- 1959 - Died, August 17
Except for the two years that Jean King attended the Presbyterian Missionary and Deaconess Training Home in Toronto she lived and worked her whole life in Montreal. Upon her graduation in 1913, she was designated by the Presbytery of Montreal and began a long career in social service work with immigrants and “strangers”. In 1926, she joined the United Church Order and served until her retirement in 1953. She died 6 years later. With 40 years of service in the city, much of it with the Woman’s Missionary Society, there is likely information about her buried in many church records.
From this reflection on her work written in 1929 it is obvious that she was a thoughtful and intelligent woman.
It is difficult to write an Annual Report at any time, and one could only wish for a gifted pen to tell the story of this Department of work, so full of romance and yet so prosaic; so practical and yet so idealistic; so simple and yet so profound; so personal and yet so disinterested in many of its aspects. No one surely could stand at this great inland port and railway terminus watching the unending stream of human beings pass by without feeling the thrill of it all and our responsibility and opportunity as a Canadian Church and people to prove ourselves neighbours to those we have invited to live beside us. It takes little imagination to realize some of the hardships of the trip, an omen so often of what is in store for many years to come, We never see them go forward without fear and trembling that their new contacts be even less neighborly and Christian than former ones. It is so hard for all of us to realize fully that the Missionary Spirit is a practical matter of Christ—like living which simply means that all of us should be good neighbours to live beside.
A new and interesting opportunity presented itself to the W.M.S. workers this year, when the Finnish Pastor and Superintendent of the new-Finnish Hostel wanted help in teaching English to his peoples. I assisted Miss ImObersteg in teaching the men’s class every Wednesday night, while the Misses Cameron and McIntosh took the girls Thursday afternoon. Though the men were more irregular in attendance, more shy and slower in acquiring the new language than the girls, yet they respond well to. the efforts we made, Their work environment was doubtless not so English as that of most of the girls who are household workers. It is a delight though to see the place this Hostel is playing in the life of the Finnish Community, keeping alive their respect for old customs and institutions, until the new ones have become in a natural way a vital and restraining force.
Our supplies have been generous this year, and it was a great joy, for instance, on Christmas Eve to play Santa Claus, leaving in the arms of many a sleeping mother and babe the gift of some Mission Band child. They must, indeed, have thought it a gift from heaven itself when it was discovered upon awakening in the morning on an immigrant train. – On more than one occasion it was our privilege to supply the needed food for the long Western trip for those entirely without money. Our expense money helps us to render this kind of service.
The irregularity of hours and the night work are still one of the most outstanding features of our work, and account for much of the fatigue and strain, but the gratitude of those we assist makes this “1% job”, as the head of the Social Service Department of McGill University says, very satisfying and worthwhile. – We leave ‘the 99%” of the neighborliness prayerfully in the hands of the people of Canada who live beside our immigration folk.
Biography written by Caryn Douglas, November 2012