Honoured by the Nipissing District Women’s Institute.
The Nipissing District Women’s Institute wish to honour Mrs. Gertrude Phillips. She was born Gertrude A. Nelms at Tham, Oxfordshire, England on May 9, 1890.
She started school at the age of three and at 14, was awarded the first scholarship to be awarded to a girl by the County of Oxford. This scholarship entitled her to attend The Girls’ Grammar School at Tham in the mornings from 9-12 and then train as a pupil teacher in the John Hampden School in the afternoons. Three years later, she taught as an assistant teacher until 1908 when she received her First Class Teaching Certificate. She married Wm T. Phillips, formerly of Thame, but then resident in Ottawa, Canada.
She accompanied her husband to Ottawa. Their family now consists of five children, Kenneth, Gertrude, Joan, George and John.
In 1936, Because of health reasons, the family moved to Redbridge, just outside of North Bay and took up farming on a homestead.
In 1939, Mrs. Phillips became associated with the Phelps Women’s Institute. She was a convenor of five different Convenorships and Home Making Club Leader for five years under Home Economist Miss Lilly Petty. She was also Leader or Assistant Leader of many courses under the Leadership Training Program up to and including year 1963. At district level, she chaired six different committees over several years, as well as being Vice- President and then President for the Area. She represented the Sub-division #27, North and South Parry Sound and Nipissing District on The Federal Women’s Institute Board of Directors from 1959 until 1962. As District President, she had nine branches to visit at least once a year. The Branches were Balsam Creek, Trout Mills, Calvin, Rutherglen, Mattawa, Nipissing Junction, Kipling, Thibeault Hill and her own branch at Phelps. It was also her duty to attend the District annual meeting in her sub-division. Her mode of transportation was the bus that ran from Temiscaming to North Bay that arrived in North Bay at 10am and left at 4pm. Friends and members helped with any further driving that was necessary.
She also had to attend Board Director meetings in Toronto at least twice a year while she was a Director. Gertrude Phillips deposited $2000.00 of her own money, which at that time made $100.00 or more interest each year, and the interest was used as a prize for the most points in Women’s Institute projects. The Institute made up the rules. Late interest was so low that the deposit was turned over to the District level. The Gertrude Phillips Award and trophy are still being used as an incentive for W. I. projects.
She was leader of the first group of Canadian Girl Guides in Phelps Township and was appointed District Commissioner in 1960.
Gertrude was active in Canadian Red Cross work and the Canadian Cancer Society, being an ex-of the North Bay Unit.
Of Anglican faith, she attended St. Francis Church in Phelps Township and taught Sunday school and was organist from 1936 until she and her husband moved to Osgood, ON.
Gertrude returned to the North Bay area after her husband’s death. She died February 19, 1985 in her 95th year.