Rockwood Academy was a boarding school which was opened in the year 1850 by William Wetherald, Ethelwyn's father in Rockwood, Ontario. The Wetherald family was growing and it was here where Ethelwyn was born April 26, 1857. The school had approximately fifty students and a few teacher assistants. Most of the instruction was done by William Wetherald himself. Ethelwyn spent her early childhood, up until the age of seven, living at Rockwood Academy. Although she was not taught with the boys, she did receive her education at home and absorbed the knowledge imparted by her father. William Wetherald believed that there should be equal education for boys and girls, so his children were all well-educated. This was part of his family's belief as part of the Quaker church. Access to education and a religious belief in equal privilege between the sexes was a great foundation for Ethelwyn as she later drew from her upbringing in her literary work.