Beulah Fanny Westwood

Beulah was born on October 30, 1888 in East Wellington, BC, a coal-mining town near Nanaimo. Her father Coral Novello Westwood was by turns a farmer, weighman, carpenter, warfinger in Victoria, storekeeper and book-keeper for Wellington Collieries. He was born in California, and his family immigrated to British Columbia in 1860. Beulah’s mother, Beulah Alvena Butler, was born in Maine. She married Coral in Berkeley, California. Beulah was the elder of their two surviving children. In 1906 Beulah completed the requirements for matriculation into McGill — presumably the university college established in British Columbia for distance education. By 1909 Beulah was a schoolteacher living in Extension, a coal mining town southwest of Nanaimo, with her parents. When George Jay school was established in Victoria in 1910, Beulah was one of the founding teachers, and her class became the Junior Fourth division. She lived with her parents near the school, first on Cook Street, then on Princess Avenue. When the war broke out, Beulah’s brother Charles volunteered with the Canadian Dental Corps. Beulah wanted to go overseas as a nurse, the Colonist recounted, “but her duties as a teacher overruled her private desires.” She was a true patriot. “When the call for berry pickers came in the Summer months she was one of the city’s contingent which went to Hadzic [Pitt Meadows] to aid in saving the crops.” When Victoria’s schools closed on October 8, 1918, a call soon went out for volunteer nurses, and Beulah Westwood “was one of the first to respond.” She was assigned to provide care for a family of four, all stricken with influenza, in the Gorge district. She became run down from the rigors of the work, contracted the virus herself and on November 8 succumbed to pneumonia. The Board of School Trustees mourned the “great loss that her death has occasioned to the cause of education in this city.” The tribute of Edward B. Paul, Victoria inspector of schools, included high praise for care-giving women in the world-wide war with the virus:

Too much credit cannot be given to those splendid women who, without compulsion other than that of their own sympathetic hearts, placed themselves in the front line of battle against such a dangerous foe as influenza proved to be. Miss Beulah Westwood, of the George Jay School, who succumbed to the disease, may be said to have “died in action.” I had the privilege of knowing her from her childhood, and, in common with her other numerous friends, I mourn for her as a conscientious and successful teacher, a loyal friend, and a true Christian woman.

The 48th Annual Report of the Public Schools of British Columbia, 1918-1919. Victoria Schools. Signed Edward B. Paul, municipal Inspector of Schools, p. A40

Beulah Westwood is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Block Q, Row 86, west side of Plot V. Her parents reside in the same ground.