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,

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.

Sentimental Sunday: A Grandmother’s Love

My mother saved this little notecard from my grandmother Velma in my baby book, which I used to look through on a regular basis when I was a kid. I liked studying pictures of myself from a time I couldn’t remember. (I found my infant and toddler selves quite fascinating, in fact.)

When I began looking through family pictures and memorabilia last year with the thought of starting a family history blog, I hadn’t looked at the note in decades. Reading these lines sixty years after Velma wrote them and forty years after she died, I was struck by just how much she must have loved me.

Velma was not a demonstrative woman, and I was not a demonstrative child–but the connection between the two of us was there, and it’s even stronger now that I have reached the age she was then. How I miss her.

Dear Liz – ‘beth’ –

Thought you might like your “tickle” feather, which was on the bathroom floor — We enjoyed your visit and look forward to when you can come again — perhaps with mummy, daddy + baby George —

Much Love + “Hugga”

from Grandmummy


Today’s post was inspired by Elizabeth Swaney O’Neal’s Genealogy Blog Party for February: Stories of Love. I’ve been participating in Elizabeth’s Genealogy Blog Party for the past several months now. It’s a great way to sample what other family history bloggers are doing, offer encouragement, and get ideas. I encourage you to check it out!

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.

Velma’s Professors: Casual & with Gravitas

When I began going through The Family Archives I’d been entrusted with, lo, these many months ago, I wasn’t surprised to find copies of my grandmother Velma’s graduation portrait in academic regalia among the mementos of her Dalhousie University days. Nor was I surprised to find graduation portraits of her friends, as well as candid snapshots of her and her friends enjoying being college students.

I was surprised to find a studio portrait of the Dalhousie University president at the time she attended, Dr. Stanley MacKenzie. My experience attending college was as a nontraditional student at an urban commuter institution, and, believe me, I couldn’t have cared less who the president of the university was.  The only aspect of campus life that had any relevance for me and my classmates was finding a place to park in a relatively safe area so that we could attend classes and still have a car to drive home in.

Now that I’ve done some research into what campus life would have been like for Velma in 1915-1918, including how small Dalhousie was at the time and the role the president’s office played, I suspect that Dr. MacKenzie would have been a fairly visible figure for the average student.

Velma also saved a studio portrait of English professor Archibald MacMechan, of “Decorating Dalhousie” fame. Given how many articles and poems he wrote for the student newspaper, The Dalhousie Gazette, he also must have been a visible figure in campus life at the time.

In addition to the two studio portraits, I found four snapshots of Velma’s professors, ostensibly on their way to or from class. I was surprised to see that two of them were identified on the back with nicknames: “Eben” and “Jonesy.” I assume students used the nicknames among themselves to refer to their professors. I can’t imagine Velma or her contemporaries addressing a professor by his first name, let alone a nick name.

When I gathered these snapshots to begin planning this post, I was struck by the fact that here was yet another unanswered question. To wit: How did these photographs come to be taken? Did Velma lie in wait for each august gentleman with her Brownie camera in hand and convince him to pose for her? I simply can’t imagine Velma doing such a thing; it seems downright impertinent. I truly hope she did just that!

Life Is Good When the Sun Is Shining, and You Get Paid to Teach a Dead Language

Prof. Howard Murray “Howard” Latin prof

Just What Does Jonesy Carry in That Satchel, Anyway?

Prof. H.P. Jones PdD (“Jonesy”) German prof.

You May as Well Take the Photograph: Reality Is Just an Illusion

Dr. H. L. Stuart, Philosophy prof Dalhousie

Eben Strikes a Pose

Dr. Ebenezar Mackay (“Eben”) Chemistry prof – Dalhousie

And Now, the Same Professors with Gravitas

Photograph of H. Murray, L. L. D., 1916, PC1, Box 46, Folder 2, Item 25, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Photograph of H. P. Jones, PhD, 1916, PC1, Box 46, Folder 2, Item 20, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Photograph of H.L. Stewart (PhD), 1916, PC1, Box 46, Folder 2, Item 26, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Photograph of E. Mackay, 1916, PC1, Box 46, Folder 1, Item 2, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.