Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.
Donalda James Armstrong Dickie

Donalda James Armstrong Dickie

Female 1883 - 1972  (89 years)

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  • Name Donalda James Armstrong Dickie 
    Born 6 Oct 1883  Puslinch Twp., Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Gender Female 
    Interesting life story, education, honoured 
    Residence 1891  South Dumfries Twp., Brant Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Eby ID Number Waterloo-200229 
    Died 15 Dec 1972  Coquitlam, , British Columbia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 4
    Buried New Hope Cemetery, Hespeler (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Person ID I200229  Generations
    Last Modified 26 Jun 2024 

    Father William Stewart Dickie,   b. 1858,   d. 1889  (Age 31 years) 
    Mother Hannah Frances Shepherd Hall,   b. 1860,   d. 13 May 1887, Hespeler (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 27 years) 
    Family ID F56042  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Donalda Dickie
    Donalda Dickie
    Pages - Donalda Dickie . (2018). Teachers.ab.ca. Retrieved 3 July 2018, from https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20Magazine/Volume-93/Number-2/Pages/Donalda-Dickie.aspx

  • Notes 
    • Educator Donalda Dickie (1883-1972) was born in Hespeler, Ontario. After the death of their mother in 1887, Donalda and her two younger brothers were cared for by their paternal grandmother and great-grandmother in South Dumfries, Brant, Ontario. During this time, Donalda often assisted with child care and household tasks in neighbours' homes. She completed elementary schooling in Souris, Manitoba, finished high school in Moose Jaw, went to Normal School in Regina, and taught for two years in Westview, Saskatchewan. She finally returned to Ontario to complete her senior matriculation at Galt Collegiate, thereafter entering Queen's University as an "extramural" student (distance education) in 1906. Although she had been pursuing a baccalaureate degree, Donalda was awarded an MA in Humanities from Queen's in 1910 because of her academic excellence. Throughout her life she held teaching positions at a number of institutions, including the Practice School affiliated with the Calgary Normal School, the Provincial Normal School in Camrose, Alberta, Edmonton Normal School, and Calgary Normal School. During this time, she also enrolled in post-graduate courses at Columbia and in 1916 began a B.Litt program at Somerville College, Oxford, even though women could not supplicate for degrees there until 1920. With a brother killed at Vimy Ridge and a fiancĂ© failing to recover in Winnipeg from being gassed at the front lines, Donalda left Oxford and returned to her post at Camrose in 1917. Her continued studies at Somerville in 1921 once again met hindrance when her supervisor died. She again taught until the 1926-27 school year, when she finally transferred her studies to the University of Toronto, successfully defending her thesis and earning a PhD in History in 1929. This institution also awarded her an honorary LLD in 1952. She often taught summer school at various institutions, including Queen's University in 1944. An advocate of child-centred progressive education, she pioneered the enterprise method of teaching. She published many textbooks and from 1937 edited THE CHILDREN'S MAGAZINE. Also supportive of gender equality and multiculturalism, her works often sought to demonstrate the importance of both men and women's roles within a community, and to challenge racist stereotypes, especially those concerning Canada's Aboriginal peoples. During the Second World War, the government recruited her to compile remedial readings for soldiers. Her history of Canada, THE GREAT ADVENTURE (1950), won the Governor General's Award for juvenile literature. After a long career as a leading educator in Alberta, Dr. Dickie retired in 1944 and eventually settled in Vancouver. At the time of her death in 1972, a history of the Commonwealth nations remained unfinished.

      Dickie, Donalda James. (2018). SFU Digitized Collections. Retrieved 3 July 2018, from https://digital.lib.sfu.ca/ceww-617/dickie-donalda-james


      When the Alberta Teachers' Association awarded an honorary membership to Donalda Dickie in 1961, it recognized an extraordinary woman's 60 years of service to education. Dickie had earlier won the Governor General's Award for juvenile literature (1950) and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto (1952).

      Dickie claimed to be "just a teacher," but she was an influential educator. The intersection of her life with Alberta's early days reminds us how important teachers and public education are in building strong, socially conscious societies.

      Born in Ontario in 1883 and orphaned early, Dickie migrated west with her grandmother, to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In 1901, she attended the Regina Normal School, with H. C. Newland, who also had an illustrious career as ATA president (1920\endash 22), as the first editor of the ATA Magazine and as a leader in educational reform in Alberta. Newland. Dickie taught in a rural school for two years and then attended Queen's University (with William Aberhart, who became Alberta's premier in 1935). She won gold medals in history and English, and in 1910 was granted the advanced MA.

      Someone in Alberta recognized Dickie's talents, and she was recruited to work in the Calgary Normal School. In 1912, she helped set up the Camrose Normal School, and over the next 30 years she taught in each of Alberta's normal schools, preparing elementary school teachers in various subjects. She was respected by her students and extolled for her sense of humour. A poem in the 1924/25 Calgary Normal School yearbook talks about Dickie as a strict teacher but goes on to say:

      Who calls us all children dear?
      Whose voice is it we love to hear?
      To us it seems, ah, very clear.
      Miss D.

      After continuing her education at Columbia University and the University of Oxford, Dickie earned a PhD in history from the University of Toronto in 1930. This made her one of Canada's best-educated normal school instructors.

      Dickie was also a textbook author. While teaching, she realized that the history texts used in schools were "literally incomprehensible" for young readers. She produced eight student-friendly readers for elementary schools. Soon, she was writing textbooks in various subjects, producing more than 60 over her lifetime.

      Textbooks shape what teachers teach and what students learn. The popularity of Dickie's books gave her interpretation of the world a special legitimacy. She encouraged tolerance through her appreciation of diversity, multiculturalism and the strengths of Canada's Aboriginal population. She promoted community values and argued that a nation should look after its weak and poor. Through her writing for children, Dickie helped form the Canadian identity.

      In the 1930s, Dickie established Alberta as a leader in child-centred, activity-oriented education. She wrote a teacher education textbook, and as D. J. Oviatt (a Department of Education colleague) observed, she "did more than any other single person to make the implementation of the activity movement in Alberta education a reality."

      This glimpse into the life of Donalda Dickie does not do justice to her contributions, which also included developing readers featuring Aboriginal children as protagonists (an early example of inclusive curriculum materials), editing a children's magazine and writing delightful children's fiction. Dickie's leadership in education in Alberta made her an exemplar. She deserves to be remembered.

      This is an abridged version of an article by Rebecca Priegert Coulter that originally appeared in the ATA Magazine 86: 2 (2005). Her article "Getting Things Done: Donalda Dickie and Leadership Through Practice" appeared in the Canadian Journal of Education 29 (2006).

      Pages - Donalda Dickie . (2018). Teachers.ab.ca. Retrieved 3 July 2018, from https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20Magazine/Volume-93/Number-2/Pages/Donalda-Dickie.aspx

  • Sources 
    1. [S237] Cemetery - ON, Waterloo, Cambridge - New Hope CC#4498 Internet Link .
      West: James Dickie/ Died Apr. 5, 1867/ Aged 43 Years/ Elizabeth Stewart/ His Wife/ Died Aug. 1, 1915/ Aged 81 Years

      North: Donalda J. A. Dickie/ 1883-1972

      East: Wm. Stewart Dickie/ 1858-1889/ His Wife/ Hannah Shepherd/ Hall/ 1860-1887/ T. A. Hall Dickie/ Their Son/ Killed In Action/ At Vimy Ridge/ Apr. 9, 1917/ Aged 30 Years/ Dickie

      South: D. Ormiston S. Dickie/ 1884-1981/ Myra Aretta Orr/ His Wife/ 1891-1978

    2. [S655] z Vit - ON - Birth Registration.
      Donalo James Armstrong Dickie b. 19 Oct 1883 d/o Williaim S. Dickie, farmer & Hannah Hall Lot 1 Concession Puslinch

    3. [S2431] Census - Canada - 1891, Dumfries South, Brant North, Ontario; Roll: T-6325; Family No: 73.
      Hannah Stewart, 81 b. Scotland
      Elizabeth Dickie 56 b. Ontario
      John Stewart 39 b. Ontario
      Jessie Dickie 14 b. Ontario
      Donalda Dickie 7 b. Ontario
      Ormiston Dickie 6 b. Ontario
      Hall Dickie 4 b. Ontario

    4. [S2629] British Columbia Death Index: 1872 to 1990.
      Donalda James Dickie
      Birth Yearabt 1884
      Death Age88
      Death Date15 Dec 1972
      Death LocationCoquitlam
      Registration Number1972-09-017728
      BCA NumberB13321
      GSU Number2050017

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 6 Oct 1883 - Puslinch Twp., Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1891 - South Dumfries Twp., Brant Co., Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 15 Dec 1972 - Coquitlam, , British Columbia, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - New Hope Cemetery, Hespeler (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth