Like many of her generation, my mother struggled to overcome the many challenges that intelligent girls face when their lives start with low educational expectations. She was the first student admitted to St F.X. University as a “mature student”, meaning someone who didn’t have the formal qualifications to be there, but had life experience and ability that compensated. She had to prove herself first by acing a course, back in the late 60s. She studied part-time for years, and finally graduated with a B.S.W. from Dal in 1982. A very proud achievement.
There was a request for more information:
Her rural PEI school just went to Gr. 10, which was good enough as far as her father was concerned, I think. After that, she went to business school in Charlottetown, which meant learning secretarial skills, and did very well. She had some kind of offer to go to Holland College (now UPEI), but didn’t have the self-confidence to take it up. She worked at various clerical jobs; didn’t like being a secretary, though I benefited because she taught me to type with all my fingers. I think her first course at St FX was English Lit. I remembering hearing a lot about Beowulf and other characters. She was raising 4 kids so had to go slow. We moved to Sydney in 1973, and was part of women’s groups when it was still pretty new, in the days when Rita MacNeil sang at little coffeehouses. She took Social Work because Dal set up an extension program in Sydney; there were limited choices of field of study available there, and very limited jobs in Cape Breton – short term contracts on minimum wage given to insiders. She would have been happier doing something like interior design, but would have had to live elsewhere. Her homes, gardens and personal style have been her artforms. She decorated and sold 3 houses in the very depressed Sydney market, which is an achievement in itself. After Charles retired and they moved to Mahone Bay, they operated a B&B for a number of years, which employed more of her skills.
Joanne Purchase-Renaud wrote:
My father always had a fondness and admiration for her. He described her as a “forward thinker” and “a woman before her time.” He loved their conversations.