An Evening With Virginia Winters

Last night the City of Kawartha Lakes Public Library (CKLPL) hosted Virginia Winters as part of the Spring session of the Local Authors Series.

The evening began with an introduction by Diane Lansdell of the CKLPL, and then Virginia Winters took the stage and spoke about her newest book, how she writes, writing advice, and the book she’s currently working on.

Virginia Winters has always had a love for literature, but she began writing in 1998 after being disappointed in the latest offering from a favourite author. She thought she could do better. Though the result was terrible, she’d been bitten by the writing bug and decided to learn to revise and make her story better. The final product was her debut novel, Murderous Roots, published by Write Words, Inc. in 2010.

Despite what you may think about authors, or even how other authors might work, Virginia doesn’t sit in front of a keyboard for eight hours a day. She rises early and begins her day with a cup of coffee, the Globe and Mail, Facebook and Twitter. Then, once caught up with reality, she reviews the writing she completed the day before and plunges in. On a good day, she’ll accumulate 1000 words, but when the writing is not flowing, she finds other writing-related tasks: submitting a manuscript, or working on a short story. Though she stops writing at noon to carry on with her daily life, the book is always on her mind no matter the task at hand. She enjoys reading every afternoon, usually mysteries, literary fiction, nonfiction for research and books about writing.

Virginia makes a daily commitment to write and in this way has been able to see three novels to publication. While she is happy with her publisher in general, she didn’t feel the covers of her first two novels adequately represented the books, so for her third book in the Dangerous Journeys series, No Motive For Murder, she designed the cover herself.

At last night’s event, Virginia read a passage from No Motive for Murder, a book for which she received the following compliment from an audience member: even though the book is part of a series, No Motive For Murder reads well on its own. A reader doesn’t have to read all the books in the series to understand what’s going on in the story.

At the moment, Virginia Winters is not working on the next book in the Dangerous Journeys series. Her latest project has an art historian for a protagonist and involves theft, art history and restoration, centring around a painting lost in 1945 in the last days of the War.

Visit Virginia Winter’s website and find her on Facebook.

Read our biography of Virginia Winters.

Viola Whitney Pratt

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.


World Friends

One Family (1937)

Famous Doctors (1956)

Journeying with the Year: a world friends anthology, Women’s Missionary Society of Canada (1957)

Further Reading:

Viola Whitney Pratt: papers and speeches (1990), Claire Pratt.

Viola Whitney Pratt at Canada’s Early Women Writers Project

Viola Leone Whitney Pratt fonds at University of Toronto

An Evening with Dorothy Thompson

On May 23, 2013, we attended the launch of Dorothy L. Thompson’s book, Threads from the Loom of Time. Please enjoy the write-up from this event, and our biography of Dorothy Lenore Thompson (1941-2020)

Dorothy Thompson at book launch at Lindsay branch library.

On May 23, 2013, the Kawartha Lakes Public Library hosted Dorothy Thompson, author of Threads From The Loom Of Time, as part of the Local Author Series. Chief Librarian Linda Kent introduced Thompson to a crowded, eager roomful. Thompson captivated the audience with passages read aloud from her book and photos of her ancestors.

Threads From The Loom Of Time is a fictionalized account of the life and times of Thompson’s ancestors. Her book could be considered part of a genre with the freshly-coined term “faction”, meaning fiction based on facts, for Thompson’s book is made up of the stories about her grandparents handed down through the generations.

Her story also covers a fair bit of history in Ontario. Ever heard of The Battle of Crysler’s Farm? When Thompson’s Casselman ancestors emigrated to Canada, they owned land along the…

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Blanche Hales Squires

Born Mary Blanche Hales in Apsley, Ontario on 10 March 1892, at some point in her childhood, she moved to Lindsay, Ontario.

In a letter to the editor of the Canadian Statesman (Bowmanville), she remembers hearing about the newspaper “as a girl in Lindsay.”

Squires attended Lindsay Collegiate Institute. In fact, she was in the same class as Watson Kirkconnell, another Kawartha Lakes writer.

Watchman Warder, 1 July 1908, page 9.

Miss Hales was a teacher in Galway (Watchman Warder, 27 Oct 1911, p. 5) and Lindsay until 1913 when she left to take an assistant teaching position at Hampton public school (Watchman Warder, 5 Sep 1913, p.2.)

From there, she also taught in Hamilton and Parry Sound.

Blanche Hales Squires, A New Canadian Anthology, 1938.

On 6 August 1920, she married Elmer Francis Squires in Sudbury. Elmer was a telegrapher for Canadian Pacific Railway and stationed in North Bay and Algoma District in northern Ontario.

Blanche and Elmer had three children: Churchill Douglas Squires (1921-1989), Betty Squires (1923-2012) and Robert Hales Squires (1926-2002.)

Squires wrote poems and articles for the Globe and Mail, and for seven years she was a newspaper correspondent.

She died 2 June 1971 in Waterloo, Ontario.


“The War Has Made Me Over,” The United Church Observer, 1 June 1944.

“Winter Night,” A New Canadian Anthology, edited by Alan Creighton and Hilda M. Ridley, 1938.

Watching the World Go By, edited by Robert Hales Squires, 1999.

numerous articles and poetry in the Globe & Mail.

Claire Pratt

Born Mildred Claire Pratt (1921-1995), daughter of two writers/editors, E.J. Pratt and Viola Whitney Pratt, Claire became a “vanguard of mid-twentieth century Canadian publishing.”

At age four, Claire contracted polio in her right leg. For the next 11 years, she wore a leg brace and underwent operations to try to straighten it. When she was eight, one of these operations resulted in a staphylococcus infection and osteomyelitis. At the time, antibiotics were unheard of and she barely survived the winter. Within the year, the osteomyelitis travelled to her left arm and left hip. Numerous operations and infections followed, leaving Claire with a truncated hip.

By 1944, Claire had undergone over 40 operations.

From 1920 to 1936, Pratt’s parents kept a cottage in Bobcaygeon on Sturgeon Lake, where the family spent their summers.

After graduating from the University of Toronto, Pratt pursued graduate work at Columbia University. She returned to Toronto, where she, and Olive Smith, started the Claire Pratt Book Service. Their company was a “specialized book shipping and addressing service.”

As a child, Claire was around prominent writers, including those who she saw every summer when they returned to their cottages, the Bobcaygeon Boys (Arthur L. Phelps, Frederick Philip Grove, William Arthur Deacon) and many others.

Also among her parents’ friends were famous artists.

Frederick Varley, one of the founding members of the Group of Seven, was the artist for E.J. Pratt’s Newfoundland Verse (1923). When Varley and his family were evicted from their Toronto house, Pratt let Varley, his wife Maud and their four children camp in a tent on the lot next to the Pratt’s cottage.

Claire would have been two at the time, but when art became her pastime, this wasn’t her last encounter with Varley or other members of the Group of Seven.

The Pratts owned at least four pieces of Varley’s art. All now housed at the McMichael Gallery.

Claire Pratt, 1950. Box 46, file 8, MCP fonds, Special Collections, E.J. Pratt Library, Victoria University in the University of Toronto.

In 1952 Claire became an editor for Harvard University Press, but the need for further surgeries forced her to leave the position in 1954– the year she was forced to make the toughest decision of her life: to have the experimental spinal fusion surgery or die.

The surgery was performed in New York at the Hospital for Special Surgery, where John F. Kennedy was a patient in the next room, Jackie Kennedy walked the corridors, movie stars arrived for cosmetic surgery, and one of her surgeons had a stroke in the middle of her operation.

She spent two years in a body cast fighting pain, depression and despair. Turning to art for refuge.

Following her recovery, Claire joined McClelland and Stewart as an editor, where she took on major responsibilities. She travelled out of town to meet authors, and regularly worked through evenings and weekends to meet publishing deadlines.

Claire worked alongside Jack McClelland and Malcolm Ross for the development of the New Canadian Library. This line of paperbacks reissued the works of notable Canadian authors with introductions by contemporary notable authors. The series launched in 1958 and continues today.

The Bobcaygeon Boys were well represented. NCL printed many of the works of Frederick Philip Grove, the biography line included a volume on Claire’s father, E.J. Pratt. But not all of her father’s friends were so easy to work with. Claire “performed a near feat of magic when she managed to expand W.H. Drummond’s Habitant Poems to 110 pages. When editor Arthur J. Phelps stubbornly refused to include more than twenty-two judiciously selected poems, [Claire] Pratt devised to spread out the verse and pad the slender 1960 NCL edition with indexes.” (Toronto Trailblazers. page 117.)

Other notable writers that Claire worked closely with during her time at McClelland & Stewart: Leonard Cohen, Peter C. Newman, Margaret Laurence, and Irving Layton.

The following note Claire wrote to Margaret Laurence shows Claire’s editing style and handling of writers. As a result of this note, Claire won Laurence’s trust and Laurence sent her work-in-progress, The Stone Angel, which went on to launch Laurence’s career.

One of the best things that has happened to me in a long time is your manuscript of short stories. I wish there were some way in which I could put across to you you how really enthusiastic I feel about them, Margaret. Depth of compassion and insight, combined with stylistic beauty and the use of the word or phrase that is exactly right, make each of them a pure gem, a true union of the artist and the craftsman. In short they are marvellous.

Claire Pratt to Margaret Laurence, 20 February 1963, series Cae, box 12, file 7, M&S fonds, Mills Memorial Library, MU. (Toronto Trailblazers, Ruth Panofsky, 2019. p. 123.)

Layton’s work, under Claire’s editorialship, won the Governor General’s award in 1959.

In 1970, Claire received a Canada Council grant to support her genealogical research of her father’s ancestry. The result landed on Jack McClelland’s desk and the manuscript was published the following year as The Silent Ancestors: the forebears of E.J. Pratt.


The Silent Ancestors: the forebears of E.J. Pratt (1971)

Further Reading:

“Claire Pratt: Art and Adversity.” The Devil’s Artisan: A journal of the printing arts, issue 46. Robert C. Brandeis. (2000) (This article contains many examples of Claire’s art.)

The Graphic Art of Claire Pratt.

“I am being taught my own work”: Editor Claire Pratt of McClelland and Stewart. Ruth Panofsky (2023)

Toronto Trailblazers: women in Canadian publishing. Ruth Panofsky (2019)

Flos Jewell Williams

Born Clara Flos Jewell (1889-1970) in Dundalk, Ontario, she completed school in Toronto, where at some point she preferred to use the name Flos as she’s listed in the newspaper honour rolls as Flos Clara Jewell.

At some point, she took a teaching position in Bobcaygeon, where she taught for at least five years.

Dorothe Comber‘s book, “Bobcaygeon History: Amy Ellen Cosh Memorial,” has this note in the section about the Rokeby School:

Miss McGuire taught in the Rokeby School. She was a lovely person and a splendid teacher. She and Mr. Simpson were united. Miss Floss [sic] Jewell was one of the assistants. About 1920, after she had gone away and married, she wrote a fiction story about Bobcaygeon which was published, “The Judgement of Solomon.” Of course the names were changed but some people thought that they recognized some of the characters.”

Bobcaygeon History: Amy Ellen Cosh memorial, Dorothe Comber with committee, 1972, page 72.

The December 3rd, 1908 edition of the Weekly Free Press notes, “Upon severing her connection with Rokeby school, Miss McGuire was presented with some valuable silverware by her pupils and ex-pupils in remembrance of her kindness and interest in their welfare.”

McGuire left in 1908. The 1911 census shows Flos single and living in Toronto.

Flos and David were married on 23 April 1915, therefore Williams must have taught at the Rokeby School between 1911 and 1915. The phrasing “gone away and married” would suggest that just like McGuire, Flos quit teaching to get married.

The former Rokeby School. Image captured by Google May 2018.

The Rokeby School was the Verulam School Section (S.S.) No. 6 built in 1873 to move students out of the tavern lean-to where they’d been studying. (The school in the make-shift room attached to the tavern is thought to be Bobcaygeon’s oldest school.) The Rokeby School was constructed at 35 North Street, which became Pieter van Oudenaren’s Garage, an auto repair shop. Pieter took over the garage from his father, Harry van Oudenaren, a Kawartha Lakes author, until he left auto repair for cheesemaking.

By 1921, according to the 1921 census, Flos and David were living in Calgary.

After settling in Calgary, being separated from her Toronto-area friends and family, and with her salesman husband travelling, Williams took up writing. She was a member of the Canadian Authors Association, in the same Calgary chapter as Nellie McClung. In addition to writing four novels, Williams contributed a number of stories and poems to anthologies and periodicals to qualify for membership to the Canadian Womens’ Press Club.

A young woman and a brilliant one, and editors and critics who know her work prophesy that she will go far in the world  of letters. The very fact that this first book of hers was one of the runners up in the recent Hodder & Stoughton Canadian $2,500 contest, that this well established firm accepted it at once and sent it forth to the world, stamped with its approval, is no mean compliment to a young and new writer. 

Mrs. Williams didn't write her book as one in search of fame, for commercial purposes, or in the beginning for the publishers. Once  the theme was conceived it was written, four thousand  words at a time, for the real enjoyment of writing, until it had developed itself into a full-length novel. It is a story that arose first in the heart and was committed to paper because of  that prime requisite of any author — the urge to write. It had never been seen by anyone. Then one day Mrs. Williams saw the advertisement of the Hodder & Stoughton contest. She submitted her manuscript, curious to see  how it  would come out. Immediately there came back a letter of warm commendation accompanied by an offer to publish it. It had been picked as one of the four runners up in the contest. 

Mrs. Williams was born in Toronto [Dundalk] and educated in that city, being a graduate of the Jarvis Collegiate Institute, the old grammar school of Upper Canada, and of the Toronto Normal School.  Later she taught at Bobcaygeon in the Kawartha Lakes district, which she has woven in, as the beautiful setting of her book. Six years ago she came with her husband, David S. Williams, and her twin sons, to reside in Calgary, in which city her book was written. 
“Calgary has four women authors” by Elizabeth Bailey Price; Canadian Bookman, March 1926.

The Globe review for Judgement of Solomon called the book “a well-written novel” with “a real plot, not a particularly pleasant one, handled with skill and delicacy and well sustained to the end.” (The Globe, December 5, 1925.)

The Judgment of Solomon is a work of fiction, following the story of Blake Lamon during his days as a medical student at the University of Toronto. He leaves school to run the family farm, acting on the promise he made to his dying mother. He marries Mary, the girl next door, and then has an affair with his wife’s cousin, Anne Thurston (a girl of 18 who’s living with them as their housekeeper). Anne gets pregnant, and Blake dies before his son, Blake junior, is born.

The setting for the family farm was “a four-mile drive over wretched roads, from Robson” with Robson being the pseudonym for Bobcaygeon, a place the main character, Blake Lamon does not love.

Blake hated the gossip and scandal-mongering of small villages, the almost consistent lack of charity, the eagerness with which the inhabitants put the worst construction on the actions of their neighbours. Robson was particularly disgusting in this respect. The town was situated between two lakes. A river and a canal cut through the town. On every side was unusual beauty, and the little village, with its ugly houses, with their wedding-cake verandahs jammed close to the sidewalks, buzzing from morning until night with scandal, was to Blake like a festering sore on the beautiful landscape.

The Judgment of Solomon, 1925, page 54.

By this description Robson is undoubtedly Bobcaygeon. When Blake marries, he agrees to move into his wife’s neighbouring farm, called Beehive Farm. This must be a nod at ‘The Beehive’ home to James Dunsford, built in 1839 between Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls, now part of Eganridge Resort, Golf and Spa.

Mary’s verandah commanded a gorgeous view of Sturgeon Lake, whose waters washed all the western boundary of the farm, its wooded shores curving around Green Bay, the favourite haunt of black bass for which the lake was famous.

The Judgment of Solomon, 1925, page 36.

Green Bay is on the Pigeon Lake side of Bobcaygeon, just off Riverside Drive, while The Beehive is on Sturgeon Lake at Hawkers Bay. Familiar territory, in any case.

After Blake’s death, Anne stays with Mary to help raise Blake Junior, whom they are raising as Mary’s child. Outside of Anne and Mary, only the doctor knows the truth. Once Junior is old enough to go away to school, Anne moves to a place of her own in Robson.

While she’s living in Robson, Anne meets some familiar characters. For anyone who knows that E.J. Pratt, Arthur Phelps, and Frederick Philip Grove spent every summer at their cottages in Bobcaygeon, they would instantly recognize them in the characters “Ned Andrews,” “Arthur Dawson,” and “George Groves.” Anne suddenly finds that “for the first time in her life this lonely woman felt that she was among her own people.” (p. 245.)

And they seem to respect her:

Ned Andrews marvelled at this women. She confessed to having lived almost entirely to herself, yet she had the appearance, the poise, of a woman of the world. She unhesitatingly acknowledged that she had been a housekeeper on a farm, yet good breeding and refinement were obvious.

The Judgment of Solomon, page 255.

Williams would have been a solitary woman, living on her own, while her salesman husband was away. Williams seems to have made herself the template for Anne.

Ned is a bachelor, whereas, E.J. Pratt was married. Nevertheless, Pratt was the template for Ned. Here’s Ned as described by another character:

“He is a Newfoundlander: a long, thin, good-looking, loose-jointed man, rather shabbily dressed. The cleverest man on the staff, with an almost uncanny ability in using his knowledge. He impresses one as living intensely every instant. He is much interested in questions of the day, and has influence in high quarters that would amaze the majority of his friends. Add to that the fact that he writes the most beautiful poetry in Canada to-day, and that he is a confirmed bachelor at forty, and you have the man.”

The Judgment of Solomon, page 248.
Image from Alan Creighton and Hilda M. Ridley, eds., A NEW CANADIAN ANTHOLOGY (Toronto: Crucible, 1938).

The characters ask to hear Ned’s poem titled, “Charlotte.” Is it coincidence that Pratt had a sister named Charlotte?

In the book, Anne and Ned fall in love, but Anne is unwilling to commit because of her history with Blake and because Blake Junior hasn’t fully accepted her as his mother.

During her time in Kawartha Lakes and as a member of the Canadian Authors Association, Williams became known to these “Bobcaygeon Boys.” Phelps, Pratt, and William Arthur Deacon had cottages where they stayed every summer, after completing their professor duties at the universities.

Two of Williams’s books were published by Graphic when Frederick Philip Grove was editor. Grove was friend to the Bobcaygeon Boys, spent time at their cottages, and corresponded with them on a regular basis. Graphic also published the words of Grove, Deacon, and Watson Kirkconnell (another Kawartha Lakes writer and Phelps’s colleague.) Deacon was a well-known book reviewer and critic for Saturday Night and the Globe and Mail, where Williams’ books were reviewed.

In 1926, Deacon asked Pratt to review Williams’s novel, New Furrows, for the Globe and Mail. In his letter to Deacon, Pratt said, “I had this review up to four hundred words but by a second pruning I managed to get it down to 335. I hope it will do though I don’t think it is ‘any great shakes,’ as I can only accomplish anything worth while when I have the impulse to let myself go.” (

His review was lukewarm at best. The review appeared in the October 16, 1926 edition and started out well with Pratt calling the book “a refreshing change from the usual run of “Western” novels.” After describing the premise of the book, Pratt says, “Beyond the love affair which develops between Marie and a handsome English “mountie,” the book has little plot. Nor are the obstacles to the courses of true love more than ordinary complexity–the war, absence, misunderstanding and hurt pride account for them.” He then goes on to say the value of her story “lies largely in the simplicity of its telling” and that “Mrs. Williams has not hesitated to make her people her mouthpiece on many vexed questions.” He ends the review not with words for the story itself, but by describing the book as “an attractive piece of book-making, done in the distinctive style of the Graphic Publishers.” Deacon was at the time editor for the Globe and Mail, and their friend Grove was editor at Graphic Publishers. Pratt’s evaluation of the novel would have carried a lot of weight.

Although he must have been flattered to be a character in Williams’s first book, he clearly reverted back to his default belief that women’s fiction wasn’t worthy, and one shudders to think what he might have said had he been able to “let himself go.” Perhaps he wasn’t flattered by Williams portrayal of him at all.

Williams was well-connected to the literary world in another way. Her salesman husband’s travelling partner was Stephen Leacock’s brother. (Butter Side Up, Gray Campbell, 1994.) No doubt she heard plenty of amusing tales.

In 1931, Williams had three books published along with short stories and poems, when her story “The Blue Bowl” was picked up for Chatelaine. The editor contacted her, asking for a photo and a brief write-up of her career to include with the story. Her response shows that imposter syndrome is not a modern construct and that for mothers, writing is a challenging career:

“Your letter fills me with despair for two reasons. First it reminds me of the time I asked an old Indian
squaw to let me take her snapshot for a quarter, and she knocked the money out of my hand, saying that she wouldn’t be ugly all over Canada for a quarter! And second, because in the matter of my career- I haven’t had one!”

“I taught school in Toronto, married and have twin sons. My sons are my chief hobby as well as being my greatest creative effort. I have no convictions about anything- or rather I have to have a fresh bunch daily. To such an extent is this true that the only time I ever wrote a letter to a newspaper, I had to write an answer the next day, refuting all my arguments.”

Chatelaine, November 1931.

Her last novel, Fold Home, took second place in Ryerson’s Annual Canadian Book Contest in 1949.

Butter Side Up by Gray Campbell (1994) tells the story of the founding of his publishing company, Gray Publishing, the first publishing company in British Columbia. At the time, Williams was retired and living on her own on the waterfront a few houses down from Campbell. In his book, Campbell describes her as a “wise old owl” and “a witty raconteur, very much in tune with current literature and state affairs.” He began bringing her manuscripts to evaluate. He says “as a retired novelist, she had the ability to size up a writer’s potential by reading a few pages.” And while he acknowledges his company wouldn’t have succeeded if not for Williams, he makes no mention of paying her for her work.

The street “Flos Williams Lane” in Toronto’s Cabbagetown is named for her and she’s included in Canada’s Early Women Writers Project at Simon Fraser University.


Judgement of Solomon, 1925

New Furrows: A Story of the Alberta Foothills, 1926

Broken Gods, 1930

Fold Home, 1949


Collected Poems of the Poetry Group of the Calgary Branch, 1934, Contributor

Canadian Poems, 1937

New Canadian Anthology, 1938, Contributor


Alberta Poetry Yearbook, Contributor

Canadian Bookman, Contributor

Canadian Poetry Magazine, Contributor

Chatelaine, Contributor

Crucible, Contributor

Illustrated Golf, Contributor

Further Reading:

Canada’s Early Women Writers. Flos Jewell Williams. Canada’s Early Women Writers, 18 May 2018.

Harry van Oudenaren

Born on November 4, 1924, Hendrikus van Oudenaren (1924-2020) emigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in October 1950 after serving for two years in a forced labour camp in Stettin, where he worked as a tool and die maker and built boats. For 17 years Harry worked at Pogues Garage on Boyd Street, learning the auto-repair trade. He returned briefly to the Netherlands, long enough to get married, and came back to Canada. The family settled in Bobcaygeon where Harry set up an auto repair garage in an old schoolhouse, while establishing his home with his wife Johanna and six children across the street. For a while, his son Pieter ran the garage until he decided to take up cheesemaking.

The former Rokeby School at 35 North Street in Bobcaygeon. Image from Kawartha Settlers’ Village.
Google image captured May 2018.

Harry began to collect archival and historic information and images about Bobcaygeon. His family formed a friendship with another Bobcaygeon historian and author, Dorothe Comber. She and Harry shared information and upon her death, she left her collection to Harry.

The school that housed the garage business was the former Rokeby School, or Verulam School Section (S.S.) No. 6 at 35 North Street in Bobcaygeon. The northern section of Bobcaygeon was originally called Rokeby when it was first founded, but when it joined with the southern neighbouring areas to form a town, the name Rokeby was lost in favour of Bobcaygeon.

Harry also collected objects of historical interest, which can be found in the Harry van Oudenaren Museum at Kawartha Settlers’ Village, established in 2018. Harry’s son, Pieter, gives a tour of the museum on YouTube. When his collection became too great to stay in his basement, Harry had a building constructed and moved to the Village property.

In 1992, Harry published some of his collection in a book, Bobcaygeon: a picture book of memories.

Harry passed away at his home in 2020 with his family by his side. His collection of items relating to the Boyd family went to the Boyd Museum and his items went to Kawartha Settlers’ Village.


Bobcaygeon: a picture book of memories (1992)

A Story to be Told

In 2008, M. Eleanor McGrath published the book, A Story to be Told: personal reflections on the Irish immigration experience in Canada. The book collects the stories of Canadians who immigrated from Ireland. In the introduction, McGrath says, “Hours of taped interviews based on a standard questionnaire have become transcribed first-person accounts in this book. I have maintained true to the tone, speech patterns a nd individuality of the interviews.”

Several Kawartha Lakes residents were interviewed for the project and the stories of their immigration to Canada are included in the book, including that of local writer, Tom Crowe.

Chris Brophy (1933-2020), Kirkfield

Bill Brown (1931- ), Oakwood

Ruth Carr (1939- ), Lindsay

Tom Crowe (1926-2015), Lindsay

Maureen D’Anjou (1925- ), Fenelon Falls

Pat Durr (1939- ), Fenelon Falls

Dave (1931-2020) and Ella (1933-2018) Hamilton, Cannington

Kathleen McKay (1933-2015), Lindsay

Vivienne Mitchell (1930s? – ), Cameron

Joe (1924-) and Betty (1937- )Wilson

Russell Roy Merifield

Russell Roy Merifield (1916-2005) is the author of From County Trust to National Trust (1988), a book that documents the history of the National Trust, which has roots in Kawartha Lakes (then known as Victoria County.)

Born in Chatham, Ontario, Merifield graduated from McGill University and served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War Two. He practiced law in Montreal and became a senior officer at Shawinigan Water and Power Company. He was Vice-President and Secretary of the Royal Trust Company of Canada. In 1967, he moved to Toronto as Vice-President and General Manager of Victoria and Grey Trust Company until his retirement, at which time National Trust commissioned him to write From County Trust to National Trust.

Here’s a brief timeline from Victoria Loan and Savings Company to Scotiabank:


The Victoria Loan and Savings Company was founded in 1895, under local management and officially incorporated on September 4, 1897. It was located at 85-87 Kent Street West in Lindsay.

By Letters Patent of Ontario, dated November 11, 1898, the Company was relieved from restrictions which confined its operations to Victoria County. 

By Special Act (Ontario), dated October 1, 1923, the Company was granted the powers of a trust company and the name was changed to The Victoria Trust and Savings Company. 

By 1950, the Victoria Trust and Savings Company had branches in Lindsay, Belleville and Cannington.


Around the same time, the Grey-Bruce area was establishing their own banks. 

Incorporated on April 1, 1889, under the name of The Owen Sound Building and Savings Society. 

On May 10, 1889 The Owen Sound, Grey and Bruce Loan and Savings Company was in- 
corporated under the same Act by declaration filed with the Clerk of the Peace for the County 
of Grey. The name was changed to The Grey and Bruce Loan Company by Order-in-Council 
(Ontario) dated September 15, 1897. 

By Special Act 16, George V, c. 123 dated May 1, 1926 the amalgamation of The Grey and 
Bruce Loan Company and The Owen Sound Loan and Savings Company was confirmed under 
the name of The Grey and Bruce Trust and Savings Company and empowered to carry on the 
business of a trust company under The Loan and Trust Corporations Act. 

By 1950, the Grey and Bruce Trust and Savings Company had branches in Owen Sound and Peterborough. 

Victoria and Grey Trust Company. 

By Order-in-Council dated November 9, 1950, the amalgamation of The Victoria Trust and 
Savings Company and The Grey and Bruce Trust and Savings Company was confirmed under 
the name of Victoria and Grey Trust Company and empowered to carry on the business of a trust 
company under The Loan and Trust Corporations Act. 

The head office of the Victoria and Grey Trust Company was located in Lindsay with branches in Belleville and Cannington. 

By Order-in-Council, dated September 16, 1965, the Lieutenant Governor gave assent to an 
agreement dated July 27, 1965, whereunder Victoria and Grey Trust Company and British Mortgage 
and Trust Company agreed to amalgamate under the terms and subject to the conditions therein 
set out, the amalgamated company to be called Victoria and Grey Trust Company. 

This amalgamation brought 15 additional branches to Victoria and Grey Trust Company. The purchase of Lambton Trust Company in 1969 brought 6 more branches. The Company continued to grow, merging with more companies, opening more branches and expanding into Western Canada. 

By 1982, the Company had 88 branches across 5 provinces. 

National Trust. 

In 1984, the Company merged with National Trust Company to form the National Victoria and Grey Trustco. 

The name, National Victoria and Grey Trustco, was deemed too cumbersome, and was subsequently changed to the National Trust Company on June 03, 1985. 

On August 14, 1997 Scotiabank purchased the National Trust Company.

Today, Scotiabank maintains a branch located on the same site as the very last Victoria and Grey/National Trust building in Lindsay. 
The original Victoria Loan Building located at 85-87 Kent Street West, Lindsay. Image: Google, captured Nov 2022.
The newly constructed Victoria and Grey Trust Company building in 1977 at 165 Kent Street West, Lindsay, the former site of Fee Motors. Image: digital archive of Kawartha Lakes Public Library.
Scotiabank building at 165 Kent Street West, Lindsay with additional floor. Image: Google, captured Nov 2022.

Further Reading:

Report of the Registrar of Loan and Trust Corporations, Ontario, 1965.

Victoria and Grey Trust Company, National Archives finding aid, 1987.

History of the National Trust Company, Scotiabank.

Merifield, Russell Roy obituary.

Roy Russell Merifield fonds at Trent University.

Other Works:

Speaking of Canada: the centennial history of the Canadian Clubs (1993)

Who said that? : memorable notes, quotes and anecdotes selected from The Empire Club of Canada speeches 1903-2003 (2003)

“The Elms”: home to two writers?

The naming of houses and properties was brought over with British colonists, but didn’t gain much ground in Canada. Modern property owners might name their farms, but not their houses.

On researching local writers, I discovered two claiming “The Elms” as their home: W.G. Hardy and Ernest Thompson Seton. These can’t possibly be the same property because Hardy lived near Peniel and Seton lived north of Reaboro.

At the time, Kawartha Lakes was populated with elms, trees that could reach heights over 100′ and live over 300 years; trees of such height would have been awe-inspiring to the colonists.

On the road near our gate were two large elm-trees, relics of the forest that had once stood there. Father called them Gog and Magog, after the two giants that guarded the gate of London; and it was from these that we, in English fashion, named our farm “The Elms.” The bigger one had the shorter name, and was visible miles away as a home-beacon. We were proud of that elm.

Imagine our feelings on coming home from Lindsay one day, to find the big elm cut down, and now being reduced to firewood. The road master of the year had given his permission to its being cut, when asked by a needy and improvident neighbour. He was amazed when he learned that Father had prized that tree, and said that, had he known it, nothing would have made him let anyone touch it.

Such, in those days, was the pioneer attitude towards trees.

Trail of an Artist-Naturalist: The Autobiography of Ernest Thompson Seton (1940)

Sadly, the elms of Kawartha Lakes were lost to Dutch Elm disease.

postcard, Kawartha Lakes Public Library digital collection