Lucy Affleck was born in Middleville in the early 1900's. She worked as a school teacher. At the age of 44, Lucy travelled to teach at Round Lake Residential School near Stockholm, Saskatchewan. After being there a few months, Lucy saw the deplorable conditions the children were living in and being a person of strong moral character, she decided to write a passionate, five page letter outlining what she was witnessing at the school to the Superintendent of Home Missions, Dr. Alfred Barner, in Toronto. .She received a short reply that steps would be taken to improve the situation. Within a month, Lucy was summoned to the Principal's office, handed a cheque and her employment was terminated on the spot. When she asked for an explanation she was curtly told that the Church demanded that any disloyal staff be immediately dismissed.
Lucy was one example of a young teacher who tried to bring attention to the plight of children in Residential Schools and paid the price for telling the truth as she saw it. She was described as, " a remarkable person, an intellectual, totally honest in her thinking".
She returned to Middleville and lived out her life with her family.
In the Hall of Honour in Centre Block of the Canadian Parliament Buildings is a memorial to the more than 2800 nurses who served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. These women were enlisted officers and served with a specially created all female rank of ‘Nursing Sister’. Their rank was considered relative to male officers and they received equal pay. However, the officers’ declaration papers had to be adapted by crossing out ‘his’ and writing in ‘her’ in the appropriate places. The nurses had the nickname of ‘Bluebirds’ because of the blue uniforms they wore with white veils. The Bluebirds cared for the wounded and sick soldiers who were suffering from life threatening diseases often under difficult and dangerous circumstances with great risk to their own personal safety.
Janet J James was born in Clayton in Ramsay Township on September 9th, 1881. She completed her nursing training in Montreal and served most of the time she spent overseas during WW1 in France. She was the daughter of Enoch James and Mary Jardine. She enlisted at the age of 34 on December 24th, 1915. After the war, Janet returned to nurse in Montreal until her retirement in the early 1950’s. Janet travelled after her retirement and picked up souvenirs along the way. She retrieved a shell casing from the beach at Vimy Ridge and it is now on display in the Middleville and District Museum with many of Janet's other belongings.
Mary Ellen (Minnie) Affleck was born in 1874 in Lanark Township. She taught school as a young woman. When she had earned some money, she ventured to Kingston to train as a nurse. At the age of 25, she was off to South Africa. Minnie was one of four local nurses who were the first Canadian nurses to serve overseas and in 1899 they cared for wounded soldiers in the Boer War. She was stationed at Rondebosch which was considered a tent community that could accommodate 600 patients. The conditions were described as quite challenging. She was later sent to Springontein. In an article in the Lanark Era in 1900, she was described as, " a nurse of exceptional merit and cleverness. In fact she was said to be the most clever and thorough nurse that the Head Surgeon had met". After the War ended, Minnie returned home to Lanark County. She was met with a heroine's welcome. Later, she went to Vancouver, BC to continue as a Nursing Sister in the Canadian Army. It was in B.C. that she met Adolphus Wolfe and they married. She remained in B.C. until her death in 1956.
Community Women have met for fellowship and to support each other and their communities for many decades. It is in these community groups that women did incredible work to support others. The Women's Institute took on such projects as raising money for streetlights for their village. They raised funds to purchase a piano for the Community Hall. Quilts were always being made to support families in need especially after a house fire. They planted Victory Gardens and trees. Money was raised to donate to the purchase of land for picnics, ball games and socials. Water tanks were purchased for local schools through fundraising efforts by women. A flag pole for the Hall was purchased in 1926 by the local Women's Institute members. The Almonte hospital received a stretcher that year, as well. These are a few examples of the work of women in their communities. Think of all the benefits of the work they did for the benefit of others.
So to celebrate Women's History month in October, remember the work done to improve their communities by these and many other remarkable women.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.