps not the scholar that her friend Velma was but someone others would be drawn to:

Ott[i]llie was the backbone of any enterprise undertaken by any college society. Clever and energetic, Ott[i]llie was an all round college girl in every sense of the word, and Dalhousie will sadly miss her presence.3

Some of that energy was expended on the basketball court, where Ottillie played guard on the girls’ basketball team.4

Image: Dalhousie Gazette, July 11, 1919

Given Ottillie’s unusual name, I did a little digging to see if I could find out any more about her life. The Dalhousie Archives yielded a 1971 notice of her bequest to the University upon her death:5

With Ottillie’s married name, I learned from the vital records section of the Nova Scotia Archives website that Ottillie Law Caddell married Charles William MacAloney on September 30, 1924.6 The groom is listed as 37 years old with the occupation civil engineer.7 The bride is listed as 32 years old and a school teacher.8 Charles MacAloney’s death record indicates that he died on May 27, 1963.9

I have been unable to find a death record for Ottillie, and I think I’ll stop looking. I’d like to leave her rippling silver voice to join the fine china timbre of Velma’s that I remember from my childhood. May their voices continue to echo and resound with the people who knew them and loved them, until our own voices are stilled.


1Katharine Brown Gauffreau, The Ancestry and Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown (unpublished manuscript, 2013), 25.

2McKay, John, “Prophesy,” The Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-12 (July 11, 1919): 9.

3″Critique.,” The Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 10-12 (July 11, 1919): 8.

4“Basket Ball.,” The Dalhousie Gazette XLIX, no. 10 (December 3, 1917): 8.

5 Dalhousie University, “Royal Chair Donated,” University News (Halifax, Nova Scotia), April 17, 1971, General, 7.

6“Province of Nova Scotia Marriage Register, Registered No. 1835,” Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics: Births, Marriages, Deaths, https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com/ItemView.aspx?ImageFile=20-728&Event=marriage&ID=150814.

7“Province of Nova Scotia Marriage Record.”

8“Province of Nova Scotia Marriage Record.”

9“Province of Nova Scotia–Registration of Death, 02-003555,” Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics: Births, Marriages, Deaths, https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com/ItemView.aspx?ImageFile=1963-3555&Event=death&ID=444127.

10Province of Nova Scotia, “Woolford’s Surveys: The Roads from Halifax to Windsor and Truro, 1817-18,” Nova Scotia Archives, accessed March 11, 2018, https://novascotia.ca/archives/woolford/archives.asp?ID=28.


Bright Shiny Object Note: If you’re interested in a BSO detour, you can find information about the Duke of Kent’s Lodge at Memory NS. (Given that the Duke of Kent’s Lodge was in ruins by 1838,10 I suspect that the 19th century Chippendale chair Ottillie bequeathed was actually 18th century.) The Nova Scotia Archives website includes images of paintings of Prince’s Lodge when it was in use and after it had fallen into disrepair.

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 https://wiki.genealogytoday.com/Halifax_Ladies_College_1918_Historical_Sketch.html&gt;

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, https://www.peointernational.org/about-peo.

Horrors! Sweater-wearing Freshmen

This odd little op-ed piece in the February 19, 1915 Dalhousie Gazette1caught my eye as I was looking through the Dalhousie University archives for insight into what campus life would have been like for my grandmother Velma during her time there. Based on the time and place, I would expect there to have been a dress code in force. The 1916-1917 University Calendar has a Discipline section prohibiting students from “conducting themselves in an unbecoming manner on or beyond the premises of the College”2 However, there is no dress code delineated. Young gentlemen and young ladies must have been expected to know how to dress appropriately for the classroom without being told.

As I was smugly thinking that my professors at Old Dominion University were much more progressive and tolerant than the unnamed professorial chair, I remembered a certain professor of British literature who launched into a complaint at the start of class one day about young women wearing eye makeup that gave their faces a reptilian appearance. That remark was probably uncalled for and displaying questionable taste–particularly in view of the fact that one such young woman was sitting in the first row right in front of him.

Academic Costume

While I didn’t find a dress code in the University Calendar, I did discover that students at that time could wear academic gowns to classes, in the British tradition:3

More snapshots from Velma’s Dalhousie days explained!

Lois Smith, Velma Moore, Ottillie Caddell

Velma Moore, Lois Smith, Ottillie Caddell


1“Has This Professor Too Much To Say?” The Dalhousie Gazette XLVII, no. 9 (February 19, 1915): 10.

2Dalhousie University, Calendar of Dalhousie University: 1916-1917 (Halifax, Nova Scotia: Wm. McNab & Son, 1916), 21.

3Dalhousie University, Calendar of Dalhousie, 22.