Great Granny Bagg (Kittens on the Wedding Dress)

Mary Heloise Bagg Lindsay (1854-1938)

The Anglican Church and her philanthropy were most likely what grounded Mary Lindsay and enabled her to properly cope with her family. It is my belief that as the educated daughter of a wealthy Montreal family, the wife of a successful Montreal stockbroker and a busy mother – she appreciated the solitude of her Sunday morning church service and the rewarding challenges of her chosen charities. Her obituary, in 1938, summarized Mary Heloise Bagg Lindsay’s life as having “been a life member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Church of England, Governor of the Royal Victoria Montreal Maternity Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hospital and greatly involved in a great many charities. She also regularly attended services at The Church of St. John the Evangelist1.

My great grandmother, Mary, was one of four surviving daughters of Stanley Clark Bagg and Catherine Mitcheson. Born in 1854 at the Fairmount Villa, in the Golden Square Mile of Montreal, she grew up to marry Robert Lindsay in 1881. Her only brother, Robert Stanley Bagg, was heir to the family fortune, her two older sisters married men in the clergy and her younger sister married a scandalous real estate tycoon who mysteriously disappeared when his debts caught up with him.

Robert and Mary Heloise Wedding day
Mr and Mrs Robert Lindsay -1881

Her first matrimonial home, in 1881, was located at 436 St-Urbain2, which was a subdivision of a very large villa lot stretching down to Sherbrooke, near the Fairmount Villa where her mother still lived. Eventually she and Robert moved to 6 Prince of Wales Terrace3, at 455 Sherbrooke Street West (the address later became 1009 Sherbrooke Street West) where she raised her family and lived there until she died in 1938 at age 84.

Mr & Mrs R Lindsay - 6 Prince of Wales Terr -1917
Mr & Mrs R Lindsay – 6 Prince of Wales Terrace – 1917

Although Mary was petite in size and considered “frail” she and Robert had six healthy children.

Ada was her firstborn child. On her wedding day, it was discovered that the family cat had had her litter of kittens on the wedding dress that had been laid out on the bed!4 Ogilvy’s, the local department store in Montreal, was persuaded to open on a Sunday so that they could quickly acquire another dress.  However, Ada was married in London, England, but…they have kittens in England too, don’t they?

This still remains one of my favourite family tales.

Ada - wedding - 1911
Ada Lindsay Griffith – 1911

Lionel, her eldest son, studied medicine all over Europe and became a well-loved family doctor in Montreal after he retired from the Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1915. Her second son, Sydenham, (my grandfather) The Priest became a well known Anglican Priest in the Montreal area, despite the warning from his stockbroker father that there was “Not much money in it!”

Her last three children did not marry.

1891-Children of RobertLindsay&MaryHBagg
Ada, Marjorie, Lionel, Stanley and Sydenham – 1891 (Marguerite was born in 1896)

Stanley served as a captain in WWI and survived the Battle at Ypres in 1915. Afterward he returned home to follow in his father’s footsteps and became another successful Montreal stockbroker. He remained the bachelor uncle who enjoyed doting on his nieces (especially my mother) and nephews. Beautiful Marjorie, however, remained a spinster when permission to marry her one true love across the Atlantic was denied for her own safety5. And sadly, Mary’s youngest child, Marguerite, died tragically at age 26 as a summer volunteer with the Grenfell Mission in Labrador.Miss Lindsay – Part 1

Mary must have drawn great strength and comfort from her faith to support her adventurous children in their respective challenging worlds.

Updated and edited – 2020-07-11 by author

1 The Montreal Gazette, August 15, 1938.

2 Lovell’s 1890 – 1906.

3Commissioned 1860 to honour the Prince of Wales, Prince of Wales Terrace consisted of a row of nine houses which presented a unified, Montreal limestone facade in the Classical Greek style.

4 As told to me by my aunt, Katharin Lindsay Welch, telephone conversation – June 2013

5 As told to me by my aunt, Katharin Lindsay Welch, telephone conversation – June 2013

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