“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 father, Robert Lindsay. Lindsay worked as a Montreal stockbroker in 1880 during booming and prosperous times. At the end of his story, I listed the names of his six children, including his youngest daughter Marguerite.
Shortly after the publication of his 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!)
Notes: Miss Lindsay’s three part story can be found below:
1. A summary of Miss Lindsay’s story can be found on the Finding Grenfell website under the People of the Mission section: (https://www.findinggrenfell.ca/home/files/pg/panel-people-v4-large.jpg).
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