Cemetery History

Elizabeth Caroline ‘Lizzie’ Masters Ascher

Posting Member: Jenn
Topic: Heroes
Family Name Associations: Unrelated – Masters and Ascher, also spelled Asher

While we were in Niagara on the Lake we managed to get a fair amount of graves photographed in Saint Mark’s Cemetery.  It’s a beautiful old example of Ontario Church cemeteries just thriving with history.  In the back of the cemetery we came across a memorial with a wreath, which was rather odd because a lot of those memorials were so old.  The wreath was from the Polish Chambers of Congress, and we made a mental note to search up this woman when we got back home.

Research was the easy part, Elizabeth was a remarkable woman.  Writing a biography that reflected her works was a little more complex, but I think we’ve done it justice.  I’m including a copy of what we wrote here, because this woman was an amazing example of love and compassion, a true hero.


Elizabeth was the daughter of Margaret Clench and Joseph Masters, born at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. She had 4 brothers and two sisters, her family memorials are located in St. Mark’s cemetery. In 1894 she was married to Frank Ascher, the pair had one daughter, Eleanor Frances Ascher who did not survive infancy. Frank Ascher was an American, he left Canada during the Spanish American War and never returned.

Elizabeth became devoted to public works. She was one of the founding members of the local Historical Association and served as Regent for 14 years. She co-founded and was Regent for 12 years of the Newark Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. She was Director of the Niagara Agricultural Society, of Board Member of the local Red Cross and co-founder of the Women’s Hospital Aid. She was a board member of the Boy Scouts and Niagara High School Alumni. Beginning in 1904 she became a correspondent for the St. Catherine’s Standard, she served as such for 37 years. Her articles appeared in Canadian and American Newspapers and the Niagara Historical Society’s publications. She staged a press campaign on behalf of the Polish Army and Polish Nation when she became aware of the people’s suffering during the First World War.

After the First World War an effort to set up the Polish Army Mobilization Camp in Niagara brought an influx of 5000 men who’s goal was to help liberate Poland from oppression. The soldiers were outfitted and educated in the area and the area quickly took to their culture and dedication to their battle against the oppression of their home country.
Elizabeth quickly stood out, her dedication as a nurse during an outbreak of Spanish Flu in 1918-1919 endeared her to the Polish Soldiers, they called her the Godmother of their people and an Angel of Mercy. She established a Polish military cemetery for the victims of the outbreak at St. Vincent de Paul’s Cemetery, across the street from where she would be buried in the Anglican St. Mark’s Cemetery decades later. She was caretaker of the cemetery for her entire life, catering to the memories of those lost.


Elizabeth began organizing foreign aid for Polish children by 1918, one of the first checks written was by Elizabeth’s niece, Margaret Masters. Goods and funds were collected for the Polish White Cross, which later became the Polish Red Cross, organized by Helena Paderewska. She was made a member of the Polish White Cross Society for life due to these efforts. She was awarded the Chevalier’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Restored Poland) on 22 Oct 1922. She was granted the Haller Medal on 27 Nov 1923. In May 1923 she was awarded the Order of Miecze Hallerowskie, and in May 1926 she received the Cross of Merit. These decorations were the first of their kind to be awarded to a Canadian, and as of 1991 were the only to ever be awarded to a Canadian Woman.
Elizabeth continued to support the Soldiers and Children in Poland until her death in 1941 at 72 years of age.

We’ve managed to link Elizabeth to her family, her mother Margaret Anderson Clench Masters and father Joseph Masters on FindAGrave.com
Sources: Essay by Roman Baraniecki, Article by Karen Gibson published in the St. Catherines Standard 3 May 1991 and research completed by CSGS. Online resources and additional information available at Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library: www.notlpubliclibrary.org
Images from http://search.ourontario.ca/search

Always one for making things pretty, Jenn is our resident artist. Métis, British Home Child Descendant, family historian and genealogist, she is always looking into some new branch of research and encourages historical preservation and education.


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