Victoria to Vimy The First World War Collections at the University of Victoria Libraries

Florence Westman

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Florence May Westman, "Floss" to her friends, was in her early 20s when the First World War started.

In 1916 she started putting together a scrapbook of her experience during the war. Her scrapbook offers a unique perspective from the homefront--offering a glimpse into the life of a young, Canadian woman, and providing evidence of how her family and community were impacted by war.

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Florence May Westman [“Floss”] was born on November 11, 1889 in Ottawa, Ontario, where she lived until the end of the First World War. Florence’s father, Thomas was an accountant with the Inland Revenue Department and a veteran of the Northwest Rebellion. Her mother, Florence Augusta [d. 1947] (née Collett), was founder and first President of the Soldier’s Service Club (SSC) in Ottawa, an organization that provided aid and entertainment to soldiers stationed in and near Ottawa. Florence was also actively involved in the SSC, participating in fundraising performances and other service activities documented in her scrapbook.

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Florence had 6 siblings: Winniefred [b. 1887], Thomas Arthur [1892-1912], Gertrude Viola [b. 1895], George Edward [b. 1897], Albert Ernest Robert [“Bob”, b. 1900], and Margaret Kathleen [b. 1911]. Her brother George enlisted in in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (CEF) in April 1916 and served with the Signallers overseas. He was injured by a gas shell explosion while fighting in France. George’s younger brother, Bob, after spending one year at university, joined the newly formed Canadian Air Service in Ontario.

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My Chronicle of the War

Florence Westman compiled this scrapbook during and just after the First World War in Ottawa Ontario. The scrapbook contains: photographs; newspaper clippings; postcards; and items of ephemera, including, theater and concert programs, military forms, and menus. Many items relate to her family's involvement in charitable work. Others represent activities organized for the entertainment of the soldiers, including programs for sporting events, theatre and concert performances, and church services.

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B. C. Hilliam

One soldier mentioned throughout the scrapbook is B. C. Hilliam.
Bentley Collingwood Hilliam [b. 1890], a native of North Vancouver, took his theatre company on a tour throughout Canada to entertain the troops. An Ottawa news article, published in November 1916, describes him as, “official amusement director of the Canadian army.” Evidence of his work is found throughout the scrapbook, including humorous cartoon drawings and programs for several theatrical events that he directed.

Loose item - Wedding portrait of Norman Senior and Florence Westman, without mat

Florence married Charles Norman Senior [October 22, 1891 - June 29, 1978], on July 14, 1917 at her family’s summer home in Britannia Heights, Ottawa. Norman Senior, a journalist prior to the War, enlisted in the CEF on September 30, 1916. Little is known about his service, other than that he worked in publicity for the Military Hospitals Commission at their headquarters in Ottawa. During their marriage, the couple lived for a short time in British Columbia before moving to San Francisco, California, where Norman served as Consul General of Canada. Florence (Westman) Senior died in Ontario in 1978.

To see the entire scrapbook, follow the link below

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