My paternal Grandmother, Janet Moffat, was a most remarkable lady! She came from a modest family of Scottish heritage who were farmers almost exclusively.
It was a large family, of which she was the second eldest. Her older brother had left for the West and served for a short while with the NWMP; after which he became a “roving preacher”. It was he who suggested the family move from the Goderich area of Ontario to find new land in the West. They moved in 1969, reaching Assinaboia District in 1870.
Janet Moffat had relatively little formal education – about the equivalent of today’s Grade 4 or 5 – yet she had the mind of a University graduate!
And she wrote the most marvelous poetry — the subjects of which were almost exclusively “nature” — flowers, birds, church, children, grain fields, and animals.
She had a remarkable business mind — something extremely rare in women of that and previous periods. It became important when my Grandfather dies in 1934 and again later during the War. In modern terms one would say she had a mind “like a bear trap”; she knew her accounts to the cent and expenses as well. No banker could pull the wool over her eyes!
She and my Grandfather Moffat had the perfect marriage – what an example they set for me! When Gramps died Gran was convinced she could not live moree than a few months. With a good Scottish outlook she was determined to see to the needs of the family in those Depression year – so she took out an enormous Life Insurance Policy. She was determined to outsmart the Insurance Company! In the end she lived a further 15 years – all the while paying more in premiums than the Policy was worth!
She, like others for generation before her, relied on oral history – be it family history or Canadian history. She instilled in me a love for history and a strong sympathy for our Native peoples.
Eleanor Jane Wyatt
My Maternal Grandmother, Eleanor Janet Wyatt, was the other side of the coin! She had come from a very high social family in England and was very we’ll educated. She drilled me with classical history – primarily English and predominantly with family connections. By the age of four I knew every King of England and their dates! She also instilled in me a love of history, but on a broader scale.
She and my Grandfather Wyatt, who I greatly adored, showed me that not all marriages were perfect, but that they were a life-long commitment.
These two women had a profound affect on my life. They had one thing in common: they taught me the importance of considering others. Both were far more concerned with those who served below them than they were in attending those superior to them!
I have long since seen that fact as the foundation of sound and effective leadership!
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