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,

Update on the Clarence Moore House

In a recent post about my grandmother Velma Brown [Moore]’s living arrangements while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Dalhousie University from 1915-1918, I noted that my husband and I had tried with no success to find the former Clarence Moore house on LeMarchant Street in Halifax where she stayed while a student.

Once we got back to the States from our trip, I thought that if I could get the house number, I would be able to find out whether the house is still standing and what it looks like today. I began by trying to to find a digitized copy of the McAlpine’s City Directory for that time period online. I was unsuccessful with Internet Archive, Google Books, and HathiTrust; however, the Nova Scotia Archives website indicated that their microfilm holdings include the city directories I was after.

An Archivist Steps in to Help

I sent an e-mail inquiry to the Nova Scotia Archives asking if there might be another online source where I could find Halifax street addresses for that time period. In only two days, I was very happy to receive the following response from the senior archivist:

The home of Clarence Leander Moore (1869-1953) was torn down several years ago. It is possible that the Dalhousie Gazette or the Dalhousie University Archives may have images of the house. If you Google 1234 LeMarchant Street you can see the new residence on the property and an image of the houses that were there previously.1

In addition to the street address for Clarence’s house, I now have his middle name, the year he was born, and the year he died. As I believe he is a relative, this information should prove useful when he rises to the top of my research list. In the course of Googling “1234 LeMarchant Street,” I also learned that it had formerly been numbered “14 LeMarchant Street.”2 Another nugget of information I expect could prove useful in the future!

1234 LeMarchant Street Today

Today 1234 LeMarchant Street is part of the Dalhousie University campus. LeMarchant Place includes residential housing for students, as well as student services.3

A Husband Is Intrigued

I was satisfied with learning that the house had been torn down. However, my husband was intrigued and wanted to find out more about the house’s history. He kept digging until he found additional information in a Dalhousie University case study of construction and demolition waste, of all places. The photograph of the house at the top of this post was included in that report.4

When I read through the report, I learned that Dalhousie University had tried to save the former Clarence Moore house by conducting a feasibility study to move it three blocks away to another campus location.5 Unfortunately, at over $300,000, the cost of saving the house was three times the cost of demolition, and the house was ultimately demolished.6

1Garry D. Shutlak, “91 then 8 , 12, 14 and finally 1234 LeMarchant Street,” e-mail message to author, January 2, 2018.

2Council of Nova Scotia Archives, “Creighton Family,” Memory NS, accessed January 7, 2018,

3“Dalhousie University Building Directory: LeMarchant Place,” Dalhousie University, accessed January 14, 2018,

4Colin Jeffrey and Rochelle Owen, Increasing Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion in Halifax Regional Municipality: A Dalhousie University Case Study (Halifax, Nova Scotia: Dalhousie University, 2012), 21.

5Jeffrey and Owen, Increasing Construction, 18.

6Jeffrey and Owen, Increasing Construction, 19.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Archives, Superintendents’ Reports, Seagulls!












I’ve made some progress in my search for my grandmother Velma’s early education in Colchester County, Nova Scotia in the first quarter of the 20th century. After much fruitless searching for specific school records on the one hand and more general histories of Canadian education on the other, I decided to try looking for a repository of digitized Canadian books. This took me to the Internet Archive, where I found The Annual Report of the Superintendent of Education on the Public Schools of Nova Scotia for the Year Ended 31st July 1900.  Velma was born in 1897, so this report wasn’t for an applicable year (c. 1902-1916), but a look at the table of contents revealed that it was the right resource because it listed the names of pupils who had received diplomas that year and the schools which had issued them. I’m still in the process of locating digitized copies for the applicable years. (And, boy, are my eyes tired.)

I’ve made better progress with Velma’s post-secondary education at Dalhousie University in Halifax.  Browsing the Dalhousie University Library Archives yielded a treasure trove of sources, including brief character sketches of Velma and her classmates; catalogs with the expected degree requirements, along with some unexpected university life requirements; and the 1918 graduation issue of the student newspaper, Dalhousie Gazette. (I’m being very disciplined in refraining from grabbing all of the Bright Shiny Objects beckoning to me. All in good time, my lovelies, all in good time.)

Now, for the Real Treasure . . .

This oil painting of seagulls wheeling against the sky is one of my most treasured possessions. The painting hung in every bedroom I slept in as a child, and it has hung in every home I’ve lived in as an adult. Velma painted it for me in 1957 after I became entranced by the seagulls when she looked after me at her Cape Elizabeth cottage the week my brother was born. The black-and-white photograph below was taken during that visit. The elderly woman next to me is my Great-Great Aunt Etta (ESTHER LEILA MOORE, 1875-1962) from Economy Point, Nova Scotia.


In Search of Velma Brown [Moore]’s Childhood: Economy, Nova Scotia, 2017

I’ve just returned from a week in Economy, Nova Scotia, continuing my search for the childhood of my maternal grandmother, VELMA BROWN [MOORE]. What I remember from the 2007 trip to Economy Point with my mother is that much of the landscape gave the sense of being largely unchanged since Velma was a child at the turn of the 20th century. Ten years later, this impression is unchanged. Economy Point Road, where the Moore homestead was located (2nd driveway on the left) is still unpaved. The marshland is still marsh, the meadows are still meadows, and Cove Road, the site of many Moore picnics and clamming expeditions, is still a vast wasteland of mud at low tide.

Yet Velma’s childhood was still nowhere to be found.

I’d brought my mother’s history of Velma’s life with me on the trip, and as I reread it in the evenings, still searching for clues, I began to realize that Velma’s story does not reside in her childhood in Economy Point. Velma’s story, where I will find what made her the woman she was, lies in her education. That being the case, I’m going to let my mother tell the story of Velma’s childhood, and I will develop a research plan to discover as much about Velma’s education as I can:

Velma Jane, the second child of GEORGE BAXTER and MARTHA [FAULKNER] MOORE, was born on 16 April 1897 at Economy Point, Colchester County, Province of Nova Scotia, Canada. She was named “Velma” after the heroine of a book that a neighbor was reading. Both parents are descended from some of the early settlers in Economy.

I am piecing together this narrative from Velma’s genealogy notes, Moore family trees copied from the genealogy of Eric Moore, a very distant cousin, History of Economy, N.S. by the Economy Historical Society, and other information I could find.

. . . .

Velma was the fifth Moore generation in Canada and was born in the Moore homestead. . . . [She] didn’t talk much about her childhood, but lessons learned in growing up on a farm stayed with her. She learned how to mend clothes and sheets to extend their lives and to recycle clothing by making new clothes from an old garment. She learned to work hard and preserve food for the winter.

Velma grew up surrounded by a large extended family. There were lots of aunts and uncles from Baxter’s five siblings and Martha’s eight. Velma mentioned Uncle Dan, who was DANIEL MOORE, Baxter’s uncle and son of ROBERT NOBLE MOORE. Uncle Dan made furniture, including my bed stand/sewing cabinet . . . .

. . . .

Velma grew up near the water in Minas Basin and Cobequid Bay. She liked marsh greens and always had some when we spent summers in Economy. The greens turned her teeth green. She helped [my sister] and me acquire a taste for dulse (seaweed),1 which is now too salty for me. The Point road goes out to the Cove where the family went clamming and had picnics. . . .

Velma started her schooling in the one-room school house in the Point Section of Economy. At that time, there were five schools, one in each section of Economy. I don’t know the age for starting school or the number of grades offered. Education was very important to the family. They observed what happened to girls who didn’t get additional education. They married young, had lots of babies and and lost their teeth and figures. Thus, Velma continued her schooling in Truro, which is about 34 miles from Economy. I don’t know when she went there or or how many grades she attended. I know she was there in October 1915 when her brother, Fred, wrote her from England where he was stationed in World War I. She lived with Aunt Addie during the school year and went back to Economy for the summer.2

1My mother carried on the dulse tradition when we spent vacations at my grandparents’ summer cottage in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

2Katharine Brown Gauffreau, The Ancestry and Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown (unpublished manuscript, 2013), 3.

In Search of Economy, Nova Scotia: 2007

Economy Point, Nova Scotia

Economy River, Nova Scotia, 1916

Economy, Nova Scotia Farmland

Photo Back (Handwriting appears to be that of Martha Moore, Velma’s mother) “our house + Melissa’s, rail by the bridge; Tide is above bridge”



In my previous post, “In Search of VELMA BROWN [MOORE] (1897-1975),” I introduced my maternal grandmother and expressed my desire to learn more about her childhood in Economy, Nova Scotia. When I became keeper of The Family Archives in 2014, I discovered a number of photographs of both Economy and Velma’s family.  Looking back to the day I asked her about her childhood, I find it odd that she didn’t just take out the photographs and show them to me.

The photographs of Economy posted above are circa 1910-1920, with the last one dated 1935. They do nothing to dispel my sense that Economy at that time was a pretty grim place.

On the other hand, my impression of Velma and her family from other photographs is that they spent most of their time sitting on the porch, going for picnics, and digging for clams–all sepia-toned, wistful, and redolent of a bygone era.

A Meal on the Porch, Economy, Nova Scotia, 1912

Picnic, Economy, Nova Scotia, c. 1912 (Velma Moore; unidentified woman; Etta Moore, Velma’s aunt; Martha Moore, Velma’s mother; George Baxter Moore, Velma’s father; kneeling woman unidentified)

Picnic at Cove, Economy, Nova Scotia, 1908 (Velma standing in front)

Setting Off for a Picnic, Economy, Nova Scotia (Etta Moore standing third from left, Martha Moore sitting in left chair)

Clamming, Economy, Nova Scotia

Wading in the Bay of Fundy, Economy, Nova Scotia (Velma Moore, age 2; Fred Moore, age 5; Mary Ellis, age 5)

In 2007, I drove my mother to Economy from Presque Isle, Maine so that she could show me where Velma had been born and grown up. Here are some pictures taken from that trip. As you can see, not particularly grim:

The other reason for the trip was so that we could pick up a packet of Moore genealogy from Eric Moore, a very distant cousin. When we met Eric, the family tree showed that we shared a common set of grandparents:

WILLIAM JAMES MOORE, Born 1741 in Colraine, Ireland, Died 1820 in Economy, Nova Scotia

REBECCA NICKOLSON, Born 1753 in Ireland, Died 1829 in Economy, Nova Scotia.

I didn’t know what to think. It was just confounding to me that here was this person to whom I was related, and not only did I not know him, I hadn’t previously known he even existed. How could this be? How could I share bloodlines with all these people in the world whose existence I’m completely oblivious to and always will be?

Is this the genealogist’s impulse, I wonder?