Fonds 29 - Mary Rowell Jackman fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Mary Rowell Jackman fonds

General material designation

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code

CA ON00399 29

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1824–1994 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

6.12 m of textual records
385 photographs
1 audio cassette

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Mary Rowell Jackman was born in 1904, the daughter of Nellie Langford Rowell and Newton Rowell, a prominent Ontario politician and lawyer. She grew up in the Rosedale area of Toronto, spending summers at a cottage on Lake Simcoe, and travelling abroad extensively with her parents. After schooling at King’s Hall in Compton, Quebec, Mary attended Victoria College in the University of Toronto, graduating with a BA in 1925; further study was then done at the London School of Economics. While in England she also took a YWCA leadership course, and developed a strong interest in psychology.

Throughout her academic years Mary had been a keen member of the Student Christian Movement, an organization that employed her as a full-time women’s secretary at the University of Toronto, 1928–1929. The following year she married Henry Rutherford Jackman (1900–1979), a Toronto financier and lawyer with strong ties to the Conservative Party. The wedding took place at the Metropolitan United Church in Toronto, where in ensuing years Mary would organize a nursery school, work in a World War II service unit, help administer a donation for the church’s upkeep, serve as president of the Afternoon Women's Association and Afternoon Women's Missionary Society, and co-author a history of the church.

Mary was also busy at home, raising four children: Henry Rowell, 1932; Eric, 1934; Edward, 1940; and Nancy, 1942. In addition, she volunteered her time at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, and on the Art Gallery of Ontario’s women’s committee, as well as working with the Ontario Society of Artists. Her commitment to Victoria University – following a Rowell family tradition – was embodied in her serving on the Senate, Board of Regents, Board of Management, and Art Committee. She also continued to travel abroad frequently, including a round–the–world trip in 1954 and 1964.

After being given A Room of One’s Own as a wedding present by her mother, Mary maintained an interest in the writings of Virginia Woolf. She began collecting first editions of Woolf's books on the advice of a Victoria University English professor, and her acquisitions then expanded to include works by other Bloomsbury Group members and the Hogarth Press. Mary donated these valuable books to the Women's Residence Library at Victoria University in honour of her mother and aunt; the entire collection was subsequently moved to the E.J. Pratt Library.

Mary Rowell Jackman continued an active life to the end of the 1980s, supporting women’s causes and keeping in touch with political issues. Her contributions were recognized by honorary degrees from Victoria University and the University of Toronto, and in 1993 – the year before her death – she was nominated for the Order of Canada.

In 2005, “Mary Rowell Jackman: A Person in Her Own Right”, a documentary chronicling her life, comissioned by Nancy Ruth, was produced by Sky Works.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Mary Rowell Jackman was a graduate of Victoria University (B.A. 1925) who was a prominent philanthropist, social activist and patron of the arts. The fonds consists of records in the following ten series: correspondence, 1824–1994; student and alumnus records, 1915–1994; family records, 1904; records relating to finances, [192–?]–1994; social activism and religion, 1913-1994; records relating to art and artists, 1928-1994; records relating to travel, 1901–1994; records relating to Sky Works documentary, 1994–2005; photographs, 1910–1989; and, memorabilia and ephemera, 1920–1994.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The bulk of the records were acquired from Mary Rowell Jackman's daughter, Nancy Ruth, in 2009.


Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Associated materials

The videorecording Mary Coyne Rowell Jackman: a person in her own right, 1904-1994 is available a the Victoria University Library Circulation Desk (DAD Video .M369)


No further accruals expected.

General note

Title based on contents of the fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)




Literary and Film Resources

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Added by MO: May 27, 2016
Revised by BC: February 28, 2018

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres