Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw: "We just Played."

Elizabeth Bagshaw (October 1881-January 1982) was one of Canada's first female doctors and the director of the first birth control clinic in Canada.
She was also made a member of the highest order you can get here- the Order of Canada.

In a little book for kids on Elizabeth Bagshaw we picked up at a used store by Marjorie Wild, I read the following about her early childhood:

Winter on the farm was an enemy to a child's schooling. The Bagshaw farm was in a snow belt, and in winter the side road to school was blocked. From the first heavy snowfall, usually the first week in December, until after Easter, Annie and Elizabeth stayed at home. They had no schoolwork. There were no lessons by correspondence, and the days of lessons by radio were yet to come. "We just played," Elizabeth recalled much later. "I didn't mind."
When she started school again in the spring, Elizabeth had to learn and remember what the other children had studied during the winter. Her retentive memory helped her bridge the gaps in her education.

Clearly, in Bagshaw's early childhood years, she was unschooled.

It seems that her life was a simple one on the farm, with little distractions, time to observe and discover, and little 'peer' association apart from her sister Anne.

She had strong roots in her community and was allowed and encouraged to follow her interests and be herself, no matter the conventions of the day.

The story continues;
Although the side road which led to the school was closed in the winter, the main road was kept open. The Bagshaw family could go into town and to church....Church going took up a large part of any Sunday, but as Elizabeth once pointed out, it was one of the few real social events they had at that time. Some Sundays, relatives came to dinner and visited with the Bagshaws in the afternoon....

Other highlights of rural life were the annual fairs,,,Sometimes John Bagshaw took Elizabeth with him to the political meetings that were also and important part of the country life. She would be the only girl there. She once heard Willfred Laurier speak.

Elizabeth Bagshaw always had a strong attachment to her family, their farm and the part of Ontario where she grew up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, and she turned out so badly (sorry for the sarcasm).


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