The Girls' Department of the
King George the Fifth Institute

(From the Women's History Walking Tour Booklet)

The Girls' Department of the King George the Fifth Institute was opened in 1913 as a destination for young women who came to St. John's on Labrador fishing schooners as ships helpers.

The King George V Institute
The King George V Institute, St. John's, NL
93 Water Street
© 1998, Lisa LeDrew

Public fears for the safety and virtue of these young women caused the passing of a law prohibiting such work. Concerns remained, however, for the large numbers of outport girls who came to St. John's each year seeking domestic work.

Under the guidance of local upper class women - Lady Davidson, wife of the Governor, Mrs. W. C. Job and Mrs. Armine Gosling - and with the support of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, the Department was established as a boarding house for outport girls working in St. John's. The home was steam heated, had electric lights, a large dining room and a social parlour where young women could entertain friends. In 1914, a night school for 'girls of the town' was held each Tuesday evening.

Maidservants in Front of a Cabin, probably in Labrador
Maidservants in Front of a Cabin, probably in Labrador
Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections (Geography Collection 137, Photo 233), Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL.