Harriet Jost


Harriet Maude Jost
Surname as Student: Jost
Education: Methodist National Training School
Graduation Year: 1910
Designated: 1911
Denomination: Methodist Church in Canada
  • 1883 - Born
  • 1934 - Died, August 29

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Harriet Maude Jost was the first born (September, 1883) of George and Maude (Tremaine) of Guysborough, Nova Scotia.  Harriet attended Mount Allison Ladies’ College, in Sackville, New Brunswick before entering the Methodist Deaconess School in Toronto, graduating in 1910 at age 27.  She was appointed to Jost Mission in Halifax.

Jost Mission was founded in 1868 by Methodist businessman, Edward Jost (1) to serve Halifax’s poor. What was essentially a women’ s institution became an important centre to the women in Halifax, both those who used the services it provided and those who were able to express their ministry through the service rendered. Historian Christina Simmons (2) points to a kind of symbiotic relationship between the two groups of women who inhabited the Mission: the working class women got some support for their often difficult lives and the middle class staff who were given a way to express their desire to help their poor sisters.

Originally the mission was operated by an ecumenical group through the YMCA, but after Jost’s death, when the mission was closed for a while, it was reopened in 1904 under Methodist control In 1905 Methodist Deaconess Amy Sherwood was appointed. Thirteen other Methodist/United Church Deaconesses were on the staff between 1905 and 1951, including Harriet who was there between 1910 and 1914.

Many of the Canadian outreach ministries at the turn of the century provided for women, but the specific focus of Jost Mission is not as usual. The mission catered to the needs of children, and working class women, including teens, young women and mothers. Beginning in 1910 they provided child care for women, long before the middle class driven women’s movement made the connection between the provision of childcare and women’s emancipation. Working primarily with women who did domestic work in the homes of well-heeled Haligonians, in 1913 an employment bureau was established. Kindergarten, sewing class, mother’s meetings, girl’s after school clubs, religious meetings and emergency food relief were core offerings that continued to the 1940s.

In 1915, Harriet is on a leave of absence, and that is continued to 1919 at which time she disappears from the List of Methodist Deaconesses, the year she moved to Ottawa with her parents upon her father’s retirement and to be closer to her brothers, Edward, who held a significant post in the civil service and H.T., a doctor. Her mother died a year later.  At the time of Harriet’s death in August, 1934 it is noted that she had a long illness.  Possibly she had been ill since 1914,  or she might have left service under the church to look after her mother.  A short article on her funeral appeared in the Ottawa Journal (in addition to her obituary) suggesting she was a person of some social connection, either directly or through her family.  The family was active in the United Church and attended McLeod and Stewarton United Churches in Ottawa.

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(1) I am not aware if there is any family connection between the founder and Harriet.

(2) “Helping the Poorer Sisters”: The Women of the Jost Mission, Halifax, 1905-1945″, Christina Simmons, Acadiensis, Volume 14, issue 1, 1984  Reproduced with permission from the author.

Note: There was a Dr. Harriet “Hattie” Jost, who served with the WMS as an overseas missionary. She died in 1960.