As October is Canadian Women’s History month, I thought it would be interesting to write about a woman born & schooled in the Carleton Place area, who went ahead to make a significant contribution to the world.
Margaret Verne McNeely was such person. Born in Beckwith Township, Lanark County on 13 August 1885, she was the daughter of James McNeely (1860-1948) and Margaret Jane Duff (1863-1930). After completing her education at local schools in Beckwith and Carleton Place, she attended and graduated from University College at the University of Toronto in 1908. In 1909 she became a missionary of The Presbyterian Church in Canada to China.
According to Ontario’s Archival Information Network, “from 1909 to 1914, supported by the Women’s Missionary Society, Verne assisted Rev. Donald MacGillivray of the North Honan Mission with compiling and editing the China Mission Year Book published by the Christian Literature Society. From 1914 to 1917, Verne worked with the China Continuation Committee which developed into the National Christian Council of China. In 1917 Verne accepted an invitation to work in a bookstore in Shanghai that specialized in the sale of English and Chinese books. This bookstore eventually became the Kwang Hsueh Publishing House which had, by 1943, about one-third of its business in Chinese textbooks sponsored by the Nurses’ Association of China. In 1923 Verne became the manager of the bookstore until the onset of the Second World War during which she spent two and a half years in a Japanese interment centre. After the war she made her way to Nanking to assist the Secretary of the Nurses’ Association of China but returned to Canada in 1950, and made her home in Toronto, Ontario.”
Margaret Verne McNeely passed away on 28 Dec 1975 in Newmarket, Ontario, at the age of 90.