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International Women’s Day has been honoured around the world for over 100 years.  In 1908 a group of women marched in New York City to demand better pay and shorter working hours.  Ever since it has become a global day of recognition and celebration across the world.   In honour of this day the Museum has chosen to highlight a woman from Strathroy-Caradoc who has made an impact on the community for over 100 years.

Charlotte Rapley was born on Friday September 13th  1901 to Herbert and Mary.  In both local newspapers; The Age and The Dispatch, it incorrectly mentions that a son was born.  Charlotte was born when the world was at the start of a new century.  Below are a few events that happened around the world and in Canada in 1901.

January 22 After reigning for almost 64 years, longer than any other British monarch, Queen Victoria dies at the age of 81. Her eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales becomes King.
April 3 The Dominion Government of Canada has decided to make May 24 a permanent holiday to honour Queen Victoria.  It has been suggested that the King’s birthday and Thanksgiving be a united holiday on  November 9.
July 4 The 1,282 foot (390 m) covered bridge crossing the St. John River at Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada opens. It is the longest covered bridge in the world.
August 30 Hubert Cecil Booth patents an electric vacuum cleaner.
September 6 Leon Czolgosz shoots U.S. President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley dies 8 days later.
October 24 Michigan schoolteacher Annie Taylor goes down Niagara Falls in a barrel and survives.
December 10 The first Nobel Prize ceremony is held in Stockholm on the fifth anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.

Going to School

She attended Maitland Street Public School and Strathroy Collegiate Institute  from 1916-1921.

photograph of high school

Strathroy District High School ca. 1920

 “The official opening [of the High School] was held in February 1914 and the Pubic School pupils were given a half day holiday to attend the ceremonies”  Charlotte Rapley Treading the Cinder Path.

After this she ventured to Toronto to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto (1925) and continued on to New York to complete a course to become a dietician.

Work

Charlotte started her career in New York, working here for 7 years.  In 1933 she came back to her home town and worked with her father at Mason’s Bank and sold fire insurance above Stepler’s Drug Store (now Bossons) at 35 Front St W.  She also worked with her father, Herbert in the banking   With her education and training Charlotte changed careers and started working at the Strathroy General Hospital and became the dietician there from 1943-1956.  With this experience behind her she started working at the high school when they built the first cafeteria in 1956.

Personal Life

Charlotte grew up in a family that was connected to the business life of the town as well as the cultural life.  Charlotte’s father was an established business man and art connoisseur.   Throughout her life Charlotte enjoyed travelling.  She got the travel bug on one of her first trips to Europe at the age of 20 when she toured with Miss Henry and Miss Meekison.  Another memorable trip overseas was to see the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June of 1953.   Charlotte was life-long member of the congregation at the Church of St. John the Evangelist.  From 1933-43 she was church organist and at one time president of the Women’s Auxiliary.  Charlotte passed away at the age of 106 on Feb. 18 2008.

photograph of Charlotte Rapley

Old Boys and Girls Reunion 1919   – Charlotte is located in the back of the car

Charlotte donated a number of pieces to the Museum over the years including household items, Lyceum items and photographs.  To see some of the items donated by Charlotte visit the current exhibit Showtime! Entertainment in Strathroy-Caradoc.  Museum Strathroy Caradoc was honoured in received a bequest from the estate of Charlotte Rapley in 2008 and with this generous donation the museum has made improvements to the permanent exhibit space and has named it the Charlotte Rapley Gallery.

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Information retrieved from  

Charlotte Rapley – Famous and Successful SDCI Students and Graduates Vol. 1 by Joyce Sifton / Birth announcement The Strathroy Age Newspaper Sept. 19 1901 /  Charlotte Rapley Marks 100th The Strathroy Age Dispatch Sept. 19 2001 and  Feb. 27 2008  / Treading the Cinder Path by Charlotte Rapley

About the Museum

Museum Strathroy-Caradoc opened to the public in 1972. As a community museum we strive to preserve and tell the story of Strathroy-Caradoc, and inspire residents to explore and understand the community around them.

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