Tuesday 30 January 2024

Eloise A. Skimings (1837 - 1921) – Canadian poet, author, newspaper columnist, musician, music teacher and composer

With thanks to Historian Lizbet Tobin for finding this poet for us 

Born in Goderich, Ontario, Canada on 29th December 1837, Eloise’s parents were James Skimings and his wife, Mary Rielly Mason Skimings. Eloise had two brothers - William and Richard - and one sister, Emma Jane, who died when she was two years old.

Eloise became the Principal of Goderich School and wrote for the local newspaper.  She started writing poetry and songs long before WWI and worked as a columnist for the “Clinton News-Record” newspaper. Described as “one of Goderich’s best-known citizens” and “The Poetess of Lake Huron”, Eloise had a profound influence on future generations of women in South Western Ontario. 

Eloise was still writing in 1918 and the local museum has updated their search options for some of her collected material : https://www.huroncountymuseum.ca/eloise-a-skimings-the-poetess-of-huron-county/?fbclid=IwAR2c3Tjp80jE-wY9mBHeZfYLA3mXT_fVUUIj-yp_qqmnLi7okZKLtjoHViw

Eloise died at House of Refuge in 1921 and is buried at the Maitland Cemetery in Goderich, ON. Her obituary was published in the “Clinton News-Record”.

The archive resource at the Huron County Museum consists of textual records and other material created and accumulated by Eloise A. Skimings during her career as a newspaper correspondent, teacher, poet, and composer in Goderich.  Eloise received a great deal of correspondence and letters, including thank-you letters, letters from her family and friends, news correspondence from her time at the “Clinton News-Record”, and payments for her poetry book. Some of these letters were written by well-known people of the time, from political figures to royalty. A finding aid can be found on the Museum’s website – Huron County Archives | Huron County Museum - for researchers interested in reading more.


I am still trying to find poems by Eloise written about or during the First World War.  In the meantime, here is a poem she wrote and sent to Princess Patricia of Connaught:

Princess Patricia of Connaught (1886 - 1974)

Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth was one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters.  She was born on 17th March 1886 in London.  Her Mother was Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia and her Father was Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.   Princess Patricia was a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York – the future King George V and Queen Mary.

Princess Patricia travelled with her family to Canada in 1911 when her Father was appointed Governor General of Canada.   Her portrait was on the One Dollar note of the Dominion of Canada issued in March 1917.  

When the War broke out, Canada answered the call immediately. Montreal millionaire  Andrew Hamilton Gault – who had served with the Royal Canadian Rifles in South Africa – decided to found a unit of elite troops who had already experienced action. He raised a regiment of light infantry and asked permission to use Princess Patricia’s name.  So Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry came into being and the Princess was their Colonel-in-Chief until her death.  She designed and embroidered a banner for the regiment to carry into battle  Princess Patricia also designed the cap badge and collar badges for the regiment – depicting a single daisy, in honour of Hamilton Gault’s wife, Marguerite.