Viola Leone Whitney (1892-1984) was born in Atherley, Ontario on 23 February 1892. She completed grade eight when she was eleven and graduated Orillia Collegiate at age 15. Too young to attend university, she stayed home and studied music until she tired of it. She turned to teaching and was employed in Zephyr. She entered Victoria College at the University of Toronto in 1909, where she was editor of the student literary journal, graduated in 1913, she attended the Ontario College of Education and then went on to teach in Amherstburg, Renfrew and St. Mary’s.
On 20 August 1918, she married Edwin John Pratt. They had one daughter, Mildred Claire Pratt, born in 1921.
From 1920 to 1936, the Pratt family kept a cottage in Bobcaygeon on Sturgeon Lake, where the family spent their summers.
Viola was a founding member and editor of World Friends, a magazine for children published by the Women’s Missionary Society of the United Church of Canada. She retired from her editorial position in 1955.
In the 1930s, Viola was president of the Canadian Authors’ Association.
She read to blind students at the University during and after the Second World War.
She wrote book reviews for the Globe and Mail.
Viola was an essayist and public speaker. These were collected and published in a book edited by her daughter Claire Pratt, Viola Whitney Pratt: Papers and Speeches (1990.)
In 1956, Viola was awarded an Honourary Doctorate of Sacred Letters from Victoria University.
One Family (1937)
Famous Doctors (1956)
Journeying with the Year: a world friends anthology, Women’s Missionary Society of Canada (1957)
Viola Whitney Pratt: papers and speeches (1990), Claire Pratt.
Viola Whitney Pratt at Canada’s Early Women Writers Project
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