Viola Leone Whitney Pratt

Fonds number:
Title: Viola Leone Whitney Pratt
Dates of Material:
28.2 cm of textual records
19 photographs: b&w
3 photographs: col.
6 photographs: sepia
9 stamp albums
2 artefacts
16 audio cassettes
5 audio reels
Biographical sketch

Viola Leone Whitney Pratt (1892–1984) was a writer and editor of the magazine World Friends. She was born in Atherley, Ontario, the daughter of a farmer and a teacher. She married Edwin John Dove Pratt on August 20, 1918, and they had a daughter, Mildred Claire, born in 1921. She died in Toronto, Ontario on September 6, 1984.

Pratt completed Grade 8 at the age of 11, and began attending Orillia Collegiate (1903-1908), where she received Junior Matric at age 14 and Senior Matric at age 15. As she was too young to enter university, she stayed at home and studied music. After half a year of music study, she tired of it and applied for a teaching job at Zephyr, which she got and taught the second term. She entered Victoria College, University of Toronto in 1909, and graduated in 1913 with a first in three honours courses: English and History, Modern Romance Languages, and Modern Teutonic Languages. She then attended Ontario College of Education (1913-1914) and taught High School in Amherstburg, Renfrew, and St. Mary's.

In 1929, she was a founding member and editor of World Friends, a magazine for children published monthly by the Woman's Missionary Society of the United Church of Canada, and retired from the magazine in 1955. In the 1930's, she was President of the Canadian Authors' Association. She was President of the University Women's Club; founding member of the Margaret Nice Ornithological Club; member of: Victoria Women's Association, Helconian Club, White Cross Guild at the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital, and Amnesty International. From the 1930's on, Pratt addressed various groups such as university women's groups, church groups, and book clubs. She accompanied her husband, E.J. Pratt, as research assistant on his trip to British Columbia for preparation of Towards the Last Spike. Pratt read to blind students at University during and after the Second World War. She also wrote book reviews for the Globe and Mail. In 1956, Pratt was awarded a honorary degree of Doctorate of Sacred Letters from Victoria University and published two books: Famous Doctors and Journeying with the Year.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records associated with Viola Whitney Pratt's career as a teacher and writer, her work in various non-for-profit organizations, E.J. Pratt's writings, and her personal life.

The fonds is arranged in the following five series:

Custodial history

The fonds contains documents related to her husband, E.J. Pratt and were donated with her collection. 

The Viola Leone Whitney Pratt fonds was originally a unique collection that was then transferred into the Edwin John Pratt fonds. In 2016, it was subsequently moved back into its own separate collection.

Viola Whitney Pratt's journals are located in the Mildred Claire Pratt fonds as they were donated with Claire's collections. This includes journals donated by Dr. Elizabeth Popham, Emeritus Professor at Trent University in 2016, after completing the last volume of the Collected Works of E.J. Pratt. Viola established the publishing project in 1978, and either Viola or Claire had given the journals to previous editors of the project, possibly Sandra Djwa or Lila Laakso, and they passed the journals down to Dr. Popham.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.

Immediate source of acquisition

Material relating to Viola Whitney Pratt acquired from the Viola Whitney Pratt estate in 1985 and 1986.

Material acquired from her daughter, Claire Pratt, includes correspondence.

Language of material


Access restrictions

Restrictions on access: No restrictions on access.

Finding aids

File list available at series level

Related material

Other material relating to Viola Whitney Pratt can be found in the E.J. Pratt and Mildred Claire Pratt fonds.

Viola Whitney Pratt's journals are located in the Mildred Claire Pratt fonds.


No further accruals are expected.

Access points

Provenance access point:
Pratt, Viola Whitney, 1892–1984
Pratt, E.J. (Edwin John), 1882–1964
Pratt, Mildred Claire, 1921–1995


The fonds is stored in 5 boxes.

Related special collections at Victoria University Library

E.J Pratt fonds.

Mildred Claire Pratt fonds contains documents of her parents, Edwin John Pratt and Viola Leone Whitney, which she inherited after their deaths.

Related resources

Remembering Viola Pratt
An eulogy written by Lila Laakso, Viola Pratt’s friend and a former librarian at E.J. Pratt Library.

“The Spirit of Victoria Past, Present, and Future: Writer Viola Pratt and Actress Jane Mallett Recall How Victoria Gave Them Their Start”
An article on Viola Pratt’s years as an undergraduate student at Victoria University. It was published in the Vic Report in 1984.