Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Biography & Autobiography Women

Grace Sparkes: Blazing a Trail to Independence

by (author) Marie-Beth Wright

foreword by Edward Roberts

Flanker Press
Initial publish date
May 2014
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Grace Margaret Patten Sparkes (1908–2003) was born in Grand Bank, the youngest of ten children born to Elizabeth Hickman and John B. Patten. A lover of music, curling, and politics, this fierce anti-Confederate made a name for herself in the political arena under the auspices of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. Just as notable are her lifelong contributions to academics through scholarship and award initiatives, her setting of high standards of excellence for her students during her years as a schoolteacher, her brightening of living rooms across the province as Grandma Walcott on CBC Television’s Tales from Pigeon Inlet, her work as a reporter for the Daily News, and her efforts in her latter years to better the lives of seniors through social programs.
“Gracie” was a pioneer for women in the workplace, an advocate for seniors’ rights, and an activist in every sense of the word, and her name lives on in the MV Grace Sparkes, a ferry that today plies the waters of this province. Here, for the first time, is the biography of this remarkable woman.

About the authors

Marie-Beth Wright was born in Valleyfield, Bonavista Bay, and attended Memorial University, graduating in 1968 with a B.A. in English, conjointly with a B.Ed. in secondary studies. She later obtained a concentration in French and a certificate in business administration. Her educational formation has been reflected in her work life, which has extended to teaching high school, freelance journalism, and being a partner in her family’s long-time business, George Green and Son Limited. She has also worked in Christian education and as an adult education instructor at both the College of the North Atlantic and MUN’s Lifelong Learning Department, for business and conversational French, respectively. Additionally, she performed bilingual contract work in the federal public service and worked as a substitute teacher.Her desire to contribute and keep busy she attributes to her parents’ lifestyle as small business owners and community leaders in Bonavista North. Marie-Beth has also contributed greatly in her volunteer life to the SPCA, Gower Street United Church, L’Association francophone de Saint Jean, the Terry Fox Run, the Encounters with Canada program, and Canadian Parents for French, an organization in which she has been granted lifetime membership status.Marie-Beth is married to Carl Wright, a retired mathematics and history teacher from Greenspond. They are the parents of two sons, Geoffrey and Jordan. Marie-Beth began research on Grace Sparkes in 2006, but work commitments and family life slowed the manuscript’s progress. Marie-Beth’s interests range from politics, the environment, her community, and social issues to travelling, sports, and choral singing. She confesses that Grace’s spirit of involvement has made her more active in the community since she began her research. Marie-Beth thanks the many wonderful friends and relatives of the indomitable Ms. Sparkes who kindly provided source material for this work.

Marie-Beth Wright's profile page

Edward Roberts has been involved in public life in Newfoundland and Labrador for fifty-five years, as a journalist, lawyer, and politician. He was a member of the House of Assembly for twenty-three years and served as Newfoundland and Labrador’s lieutenant governor between 2002 and 2008. He was honorary colonel of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment from 2003 to 2008, thus re-establishing the link between that office and that of the lieutenant governor, the Queen’s personal representative in Newfoundland and Labrador. He has long been passionately interested in the history of Newfoundland and her people. His first book, as editor, Peter Cashin: My Fight for Newfoundland (2012), was a Globe and Mail bestseller.

Edward Roberts' profile page

Other titles by Marie-Beth Wright

Other titles by Edward Roberts