- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor and Aly Boltman

“The 20th century brought more recognition and opportunity for women in Owen Sound…One of the best examples of a woman having a career and participating in all aspects of life was Mary Miller…Although she taught kindergarten in Owen Sound schools for 44 years, that is only part of this dramatic Owen Sound woman’s life.” - From Port City by Paul White

Mary Miller Park is at the north end of Kelso Beach Park, on the land of a Nawash cemetery.   We have no way of knowing how Miss Miller might have felt about that had she been alive today, but the park is not in any way reflective of her contribution to our community and country.

It is not a park for small children playing, or sports or games.  It is not near where Miss Miller lived all her life or worked throughout her career.  We have no history about how the cemetery site was chosen to honour such a remarkable - non-Indigenous - woman.  The park is part of the creative Wiidosendiwag-Walking Together Tour.  We believe it should be respected as the sacred ground it is.

Before Miss Miller was born, and for 45 years after she retired in 1952, Indigenous children across Canada were being sent to Indian Residential Schools modeled on the principles espoused by Egerton Ryerson: centralized, segregated, vocational, denominational.  The tragic consequences continue to be revealed.

We respectfully suggest that Ryerson Park in Owen Sound, named after the school for which it was once the playground and which was Miss Miller's first teaching assignment, be re-named to honour her life and legacy.

The following was part of the text of a  Greenwood Cemetery Tour given by Aly Boltman, with supporting research generously supplied by Rosemary Buchanan. We invite you to read about this amazing woman who taught and mentored so many young people in Owen Sound and far beyond.

"Mary Miller began her teaching career in 1906 at Ryerson Public School. By 1908 she accepted a position as an assistant at Ryerson. After two years, she was granted her certificate as a Junior Kindergarten teacher.

During World War I Miss Miller became very involved in the war effort. In addition to teaching duties, she worked hard as a member of the Women’s Patriotic League, knitting scarves and gloves and gathering essentials for area men serving in the forces. She played mandolin and guitar in an orchestra that played concerts to raise money to support the war effort. Rehearsals were in her home. When the farm service was organized to help farmers bring in their crops, she travelled to Niagara to pick fruit.

Mary Miller’s life did not slow down after the war. She spent her leisure hours at tennis – capturing the women’s singles championship for Grey County, and from 1921-24, she combined with Ralph Cochrane to win the County doubles title.

Because she was a teacher and an outstanding athlete, Mary was chosen for the position of head of the sports program at the newly established YWCA. She directed programs for tennis, hockey, gymnastics, badminton, bowling, hiking, softball and a social club. This was an after school position for Mary (after teaching all day!) She also helped found the Georgian Figure Skating Club, and organized a track and field meet. She coached numerous baseball teams and played in the Wawanekas, known as the Wawas, who came within one game of clinching the 1929 all Ontario championships.

As if the energetic kindergarten teacher did not have enough to do, in 1920 she became involved in the CGIT. (Canadian Girls in Training). She created sports and social events for CGIT camps and her efforts brought her recognition from CGIT groups across the province, resulting in her being named the Director of camps for the region from Sarnia to Gananoque and North to New Liskeard. She held this position from 1930 to1940.

Very involved with the Church of Christ Disciples – she taught Sunday school and had to break the youth group in two because it grew so large under her charge.

Despite all the leisure time activities, she still found time to fulfil her passion for teaching. Beginning in 1919, she taught Kindergarten in the morning at Dufferin public school, and in the afternoon at Victoria Public School. She went on to teach at Alexandra.

The outbreak of WWII brought Mary another challenge. Although she was deeply involved in the war effort, when her nephew Tom Miller became a prisoner of war, she launched into a new project organizing the Prisoners of War Association, Owen Sound branch. Mary worked tirelessly for this cause until peace was declared. She also served as the President of the Women’s Teacher’s Association.

When Miss Miller retired in 1952, after 44 years, she had missed 30 days of school total over the whole span of her career."







CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators