All About – Lois Pollard

Two stories in an August issue of Common Threads (Marion Pardy–a person of Eleos and We Celebrate with Oriole Veldhuis) prompted Lois Pollard (U1953) to write a long and newsy letter. In it she remembered fondly her six years as librarian at the United Church Training School (UCTS) and reminisced about her encounters with Marion and Oriole when they were students.

Lois is not only a former staff member but a graduate of the UCTS which she attended from 1951 to 1953. After graduation Lois was designated as a deaconess and assigned to a one year placement in a mission charge of the United Church, followed by five years in churches in Leamington and St. Catherines. But despite a longing to work in the church, Lois found it was not a good fit for her and she returned to what she calls her “first love”—her vocation as a librarian. It was with the books that she felt most at home and it was there she was able to fulfill her calling.

“I didn’t have the personality for a church worker. My approach was more of a scholar rather than a warm-hearted person understanding those harder places of life. I grew up as one of many Christians who are outside the church, and do not have a firm background of the practices of Sunday School and church worship,” Lois reflects.

UCTS library 1955
UCTS Library

But a return to library work at Covenant, Victoria, and Emmanuel Colleges meant she was able to interact with students. She felt she had freedom to engage with them in meaningful conversations in the library. “I had a marvelous time in those six years. The students were willing to talk to me. I really had better conversations with them than with people in the churches I was trying to work in. They knew me not as a religious leader but as a friend.”

Lois remembers a conversation with Oriole Veldhuis, “[Oriole] was telling me exactly how the cradle which First Nations women used to carry their babies on their backs was constructed, for the baby’s security as well as comfort.” The conversation has stayed with her and Lois is very interested in reading more of Oriole’s insights in her new book, For Elise.

In 1967, when Lois was leaving the staff at UCTS and saying her goodbyes, “Marion Pardy produced one of those lobsters made of red cloth and stuffed, that are sold to tourists and are reminiscent of Marion’s home province. It was hard to give him up but she gave her beloved Goofey-Newfie to me. He still graces my living room, artistically placed a-top one of my bookcases with one claw extending down over the shelf.” Books have been a big part of Lois’s life. Books led her into her calling as a librarian and were part of her married life at Highway Book Shop. At 91, Lois says she still reads the Observer and is the lay reader for Sunday services at her residence.

Thinking of that lobster, Lois muses, “He belongs there, with the books, for it was among the books that I worked when I knew those students—in fact it was among the books that I spent most of my life.”