Dec 142014

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Viola Daly Fonds and Photos Description



Viola Daly Photographs

Indian Residential School Collection Photographs

Indian Residential Schools

Title: Viola Daly fonds

Dates: 1932 – 1941

Extent: 1 folder of textual records, photographs and other materials

Repository: The United Church of Canada Archives Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Conference and All Native Circle Conference

Retrieval Information:  78-11; 01-13

Historic Note
Viola Daly graduated in 1924 from University of Manitoba.  Ten years later, after a year at the United Church Training School she began a 33 year career working with First Nations people.  UCArchivesWpg daly 01

Viola Daly graduated in 1924 from University of Manitoba. Ten years later, after a year at the United Church Training School she began a 33 year career working with First Nations people. UCArchivesWpg daly 01

Viola Maud Daly was born November 9, 1901, probably in Rat Portage (now Kenora), Ontario. Her father, George Daly was a train engineer who was stationed there. He, as well as Rachael, her mother, immigrated from Enniskillen, Ireland to Winnipeg, where they met. They had 9 children; 7 girls and 2 boys. Vi was the youngest. Sometime before 1911, the family returned to Winnipeg and bought at house at 35 Alloway Avenue, in the Wolseley area, which remained the family home for more than 50 years.

Vi attended Gordon Bell high school and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba in 1924, the only member of her family to have a post secondary education. After graduation she was active as a volunteer in the newly formed United Church, particular with McLean Mission, in an inner city neighbourhood in Winnipeg.  She helped with Girls’ work and leadership at Fresh Air Camps. Vi’s parents had arrived in Canada as Anglicans but converted to Methodism. The family was very active at Young Methodist/United Church.

Vi’s professional activities are not precisely known prior to her 1931 departure for the United Church Training School, in Toronto, but she taught as a substitute and perhaps full time. She completed the one year “General Course of Biblical Study prescribed for students of The United Church Training School” and graduated May 3, 1932. Women who had a degree were only required to take one year at UCTS, rather than the standard two years. Following the customary year of probation as a Deaconess Candidate she was designated as a United Church Deaconess by Montreal and Ottawa Conference on June 7, 1933.

After graduation, Viola was appointed by the United Church Board of Home Mission as a teacher at Caughnawaga (now called Kahnawake) Indian Day School, near Montreal, in Quebec, where she taught grades 1 and 2 until 1937. She returned to the school in 1943 and taught for 7 more years. The day school was financed by the Federal Department of Indian Affairs: in 1936 she was paid $900. At least one summer (1934) she returned to Winnipeg and was a Fresh Air Camp volunteer.

Caughnawaga was not a residential school, and Viola boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Napoleon Johnson. Photographs in the collection are of Vi wearing Mrs. Johnson’s “Indian” regalia.

In between her years at Caughnawaga, she taught Elementary at the Indian Residential School in Brandon, Manitoba, again in a Board of Home Mission appointment. In 1950, Vi left Montreal for the far west coast and an appointment as a Missionary/Teacher on the Skidegate Indian Reserve on the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii). Again, she was employed by the Federal Government, with a full time job teaching, but expected by the United Church to assume leadership in the Skidegate Mission. Her responsibilities included Girls’ work (C.G.I.T), church school and summer camp. Vi’s final appointment was to the Indian Day School in Port Simpson, British Columbia (now called Lax-Kw’alaams).

Viola retired in 1966 and returned to Winnipeg. She moved in with two sisters still at 35 Alloway. Characteristic of her organizational abilities she helped her older sisters to get health care they needed and worked with them to move them into suitable housing and the home was sold. Viola moved into an apartment on Cornish Avenue.

She again became active in the Winnipeg community, attending Young United Church and developed a social circle, particularly through her involvement with the University Women’s Club, an organization she had been active in for some time.

Viola died July 2, 1973. After suffering a stroke, she was in a coma for a few weeks before she died. She is buried at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

A longer biography is available, and can be found online at

Scope and Content

The surviving records of Viola Daly are: University of Manitoba, Bachelor of Arts Diploma, 1924; United Church Training School graduation diploma, May 3, 1932; Bible presented by InterBoard Committee on Women Workers of United Church of Canada on occasion of her dedication as a Deaconess, June 7, 1933; Deaconess Ribbon (date unknown); Epsworth League Associate Membership Card, no date; Apology to Women Denied Access to Ministry Because they Married, Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, May 24, 2014; Viola Daly 1901-1973, a biography written by Caryn Douglas (2014) for Deaconess History Project; 6 black and white photographs (one hand coloured).

All the photos have been digitized and can be seen here. An item description is in the Fonds Description.

Custodial History

The collection was donated to the Archives in 2014 by Margaret (Daly) Bellhouse, Winnipeg, Viola’s neice and Pat (Bellhouse) Russell, Winnipeg, Viola’s grand-neice.

Related Materials in this Repository

A black and white photograph of Viola Daly at Brandon Indian Residential School is in the Indian Residential School Collection (coulter_021).  Viola, along with her sister Hazel, are in a photo of McLean Mission Sunday School Teachers 1924-1925 (maclean 001_OS).

Language: The records are in English, except for the Baccalaureate diploma which is in Latin.

Restriction on Access: No restrictions apply.        

Accruals: No further accruals are expected.

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