In its almost fifty-year history, CFHA has come a long way! From the association’s publication of its first newsletters in the year it was established to our very recent entree into the digital world of blogging, the goal has remained the same: preserving and communicating the on-going history and faith of Friends in Canada and their contribution to the Canadian experience. This month we are beginning a series on CFHA’s founders and builders. Each month we will introduce you to one of the individuals who played an important role in creating or maintaining CFHA over the years. We hope that you will enjoy meeting these dedicated people. We look forward to your comments and memories on these posts. Our first essay is about one of CFHA’s co-founders, Kathleen Hertzberg, written by her daughter, Eve Schmitz-Hertzberg.

Kathleen (Schmitz-) Hertzberg nee Brookhouse

by Eve Schmitz-Hertzberg

Kathleen Brookhouse was born in 1916 near Preston, Lancashire, England. She became a member of Stafford Meeting in 1935 and attended Woodbrooke College for one academic year through 1937-1938. She experienced a leading as a young person to give service in the Society of Friends, which led her to travel to Germany in 1938/39 under the auspices of the Friends.[1] It was there she met her future husband Fritz Schmitz-Hertzberg. However, they were separated for ten years by the events of the war and his time in Russia as a prisoner of war.[2] She worked under the Germany Emergency Committee as a case worker helping refugees from Germany. She also served in the Friends Ambulance Unit in London during the war and with the Friends War Victims Relief Committee. After the war, Kathleen travelled with Fred Tritton to visit Friends in Germany and then did relief work in Berlin. Fritz and Kathleen were married in the Stafford Meeting in 1949 before immigrating to Canada in 1951.

Toronto Friends were very helpful, and Kathleen worked in Friends House Toronto until she and Fritz moved to Pickering where Fritz started his medical practice. They became members of Toronto Monthly Meeting. Kathleen was active in the Society of Friends and in the local community with the Red Cross and Community Care. She was chairman of Canadian Friends Service Committee from 1965 until 1972. She represented Canadian Yearly Meeting (CYM) at FWCC and was involved in ecumenical work. She gave the Samuel P. Gardiner (SPG) lecture at CYM in 2002: Doing the Work: Finding the Meaning. She lived in Pickering in the house that she and Fritz built together in 1963. In 2012 she self-published her memoirs: From My Demi-Paradise.


Kathleen Hertzberg, left, stands beside her mother, Edith Brookhouse. In her arms is her son Andy, and her daughter Eve is at their feet. This photo is believed to be taken on the porch of the Yonge Street Meeting House, c. 1954.

Living in Pickering, Kathleen discovered that in the 1800s the earliest settlers of the area were Quakers. In 1969 she learned that the Quaker meeting house in Uxbridge (1820) was about to be moved to the USA to be used as a child’s playhouse. Through Toronto Meeting, Kathleen had been in contact with Arthur Dorland, professor of history at University of Western Ontario. Through this connection, she became aware that much of the Quaker heritage in Canada was gradually disappearing. In 1970 Grace Pincoe and Kathleen declared that what was needed was a Canadian Friends Historical Association (CFHA) to work to collect, research, and preserve Quaker heritage in Canada. From the beginning CFHA was separate from Canadian Yearly Meeting. This allowed those outside of Friends to belong to CFHA.

In the fall of 1972 CFHA sent out an invitation outlining its objectives and encouraging interested individuals to join. The inaugural meeting of CFHA was held on 19 August 1972. Kathleen became the first clerk with Walter Balderstone as chairperson and Grace Pincoe as secretary. Arthur Dorland gave his blessing and was made honorary chairman. Walter died in 1978 and Kathleen became chairperson until 1995. Kathleen wrote A Short History of the Canadian Friends Historical Association 1972 – 1992 (CQHJ summer 1992) to celebrate the association’s first twenty years. She remained a life member of CFHA until her death in 2019.

In the excitement of CFHA’s first year, five executive meetings were held in 1973. A newsletter, Canadian Quaker History Newsletter, was established. Three or even four issues were published annually. Kathleen often wrote an editorial introduction to the issue. In 1989 a bound edition of historical articles called Canadian Quaker History Journal was started.

During Kathleen’s tenure as chairperson many tasks were undertaken. Historical Quaker materials from the University of Western Ontario were indexed and microfilmed. A grant was obtained to do this work. The materials were moved to Pickering College in Newmarket and The Quaker Archives and Dorland Room were established. Materials of historic interest, especially journals by individual Quakers, now had a potential home and were donated to the archives.  The Newsletter and Journal encouraged people to write Quaker history for publication. Meetings were encouraged to collect historical documents such as minute books and to write their meeting histories.

CFHA has been an active voice and advocate for Quaker history. It has been involved in the placing of several historical plaques in Canada at Quaker historical sites. Connections to other historical organizations, nationally in Canada and internationally as well, were established. CFHA met annually and, as part of each AGM, a pilgrimage or tour of Quaker historical sites was organized. These bur tours have been inspirational as guides related stories of Quaker history at the sites where they occurred.

CFHA honoured Arthur Dorland in 1979. He had planned to give a talk at the AGM but died before it could take place. A brochure was printed to promote CFHA. A Guide to Quaker Sites in Canada was planned in 1982. Kyle Jollife received a grant to do oral histories. Yonge Street Meeting house was restored in 1975. The Journal of Timothy Rogers was donated in 1974 to the archives and was later transcribed and published (2000). Many of the dreams of the founders like Kathleen have been realized.

Kathleen was an enthusiastic and dedicated contributor to the Canadian Friends Historical Association since its inception. She quotes from T.S. Elliot: “A people without history/  Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern/ Of timeless moments” (Four Quartets, “Little Gidding”).

[1] See report in the Canadian Quaker History Journal 74 (2009).

[2] Fritz’ account of his time as a POW in the Soviet Union translated from the German by Kathleen is published as The Night is Full of Stars (Sessions of York, 2009).


Robynne Rogers Healey · July 15, 2020 at 4:55 pm

What a great story. I had the privilege of interviewing Kathleen to write the introduction for her Report of a Visit to Germany in 1938-39 in which she recounted memories of Kristallnacht. That report is available in the journal, which you can find on the website. Here is the citation: “A Quaker Concern for Pre-WWII Germany: Kathleen Hertzberg’s ‘Report of Visit to Germany, 14 April 1938 – 18 January 1939’,” Canadian Quaker History Journal, 74 (2009): 1 – 32. (

    Evelyn Schmitz-Hertzberg · July 22, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Yes Robynne, that was a lovely visit at our home in Richmond Hill. It was part of honoring Kathleen’s legacy of Quaker history. I am attempting to continue it as a member of the Yonge Street Burial Ground Committee and the Canadian Yearly Meeting Archives Committee. The Quaker Archives and Library at Pickering College are a repository of Quaker records that are available for present day Quakers and those interested in Quaker history. At present the Archives and Library are closed due to restructuring and the pandemic. The Archives Committee is working diligently to find a way to reopen the Archives and Library.

      Robynne Rogers Healey · July 29, 2020 at 2:56 pm

      We appreciate all your work on the Archives Committee! I know that there are a number of challenges, but the records housed at the Canadian Yearly Meeting Archives play a critical role in telling the story of Quakers in Canada.

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