Monday, August 1, 2011

Lilias Ahearn Southam

Philanthropist, girls’s education advocate

Born in Ottawa in 1888; died in 1962.

Daughter of Thomas Ahearn, inventor and Ottawa businessman. He made Ottawa’s first long distance call, brought electric street lights to Ottawa and electric streetcars. His power company at the Chaudière Falls was the first in Canada to use a hydraulic generator to produce electricity.

Married Harry Southam whose family owned the Ottawa Citizen as of 1896; they had four children.

Was one of the first mothers in Ottawa to send her daughters to school in 1919 at the Rockliffe Prep School (later renamed Elmwood).

Became co-owner and a major benefactor of Elmwood School for Girls, and remained on the board of governors until the end of her life.

Through her organization of sponsorships with Ottawa families, she played a key role in helping 24 young British refugees settle in Ottawa in 1940.

Known to use her wealth to help homeless children. (Janet Uren)

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