One hundred years ago, the Montreal Gazette was full of news from World War I. As Canadian troops fought through heavy rain and fog while battling Germans in the trenches in France, a sixteen year old named Beatrice arrived at Stanstead College boarding school in southern Quebec.
A little over a week after she arrived at Stanstead, Beatrice started a diary, "recounting the daily occurences of her first year at Boarding College." She started writing on November 22, 1915 and went far beyond that first year at boarding school. In impeccable handwriting and grammar, she continued writing in her diaries at varying frequency until October 26, 1925.
The diaries sometimes recount rather bland details of a school day, but are sometimes full of parties, dates, and teenage crushes. There are moments of wondering about her future and times when she struggles with her mental health. There are glimpses into the personal impact of major historical developments like World War I, the introduction of the first automobiles in the Montreal area, and spread of deadly diseases.
Beatrice was an incredibly accomplished woman. I came across her diaries in a box of papers and photographs that she left behind when she passed away. I may at some point reveal her identity and more about her life after school, but for now she'll just be Bea.
Starting on November 22, 2015, I'll be transcribing and live tweeting her diary from 100 years ago @CenturyBea. I hope you'll follow along.