I have written up a short description of the ways in which you all have helped to contribute to the richness of our project. This is largely so that the academic community understands how important and effective it is to share our research freely with the wider world. I have tried to include everyone who has contributed information that has ended up in an entry;  if I have left anyone off the list, please contact me so that I can rectify the omission.

Canada’s Early Women Writers project community outreach

The Canada’s Early Women Writers project (CEWW) aims to construct an online database of all Canadian women who published—in any genre, in any forum—before 1950. CEWW is one of the seed projects for the larger database project, the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC), run out of the University of Alberta, and headed by Dr. Susan Brown.

Online activities

In conjunction with developing our database, we have been reaching out to the public to both gather and provide information about our authors. This has been achieved in a number of ways.

  • We are active participants in the ancestry.ca online community, building comprehensive family trees for our authors, which are then accessed by these authors living relatives and descendants. Linnea Regier, one of our first research assistants, was especially involved in this activity. Our involvement in this community is bilateral: we receive innumerable requests for information that we can provide about our authors’ relatives as well as sharing information about the authors themselves.
  • We maintain this website on WordPress, which houses lists pertaining to our research:
  • Authors already included in the existing SFU database
  • Authors we know will be included in the CWRC database
  • Authors we have yet to find sufficient information for
  • Pseudonymous authors who might be female and therefore considered for our project
  • Anonymous titles which might be by our authors
  • Resources we have used to compile our lists
  • We post poems or book reviews on our website every few days, increasing our authors’—and our project’s—visibility online.
  • We contribute short essays to the CWRC blog, which is shared with a greater academic community as well as accessible by the general public.

The results

Through ancestry.ca and our website, we have been contacted by a number of relatives of our authors. This has resulted in our learning more about the authors’ biographies, but also in most cases with the relatives learning more about their relatives’ literary endeavours.

We have also formed active relationships with other academics in the community. The three contributors of most note are Brian Busby, early Canadian literature aficionado, who runs the blog “The Dusty Bookshelf,” and is always on the lookout for information about our authors, or new authors to add to our files; Debra Martins, who runs the blog Canadian Authors Abroad, who is similarly helpful; and Ray Saintonge of Wikimedia, who has found the answers to a number of questions of identity, gender, and pseudonym.

Here are some of our research stories:

  • Annette Fulford, who writes the blog Canadian War Brides from the First World War, as well as conducting other historical and genealogical research, provided new information about Dorothy Abraham, Ena Barrett, Elsie Bell Gardner, Anne Merrill, and Florence McPhedran.
  • Helen L. Whyte provided information about her relative Alice Maud Ardagh.
  • Phyllis Argall’s second husband and son are still alive, and were very helpful in providing details of her life after she moved to the United States. They reviewed our entry and expressed their gratitude for our work.
  • Jim Arnett provided information about and publications by his grandmother, Laura Vivian Belvadere Arnett.
  • We would like to thank Cairine Macdonald provided information about her grandmother, Lucy Bagnall.
  • Helena M. MacLean and Arthur W.F. Barrett provided information about their relative Ena Constance Barrett.
  • Ajai Khattri provided information about his relatives Celeste and Jane Belnap; Jane’s granddaughter Gillian also chimed in on out blog comments.
  • Geneviève Bruneau provided information about Minnie Evans Bicknell.
  • Lindsay Carroll from Durham, North Carolina, contacted us with information about her great-grandmother, Florence Deacon Black.
  • Mamie Maloney Boggs’s grandson Christopher contacted us with an offer of contributing any information he and his father and uncle could to our project.
  • Lester Batten provided information about his great-great-aunt, Lydia Campbell.
  • Eileen Santlal provided information about her grandmother, Corolyn Cox.
  • Beverlee (Croft) Nelson, daughter of the author, and another relative, Paula Niall, provided information about Melba Morris Croft.
  • Liz Tracy Hartzler provided information about her relative Lotta Dempsey.
  • Paul Ross and Mark Donaldson, and Eleanor Best provided information about their relative Elizabeth Donaldson.
  • Eric Pedersen provided us with the identity of M.E. Drew (Mabel Ellen Drew).
  • Simon Pole has shared with his biographical articles and an image of his great-great-grandmother, Susie Drury. His family has an original manuscript of her collection of poetry, including one poem that did not appear in the published version, which he permitted us to publish on our blog.
  • Diana Birchall, Winnifred Eaton’s grand-daughter, and Dr. Karen E.H. Skinazi, Princeton University, provided information about Winnifred Eaton.
  • As well, Dr. Mary Chapman has contributed significantly to our project both with information and editorial assistance regarding the four Eaton sisters connected to writing in Canada: Edith, Winnifred, Grace, and Sara.
  • Marte Brengle, Evelyn Eaton‘s granddaughter, contributed information about their family.
  • Bruce Gordon provided information about his relative Beatrice Minnie Embree.
  • Samantha Philo-Gill, and independent scholar in the United Kingdom, shared with us her research on Isabella Grindlay.
  • John Grove provided information about his relative Elizabeth Grove.
  • Sheldon Rose, at the University of Toronto, is working on Mary B. Huber, in connection with research about Dr. Grenfell, and contacted us with documents and his newly created Wikipedia entry.
  • Evelyn Bromley discovered us while researching her Aunt May, Mary Inez Wordworth Lorton, and sent images of a hand-written poetry collection as well as Mary Lorton’s published volume of verse.
  • Vivian Moreau provided extensive information about her mother, Elma Rose Machan, and offered to assist us in editing or data entry. Sadly, the project is not set up for external aid of this sort.
  • Jean McCollum, a teacher in Nova Scotia, contacted us on our website comments to send us information about a little-known author, Alwilda McKenzie, who was also a schoolteacher there.
  • M.D. McWilliam, Edinburgh, provided information about his relative Mary Maitland.
  • Pam McCorquodale provided information about her grandmother, Hughena McCorquodale, as well as another relative, Isabel C. Armstrong.
  • Jon Palmer Broderick provided information about his relative Mary Anne McIver.
  • Ron Robichaud contacted us with questions about Mary Ann Cort, but then subsequently provided a great deal of information about her relative Melita O’Hara.
  • Michael Edward Bath and Alan Kultschar provided information about their relative Marian Francis Osborne.
  • Geir Jaegersen, Norwegian Language Institute advisory board member, gave us translation assistance for our entry on Martha Ostenso.
  • Stephen Cox provided research contributions, and Dresdin L. Archibald provided family information about Isabel Mary Paterson.
  • Kaye Soulsby, in Melbourne, Australia, and the New Zealand Peace family archives provided information about Margaret Sharp Peace.
  • Just as CWRC was in the final round of software restructuring before our entries went live, Linda Cass-Jones emailed us that she is the granddaughter of Maude Gage Pellerin, and was willing to she with us an unpublished manuscript by her grandmother. While digitizing texts is not part of our stated mandate, I always like to share our authors’ works—in whatever form we can—with a broader public.
  • Jan Gregory provided information about her relative Jane Porter.
  • Dennis Brooks provided information about his relatives Kate and Laeta Ramage.
  • David Reed, descendant of G.B. Reed’s brother, provided information about his grandfather’s wife, author Elsie Clarissa Porter Reed, and her cousin, author Helen Leah Reed.
  • Judy Schuette provided information about her mother, Evelyn Craig Rusby.
  • Elizabeth Donaldson, Patricia McDonald, and Carol Fraser provided information about Kate Ruttan; Kate Ruttan’s great-great-granddaughter, Carolyn Brown, also contributed to our blog comments.
  • Daniel Madden provided information about his relatives Mary Anne Sadlier and her daughter Anna Theresa Sadlier.
  • Professor A. Elizabeth McKim of St. Thomas University (Fredericton, NB) shared her significant knowledge of the life and work of Kay Smith; David Mawhinney, University Archivist at Mount Allison University, provided Kay Smith’s graduation records.
  • We were contacted by Gladys Devlin Stacey’s granddaughter, Callie Stacey, who provided a great deal of information about her grandmother and her various pseudonyms. Callie also located references to another author on our list, Georgina Cecilia Mary White, who wrote under the pseudonym of “Bridie Broder.”
  • Christine Owens invited me to help her sort through the papers of her great-aunt, Maud Morrison Stone. She is hoping that we will be able to post some of her great-aunt’s work on our site, and that York University will accept her great-aunts papers, given that Maud graduated from an Ontario university.
  • Margaret Sweatman provided information about her relative Constance Travers Sweatman.
  • Researcher Janice Dowson, whose research on Christine van der Mark contributed significantly to our entry on Christine van der Mark.
  • John Tepper Marlin of New York, and Randal Marlin of Ottawa provided information about their relative Hilda van Stockum.
  • Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum provided information about her relatives Peggy Webling and Lucy Webling McRaye.
  • Victor Willerton, son of the author, and Stephen Blake Willerton, grandson of the author, provided information about Irene Willerton.
  • Mary Joanne Peace Henderson provided information about her relative Anna May Wilson.
  • Author Margaret Buffie provided information about Audrey St. Denys Wood.