A Surplus Woman?

After having been at the agricultural college, Studley, Warwickshire, M.B. went out to Canada in 1913 and worked with “Princess Patricia Ranch,” Vernon, British Columbia, a farm settlement for educated women. (Colonial Intelligence League, 36 Tavistock Place, London, W.C.)  Here she remained nearly a year.

In the summer of 1914 she became “Home Help” to an old couple, Mr and Mrs Middleton, Midmar Ranch, Vernon.

In July she wrote home:

“I am just as happy as I can possible be.  I keep the house clean, do washing up and washing clothes.  ‘Ma’ cooks, and I do heaps of outside work.  It’s just lovely, I’ve had all the cows to myself in the evenings during hay-time, ten to milk: and I feed the calves, pick and pack fruit, and take to Vernon.  Have a lovely little horse to ride.  ‘Mr’ has given me a beautiful riding skirt (cowgirl’s), shirt, hat, gloves to match.  I get up 3.30 but we alter our clocks and call it 5.30 so it isn’t so very early.”

She often rode into Vernon, seven miles in hobnail boots straight from the milking, to early communion service, tying her horse outside.                                                                                                               

In August of 1914 she wrote:

“A trip to the Rockies with the Stantons!  We camped there in a tent for a week, and I did a climb with a guide, a real good rock climb, but quite different from the Moine. (Mt Blanc range) – jagged crumbling stuff that gave way in your hands – the tops like knife edges right along – just foot room and then sheer down on either side.

“He said Mount White was a ‘nice little rock climb’, and the hardest I could get him to suggest.  Went nine miles the night before, slept at hotel, did it next morning, and walked back to our camp in the evening.  I enjoyed it very much…

“I have become an enthusiastic fisherman…

“The only blow is being away here with the war on.”

She suddenly turned up at home (St. Mary Stoke Ipswich) one Sunday night, very happy, with a few pence in her pocket, having crossed the Atlantic in the steerage.

Here she had a strange experience – a tussle with a man who was beating his wife.  Margery was passing with a pail of water, with which she was scrubbing or cleaning up (such exercise being an antidote for sea sickness) when she saw this man thus engaged.  She threw the water over him.  He turned upon her.  They formed a ring and there was a stand up fight, in which Margery was victorious.