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Millicent Thorpe Hanington (1895-1982)

Millicent’s one indulgence in later life was watching “Hockey Night in Canada” on television.  She was a committed fan and watched every game without fail.  One night during the game, Sydenham, her husband, felt light headed and fainted.  She gave him a gentle slap to wake him up, got him to swallow a couple of aspirins and warned him with:  “Don’t you dare die during my hockey game!”[1]

The birth of this sixth daughter, Millicent, in 1895, could have been in celebration of James Peters Hanington ’s graduation from McGill Medical School a year earlier, at the ripe old age of 49.  Millicent (my grandmother) was the baby of this family of girls, and eventually looked after all her sisters in their old age.

The Hanington family had strong roots in Shediac, New Brunswick, given that William Hanington (Millicent’s great grandfather) founded the town in 1784.  Millicent grew up spending the summers at her father’s cottage in Shediac Cape and soon after she married, she bought her own summer cottage there and named it “Iona Cottage”.  The family story told was that she was so thrilled, that the name was really code for “I own a cottage”!

Sydenham Bagg Lindsay, an Anglican priest in Montreal, actively pursued Millicent with marriage proposals until she finally accepted him ….on the condition that he look after all her sisters as well.[2]  Poor guy got six women for the price of one! Two of her sisters, however, were married and only three were spinsters.

Married in 1918, Millicent was a young bride of 23 years and Sydenham, a frail young man of 29.  She led a demanding life as a full time minister’s wife in addition to having four children of her own.  Their first child was born in 1920, a frail little girl called Mary Thorpe who strengthened as she grew and was talented in art and theatre.  In 1923, their son, Paul, was born, a jolly little fellow who was to be their life long tower of strength.  In 1926, their daughter Ann (my mother) appeared, a sweet tranquil baby, who was to become a marvellous mother.  Finally, in 1930, came Katharin, a whirlwind if there ever was one. [3]

Millicent’s lively spirit and sense of humour carried her through many a trial. As they moved from parish to parish, her fame preceded her.  Her superb cooking kept the whole family well and strong, including their parents and all her sisters!  There are photos galore of a dozen or so family members around her Sunday table. When Sunday lunch after church became too much for her to manage, the family began a new tradition of eating Sunday lunch regularly at Murray’s Restaurant, which she thought was the closest thing to her own cooking.Dodo, Mary, Bob, Mrs JP Hanington, Granny, Grampa, Kay, guest, Tom, Tootie, Ann, friend Bobby

She kept an eye on her mother and her sisters as they aged and needed attention.  In 1950, her mother died in her 99th year and Millicent missed her terribly the rest of her life.

With the strain of WWII, parish duties and his family, Sydenham’s health suffered.  As his strength waned so did that of his daughter, Ann, who had developed Hodgkin’s disease.  Both parents suffered through her illness and death and the problems that beset her grieving husband and their four children.

Seven years after Sydenham died in 1975, Millicent felt ill and didn’t know why.  She had leukemia.  Six weeks later she died, still the gallant lively Spirit she’d always been.

[1] Personal recollections in a telephone interview October 2013 – with Katharin Lindsay Welch. (her youngest daughter)

[2]Personal recollections in a telephone interview October 2013 – with Katharin Lindsay Welch. (her youngest daughter)

[3] Personal recollections by Mary Thorpe Kerr – Victoria, BC – 1993