Dr. Edith Mary Manuel, L.L.D.

Dr. Edith Manuel
Miss Manuel was born in Twillingate, Newfoundland in 1902. She was the first of eight children, 5 brothers and 2 sisters. She was born with a congenital hip deformity and the doctors, at the time, said she would not survive and they concentrated on saving her mother’s life. The Anglican Minister, Canon Robert Temple, revived her and saved her life by bathing her in warm water. Due to her hip deformity, she was four years old before she walked and then walked with extreme pain; this pain she suffered all her life.

Until age eight, she was tutored at home and then went to St. Peter’s School until she had completed Grade 10. Her teaching career, of some fifty years, started at age fifteen. She taught at St. Peter’s School, Twillingate, for three years and then moved on to St. John’s, where she took Grade 11 at Bishop Spencer School. After completing Grade 11 she went on to Normal School for Teacher training.

During the next five years she taught in Arnold’s Cove, Botwood and Fogo, after which she returned to St. John’s and taught at Bishop Spencer School for one year.

In 1928, Miss Manuel again concentrated on her own education, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts and then Master of Arts and Science Degree at Columbia University in New York. While at Columbia, she also took special courses in primary education. These courses were taken at the request of the Principal of Bishop Spencer School, who had contacted her at Columbia and asked her to take over the Primary Education Department at the School. After returning to Bishop Spencer College she taught for 30 years. While teaching there she taught all children a special script of writing, a special trademark of Bishop Spencer College.

Miss Manuel was very active in the Girl Guide Movement and set up groups in all areas where she taught in Newfoundland. She joined Guiding in 1925 while attending Summer School at Memorial University. The following year she registered as a Guide Leader in Botwood, keeping this position until 1929, when she founded the first Brownie Pack in Newfoundland at Bishop Spencer School. She was with this Brownie pack until 1951.

She brought her interest, enthusiasm and dedication into the administration of Guiding in Newfoundland as Newfoundland became a province of Canada. She was Honorary Treasurer and then Cookie Convener for years. She was responsible for organizing the first Girl Guide Cookie Day and her excellent work paved the way for the Annual Cookie Day Event.

She was recognized for her contributions in Guiding and was the recipient of the Guiding Medal of Merit and the Beaver – and the Life Membership.

Miss Manuel was forced to retire in 1963 because of her hip problems and she then went to Montreal for five years where she underwent five operations on her hips. She returned from Montreal in 1968 and started teaching at the Virginia Walters School, a school for children with Cerebral Palsy, where she taught for 2 years. She was known as a very stern teacher during her long teaching career, she brought all the love and attention within her to teaching these very special children. One child was noted as saying: “Thank you Miss Manuel, you’ve taught me how to live.”

In 1970 Miss Manuel founded an Auxiliary for the Girls at the Girls Home and Training School; she was President of this organization for five years. She was also instrumental in encouraging volunteer organizations such as the Jaycees to help out at this Home or contribute items to further and encourage the well-being of the girls. She was a very active member of the Zonta Organization which is similar to the Rotary. This Organization is no longer in existence. She was one of the Charter Members of the C.F.U.W. (Canadian Federation of University Women); she held many offices with this Organization. She was also a Charter Member of Early Childhood Development Association where she received many certificates for her continuing interest. She was extremely influential in the decision to build Memorial Stadium and was one of the organizers in raising funds.

Miss Manuel was named, “Citizen of the Year” in St. John’s in 1976 and in 1978 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Memorial University. In 1979 she was the Provincial Patron for International Year of the Child.

She wrote four books in her lifetime, including three Geography’s for use in Newfoundland Schools. The Geography Books were: Our Island Home, Visits to Many Lands, and Our Country – after Confederation this was named – Newfoundland, Our Province.

Her other publication was: A History of St. Peter’s Church in Twillingate. She was also Reading Committee Chairman for the Book – Remarkable Women of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In 1976, she moved back to Twillingate and spent most of her time writing. She was working on a new book when she passed away on March 25, 1984. This book was to be called: The History of Twillingate. Hopefully some day this book will be finished by some member of the Manuel family.

To any task that she set her mind to, she was very faithful, loyal, active and supportive and at any time she went to seek out volunteers for any group or organization, they usually volunteered because they were afraid of disappointing her.

Many of Dr. Edith’s books, awards, and photos are now on display at the Twillingate Museum.