Eirene McClelland was a trailblazer. In addition to her role as farm wife and mother, she made tremendous contributions to her community through her work for the local Protestant school board, St. Andrew’s United Church, and as a writer preserving local history.
In 1941, shortly after Eirene married Trevellyn McClelland, he became secretary treasurer of the local Protestant school board. Stationed behind her Underwood typewriter, Eirene did most of the day-to-day paperwork. She was involved in some major changes to education in Cantley, such as the closing of its one-room schoolhouse, which struggled to find qualified teachers and often did not see students continuing past the seventh grade. Following a series of hurdles, including widening a side road to permit the new school bus to negotiate a tight corner, Cantley students were literally on the road to better education in Hull. Soon, other schools in the region followed suite, and the Western Quebec School Board was created.
School board work was not the only writing Eirene did on her Underwood. She was also the Cantley contributor to the Ottawa Citizen and, an authority on local history, a pillar in her church, and a dedicated church organist for over 30 years, she set out to write a history of St. Andrew’s for its centennial. The scope of the document grew with her research, and she ended up creating the first detailed history of Cantley, St. Andrew’s United Church, and the local Protestant schools.
To view video of Eirene’s life click HERE [PHOTO: COURTESY OF BOB McCLELLAND]