Jessie Louise Beattie

Jessie Louise Beattie, poet, educator, novelist, dramatist (born at Blair, Ont, 2 Oct 1896; died at Hamilton, Ont, 5 Oct 1985). The youngest of 7 children, Jessie Louise Beattie demonstrated a penchant for writing at an early age: by 15 she had published her first poem in the Galt Reporter newspaper. After graduating from "Tassie Hall," a colloquial name for Galt Collegiate Institute and Vocational School, Beattie worked as a librarian in Kitchener, Hamilton and Buffalo, NY, and completed her post-secondary education at the Universities of Buffalo and TORONTO. In 1928 she returned home to care for her aging parents and received her teaching license from the Government of Ontario. Beattie tutored local students and became involved in a local literary club for young women. In order to raise money to purchase books for the club Beattie wrote a play, The Four Leaf Clover (1934). The Welfare Council of Ontario received word of Beattie's efforts and hired her to teach play production skills in rural communities (1934-1937). Her involvement in education continued: from 1937-1939 Beattie served as house mother at Coronation Cottage at the Ontario Training School for Girls in Galt. During WORLD WAR II Beattie moved to Vancouver and worked as a librarian at the Vancouver Public Library. Following the war she returned to Ontario, settling in Hamilton, where she continued writing and tutoring. By 1967 Beattie had begun to lose her sight, but continued to write by dictating her books onto tape. She died in Hamilton, Ontario, and is buried at Blair Cemetery in her hometown.

Jessie Louise Beattie wrote and achieved success in many genres, including poetry (Blown Leaves, 1929), adventure (The Log-Line: The Adventures of a Great Sailing Captain, 1972) and biography (John Christie Holland, Man of the Year, 1956). During her long career Beattie published 20 books, including novels and poetry collections, and also published 3 plays and 1 operetta. She was unafraid to deal with contentious issues in Canadian society: her novel Strength for the Bridge (1966) examines the experience of JAPANESE CANADIANS during World War II, something she learned of while living in Vancouver during the war. The novel portrays Japanese Canadians with sympathy and Beattie does not hesitate to criticize the Canadian government and its citizens for their parts in the ill treatment of immigrants. Jessie Louise Beattie continues to be of interest to critics for the quality and range of her work.