Note N7 Index
She is shown as "Jane" in the 1891 census. As a witness to her sister Agnes' marriage to Edward Trudgeon in 1905, she was shown as Jane. The other witness was Roger T. Hedley. There is a Roger Thomas Hedley in the 1891 census for Lobo Township, Middlesex South. He is the son of William and Jane Hedley. William is the son of James and Mary Hedly born in New York and Scotland respectivley. I expect that he is a cousin on Neither Jane nor Jean appears in the 1881 census with her parents and grandparents. She could be the "James" Dunn shown as being less than one year old on that census, that is, the census taker wrote the name and sex down wrong. If not, where was she?
There remains a question about her birth year. On the 1901 census, her year of birth is given as 1880 not 1879 but she is Jean. Jean Carter originally found a birth registration for a Jane Dunn born on November 14, 1880. I too found the same registration. It is registered February 14, 1881 as number 018610 for Middlesex, West Nissouri. Her parents were recorded as William Dunn (Roger's twin brother) and Margaret Brown (her actual mother). Putting aside the matter of her father, this would tend to show that she was born in 1880 and not 1879 and that her name was Jane originally and not Jean. However, her death certificate and death registration say that she was 39 when she died which would make her born in 1879. I can only think that the person who did the registering put in the wrong name for her father. That would also support the 1881 census record. I cannot imagine that were there 2 Jane Dunns born to different families at the same time.
In the 1911 census, she is said to have been born in November 1880.
Further on the topic of her name, she is called Jane in the estate accounts for Edward Dunn, her brother. Each of her children received the sums of $32.38 and $181.25.
She died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918. However the cause of death is said to be pneumonia.
Dad said that his mother's wedding dress was donated to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary by Aunt Vera and that it may be on display there. When I tried to verify that, I was told that it was a different garment; however, it may well be that it was not a typical long white dress. The same was true for my mother's wedding dress. It was a "more fancy" than ordinary dress but not a long, flowing, white gown.
Note N8 Index
Dad says that Vera visited cousins in Los Angles who told her that she could not be a Timms as she had the wrong coloured eyes. She was a very beautiful young woman. She once told me that she never married because she was too busy and because her dad had chased off a young man who had fallen in love with her. I would guess that her dad merely wanted her to keep raising her siblings.
In December 2002, Dad gave me the name of the man who had wanted to marry Vera. He was Bob Urkhardt. He was a farmer from Milo which is the first community where Vera taught school. He thought the world of Vera. Grandfather Timms forbade the marriage which may mean that Vera was a minor at the time.
There was a story in the Calgary Herald after Vera's death. Although some of the facts may be slightly off, it captures much of the essence of Vera:
A Dedicated Teacher
School plans memorial for Vera Timms
Vera Timms became a schoolteacher when she was 17,
taught until she was 64 and missed only 44 teaching
days in total - less than a one-day loss per year during
a lifetime in the classroom.
"A wonderful legacy," said the Rev. James Ockley of
Calgary's New Thought Church, giving the homily
at Vera's funeral service. He was hardly exaggerating.
Teaching became her route to self-sufficiency after the
death of her mother during the global influenza epidemic
of 1918. Vera turned 13 that year. Her father moved
the family to Calgary from their homestead in Innisfail.
Vera the oldest child, helped raise her younger siblings,
three brothers and a sister.
Vera began her teaching career in Milo, 70 kilometres
east of High River, after completing her training at
Calgary Normal School in 1922.
She drove to the school by horse and buggy and
continued to help in Calgary with the raising of her siblings.
After 15 years teaching in country schools, Vera
moved back to Calgary in 1937 to work for the city's
public school system. She spent a year at Haultain
Elementary, five years at Connaught, then took a
year off to a upgrade her teaching skills at San
Francisco's Berkeley University.
When she returned Calgary in 1944, Vera began
a 22 year stint at Mount Royal Elementary,
teaching grades five-six at a time when the
public school system began to modify curriculum
and instruction methods according to post-war
individual student needs.
It was a time when counselling, known in the
parlance of the 1940's as "guidance" - became
the provincial education department's sanctioned
method for helping students achieve personal
and emotional as well intellectual growth.
As well as teaching social studies and other
core-curriculum subjects to the older elementary
students, Vera taught evening classes in music
and drama and played a major role in the guidance
work aimed at helping youngsters cope with
the problems of the contemporary world.
Her students remember her as a teacher who
cared as much about their personal problems
as she did about the academic curriculum.
After speaking to some of them, Rev. Ockley
concluded that the hundreds of Calgarians
who sat in her classrooms down through the
years - one of the many was future diplomat
Ken Taylor - were indeed fortunate. "She
was a wonderful teacher," was the phrase
echoed across the generations.
She was a patriotic Canadian and a proud Calgarian.
"Quick to chastise anyone who felt differently,"
said her brother, Les Timms. "A very staunch
Canadian in all aspects," agrees Rev. Ockley.
"We should buy Canadian goods, vote in all
elections and travel in this country. If anyone
did not concur, they might well be subject to
one of her school marm lectures."
Vera spent her last three years of teaching
at the Earl Grey and Killarney Elementary
schools, retiring in 1969 for travel and spiritual study.
She was 91 when she died at her Calgary home
on October 20th. As she requested, Vera
was buried with her beloved Canadian flag alongside her.
"We need a lot more like Vera in these
tumultuous times on the national scene,"
said Rev. Ockley. Vera was buried at the
family plot in Innisfail.
"Her family will miss her quick, beaming
smile and generous heart," says brother Les.
Plans are underway for a Memorial in Vera's
name to be established at the Mount Royal
school, now a junior high, where she taught
three generations of elementary students.
A wonderful legacy indeed.
Some years later I found a letter from the Calgary School Board which sets out when Vera worked for the Board. Some of it does not coincide with the city directory information. It says that she worked for the Board from 1937 to 1943, and from 1944 to 1969. The one year hiatus was when she took a sabbatical to go to Berkely. Someone has written on the letter to indicate 43 years service. If she was teaching as of 1928 in Calgary, that would be correct.
There was a photograph among Vera's possessions of the Montreal Street School in Medecine Hat. I can only assume that she taught there in the 20s. There was also a photo if a building that she labelled "Tamarack College Old and New". The only such college that I could find was in London, Ontario. Why Vera had this is unknown.
I tried to record where Vera and the other members of the family lived by looking in Calgary city directories. Here are the results. In the 1928, Calgary Directory (Hendersons) Vera was shown as a teacher at Cliff Bungalow School living at 632 15th Ave. W. In 1931, she was at the same school but had moved to 1028 13th Ave. W. In 1932, she was teaching at Sunalta School [where I attended for grades 7 and 8] and living at the same address. Once again she is the only Timms (of our family) noted in Calgary. In 1933, she was still at Sunalta but had moved to 1217 14th Ave. W. Again alone. Ditto for 1934. In 1936, she was teaching at Haultain School and living at 1314 16th Ave. W. My father, L.W. Timms was living there with her and John R. was also there, as was Cecil. In 1937, Vera was still at Haultain but she had moved to 908 17th A. W. Cecil was living with her as was Lester who was working as a clerk at Singleton Hardware. John R. had left again. In 1938, Vera was still at Haultain and was living at Apt. 406, 800 18th Ave. W. Cecil was living with her and was a clerk at James Richardson. No Lester. In 1939, Vera had moved to Connaught School. Lester was a clerk at Louise Hardware and had his own apartment in the same building as Vera. Cecil and John were not around. We know that John R. had gone to Ontario in 1938 when his mother died. In 1940 Vera was ditto; Cecil was a "board marker" living with her; Lester was a Safeways and also living with her. By 1941, Vera was ditto; Lester was a clerk at Royalite Oil and living at 1015 13th Ave. W. No one else was around. By 1942, Vera was ditto; Lester was not noted as he was living in Vancouver working for Burrard Ship Yards as a clerk working on ship repairs for the Navy during the war. Cecil had become an electrician's helper at Electrical Contracting Ltd. In 1943, only Vera was noted and she was living at 1337 13 Ave. W. By 1944, for some reason, Vera is not included but Lester is a clerk at McColl-Frontenac living at Apt. 11. 908, 17th Ave. W. Apt. 11 was in the basement and the later apartment was on the 3rd floor. By 1945, Vera is back living with Lester in the Devonish Apts. By 1946, Vera had moved out to 232 6th Ave. W. but Lester and family were still at the Devonish. By 1946, Lester had moved to Apt. 3. Vera was ditto. By 1948, only Vera had moved - this time to Apt. 3, 1547 14th Ave. W. By 1949, Lester and Dorothy were noted at the same address as was Vera. By 1950, it was still ditto. Finally by 1951, we had moved to 2013, 26th St. S.W. Vera was ditto.