Once again, the greater digital community has come to our aid, this time in the work of Dr. Samantha Philo-Gill from the UK. Dr. Philo-Gill has recently published a book about the WAAC, The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in France, 1917 – 1921, and discovered in her research a small volume of poetry, Ripples from the Ranks of the Q.M.A.A.C. (London: Erskine Macdonald, 1918), by Isa Grindlay. Thinking this might be the same person as our Isa Grindlay Jackson, who wrote Ballades [sic] and Bits (Toronto, ON: Ryerson, 1937), she contacted us with her information. Combining that with our biographical data, we did determine (not surprisingly) that the author of these two books of poetry was one and the same. We also pieced together Isa’s fascinating peregrinations: from her birthplace of Slamannan, Stirlingshire, Scotland in 1884; to Alberta with part of her family in 1910, where she married Charles Grindlay; back to Scotland after his death in the trenches in 1916 to join the QMAAC at the Scottish Command School of Musketry in St. Andrew’s; back to Alberta in 1919, where she married her brother-in-law Leon Jackson. She applied for a homestead in Lonira, Alberta, in 1920, shortly before marrying Leon, and lived there until some time in the mid-1940s. She then moved to Vancouver, where she lived until 1981. (I wanted to write “until very recently,” then realized that for many of our readers, 1981 is the deepest past, if not pre-history. I do feel old.)
I wish I had a photo of Isa to share with you, but even the Glenbow Museum and Archives in Calgary has very little about her or her husbands’ families. I do have a number of poems she published in various newspapers, though, and will share one here. This was published in the Chilliwack Progress in 1943, perhaps after Isa moved to Vancouver (although she was still in Lonira in April of 1943).
Jackson, Isa Grindlay. “The Young Airman.” Chilliwack Progress (2 June 1943) 4.
The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), established in 1917, was renamed Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC) in 1918 and disbanded in 1920.