Elspeth Steuart Clark fonds

Title: Elspeth Steuart Clark fonds

Dates of creation: 1940-2000; predominant 1940-1944

Physical description: 0.50 metres of textual and graphic material

Biographical Sketch:

Mrs. Elspeth Steuart Clark was born in Pernambuco (now Recife), Brazil on April 7, 1903 where her father was working as a locomotive engineer.  She was educated in England and traveled across Canada to China where her father was working after World War I.  She returned to England in 1925 to marry Royal Navy Officer, Lt. Commander ‘Win’ Clark from whom she was divorced in 1936.  In 1939, Mrs. Clark “was living in a rented house in Berkamsted with her mother [Mrs. Isabella Tripp] who had been widowed some 10 years previously.” In 1940, she and her two children, Edwin Fripp (E.F.) age 12 and Shirley, age 8, traveled by ship (the Duchess of Bedford) to Montreal and then by train to Toronto as part of a temporary relocation project during World War II.  Under the auspices of the University of Toronto Women’s War Service Committee, a sub-committee was formed to bring children from Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and Birmingham to Canada.  The Committee for British Overseas Children (CBOC) was comprised of volunteers (often wives) from the faculty of the University.  Mrs. Clark and her two children set sail for Canada on July 21, 1940 and arrived in Toronto on July 30.  Through the assistance of the CBOC, the Clarks were billeted first with the Brandon family and then with Prof. Edgar Allcutt of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and family.  They were finally placed in their own apartment at 2 Gormley Avenue in February 1941 where they remained for the duration of their stay in Canada.

Mrs. Clark and her daughter, Shirley, remained in Toronto until May, 1944; her son, Edwin, had returned to England in July 1943. Their return trip to England had been arranged by Lord Davies (1880-1944) whose wife, Henrietta Margaret (“Lady D”) and 4 children had been in Toronto but had returned a few months before. Mrs. Clark died at the age of 97 on July 12, 2000 in Bedford, England.

Scope and content:

This accession comprises the entire fonds of personal letters of Mrs. Elspeth Clark to her mother, Mrs. Isabella Bertram Fripp, dating from embarkation by ship with her two children, Edwin and Shirley, in July 1940 until May, 1944, shortly before their return to England.  The letters written on a weekly basis describe travel conditions aboard ship and overland to Toronto, and details regarding day to day life of herself and her children as guests of the CBOC in Toronto. Details of daily life include living conditions, children’s schooling (Edwin at U.T.S. and Shirley at Bishop Strachan) illnesses and other medical needs, summer camps, and Mrs. Clark’s work with the Red Cross, Hart House, and the War Guest Mothers’ Club, among others.    In addition to the letters from Mrs. Clark are also the occasional enclosed letters of her children, Edwin and Shirley, to their grandmother. Additional notes by her son, E.F. clarify context of some information such as her memoir.   Letter log books (1940-1949) provide dates, to whom sent and summary of contents of each letter.  The log books also include lists, name and addresses and other notes relating to their stay in Toronto.  Also included are photographs documenting Mrs. Clark, her children and other people relating to their stay in Canada.

Finding Aids: Series description

Access: Open

Accession number: B2005-0032

Related Accessions: B1968-0002, B1972-0004