Lydia Emelie Gruchy was born to parents Charles Gruchy and Mary Anne Gruchy (nee Hicks) in Asnieres, France on September 15, 1894. One of ten children, Lydia Gruchy grew up and attended school in both England and France. She later immigrated to Canada with her father (her mother having passed away in 1902) and three of her sisters to join her brothers on their homestead near Strasbourg, Saskatchewan.
Lydia completed Normal School in 1918, during which she took multiple summer positions – teaching and working with new Canadians, primarily from the Ukraine. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan and being awarded the Governor-General’s gold medal in 1920, Gruchy received a two-year scholarship to train in working for the Presbyterian Church primarily among the new Canadians. After this, she took a third year of study in theology and graduated in 1923 at the top of her class from the Presbyterian College – later called St. Andrew’s College – in Saskatoon.
After graduation, Gruchy was appointed by the Home Mission Board of the United Church to work at Veregin, where she began working in multiple presbyteries and visiting nearby local schools for Christian Education work. In July, 1936 Lydia was asked to take the position of Assistant to the minister in Moose Jaw at St. Andrew’s United Church. Only a few months later, Lydia Gruchy became the first woman ordained in The United Church of Canada on November 4, 1936.
In 1938, Lydia became Executive Secretary of the Committee on the Deaconess Order and Women Workers of the Church in Toronto. She served there for five years, during which time she also spent a year as acting Principal of the United Church Training School. Gruchy moved back to Saskatchewan in October of 1943 and served in multiple pastorates including Naicam (1943), Simpson (1948), Kewpar (1952), and Neville-Vanguard (1957). Prior to her retirement in 1962, she was honoured with the Doctor of Divinity honorary degree, by the College at St. Andrew’s in 1953, in recognition of her work in Saskatchewan and as first ordained woman of the United Church. After her retirement, Lydia Gruchy moved with her sister, Florence Gruchy, to White Rock, BC. There, Lydia continued her work in education, teaching French to groups of children at the local community school, and attended First United Church. Lydia Gruchy passed away April 9, 1992 at the age of ninety-seven.