In the five years since her arrival from England in 1961, Elizabeth Fulcher married my widowed father, mothered his four children and had a baby of her own.
Although her roles as wife and mother of seven kept my stepmother plenty busy, Elizabeth continued her interest in teaching. In 1969, with two babies of her own, she organized a nursery school counselling the parents while they observed their children at play. However, it proved to be stressful and more difficult than she imagined.
Instead, Elizabeth taught herself the necessary bookkeeping skills to look after my father’s accounting needs in his engineering company thereby reducing his operating expenses. In compensation, Elizabeth allocated the rental income from Tom’s office tenants to her household budget which had remained unchanged since the day they married.
My father Tom grew up during the Depression which most likely left an impression on him. He worked long hours running his company in order to support his growing family and always managed his money carefully. Never would he consider debt to make ends meet.
Fortunately, Elizabeth knew how to ration pretty much everything from growing up in wartime England. Many of the same clothes were worn by child after child. Various craft projects littered the kitchen counter between meals. We all enjoyed the trunk full of old fancy clothes which provided endless hours of dress-up skits over the years.
Her only request? Once a month they wined and dined out… just the two of them.
At one point, Elizabeth received an inheritance from her family in England. She quietly used the money to pay for necessary repairs around the house. Alternately, Tom invested his family inheritance to provide a family nest egg for emergencies. The arrangement seemed to work well for them.
In 1976, Tom sold the Knowlton cottage after 20 years of memorable family summers, and bought land in Franklin, Vermont, with the proceeds. He designed and built a large shell of a two-story house with a deck spanning the entire width of the upper floor overlooking a fabulous view of the nearby fields and the mountains in the distance.
Over time, Elizabeth saw to the finishing touches like walls, cupboards and a septic tank making it into more of a home. Together they blazed trails in the woods, planted gardens and, for a time, beekeeping produced the family honey. What a sight to see Elizabeth handling the large red tractor like a pro… sometimes towing a trailer full of kids!
The children eventually brought their children to enjoy autumn walks, bonfires, winter sledding, berry picking, crafts, games and the breathtaking view. A wall of photos captures some of these memories – even a family wedding.
Elizabeth graduated from McGill University in 1988, at age fifty, with a Degree in Special Education. She continued teaching children with learning disabilities part-time for a while and felt secure that she could support herself if need be.
After Tom died in 1995, Elizabeth joined The Unitarian Church near her in Montreal. She volunteered actively for ten years in variety of ways. In 2015, the church awarded her “The Unsung Hero Award” to acknowledge and celebrate her efforts. Even today she volunteers her time with their “Caring Committee” and organizes visits with anyone in need of some company.
This year, due to the Coronavirus lockdown, the family was unable to gather at the house in Vermont for our usual Thanksgiving turkey dinner feast. Instead, Elizabeth enjoyed time with a whole bunch of us on a “Zoom” meeting and afterwards sent this heartwarming note to all her stepchildren, children and grandchildren:
“I feel as if I have been with all of you (on the Zoom video) and am really lucky to have such a wonderful family. You may not realize it but you all are the most significant aspect of my life. I did not want a career, I wanted a family and I am so pleased with the way you live and your authenticity. With love from Elizabeth, Mum or Nanna”.
When my mother died in November 1961, my father hired various nannies to run the household and look after his four children. The revolving nanny door made it difficult and stressful for everyone and finding a new wife and mother quickly became Dad’s priority.
A friend suggested he compile a checklist of his seven most important criteria, which were “all essential and the absence of any one eliminates the prospect”. Several names were scrawled on his list but there was nobody named Elizabeth. Our future stepmother must have been completely off the grid!
Elizabeth Fulcher arrived in Montreal from England in 1961 to teach at a girls’ private school. Once she had settled into her new life in Montreal, she joined a social club in the spring of 1962, and she met my Dad, Tom Anglin, there. After a few games of tennis, they began to date regularly. Thinking back to that time, she recalls: “I thought he was a nice, honest person”.
This wasn’t going to be your typical whirlwind romance.
Elizabeth took the opportunity to get to know the four of us children, as well as Dad, while they were dating. It seemed to be a mutually advantageous relationship for us all as Elizabeth had always wanted a family and now a family wanted her. However, the decision required rational thought as well as emotional feeling. Years later, she admitted her love for us equalled her love for our father.
Tom proposed nine months later, in February 1963, choosing the woman who would love his children just like Captain Von Trapp chose Maria in “The Sound of Music” — our favourite family movie. Elizabeth recalled, “He proposed after we went to a dinner dance at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. I had an idea that he was going to, it was in February and could have been a Valentine’s Day Dance. He could charm and was a good dancer so I always felt good about dancing with him.”
My father arrived in England, only two days before the wedding in July 1963, after organizing summer camps for the children and a leave of absence from his company. Fortunately, he had already passed muster when Elizabeth’s twin, Diana, spent the previous Christmas with us all.
They married in the local church in Iken, steps away from where Elizabeth grew up. Her stepmother, Eileen, decorated the church with masses of flowers, Diana was her bridesmaid and the children of the local farm hands made up the choir. Family and friends watched eagerly as Elizabeth walked down the aisle to the organist’s rendition of…what else but “Oh Canada”!
The newlyweds briefly honeymooned around Western Europe skipping the last stop as Elizabeth just wanted to go “home” and start her new life as wife and stepmother. “We had four days in England to pack up and leave,” she says. “Then we picked up the kids from camp the next day. We all drove out to the summer cottage in Knowlton (Eastern Townships, Quebec) and Tom went back into Montreal to work during the weeks”.
I had just turned six years old when I stepped off the camp bus. I remember looking down at the clogs on my stepmother’s feet and thinking “those are funny shoes” and at the same time realizing “this is my new mother”.
The whole family moved back to Montreal at the end of the summer. The children (aged six to 14) started back to their schools and Tom returned to work. Elizabeth launched into her new life with an impressive and loving energy. Fully committed to her new role, she oversaw the needs of the children, carefully managed a monthly budget, and prepared dinner for six every night… never failing to greet Tom at the door with a kiss and asking about his day.
There wasn’t a hint of wickedness in our new stepmother.
Five more summers in Knowlton flew by with just the four of us children before the family grew to include my three half-sisters born between 1966 and 1971.
Ultimately, her physical education training continued to prove useful as she juggled a houseful of babies and teenagers!
Elizabeth Fulcher emigrated to Montreal, Quebec, from England in 1961 at age 23, to fulfill a teaching contract at a private girls’ school. Little did she know that within two years time she would marry my father, a widower 20 years her senior, and become step-mother to his four children aged six to 14.
Does the movie “The Sound of Music” come to mind? Perhaps…but we couldn’t sing and, thankfully, our father didn’t blow a whistle to discipline us!
July 1938 was a busy time at Friston Hall1, the village between Saxmundham and Aldeburgh, north of the river Alde in Suffolk on the East Coast of England. Elizabeth and her twin sister, Diana, were born and their sister Margaret (Maggie) was only 11 months old. They were often mistaken for triplets much to Maggie’s dismay.
Some six years later, during Hitler’s last offensive air attack during WWII, the empty family home was doodlebugged1 in August 1944. Luckily, all three girls were at their cousin’s birthday party.
Their father, Henry Fulcher (1906-1985), moved the family to one of the farm cottages while their mother, Tweedie Mann (1908-1952), retrieved whatever could be salvaged from the bombed main house. During their nine month stay in the farm cottage, they endured outside plumbing and indulged in weekly baths in a tub by the fireplace.
When Elizabeth and her family eventually moved back to the main house, they all slept together in the dining room, as the upstairs remained in shambles and the chickens occupied the lounge.
As the war raged on, families all over Britain managed their food frugally with coupons. The farm labourers “enjoyed” extra rations twice a year but they only lasted a week.
“There was always enough food because we lived on the farm. At one point for breakfast, we each had a third of an egg on toast with a third of a rasher of bacon which was rationed. We would have cereal before this, so we weren’t hungry”.
Elizabeth’s father ran a small dairy farm in Friston as well as his father’s dairy and prize winning barley farm in Aldeburgh. He sold his father’s farm in 1948 to buy another in Iken five miles away across the river Alde. “Poplar Farm” consisted of 13 separate properties – three farmhouses and ten cottages – and 800 acres of land. The local milk truck collected the milk produced by the 60 Friesians1(dairy cows) daily which supplemented the farm’s income from wheat, barley and sugar beet.
Around this time, the three young girls were sent away to St. Felix Boarding School2, some 30 miles away from the farm. Elizabeth, only ten at the time, remembers: “I didn’t like it there, as I was afraid of the teachers. I would cry every time someone spoke to me. I couldn’t remember the poems we needed to recite, and I couldn’t spell well either”.
Two years later, in 1950 when the twins were 12 years old, the birth of their brother Roger surprised the family. And just two years after his birth, while the girls were still away at boarding school, their mother died suddenly from polio.
“Auntie Marion4 looked after Roger and Henry when Tweedie first died in July and stayed with us for the summer. We went back to school in September. We were worried about Roger, he was only three years old. Auntie Ophie came to look after Roger, but she had a bad temper, and our Father wasn’t very involved. No one said Roger had down syndrome, they just said he was slow.”
The whole class came to Poplar Farm for a picnic and a swim at Iken Cliff to celebrate the twins’ graduation from boarding school. One of their school friends, Judith, came as well and it was her mother Eileen who eventually married the twins’ father Henry in 1957.
Eileen stepped into multiple roles as Henry’s wife, farm accounts manager, step-mother (especially to Roger) and encouraged a more social lifestyle. As an example, she hosted a catered party for 120 guests for Elizabeth and Diana’s 21st Birthday.
Elizabeth, being more athletic than academic, excelled at sports. “The only people we knew growing up were farmers or teachers and we didn’t want to stay on the farm so we became teachers”. She pursued a degree in Physical Education at a teacher’s college in Aberdeen, Scotland while her twin attended teacher’s college in London.
After teaching for a couple of years in Aberdeen, Elizabeth wanted something more and accepted a job with the Trafalgar School for Girls in Montreal, emigrating to Canada in 1961.
Charlotte Haines (1773-1851) was only ten years old when the breakaway 13 colonies won the War of Independence in April 1783. Those residing in the new United States of America, who had remained loyal to the British Crown, were persecuted and forced out of their homes and their belongings seized. Chaos reigned everywhere and families were torn apart.
One fateful day around this time, young Charlotte sneaked away to visit her British Loyalist cousins, against the expressed wishes of her American Patriot stepfatheri. Upon her return, standing outside the front door, he refused her entry back into the family home.
Charlotte was my three-times great-grandmother. Her daughter Margaret Ann Peters married Daniel Hanington and their son James Peters Hanington was my grandmother’s father.
The British government came to the aid of these Loyalists and arranged for transportation for those who wished to leave the new America. Charlotte’s grandparents, Gilbert and Anna Pugsley, rescued young Charlotte and her brother David. Together they sailed from New York for ten days on the “Jason”ii, with 124 other “refugees” as part of the final large scale evacuation and landed in New Brunswick (then still part of Nova Scotia) in October 1783…just in time for the brutally cold winter.
Charlotte has been the favourite subject of a couple of books and several folktales. She warranted her own chapter in “Pioneer Profiles of New Brunswick Settlers”iii and is the main character in a children’s book titled “Charlotte”iv. One folktale claimed that she was the first Loyalist to set foot ashore (not true) and in doing so, she lost her “slipper” in the mud (possibly). The matching slipper (unlikely) was donated to the New Brunswick Museum years later, however, it looks somewhat too big and stylish for a ten-year old girl. But they make wonderful stories and fully recognize young Charlotte as one of the first “petticoat pioneers” of New Brunswick.
Fourteen thousand Loyalists established a new settlement in 1783 along the St. John River and shortly afterwards they petitioned for their own colony. In 1784, Great Britain granted their request and divided Nova Scotia into two — New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Loyalists, who made up 90 percent of the population of New Brunswick, became a separate colony with its capital, Fredericton, 90 miles upriver from Saint John.
The Loyalists and their children were entitled to free land once they provided the necessary proof. Charlotte, as the biological daughter of John Haines, a Loyalist on record, appears in 1786 documentation as one of the grantees of 84 lots on Long Island, Queen’s County, along with several other prominent Loyalists – although she was only 13 at the time. I can imagine her grandfather Pugsley nodding discreetly in her direction as he looked after her interests.
For their first three years, the British provided the Loyalists with a few simple tools, blankets, material for clothing and seeds for wheat, peas, corn and potatoes. The rations of basic food supplied by the British supplemented the abundance of game and fish available to them in the forest and streams. Most lived in tents on dirt floors until they were able to build primitive log cabins. Tree by tree, stump by stump, the fertile uplands were cleared to widen the fields making them ready for crops.
The Loyalists kept meaningful social contacts through various community events. Neighbours organized “frolics” whereby the men would work together to clear land, move rocks, build a barn or complete some other task which proved impossible for one or two people. At the same time, the women prepared meals and the children had a chance to play with friends. Women also held their own frolics to make quilts, card wool or shell corn. These Loyalist neighbours were dependent on one another in times of sickness, accidents and childbirth and supported one another at gatherings for weddings, funerals and church services.
Perhaps Charlotte met her future husband at one of these popular frolics. At 17, Charlotte married William Peters (also from a United Empire Loyalist family) in 1791 in Gagetown. Soon afterwards, the happy couple moved downriver, settled in Hampstead and built a home where the St. John River widens to a magnificent view.
At that time, there existed only ten miles of roadway in the whole province and another 20 years would pass before there would be an 82-mile long road linking Fredericton and Saint John. However, in the meantime, the river served as a “highway” enabling the transport of passengers and necessary goods between the two cities.
When the steamboats first chugged noisily up the river in 1816, William decided to compete with them and he built a 100-foot long side wheeler powered by 12 horses walking up and down the deck and propelling the boat along.
William actively pursued his interest in politics, and as the first representative of Queen’s County in the New Brunswick Legislature, he spent a lot of time in Fredericton (50 miles away) attending the sessions of Parliament.
Meanwhile, back home, Charlotte managed their entire land-holding on her own. Eventually they had 15 children, five sons and ten daughters. She bore her last child at 50 years old according to the baptismal certificate. They all survived except their son John who drowned at 21 attempting to save another man’s life.
Not only did she clothe, feed and care for them all (including the servants) but also provided much of their early education as well. On Saturday evenings in the summer, the fiddlers would play rollicking tunes and the tapping of dancing feet could be heard in big houses and cabins alike. When winter shut down the fields, and with food plentifully stored in the cellar, the spinning wheels would begin to hum during those coldest months.
By the time William died in 1836, they had recently relocated to Woodstock (100 miles upriver from Hampstead) with two of their younger children, James and Caroline. Their older children were married with homes of their own scattered along the St. John River Valley. Around this time, she wrote a letterv to her daughter Susan, Mrs. Thomas Tilley:
I take my pen to address a few lines to you to inquire after the health of you and all of your family. The grate distance we are from you prevents me from hearing. You heard of the death of your Father at Woodstock.
Charlotte described William’s death in some detail and then continued:
I hop [sic] this may find you all well. I am not well. My head troubles me very much. There is not one day that it don’t ake [sic] so that I cant hardly stir. My cough is something better. James and Caroline is well and harty [sic] and quite contented hear. I like the place and if your Father has lived and been hear to see to it we might have made a good living. It is pleasant and a good place for business but we must try to due the best we can. The place is out of repair and soon would have been a common if we had not come hear. I should be glad if my friends was near to us. I don’t know as ever I shall see you all again. I thought to have gon [sic]to see you all before I came up hear but I was so sick that I could not go down to see you. James and Caroline wishes to be remembered to you and all the family. I desire to be remembered to Thomas and the children and tel them I should be glad to see them and you. Give my love to all inquiring friends and except a share for yourself. This from you afectionet [sic] Mother, Charlotte Peters
Although she had her share of aches and pains at that time, she lived another 15 years and ultimately enjoyed the blessing of 111 grandchildren.
She had a powerful influence over all her family for she believed that their heritage carried a great responsibility to others. When the grandchildren would visit, her graceful hands were always busy winding yarn or knitting a sock while patiently answering their questions and reciting passages from the bible.
One of her grandchildren, Samuel Leonard Tilley, later known as Sir Leonard, served as Premier of New Brunswick and went on to became one of the Fathers of Confederation.
A common tale states that Tilley proposed the term “Dominion” in Canada’s name, at the London conference in 1866, which he gleaned from Psalm 72:8 – “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”. Ultimately, as Minister of Finance in the federal government, he was also instrumental in seeing the transcontinental railway completed.vi
Young Charlotte Haines might have felt all alone in the world at age ten but, when she died 68 years later, the epitaph on her tombstone proclaimed her legacy: “…Lamented by a large circle of descendants and friends by whom she was universally beloved and respected.”
iCharlotte’s mother, Miss Pugsley, died when she was very young. Charlotte’s father remarried Sarah Haight before he died. Then Sarah remarried Stephen Haviland who was Charlotte’s stepmother’s husband (step step father?)
“Our ancestors want their stories told” said my third cousin and fellow genealogy writer. We are both related to my great aunt, Miss Marguerite Lindsay, and we were both told the same story growing up: Poor Marguerite Lindsay died tragically in Labrador, in 1922, at age 25. Period.
We never questioned the statement nor begged for gory details. Little did we know that she did indeed have a story to tell and she finally got her wish almost 100 years later.
I wrote a story about Marguerite’s mother, Mary Heloise Bagg Lindsay, and at the end of her story I listed the names of her six children, including her youngest daughter Marguerite.
Shortly after the publication of her story on our website, I received an e-mail from a student at Memorial University in St John’s, Newfoundland. She wanted to know where Marguerite was buried. I found that to be a very strange question in response to a story about her father. I replied hesitantly and asked why she wanted to know. What a delightful surprise to hear that not only had she researched Miss Lindsay’s story but also offered to send me copies of her findings and the 1922 newspaper clippings!
The media covered the tragic tale in great detail over an 18-month period including the final coroner’s report. The official report concluded that her accidental death occurred from a shot by her own pistol when she tripped and fell.
I devoured the newspaper clippings and finally knew the whole story that no one spoke of so long ago.
Research is not my forte but it seems everyone that I contacted had something to tell me. Several websites produced other glimpses into Cartwright, Labrador and Grenfell himself. What a thrill to discover a great deal of information about the International Grenfell Association preserved on microfilm at The Rooms Provincial Archives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
That fateful summer in 1922, Marguerite worked as a volunteer school teacher with the Grenfell Mission in Cartwright, Labrador, under Reverend Henry Gordon. The local community named their school in Cartwright after him.
When I contacted the assistant principal at Henry Gordon Academy, she seemed equally as excited as I to talk about Miss Lindsay. We decided to skip e-mails and speak directly over the phone instead.
Well, this is some of what she told me…They named the marsh where they found her body “Miss Lindsay’s Marsh”. An honorary plaque graces the local church and a memorial prayer said every Christmas. Some of the young students wrote her a poem and the new students are all told Miss Lindsay’s story. Miss Martin, a fellow teacher, recently retired from the Henry Gordon Academy and still has the sewing machine that her grandfather, John Martin, bought with his reward money for finding Miss Lindsay’s body that December back in 1922.
And just then…the music began to play over the phone, and I quietly listened to Harry Martin’s song “Somewhere Beyond the Hills” written for Marguerite.
“I can’t believe that I am talking to a descendant of Miss Lindsay!” said my new friend.
I could almost imagine Marguerite standing beside me soaking up all these loving tributes… her story finally told.
(Rumour has it that if I can make the 100th year anniversary of Miss Lindsay’s death in August 2022, there might be a potluck supper and memorial service at the church in her honour!)
Edited by author 2020-07-13
Notes: Miss Lindsay’s three part story can be found below:
2. The famous Grenfell hooked rugs: http://www.grenfellhookedmats.com/and also, they continue to make and sell rugs, clothing, books and other items, or you can buy a membership in the historical society
Miss Marguerite Lindsay, working as a summer volunteer teacher, went missing from the Grenfell Mission in Cartwright, Labrador, in August 1922. Her body was finally discovered four months later, in December 1922.
The nearby authorities in Battle Harbour were notified immediately, as was her family in Montreal. When her body was gently pried loose from its frozen grave, they were stunned to discover a bullet wound in Miss Lindsay’s chest.
John Martin, the young trapper who found her body, was unable to provide any more information upon further questioning. When interviewed over 50 years later, he recalled his sad discovery that day by remarking: “Twas a remarkable place where she was found. There was a pool (Salt Water Pond) with two big junipers beside it. It was only about 15 minutes walk from the (Muddy Bay) boarding school.”1
Journalists suddenly had ample new fodder for their newspapers, and the story of Miss Lindsay dramatically bounced back into the headlines. Murder? Suicide? Accidental death?
In no time at all, a bullet wound in her chest evolved into riveting stories of “foul play,” a “love affair gone wrong,” or “shot through the heart” and other sensational headlines that sell newspapers. However, the possibility of a tragic and fatal accident was barely mentioned, as that version wouldn’t satisfy scandal hungry readers.
After three inconclusive investigations, Detective Head Constable Byrne was dispatched to Cartwright nine months later, in September 1923. Twenty-two local Cartwright people were interviewed in an effort to gather more information and rule out the rumours of foul play and murder.
Fifty years later, in 1976, Ida Sheppard recalled that time in another interview “I was workin’ at the Muddy Bay School when Miss Lindsay got lost. We were all cryin’ for her ‘cause we fair loved her, she was such a nice person.” This poignant statement seems to echo the sentiment of the people of Cartwright even to this day.2
Eventually Detective Byrne concluded the following in his statements to the press:
“The presumption is that Miss Lindsay on her way to take a bath in Salt Water Pond into which the brook flows, stopped to shoot some muskrat which abound in the river, and that she fell on the firearm which she was known to have carried.”3
“The postmortem examination held at Cartwright showed that a bullet had entered the left side, passed through the heart and out on the other side of the body. From this it is concluded that Miss Lindsay must have fallen on the weapon as it was almost impossible to turn it on herself in the direction.”4
In her coat pocket were a dozen bullets that would fit her Browning pistol, also supporting the accidental death theory.5
Detective Byrne terminated his investigation with the statement: “The postmortem disclosed nothing which would tend to indicate deliberate suicide.”6
Once the sea ice had melted in June 1923, permitting navigaton once again, Miss Lindsay’s body (preserved in salt) was transported to St. John’s, Newfoundland. There a funeral was held for Miss Lindsay before her body was taken by train back to her family in Montreal.
“As the cortege wound its way to the railway station, citizens stood with uncovered heads evidencing their respect for the departed heroine and sympathy for the sorrowing relatives at home. Marguerite Lindsay will rank with the great women of the world who have given their lives for others”. 7
She was finally laid to rest in the family plot in the Mount Royal cemetery in Montreal where, as it happens, I went to visit her recently.
So whether someone today strolls by “Miss Lindsay’s Marsh,” fingers her name on the local church’s plaque8, listens to a song written in her honour9 or reads a poem written by school children… the Cartwright community continues to honour Marguerite’s memory almost 100 years after her death.
Now that’s a legacy!
1“I found Miss Lindsay,” John Martin, 1976, Cartwright, Labrador. Researcher Doris Saunders.
2“We Fair Loved Her,” Ida Sheppard, 1976, Happy Valley, Labrador. Researcher Doris Saunders.
3Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.
4Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.
5Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.
6Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.
7Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.
9“Somewhere Beyond the Hills,” words and music by Harry Martin
Miss Marguerite Lindsay
By: Adam Dyson and Brandon Cabot (Grade 4 – Henry Gordon Academy, Cartwright, Labrador)
Once on a summer day in 1922,
A fine young lady died and only a few know.
What happened to her is a mystery,
And will every be part of Cartwright’s history.
Harry Martin wrote a song, we really thank him.
They know that the chance she was alive was very slim.
The newspaper says a mystery was found,
The dogs found her body in a snowy mound.
She went for a walk 15 minutes away,
From a land she loved called Muddy Bay.
She never came back, not even the next day,
She was supposed to catch a boat heading far far away.
She was found by the edge of a big marsh,
The winters were violent an her death was harsh.
Miss Lindsay and her life at Muddy Bay,
Is a mystery that is unsolved today.
Somewhere Beyond the Hills
Words and Music – Harry Martin of Cartwright, Labrador
Have you ever wondered, as you listened to the wind, What secrets does she carry, what sad things had she seen? Well, I’ve listened to her stories a thousand times before, But still, I have to question her once more.
What happened on that summer’s day in 1922? Has been talked about by many but the truth is known by few; And those who knew the answer have been silenced by the years, But suspicion on the wind have reached my ears.
Someone said somebody knew but when he spoke he lied, Others said they saw them talking on the day she died; When the darkness found her she was silent, cold and still, And her body lay somewhere beyond the hill.
Somewhere in some city a grey-haired mother prays, Please, God, protect my angel in that land so far away; But tonight her youngest daughter lies asleep beneath the snow, In a winter land so far away from home.
Then one cold December day a mystery was unveiled; They found the poor young maiden there beside a trapper’s trail; Her body, cold and lifeless, had a bullet through the breast, Now, the reason why won’t let this poor soul rest.
I have often wondered, as I listened to the wind, What secrets did she carry, what sad things had she seen?
But those who knew the answers are no silent, cold and still,
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.
In June 1922, young Marguerite Lindsay travelled from Montreal, Quebec to Cartwright, Labrador, for a summer of volunteer work. Two months later she went for an afternoon walk and disappeared.
Marguerite, aged 25, had volunteered as a teacher with The Grenfell Mission in Cartwright. The International Grenfell Mission is a non-profit organization that was formed in 1892 by British medical missionary Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell to provide healthcare, education, religious services, rehabilitation and other social services to the fisherman and coastal communities of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.1
She taught the older girls sports such as swimming and cricket and ran the recreation program at the Labrador Public School at Muddy Bay, 10 km from Cartwright. Miss Annette Stiles, an American and the other summer volunteer, worked as the school’s nutritionist and cook.
Marguerite was my grandfather’s baby sister. The youngest of six children born to Mary Heloise Bagg and Robert Lindsay, she grew up privileged in a prominent English Montreal family. Her brother, my grandfather, was an Anglican priest in Montreal.The Priest
An article in The Montreal Standard newspaper described Marguerite as being “popular in Boston, London and Montreal Society.” She attended a girls’ school near Boston and, in 1918, actively took part in The Sewing Circle (making quilts for charity) and The Vincent Club (supporting women’s health issues). Later she attended St. Andrew’s College in England. Her fine education and choice of social circles were evidence of not only her elite upbringing but her ingrained kindness towards others.
In June 1921, a year before her departure for Labrador, Marguerite returned home by ship after a three month visit to England. She was only 24 years old at that time and most likely already considered a spinster!
Her marriage prospects were not good, since after The Great War, there was an excess of females over males of about 5,500 in English Montreal alone. 2 The women’s rights movement had already made progress for women’s suffrage, education and entry into the workplace. Might these changes in society have encouraged Marguerite’s decision to pursue her teaching? Perhaps she learned about The Grenfell Mission itself during her last trip to England. But how on earth did she convince her protective parents to allow such an adventure? Did her brother (the priest) approve of the idea, support her calling and aid in her plea?
The two young volunteers, Marguerite and Annette, were under the direction of the Reverend Henry Gordon. He and his wife ran the school in Muddy Bay. Annette, perhaps a little homesick, described the area as “a bay surrounded by spruce-clad hills, resembling Lake George (New York), warmly sheltered from the Arctic winds.”3
Annette wrote an article depicting some of her experiences with Marguerite and the local people. It was published in an issue of the journal Among the Deep Sea Fishers. She described food demonstrations held for the adults and nature outings with the children in their collective care noting that “the children’s enthusiasm was very contagious – a great contrast to the boredom of some in more civilized places.” And then she continued:
Miss Lindsay was a very good swimmer and the older children loved her teaching them this as well as loving to work with her in the mornings … even on cold days they would beg to go in (the water) and the little ones would join in the chorus: “O! Miss, take I in swimmin’ too!”
It was a hot day on August 4, 1922, when Marguerite left her fellow teacher and friend in Cartwright possibly to go for a swim somewhere along the Sandwich Bay shores. She often took walks alone and was known to be a young lady very capable of taking care of herself. However, that evening when she hadn’t returned in time for the evening meal, a search party was organized immediately.
Miss Lindsay was missing!
1FindingGrenfell.ca – accessed October 19, 2019
2Westley, Margaret W. Remembrance of Grandeur–The Anglo-Protestant Elite of Montreal 1900-1950, p. 126
3 Stiles, Annette – “The Cartwright Expert Cook” – Among the Deep Sea Fishers, January 1923
My favourite piece of heirloom jewelry belonged to my Aunt Mary (1920- )My Formidable Tante Marie. She wore the delicate turquoise and pearl necklace while posing for one of her promotional photos during her theatre days in Montreal in the late 1940’s. I wore the very same necklace for my wedding day some 50 years later.
My great grandfather, Dr. J. P. Hanington (1846-1927)Pharmacist then Doctor, gave his bride-to-be, Gertrude Thorpe Davidson (1852-1950)The Matriarch (A Remarkable Memory), an exceptional gold locket when they married in 1874. The back of the locket, engraved with the words “Sapienter Si Sincere” meaning “Wisely if sincerely” is the Davidson Clan Motto. The two photos inside the locket are of Dr. Hanington and their first daughter, Mary Thorpe, who died of diptheria when she was five years old.
Another couple of heirloom pieces, a delicate cameo brooch and a spectacular 89 Seed Pearl Pendant, belonged to my great grandmother, Mary Heloise Bagg Lindsay (1854-1938)Great Granny Bagg (Kittens on the Wedding Dress). However, neither of the pieces were wedding-related to my knowledge.
The Gill Cradle was first used by my 4x Great-Grandmother Phoebe Clark Gill (1777-1864). When only three weeks old, Phoebe was taken on horseback by her mother to a place of safety in Philadelphia away from the British in September 1777. The simple mahogany cradle stayed in the family for the next 230 years gently rocking several generations of babies. There are numerous photos taken of us in our christening dresses in that wonderful old cradle. The family donated it to the McCord Museum in 2005 so that it could be preserved for historical purposes and displayed with their collection.
The Carpet Chair was rescued from a fire in 1916 when Rose Cottage, the family home in Shediac, New Brunswick, burned down. It was the family home of my 2x Great-Grandfather Daniel Hanington (1804-1889)“Roaring Dan” and his wife Margaret Ann Peters (1811-1887). It is a useful “catch all” chair as it folds up nicely. I believe the carpet seat is the original one and, for that reason, it is not used as a chair.
The sewing tables of both my grandmothers fit nicely into different corners of the house. One belonged to my paternal grandmother, Josephine Sherron Anglin (1893-1964)Social Media – Then and Now, and it is a pedestal table. The two drawers are partitioned perfectly to hold sewing supplies and the top folds open to double in size. The other one belonged to my maternal grandmother, Millicent Hanington Lindsay (1895-1982)Granny-Lin, and can be found in The Book of Canadian Antiques1. According to the entry, the Anglo-Quebec style mahogany sewing table is from circa 1830. It has two flaps that open up to extend the work surface as well as a couple of drawers without partitions.
China and Silver
The silver tea set requires polishing several times a year. But once polished – oh my – what an impressive sight! My husband likes to put a tea towel over his arm and serve tea to my friends when we host tea parties. Proper tea parties have become popular again and several tearooms around the city have resurrected the tradition. The set belonged to my Great-Aunt who gave it to my Aunt Mary. When my aunt gave up her home she gave it to me. It must be almost 100 years old.
There are two china figurines that are very close to my heart. They belonged to my mother, Ann Lindsay Anglin (1926-1961)The Courtship of Ann and Tommy – Part 1, who died at the young age of 35. They remind me of her. One is a popular Royal Doulton lady figurine kept in the corner glass cabinet in the dining room with some other collectibles. The other figurine is a lovely lady in a spectacular blue gown seated on a loveseat with a blue matching bonnet beside her fanning herself. She is kept on my bedside table.
Another treasure is an old box from Henry Morgan & Co. Limited with “Tins for Wedding Cake” written on the cover in my grandmother’s familiar scrawl. Inside the cardboard box there is an old tin icing canister with five different tin piping tips and a folded tired stained printed paper with a recipe for “Wedding Cake – 3 layers”. My grandmother was a fabulous cook and must have baked this cake for her three wedded daughters. Priceless!
Photographs, Letters and Diaries
Photos, letters and diaries may have no particular monetary value but they are invaluable to us genealogists trying to glean whatever we can from the lives of our ancestors. My dusty old boxes Dusty Old Boxes of cherished paper memorabilia contain heaps of pure joy. A treasure indeed!
1The Book of Canadian Antiques, Donald Blake Webster, p. 62.
Montreal, Quebec, was booming early in the 20th century just before World War I (1914-1919).
During this time, immigration surged setting new records and the population of Montreal grew to half a million people. Skilled workers from England found employment in the city’s factories and European immigrants, especially Jews fleeing persecution, made up the biggest group. Local people were also migrating from rural areas attracted by the city’s remarkable economic growth and the available opportunities.
Montreal offered all these people hope of a better life.
Canada’s first stock exchange, The Montreal Stock Exchange founded in 1832, grew to prestigious levels during this time of great expansion. In 1910, the total number of trades was more than double that of The Toronto Stock Exchange. This growthled to the merger of several small companies creating larger corporations which in turn traded their shares1 on the Exchange.
My great grandfather, Robert Lindsay (1855-1931), was a stockbroker during this exciting and prosperous period of Montreal history. Robert was the son of the successful banker, Robert A. Lindsay (Bank of Montreal), as well as the nephew of the prominent politician, William Burns Lindsay. Wisely, he left banking and politics to his elders and forged his own career in finance.
Robert was born in Montreal in 1855, the oldest of four children, three boys plus a girl who died in infancy. His mother, Henrietta Dyde, passed away in 1864, ten weeks after her baby daughter died. Robert was only nine years old at the time. His father remarried two years later and he and his new wife, Charlotte Anne Vennor, had six more children.
Mary Heloise Bagg, one of the daughters of Stanley Clark Bagg and Catherine Mitcheson, became his bride in 1881. The Baggs, a prominent Montreal family with real estate interests, welcomed their first stockbroker into the family.
Early in 1914, at the age of 59, Robert retired from his long and successful career as a stockbroker. That same summer, during one of his periodic trips to England, he arrived just days before the outbreak of WW1. His son, Stanley (1889-1963), had enlisted as a lieutenant2 with the Royal Highlanders of Canada so Robert decided to take up residence with the rest of his family.
He joined forces with Canadian philanthropist Lady Drummond and Lady Perley as founders of the first of The King George and Queen Mary Maple Leaf Clubs3. Several sizeable London homes were donated and refurbished to provide for the welfare of Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) soldiers on leave from the front. The safe well organized environment provided lodgings, meals, recreational activities, up-to-date military information and even savings accounts for the soldiers thus preventing drinking, idleness and any opportunity to pursue “morally questionable activities”. London became their “home away from home” where they could recover from trench life, boost their morale and heal physically and mentally before returning to the front.
Three years later, in 1917, Robert’s ill health led to his withdrawal as the Treasurer-Secretary and his return home to Montreal. “The committee and workers of “The Maple Leaf Clubs” greatly regretted his departure… As a souvenir of his services, they presented him with a massive silver cigar box…”4
Robert’s son became “Captain” Stanley Lindsay and survived the Second Battle of Ypres (and the first German gas attack). Eventually he recovered his health and also returned home to Montreal in 1919.
Once home again, Robert and his wife committed their lives to helping others. He was a member of the Anglican Church, a life governor on the board of three main hospitals as well as the Church Home (for the elderly) and a member of The Mount Royal Club.
One such commitment catered to his great interest in art. Robert had been active in the Art Association of Montreal (now the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) since his retirement from the financial world. He was honorary president at the time of his death and had previously held executive positions for many years.
His obituary remembered him as “a kindly man of retiring nature… a supporter of many charity campaigns, and who preferred to remain anonymous in all his undertakings”5.
Edited by author 2020-07-13
1“Shares are units of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset that provide equal distribution in any profits, if any are declared, in the form of a dividend”. Www.Investopedia.com as seen 2020-07-13
2Stanley B. Lindsay worked his way up to Captain with the 13th Battalion of the Royal Highlanders of Canada