In June 1922, Miss Marguerite Lindsay arrived as a summer volunteer with the Grenfell Mission in Cartwright, Labrador. Two months later she went missing.
When Miss Lindsay didn’t return from her afternoon walk that fateful day, an extensive search took place immediately. All of Cartwright took part and did their utmost to find her.
Indeed, Marguerite was held in such great affection by the local children and their families that a thorough search of the area was made by her boy pupils, who combed the shoreline and nearby woods inch-by-inch.
Reverend Gordon, with several others, took a motorboat and cruised along the Cartwright shore without luck. They concluded that she must have drowned, perhaps by hitting her head while swimming or falling down some cliff into the fast tidal currents, which then carried her away.
It wasn’t long before the news got out. On August 15, 1922, The Evening Telegram in St. John’s, Newfoundland, published the first of many articles about the fate of Miss Marguerite Lindsay with the headline: “Tragedy at Cartwright – Volunteer Teacher Supposed Drowned.” This was the type of sensational story that sold newspapers and, for the next year, the media worldwide went wild with it.
In one extreme case of yellow journalism, several American tabloids published an article which originated in Britain, devoting an entire page to an appalling story with this ridiculous headline:
“Kidnapped by Savage Eskimos – Beautiful Canadian Girl Suffers As Tragic a Fate As Ever Befell a White Woman; Carried Off by the Dreaded “Fish Fang” Tribe Into the Trackless Wastes of Labrador.” 1
The article described, in horrific fictional detail, Miss Lindsay’s new life as the captive wife of one of the imaginary savages. One can only hope that her family didn’t read these newspapers.
A month after her disappearance, in September 1922, my great uncle Stanley Lindsay, another of Marguerite’s brothers, arrived in Cartwright by ship. Unfortunately, nothing was accomplished by his northern trip except the melancholy satisfaction of learning firsthand that no effort was spared to trace his sister. He simply thanked the good people of Cartwright for all they had done.
Imagine their relief at his kind words.
Upon Stanley’s return, the Lindsay family held a memorial service in Montreal at the Church of St John the Evangelist in October 1922. Reverend and Mrs. Gordon attended the “impressive ceremony” on behalf of The Grenfell Mission and the people of Cartwright.
On December 13, 1922, four months after her disappearance, Marguerite’s body was discovered by John Martin, one of two trappers whose dogs dug deep into the snow by the shoreline. The frost had heaved her body upward out of the bog.
Sadly, Miss Lindsay’s boy pupils had been searching within ten yards of her body but the Indian Tea bushes native to the area had hidden her.2
She was fully clothed, her exposed frozen face was disfigured and… she had a bullet hole in her chest.
how i came to write miss lindsay’s tale
1 The Springfield News Leader 10 Dec 1922 – https://newpapers.com/newspaper/39664723
2The Evening Telegram 24 Sept 1923