Tag Archives: women

The Beginning of It All – Eminent Intro Post 2015

With the revving of an engine and the shot of a starting pistol, it begins.

At long last I have chosen my  eminent person, and so without further ado, let me get right down to it. I will add, that there is some reasoning as to why I took so very long to decide on who I will be studying for this project, and that with these circumstances in mind I have not been doing entirely nothing over the past few weeks, in fact, I have done quite a fair amount.

I started out by researching different people whom I might be interested in studying for the project. As I studied a basketball player last year, my idol as I am also a player, I thought this would be a good opportunity to change things up a bit. However, as I got into researching, I re-encountered my problem from last year, my indecisiveness. Sooo, after a lot of researching, I found someone, or should I say some people, that I was very passionate about studying. I remembered that last year I had thought during the project that it might be interesting to study someone related to the First World War, as I am very interested in the history of that global crisis and the project also falls over Remembrance Day. I came across two women who proved the female identity of the era wrong by starting up their own first aid post only hundreds of metres back from the Western Front in Belgium during the First World War.

Elsie Knocker (left) and Mairi Chisholm (right) outside one of their cellar houses in Pervyse.

So then, the next issue presented itself as which one of them to do. So after even more research, I came to the light conclusion that one of them, as she was significantly older, was more of the initiator of their contributions and actions. Unfortunately, after starting to write this post, I realized as I somewhat suspected and had earlier thought, that I was more personally and emotionally connected or attached to the younger one. So off I went yet again, rethinking. Finally, I can now finally tell you, that I will be doing this project on Mairi Chisholm. However(I know, uh oh), I will be mentioning Elsie significantly throughout the project for obvious reasons. They were a team, and every team-mate is valuable, no matter the position.

Mairi posing through a hole in the wall of one of her and Elsie’s cellar houses

So given these circumstances, I have done almost all of my research on my person already, and quite a bit on her partner in crime.

Mairi Chisholm was born in the fishing town of Nairn, Scotland, on February 26th, 1896, but moved to Dorset, England when she was only four years old. Mairi had a very traditional upbringing, and became very close with her brother Uailean over the years as their parents were never large figures of close support to them. She had another sibling, Lucy Margaret, but Mairi and her brother were not as close with their younger sister as she came many years later and the two were away at school for her infant-hood. Mairi attended two different schools for her education, both of which appear to have been very supportive of Mairi throughout her youth and development as a young woman. It has been recorded that teachers from both of her schools contacted her whilst her later war efforts took place. One noted particular pride and love for the young student who was now making headlines in her homeland. I think I connect in a small sense to Mairi to these points as I like to get to know and try to stay in contact with my teachers following my time in their classes.

Her family was of high rank in society, and in 1910 the King of England, Edward VII and his wife came for a game of cards with the Chisholms. However, Mairi proved to be a unique case for this style of living and was certainly not a typical young lady her status. Mairi developed a passion for mechanics. Her brother rode motorbikes and together they entered races; she helped with maintaining the bike and he rode. Her mother disapproved of this thoroughly but her father proclaimed that she was a natural mechanic and must continue doing what she loved. I feel a personal connection to these characteristics of Mairi as I am not what one might call a “girly-girl” persay. I am very into sports and don’t like to dress up too fancy in general terms. So I feel that I connect well to Mairi in that way. Continuing,  it was at these very motorcycling events that Mairi encountered who would become her longtime business partner, “Gypsy”, or Elsie Knocker.

Mairi Chisholm on her 4hp Douglas Motorcycle in her Red Croos nurse uniform

Elsie had made a name for herself in the world of motorcycle racing as she was a pioneer of the women’s participation in the sport itself. She had her own women’s riding clothing line and was known for ripping down country roads in races beyond belief for a woman. Additionally, she was one of the few divorcees in England at the time. It was unusual for a woman to vouch for and succeed in a separation of her own will, but she had done it. As she too was from a wealthy background, she had purchased the assistance of her own lawyer and made it all the way through the process so she could escape with her young son from an abusive relationship.

After meeting each other, they became friends through motor-cycling, and later worked together in the Women’s Emergency Corps in London, England. Then, after some time working in the field with an independent ambulance corps led by Dr Hector Munro, the Flying Ambulance Corps, their adventures really began.

I won’t get into too much depth here as I want to save some of the juicy details for later on, but what they did was truly amazing.

It started out as a soup kitchen, only metres back from the front lines in the cellar of a well battered house. The ravaged town of Pervyse in Belgium it was, where they make their efforts that entitle them to infinite recognition for courage and bravery.

They would spend their days and nights ferrying pots and buckets of hot chocolate and broth out to the front lines. They went so far as sharing a warm cup with both a German and Belgian sentry in the dark of night in the middle of No Man’s Land. This small project grew into something bigger when they really got down to work. Elsie had been inspired when she saw how many men were dying in their ambulance on the bumpy drives back from the front to the hospitals. Elsie had suggested, and Mairi had agreed to leave the safety of their previous team and go it on their own. And so save more lives they did. Their small cellar house turned into a celebrated nursing station. They gave care where most it needed and then sent off their bandaged up patients for further care elsewhere if need be.

Elsie and Mairi working in their cellar in Pervyse

They managed this on an unimaginably low  budget that forced them to leave their work for short periods of time to fundraise back home. They would return as fierce and prepared as they had been before, and leave no less wounded un-tended to. Braving the horrific sights of men physically destroyed by the combat, and risking their lives carrying men by hand and shoulders out from the midst of No Man’s Land to safety for treatment.

Elsie Knocker (left) and Mairi Chisholm (right) observing the front from a trench.

Oh, and unsurprisingly, they became the most photographed women of the first world war during their efforts. The both of them also received close to ten medals and recognitions for their unforgettable work.

But that’s what is important, it was “unforgettable” work that these two did during times of peril and fear. Even today, few know who these women were or what they did. They are often overshadowed by other wartime nurses and figures. This is why I feel it is important to share their contributions with everyone and one of the reasons I wanted to study them for this project. I also share a personal connection in that my great grandfather was a decorated British officer in the First World War. Further, I like to think, or hope, I would be the type of person who would try to do something like what these women did in times of trouble. I was inspired by Elsie and Mairi’s story and I am glad to pass it on to others. I look forward to understanding their work more and more with this project.

All These Amazing Women: Decisions, Decisions – Eminent 2014

Well, as with any project that comes with a big choice that will largely impact the project in its entirety, I struggle to make that choice. Decisions are certainly a weakness for me, although, if Mr. Albright is correct, then they are also my strengths. So in light of my indecisiveness, in this post I will explore my top four considerations for the project and my reasoning for my difficulties, and hopefully along the way my thoughts will be cleared and the light will appear, shining on my eminent person for this year.

As you can probably tell from my title, I have been able to agree with myself that I will most certainly be doing a woman for my study. I have always been very passionate about equality of all types especially equal rights for women, so this was a fairly straightforward decision. I also decided that I wanted to study an athlete, seeing as I am an athlete myself and I feel a strong connection to female athletes. Also, all the skills that must be present in high level athletes both on the court, or playing field, and off, is truly remarkable. However, that’s where the clarity ends. When I am making a decision like this, I always struggle because I try to find the absolute perfect match, but really perfect doesn’t exist so you may say it’s a waste of my time. The way I look at it though, is rather I am trying to find the one topic, in this case person, that I am the most passionate about, this will allow me to have the most fun and get the most out of my project, which I think is a lot of what the eminent project is about. That being said, the decision takes just as long. Over the past few days, and hours, I have managed to narrow down my options to four: Clara Hughes, Teresa Gabriele, Becky Hammon, and Silken Laumann. These four women have many things in common, however they also have many experiences and characteristics that set them apart.

Teresa Gabriele
Becky Hammon
Silken Laumann
Clara Hughes

You may be wondering who Teresa Gabriele and Becky Hammon are. I suppose you may also be wondering who Silken, and maybe even who Clara, is too, but we’ll get to them later. To start, Teresa and Becky are both retired women’s basketball players who have succeeded undeniably and outstandingly in their respective ways. Teresa grew up in Mission BC and is about 5’6 in height. Similarly, Becky is below the basketball average at about 5’6 in height, however Becky grew up in Rapid City South Dakota. Both of these phenomenal players generally played the point guard position, often the leader of the team.



I started playing basketball in grade three, and ever since the first time I knew who she was, I have been idolizing Teresa Gabriele. Basketball is my passion and I look up to Teresa for many reasons, including the fact that she is somewhat short, in basketball terms, and I am about her height and not sure how much more I am going to grow. Also, she is from BC.  What makes her so amazing though, is her unwavering commitment to the game of basketball in Canada over the years. She played on the national team for an incredible 16 years, and while fighting through countless injuries, changed the face of women’s basketball in Canada. She has inspired me so much and showed how anything is possible for anyone, and any country if you try.

From the beginning, Becky was not the favourite. She was short and grew up in a somewhat outlying region for basketball, but she didn’t let any of this stop her. When she finished her years playing at college, unbelievably she went un-drafted in the WNBA, but even this didn’t stop her. When she was invited to a tryout in New York, she blew everyone away and ensuingly did the same to the entire WNBA that year. She is now the first full time female assistant coach ever in the NBA, just to give you a few of her achievements. It touched me this summer when her retirement was announced at the end of the WNBA season and she made history in the NBA. She has left such a legacy in women’s basketball and continues to develop her legacy in basketball in general, paving the way for more women to follow.

On a different note, my other two athletes have done much more than just sports. While they each have engaging and inspiring athletics stories, they have also done much more for their communities, and the world at large. This is very important to me as I also love many things outside of sports, especially helping others. I have been in me to we for the last 3 years and am continuing this year along with having a very strong passion for other charitable work in the community and globally.

     Clara is a renowned speed skater and cyclist, she has won medals for Canada in both the summer and winter Olympics, but her success is really off the field of play. She has committed countless hours to her work for mental health awareness and several other charities in Canada and around the world. Her recent campaign that happens annually in Canada ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ is an initiative dedicated to mental health awareness, and this past summer she cycled across Canada for the cause. Clara herself went through mental health struggles which have contributed to her passion to help others who are going through the same thing. For me, Clara is such an inspirational person, every time I see her either competing, doing charitable work, and being interviewed, she seems so happy. Her light and energy spread and her smile lights up the atmosphere in which she is in and also to anyone who is watching, at least me.

Finally, Silken Laumann. For those of you who have not heard of her before, she is a former Team Canada world champion and    multi-Olympic medallist rower, but she is most widely known for her miraculous comeback only weeks before the 1992 Olympics. Ten weeks before the games, her scull was broadsided by another boat while training. Her boat’s shell shattered and tore into her skin, ripping it apart as well as her muscles and damaging her bones. However, like the other women I have talked about, this incident wasn’t stopping her. The doctors in Germany, where she was, told she may never be able to row again, but she determinedly set out on a mission to compete at the Olympics in less than 10 weeks and make her Olympic dream come true. She asked the doctors for a rubber band and asked them to tie it to the end of her bed. Over the course of the next few weeks, she pulled on the band from the head of her bed providing mild training. She went through intense rehabilitation and only ten weeks after the accident, she competed at the Olympics and won bronze. If that doesn’t seem like enough, her impact also extends far beyond her rowing comeback. She currently talks as an inspirational speaker and contributes to many charities and initiatives. Her recent self-written memoir shows not only her struggle in her athletic times, but also in her childhood.Her story is unbelievable and really shows the power of true grit and determination, and how when you set your mind on something, you truly can achieve anything.

So obviously I am not going to be able to do all four of these spectacular and inspirational women, but also, I think it is clear that I am having some difficulty making up my mind. Silken Laumann once said “Change is essential to growth. Embrace Change!” . Well, my thoughts are certainly going to have to change or at least settle, my mind’s mettle will have to emerge for me to concur with myself on one of these phenomenal athletes; and when it does, I will dive whole-heartedly into the cause.