Campaign underway for commemoration for Wolfville's Mona Parsons

Wendy Elliott
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Mona Parsons.

A campaign is underway to mark an unlikely war heroine from Wolfville.

Mona Parsons has never been recognized in Canada for her contributions during the Second World War.

"This project isn't just about remembering the contributions of a community member, there are many who deserve that,” said Andria Hill-Lehr, who wrote Parsons’ biography.

“This is about honouring the memory of a woman who, though she never wore a uniform or carried a gun, was willing to put her life on the line when she found herself in war zone and seized upon the only thing she could do to support the Allies in their fight against Hitler."

Parsons was living in Holland when war broke out.

"The contributions of women to Canada's historical narrative have been buried or glossed over for generations,” Hill-Lehr said.

“Did she change the course of the war? No. But she did what she determined was the only possible thing, living as she was in a war zone, to help the Allies in their fight against Hitler."

Former Lt.-Gov. Myra Freeman has called Parsons’ exploits a “remarkable story of which more Nova Scotians should be aware.”

Members of the Women of Wolfville have begun fundraising to erect a statue in Parsons’ memory. Funds raised by the group’s June 13-14 production will go into a fund held by the Wolfville Historical Society. The Nova Scotia department of Communities, Culture and Heritage has already contributed a third of the estimated $25,000 cost of a statue.

Wolfville’s popular Gravely Ghost Walks ends at her gravesite, with Parsons’ ghost pointing to her tombstone, which lists her simply as a wife.

Hill-Lehr can be contacted for further information by e-mailing: andriahill@yahoo.ca or call 542-2533.

 

Mona’s story

Parsons’ compelling story began where she grew up in Wolfville. In the early part of the 20th century, she graduated from the Acadia Ladies Seminary, joined the theatre world, then went to nursing school and found work with a Park Avenue doctor.

She met and married a Dutch businessman and they moved to Holland just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. When the Nazis invaded Holland in May 1940, they joined the Dutch underground and, at great personal risk, successfully sheltered Allied airman in their country home.

In 1941, Parsons was taken into custody by the German Gestapo. Originally sentenced to death, she began a life sentence, spending four years as the only Canadian, female civilian imprisoned by the Nazis.

In March 1945, she and a Dutch baroness staged a dramatic escape. Then they began an unbelievable journey on foot back to Holland.

What followed was the stuff of movies. Parsons skillfully eluded capture using a variety of disguises and personas. Eventually, she made her way to the Dutch border, where she was taken in by Canadian troops.

Parsons was presented with citations from Britain and the United States for her courage in sheltering members of the Allied forces. No commemoration has ever been made in Wolfville, where she spent her final years, or in Canada.

 

 

Organizations: Wolfville Historical Society, Nova Scotia department, Acadia Ladies Seminary

Geographic location: Wolfville, Canada, Holland Park Avenue Britain United States

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  • Ruby Lawrence
    May 26, 2014 - 11:25

    I have read her story and own the documentary/movie of her life story, an amazingly brave woman. I mentioned her in my Remembrance tribute last year at my church and no one had heard of this local hero and to me that is a shame. I am glad a campaign has started to recognize her great tribute to the Allies!