Harriet A. Roche

Harriet A. Roche

Harriet A. Roche (nee Mills, later Boomer) (1835 — 1921) was a Canadian author.


Miss Harriet Mills, while not Canadian born, can be considered a Canadian woman author. She emigrated to Canada in 1851, with her mother (Mrs. Mills) and her older sister Mary Louisa (Miss Mills).

Mrs. Mills and her two daughters came from England to the Red River colony to take over a girls' school. They had to travel by sea, river and portage, by way of Hudson Bay, to reach the settlement. Miss Mills, who came alone a little later than her mother and younger sister, traveled from York Factory under the care of Mr. Thos. Sinclair.

A new building was erected for the school and it was given the name of St. Cross. Mrs. Mills is said to have been very thorough in her instruction and management. The young ladies were trained in all the social etiquette of the day in addition to the more solid education imparted. Miss Mills (the elder daughter) assisted her mother with the music and modern languages. Miss Harriet Mills (the younger daughter) was more of a companion to the girls, and accompanied them on walks, in winter on the frozen river, in summer towards the plain.

In 4 March 1856 Mary Louisa Mills (the elder daughter) was married to Francis Godschall Johnson, recorder of Rupert's Land, afterwards Judge Johnson, and for a time governor of Assiniboia.Later still, he was created Sir Francis Johnson, and a judge of the supreme court of Canada. Soon after her daughter's marriage Mrs. Mills left Red river. She afterwards took charge of the Helmuth Ladies' college, in London, Ont.

First marriage

Miss Harriet Mills (the younger daughter) married Alfred R. Roche. He became the first honorary secretary of the Royal Colonial Institute, (later the Royal Commonwealth Society), founded in 1868. When Mr. Roche went to the Transvaal in 1875, Harriet accompanied him to South Africa. Both became ill, Mr. Roche severely so. They tried to return home in early 1876, but he died on the journey. Harriet's book, "On Trek in the Transvaal; or, Over Berg and Veldt in South Africa." was published in London by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle &. Rivington, in 1878.

Some time in the next two years, Harriet returned to Canada, and remarried. Her second book, "Notes From Our Log in South Africa; and, On Foot Through the Colonies At the Paris Exhibition", was published in London, Ontario by the Free Press Printing Company, 1880. The title page indicates the author as "Harriet A. Boomer, author of 'On Trek in the Transvaal'.

econd marriage

Harriet's second husband was Rev. Micail Boomer, LL.D., of London, Ont. Dean Boomer was born in Ireland, and educated at the Belfast Royal Academic Institution, and at Trinity College, Dublin, having graduated from the latter in 1838, and there receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, in 1860. He came to Canada in 1840; was ordained Deacon the same year by Bishop Strachan, and Priest the following year, and appointed to the mission of Galt, a position which he retained for more than thirty years.

During the remainder of her life, Harriet Boomer was an active public speaker. She served as a member of the school board of London, Ontario, where she lived, and as president of the Toronto Local Council of Women (TLCW) circa 1900. She was a prominent member of the National Council of Women of Canada. Mrs. Bloomer presented a talk at The International Congress of Women in 1899, speaking about children, religion, and education: it was published as 'Connection between Home and School Life,' by Harriet Boomer: Volume Two, Women in Education, in THE COUNTESS OF ABERDEEN (ED) The International Congress of Women 1899, Seven Volumes, pp. 19-22, London, Fisher Unwin.


* [http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/1/redriverculture.shtml Early Red River Culture] by Marion Bryce, Member of the Manitoba Historical Society, MHS Transactions Series 1, No. 57 Read February 12th, 1901 [Public domain in the USA]

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