A woman’s diary - her personal and private record - reflects her stage in life and position in society. These women had the time, motivation and education to keep a diary. They were part of the upper or middle classes and sometimes recorded their own interactions with working class women.

These diaries come from the collections of the Archives of Ontario. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are shown as written in the diaries.

Martha Hastie




Martha Hastie’s self-portraits and first diary entry for 1881 (Detail)

“Marty”, the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister, started her diary at the age of thirteen. She wrote about her life in Lindsay from 1881 to 1883 and then in Cornwall. She made the last entry in her diary in 1886 at the age of eighteen.

Martha Hastie’s self-portraits and first diary entry for 1881.

Martha Hastie’s self-portraits and first diary entry for 1881
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Martha Hastie’s self-portraits and first diary entry for 1881
William Mack family fonds
Reference Code: F 40 Series C, MU 3300
Archives of Ontario

Beatrice


K. Beatrice Edgar's Signature
K. Beatrice Edgar's Signature
James Edgar family fonds
Reference Code: F 65
Archives of Ontario

Beatrice, whose father (Sir James Edgar) was a Member of Parliament, kept a journal of the many social events and informal activities she enjoyed when her family lived in Ottawa during the second session of parliament from January to June in 1898.

Beatrice Edgar and her diary, 1890.

Photo: Detail from a photograph of Beatrice with Lady Edgar and Marjorie Edgar, [ca. 1880]
Detail from a photograph of Beatrice with
Lady Edgar and Marjorie Edgar, [ca. 1880]
James Edgar family fonds
Reference Code" F 65
Archives of Ontario, I0028039


Cover: Beatrice Edgar's Diary, Jan 1898 Ottawa, Second Session
Beatrice Edgar's Diary,
Jan 1898 Ottawa, Second Session
James Edgar family fonds
Reference Code: F 65
Arch vies of Ontario

Phoebe Holden Gregg


Phoebe’s journal spans several stages of her life - from her marriage at age eighteen to the Reverend William Gregg in 1849 to her last entry at age 62 in 1893. The Greggs lived first in Belleville and then Toronto.

Phoebe Gregg and her first diary entry, with wedding announcement, 1849.

Photo: Pheobe Gregg, [ca. 1850’s]
Phoebe Gregg, [ca. 1850’s]
Gregg family fonds
Reference Code: F 712, MU 1157
Archives of Ontario, I0028074

Page from Pheobe Gregg's Diary, 1849
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Page from Phoebe Gregg's Diary, 1849
Gregg family fonds
Reference Code: F 712, MU 1158
Archives of Ontario

Bessie Gregg Stewart


Phoebe’s daughter Bessie also began her diary on the day of her marriage. She wrote her diary in Clinton, from August to December 1880 at the age of thirty. We learn more about Bessie’s life from her mother’s diary than from her own.

Bessie Stewart and her first diary entry, with wedding announcement, 1880.


Wedding Annoucement in Diary, Detail



To hear an audio clip from one of the diaries, click on one of the following audio files:
wav format (1.6MB) | aif format (1.6MB) | mp3 format (1.2MB).


Bessie Stewart's First Diary Entry, 1880
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Bessie Stewart's First Diary Entry, 1880
Gregg family fonds,
Reference Code: F 712, MU 1158
Archives of Ontario

Detail from photo of Bessie Gregg Mission School class, [between 1875 and 1885]
Detail from photo of Bessie Gregg
Mission School class, [between 1875 and 1885]
J. Bruce & Co. Photographers
Gregg family fonds
Reference Code: F 712, MU 1157
Archives of Ontario, I0028071

Frances Tweedie Milne


Frances Tweedie wrote her first diary when she was eighteen and living on her mother’s farm in Whitby. She lived on her husband’s farm in Scarborough from 1869 until her death at age 44: she wrote her last diary at the age of 34 in 1882.

“Perhaps I may some day find it a great pleasure to read over my old Diary.”
Tweedie, January 23, 1866

Frances Tweedie and her first diary, with inscription, 1866.

Click to see a larger image (84K)
Detail from a photo of Frances
Milne with her mother and sisters, 1871
Scarborough Historical Society,
Historical Notes, Vol. III, No. 1, Feb. 1979

The Canadian Pocket Diary, 1866
Click to see a larger image (294K)

The Canadian Pocket Diary, 1866
Frances Milne fonds
Reference Code: F 763, MU 866
Archives of Ontario
Photo: Open Diary
Open Diary