In celebration of Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight a few inspiring and trailblazing women from the Trinity College Archives.
Ethel Ridley (1872 – 1949) graduated from Trinity College in 1895, after which she moved to New York to pursue training as a nurse. She served with the United States Army in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War in 1899, and in 1900 joined what would become the New York Orthopaedic Hospital. When the First World War broke out, she returned to Canada and enlisted as a nurse with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. She was stationed in a number of military hospitals throughout England and France, and after several promotions served as the Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian nursing staff. She was awarded several commendations for her service throughout the war, including the Royal Red Cross in 1916 and was appointed a Commander in the Order of the British Empire in 1918. Following the war, she returned to the New York Orthopaedic Hospital as Directress of Nurses, retiring in 1942 and eventually moving back to Canada. The collage of photographs and postcards document various stages of her life, from her time as a student at St. Hilda’s College, to her C.B.E. investiture at Buckingham Palace, through to her quiet retirement in Gananoque. [F2115]
Mabel Cartwright (1869 – 1965) was an educator and second Principal and first Dean of Women of St. Hilda’s College. After graduating from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, she would eventually return to Toronto to teach at Bishop Strachan School, a private girls’ school. She came to Trinity College in 1903 where, in addition to her role at St. Hilda’s, she taught English. Her dedication to educating women was recognized in 1925 when the University of Toronto awarded her an honourary degree. Outside of academia she was an active volunteer, most notably with the Women’s Auxiliary of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. In this capacity, she led the fight for the creation of Strachan House, one of the first residential care homes for Toronto’s poor elderly population. [F2182 – Box 8, File 6; Box 12, File 2]
Ellen Simon (1916 – 2011) was an artist, illustrator, and printmaker. She studied at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University), the Arts Student League of New York, and the New School for Social Research in Toronto, before apprenticing with celebrated stained-glass artist Yvonne Williams in Toronto and at the Joep Nicolas Studio in the Netherlands. Much of her early work was socially or politically oriented illustrations for books and magazines, but she is best known for her stained-glass work, often done in partnership with Williams, in churches throughout Canada and the United States. At Trinity College, Simon was responsible for the design and creation of the windows in the dining hall, depicting five poets who represent different eras in the Western cultural canon, three of which are complete. The accompanying image is a cartoon for one of the incomplete windows depicting the Italian humanist, Petrarch. [F2019 – P1304]
Beatrice Turner (1899 – 1978) graduated from Trinity College in 1919 and left for Hamilton, where she taught at Kingsthorpe, a private school for girls. She would eventually move back to Toronto, where she became an active member of several Anglican Church organizations, including the St. James Altar Guild, the Women’s Auxiliary at the Church of St. Alban the Martyr, and the St. Andrew’s Japanese Congregation. She was well known within the St. Hilda’s College alumnae community for keeping fellow alumnae updated about news of their classmates: she was a prolific scrapbooker and newspaper clipper, and the above photo shows a small selection of her efforts. This selection is focused on notable women graduates of Trinity, including Adrienne Clarkson (journalist and Governor General), Helen MacGill (Canada’s first female judge), and Pearl McCarthy (noted art critic). [F2028 – Box 2, File 6]