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Harriet Anne Boomer 1835-1921, 513 Dundas Street

Harriet Anne Boomer 1835-1921, 513 Dundas Street
Plaque no. 45
Date of plaque unveiling
3 June 1999
The plaque is located near the Dundas Street auditorium entrance of H.B. Beal Secondary School.
Speakers
Joan Kennedy
Location
525 Dundas Street, London, Ontario (present site of H.B. Beal Secondary School)
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History

Harriet Anne Mills, born in Somerset, England in 1835, came with her mother and sister to Red River, near Winnipeg, in 1851. After returning to England in 1856, Harriet married Alfred Roche, a businessman who was involved with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In the 1870s, she travelled with her husband to South Africa, but Alfred died on the return voyage in 1876 and was buried at sea. Two years later, Harriet married the Reverend Michael Boomer, Dean of the Anglican Diocese of Huron, Principal of Huron College, and a signer of the charter of the Western University of London, Ontario.

Harriet devoted her life to service for the community and played a major role in establishing a number of women’s societies in London. She helped found the London Local Council of Women in 1893, serving for twenty years as its president.

She was particularly active in the field of education, becoming the first woman trustee on the London Board of Education in 1898, and a tireless advocate of training in business and domestic science for girls and technical training for boys. She helped establish the local Red Cross branch, which was initially set up to assist Canadian soldiers serving in the Boer War and was a member of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) which later named a chapter in her honour.

In 1903 Harriet became vice-president of the National Council of Women and was the first president of the local Victorian Order of Nurses from 1906 to 1912. She was also active with the Canadian Club, the Mothers’ Union, the St. John Ambulance Association and the Women’s Christian Association.

Upon her death in 1921, the Free Press called her “perhaps London’s most philanthropic and patriotic worker.” Given Harriet’s life-long interest in education, it is perhaps fitting that her home was demolished to make way for H.B. Beal Technical and Commercial High School in 1916.