Genealogy, Montreal, Newfoundland, Newspapers, Volunteering

Miss Lindsay – Part 1

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

Marguerite Lindsay and her brother Sydenham circa 1922
Marguerite Lindsay and her brother Sydenham – photo taken in Montreal, Quebec – circa 1922

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?

Marguerite Lindsay 1922
The Grenfell Mission photo of volunteer Miss Helen  Frances Marguerite Lindsay

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

New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, PEI, Research tips

Acadian research guide contains hundreds of resource links

On this 259th anniversary of the Acadian deportation, those researching their Acadian heritage might find the research guide, Acadians of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland of interest. It consists of Acadian Parish Registers under the French and British regimes in addition to the modern-day period under Confederation.

Click on this link, Acadians of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, to see a 162-page downloadable document that will help you find your family’s name in community parish records, etc.

2014 Acadian Congress
The Acadian Congress takes place August 8 to 24, 2014. The map below indicates the areas where many of the Congress activities will take place.

Carte3RegionsPetit

“Then uprose their commander, and  spake from the steps of the altar. Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals, the royal commission. “You are convened this day,” he said, “by his Majesty’s orders… Painful the task is I do, which to you I know must be grievous. Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the will of our monarch; Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds, forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there. Ever as faithful subjects, a happy and peaceable people! “

“Prisoners, now I declare you; for such is his Majesty’s pleasure!”

Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then arose louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger. “

Source: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Évangéline and other selected poems Penguin Books, 1988.