Diaries of Ethel Ellen Conybeare, 1890-1963

Scanned Diary, Volume 1
Scanned Diary, Volume 2

My grandmother was an accomplished woman: a scholar, a champion badminton player, a nurse in World War One, mother of two.

She was the daughter of Charles Frederick Pringle Conybeare, a businessman of some note, supporter of the Anglican Church and pillar of the Lethbridge community, the town's first lawyer. (Indeed, the second lawyer in all Alberta, James Lougheed being the first.)

Great-grandfather did pretty well for himself, which was probably easier at the time, as the settlers occupied the suddenly-emptied western lands, building and starting companies. He was involved in the start of a number of them, had a huge house for the time, sent his two daughters to the best schools out East.

His now-cringeworthy poetry has been scanned, the books that made my brothers and I crack up are on the net, linked from his wikipedia page. I'll say no more about it, except to beg you not to read. Let's just say he thought the British Empire was the greatest thing ever, and what it did to all its colonies, was to bring light into darkness.

Her diaries start, her aged nineteen, going on her "polishing" tour of Europe, where she is clearly already something of a scholar of European arts and letters, as a proper Victorian lady of means should be.

At this point, I've just finished volume 1, linked below, and they've just reached England for a lot of visiting with relatives nobody in Canada has heard from since. As I scan the remaining 8 volumes, we'll go on through a return to Canada and Havergal, then off to WW1, meeting my grandfather.

I snuck a peek at the end of Volume 9, where she says she'd better finish the story, having not done her diary in ages: because of my father's birth. But that's all ten years away.

One of the few colour pictures I have of her, probably 1960-ish, age 70.

I'll have to scan a few from earlier years; for now, I've inset the picture I took of her WW1 medal, which everybody got, who showed up.