Alice was the third of their seven children, and grew up in the London districts of Fulham and Battersea near Wandsworth, just across the Thames. Her father supported the family as a grocer, and then as a coal merchant clerk. By 1891 at the age of 21, Alice was already employed as a board school teacher. Like her older sister Lillie (Frances Eliza), she never married. Perhaps because of that, we have been able to find out some interesting details about her life.
On 27 May 1897, Alice attended the wedding of her older sister Henrietta BOORMAN to their maternal cousin Jim ROBSON. I have previously written about this Victoria wedding and the large group photo showing many family members, most still unidentified. Many many years after this event, a grandchild wrote a caption on the back of the photo. It says, in part “Granny's Maid of Honour -- directly behind her and her two Brides-Maids.” Unfortunately no names for them are known with certainty. But we know from the marriage registration document that the witnesses were Walter Wm BOORMAN and Alice A BOORMAN, both of Victoria. They were both siblings of the bride and cousins of the groom, and likely the names of the Best Man and the Maid of Honour. But Alice could have been any of the three woman attendants standing behind the bride in this cropped version of the photo.
Alice's youngest sister Kate is still quite a mystery; according to the 1901 census Kate was living in Victoria with her brother William and his young family. Kate’s birthdate is incorrectly recorded, but she is listed as William's sister. It also says that both William and Kate immigrated in 1889. But Kate (born Oct 1877) would have been only eleven or twelve at that time, and it seems unlikely that her parents (who didn't emigrate until about 1894) would have entrusted her care in a new country to their son who was barely 18 in 1889. Regardless, it seems probable that Kate was already in Canada in 1897 and attended her sister’s wedding as a bridesmaid, age 19.
Alice was said to be age 30 in 1901, living with her parents (a little vanity is allowed as she would have been almost 32). Their street address is not provided in the census, but directories list the males at least at 129 Michigan in the James Bay area.
In 1907, Alice would have been greatly sadden by the lost of her oldest brother Walter William BOORMAN due to typhoid. She was listed as “Miss Boorman of Victoria” in Walter’s obituary. Only three sisters were mentioned, so what happened to the fourth?
Then in 1909 her father died of cancer: another painful loss for Alice and the family.
“It is more than nine years since Dr. Robertson, now of Macdonald College, visited Victoria, and in an enthusiastic address convinced his audience of the benefits that would follow a thorough training of the hand and eye. As a result of his visit the Board of School Trustees accepted the offer of Sir William Macdonald to establish a manual training centre as an experiment - the school board only giving it a home. The annex to the Central School was taken for the purpose.” …
“… Needlework was taught by some of the women teachers to their girls when the boys went to manual training, and a short course in plain sewing was given in the three classes in the intermediate grade of the Girls School. This did not meet the needs at all, and through the efforts and influence of Mrs. Jenkins, Miss Boorman was appointed to teach all the girls in the common schools the art of plain needlework. This work has been hitherto done with very little assistance from the regular teachers, and but few can form any idea of the arduous labor required of the teacher who takes full control during five days in the week of more than a thousand girls ranging from the tiny tot, who does not know the finger upon which the thimble should be place, to the girl in the senior class, who can cut, fit and finish a garment.”
Alice was publicly rewarded for her work with a pay increase that same year …
1909 British Colonist April 16 1909 page 02 Normal School for City of Victoria - Teacher’s Salaries
….That Miss Boorman’s salary be increased by $30 per annum.
Other work-related clippings:
1909 British Colonist July 02 1909 page 2 CAN NOW SEW Diplomas awarded to the girls…
Miss Boorman is the special teacher in sewing…
1909 British Colonist Sept. 02 1909 page 03 SOCIAL AND PERSONAL
Miss Boorman of 1328 Alfred Street will resume her sewing classes on Saturday next.
It also seems that Alice managed to find time for her own personal needlework projects as well, and on at least two occasions, entered her own handiwork in the exhibition:
1907 British Colonist September 29 1907 page 30 Prizes awarded at Fall Fair - Fancy Work
Most Handsome toilet set – Alice A. Boorman, Victoria.
1909 British Colonist September 18 1909 “Victoria’s Show” page 2
2nd prize for children’s pinafores in the ladies sewing category Miss A. Boorman
Another time she might have helped out at the fair?
1908 British Colonist September 23 1908 page 014 THE EXHIBITION IS UNDER WAY (cont. from page two) ….supervision of Miss Boorman the teacher of various grades.
I was heartened to find this news clipping, which shines some light on Alice’s civic and political views:
1907 British Colonist December 22 1907 page 15 COURT OF REVISION IS NOT ADVERTISED
The name of Alice Boorman is included in the list of the names of women who voted against removing the names of women from the voters lists.
The following notice may just be announcing a summer holiday? Or was this break health related?
1910 British Colonist June 02 1910 page 05 SOCIAL AND PERSONAL
Miss Boorman will not receive this Friday, nor until the first Friday in September.
We have found a marvellous article on the history of this house, published in the Winter 2007 edition of the local community periodical "Fernwood News". Not only does it list Alice Amelia BOORMAN as the original owner of 1324 Balmoral Street (previously 1324 Fisgard) since 1910, but it also provides some of her genealogical information as well. Details of subsequent owners are also covered. The house was designated a heritage building in 2007. The authors also mention nearby houses belonging to her relatives. Here is a partial clipping with transcription (click on the following images to enlarge):
1324 Balmoral (Previously 1324 Fisguard)
Designer/builder: David Herbert Bale
The original owner, Alice Amelia Boorman (c.1871-1918), lived here from 1910 with her widowed mother, Frances Jane (Robson) (1844-1924), until Alice's sudden death after an operation to repair a ruptured ulcer. Alice was a needlework specialist, teaching the subject at local schools. Frances came to Canada with her family and husband William Scoones Boorman (c.1843-1909) from London, England, in 1894. The family lived on Michigan Street in James Bay for nearly ten years. William was a clerk at the Driard Hotel for several years before his death. He had two houses built near this house in 1905, also designed by David Herbert Bale, 1328 and 1340 Balmoral (originally Alfred, then Fisguard), and a family tennis court between the two, where 1334 Balmoral now stands. Son Albert Sidney Boorman (1876-1947), a cabinetmaker with J. A. Sayward and then a box factory foreman with Canadian Puget Sound Lumber Co., lived at 1328 with his wife Frances “Fanny” (Oliver) (c.1888-?), whom he married in 1910. Alice lived at 1328 until 1324 was built; after Alice's death, Albert and Fanny lived in 1324 until the early 1920s. Another son, Walter William (1871-1907), a bookkeeper with B. Williams & Co. (528 St. Charles, Rockland), lived at 1340 with his wife Marian Emelda “Mamie” (Guthro) (c.1876-?), until his death from typhoid fever. ...
Credits: Fernwood News, Winter 2007, page 3
The Fernwood News would like to thank Jennifer Barr and the Victoria Heritage Foundation for their assistance. Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods, Volume One (Fernwood and Victoria West) is published by the Victoria Heritage Foundation, 2004. Copies of this volume and Volume Two (James Bay) are available at local bookstores.
Alice was one of the BOORMAN family members buried in the historic Ross Bay Cemetery, fairly close to home.