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Davidson, True

Main entryDavidson, True
Birth placeHudson, Quebec
Birth date19 April 1901
Death placeToronto, Ontario
Death date18 September 1978
Identifier0018
Birth nameJean Gertrude Davidson
Marital statussingle
Religious affiliationMethodist
Degree and dateBA, University of Toronto (1921); MA, University of Toronto (1925); Doctorate of Sacred Letters (honorary), Victoria College (1971); PhD (honorary), York University (1978)
Paid workteacher (school); mayor; editor; book representative
Other workschool board member
BiographyRaised in a Methodist household, Jean Gertrude (or 'True") Davidson (1901-1978), lent her talent and intellect to public service throughout her varied career. As a child, she travelled frequently to different provinces, while her father, John Wilson Davidson (1870-1940), ministered to different parishes. His ancestors had been United Empire Loyalists, and True occasionally credited them for her immediate family's stern work ethic. True began writing poetry at a young age, completed schooling at South Vancouver High School and Regina Collegiate Institute, and pursued her love of English literature at the University of Toronto, earning a BA (1921) and an MA (1925). During this time, she was involved in leadership with Canadian Girls In Training (CGIT) and paid for her tuition by teaching English at the Brandon Collegiate Institute in Manitoba. Perhaps because of financial restrictions or on account of needing to care for her parents, she turned down the opportunity to enrol in further post-graduate coursework and instead took a position teaching at Havergal Ladies' Academy until 1926 when she began to work as a writer, editor, and the first female publishing saleswomen in Canada for the textbook publisher, J.M. Dent. In the 1930s she took on privately contracted work for William Perkins Bull, collecting Canadian works for a wedding gift to present to Bull's son. He then hired her to direct his personnel on endeavours to produce histories of Peel County. She published her only book of poetry, MUSES OF THE MODERN DAY (1931), while working as a teacher in the public schools of five provinces and for Dent. Following the deaths of her parents and only sister in the 1940s, she entered civic politics. In 1947 she was elected to the school board of East York where she remained undefeated for a decade. Her constituents sufficiently admired her dedication, outspoken honesty and educational expertise to elect her reeve and then mayor of East York for a further 11 years. Davidson retired from municipal politics in 1971 to run provincially as a Liberal, although earlier she had been a CCF supporter. Defeated, she returned to doctoral studies at York University and turned again to writing, contributing a column twice a week to the TORONTO SUN. The Order of Canada awarded to her in 1973, the Queen's Jubilee medal she received in 1979 and the Honorary LLD conferred on her shortly before her death were tributes to her contributions as an educator and active citizen. True died of cancer in 1978, and was buried with her family at Union Cemetery near St. Thomas, Ontario.
TravelGermany, Yugoslavia, Australia, New Zealand, 1970s
Honours and awardsAward for "Muses of the Modern Day," Canadian Women's Club Poetry Competition Award (1931); Order of Canada (1973); Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal (1977)
ResidencesHudson, Quebec (1901-); St. Lambert, Quebec (c1902); Montreal, Quebec (c1902); Ormstown, Quebec (1904-1905); Waterloo, Quebec (1905-1909); Delta, Ontario (1909-1910); Kelowna, British Columbia (1911); Vancouver, British Columbia (1913-1915); Regina, Saskatchewan (1915-1922); Toronto, Ontario (1926-1978)
Geographic regionsOntario
Primary genrespoetry; drama; fiction (juvenile); non-fiction
BooksCANADA IN STORY AND SONG, A PAGEANT (1927); MUSES OF THE MODERN DAY AND OTHER DAYS (1931); KING GOLD'S PARTY: THE COMPETITION OF THE MEDALS (1932); BILLY BEAVER AND MIKE MUSKRAT (1932); THE BRAMPTON STORY (1953); THE GOLDEN STRINGS (1973); THE GOLDEN YEARS OF EAST YORK (1976); LA CLAIRE FONTAINE (n.d.)
PeriodicalsCANADIAN FORUM; CHATELAINE; NEW OUTLOOK; TORONTO STAR; TORONTO SUN
Father's nameJohn Wilson Davidson
Life dates of father29 April 1870, Union, Ontario - 10 July 1940, Streetsville, Ontario; m. 1900
Father's noteclergyman, Methodist; died of complications in streetcar accident
Mother's nameMary Elfleda Pomeroy
Life dates of mother17 July 1872, Ontario - c1947; m. 1900
Mother's noteDaughter of Methodist minister; amateur painter and musician; involved in establishing Y.W.C.A.
Biographical referencesDarke, CALL ME TRUE: A BIOGRAPHY OF TRUE DAVIDSON (1997); 1911 Census of Canada; Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), pp. 55, 431; National Library of Canada
Research referencescomplete
Archival referencesmanuscripts, political files, correspondence, True Davidson Fonds, FO302, York University Archives
Image creditsImage courtesy of York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, True Davison fonds, ASC07678.
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/. Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.