Martha Julia Cartmell with one of her students from Toyo Eiwa
Dying just a few months short of her 100th birthday, Martha Julia Cartmell is a fascinating figure in the history of both Hamilton, Ontario and Tokyo, Japan. Orphaned at the age of 13, she was sent to live in Hamilton. Educated at the Ontario Normal College in Toronto, she graduated as a teacher.
In 1882 Cartmell travelled to Tokyo, Japan, having accepted as her calling the assignment of Christian missionary to women and girls. Cartmell undertook an intensive course of study to learn the Japanese language in order to more effectively communicate with those to whom she was to minister.
Shortly after her arrival in Tokyo she discovered that women were exempt from formal education. She made it her mandate to open an academy for girls, and applied to the Imperial Palace for permission to found the school. The school opened in November of 1884 and remains open to this day. In 1989 a four year university for women was established on the school complex; in 1993 a graduate school was added.
Each year persons associated with the school visit Centenary United Church in Hamilton, the site of Cartmell's appointment as first Methodist Woman Missionary to Japan. They consider the church to be a shrine.
Reference: Bailey, Thomas Melville. Dictionary of Hamilton Biography