A Spinster, Sun Life and Holstein Cattle

If you want to self-publish  a book today, all you do is write it and put it online.

That’s what I did with School Marms and Suffragettes, my story about 3 Canadian women in the 1910 era, based on real letters. It has three parts: Threshold Girl, about 19 year old Flora Nicholson’s year at Macdonald College; Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, about 27 year old Edith Nicholson`s last chance at love; and Biology and Ambition, about middle sister Marion Nicholson`s training and life as a teacher in Little Burgundy. (It took me over 5 years of research, but that’s another aspect of writing books.)

Well, it’s an e-book pdf; not yet formatted to fit the Kindles and such, (and it’s still being worked on) but it’s free. And anyone, especially teachers, can download and distribute it.

Speaking of Kindles, my 400 dollar early version I bought a few years ago and have hardly used is now having trouble charging. And it’s not the cord, it’s the socket.  What a bummer!!!! And I’m in the middle of reading a book about the Reformation, to help me understand how Edith might have felt viewing those Italian paintings at the Louvre.

Anywhere, this digital publishing is a new endeavor.

I am now researching a new book, this one based on just ONE 1928 letter, about Edith Nicholson’s trip to Paris.

Edith, now 45, works in the Registrar’s Office at McGill University and is Tutor in Residence at the Hostel, the residence for out of town female Phys Ed students.

(I have the 1928-29 yearbook for the Hostel.. so know all about the students.)

Yesterday I dug out a strange item from the stash of Nicholson stuff I have on hand.

It’s also a self-published book.

At first I thought it was an Academic Yearbook, but on closer examination it proved to be a book about a a rich and powerful man`s 1929 trip to Lewis, Scotland.

The rich and powerful man is T. B. McCauley, the President of Sun Life Insurance. There`s a Wikipedia page about him, but no picture.

This commemorative volume has a picture inside.

McCauley wrote an inscription to Edith.

Interesting. Edith had worked at Sun Life as a stenographer from 1917 to 1922 or 23. It is very unlikely she hobnobbed with the President. I learned from another letter that her boss at Sun Life lived beside her sister, Marion in Westmount. That`s how she got the job, I imagine.

(Edith, second from right, in a kind of navy uniform in front of Sun Life building. Circa WWI)

But somehow, a few years later, word got around that she was a Lewisman. In 1933 Edith goes to Lewis herself, and brings back a lot of information on the Nicholson Institute. (I have that tucked away somewhere. Actually, it is Nicolson Institute, and at one point, Edith started writing her name as Nicolson.. the Highland way.)

Funny, I`ve learned that the Norman Nicholson branch of Lewisman, who came here in 1851, were originally from Skye.

McCauley is most famous for creating the Holstein branch of dairy cattle. Or so says his Wikipedia page.

Hmm. I should put him in my Milk and Water play about Montreal in 1928, when there was a typhoid scare, blamed on water, caused by milk.

McCauley’s Secretary wrote the letter to Edith.

All this speaks to Edith’s personality, her love of the ‘higher’ things in life, even if she was only a middle class girl, trained as a secretary, not even having a teaching diploma like her sisters Marion and Flora.

Here’s a strange genealogy included with the book by McCauley.

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