Sunday, 15 April 2012


We tend to forget how many families, when they originally came had staff to help with the work load of managing the cottages.  Staffing ran the gamut from cooks and maids to gardeners and au pairs.  Last summer an elderly gentlemen stopped by the Family History Day at the Fenelon Falls Museum, where we had a display, to tell me that his mother had spent her summers at Sturgeon Point in the 1930s working as a cook.  She would leave her eight children with their father and work as a live-in cook/maid for six and half days a week at The Point.  Unfortunately, he could not remember the name of the family.

The 1911 Canadian Census for Lindsay, Ontario, shows William Blackwell Fee and his wife, Isabella Bane, with two home girls - Ada Corbett (age 12) and Elsie Hargreaves (age 10).  Both girls had been brought to Canada through the Bernardos Home Children program to work in Canadian homes.  Elsie's older brothers William and Hamden were sent to work on farms in Saskatchewan.  While child labour today is view with profound disgust, a century ago it was common and the British governments took pride in taking "destitute" children and sending them to the Colonies.  It was believed that the children could the become contributing members of society rather than beggars and thieves.  In Canada the program had tailed off by the end of the 1920s and was completely killed by the Depression.  In Rhodesia the program continued into the 1950s and Australia did not end its child migrant program until 1967.  The Fees were older and had retired to Lindsay from their farm, so the girls would have been doing housework.

This is a picture of Margaret Barr, daughter of Charles Barr & Ethel Roper, with her nanny.  The picture was taken about 1914.  Born in 1909, Ethel appears in the 1910 US Census for Birmingham, Alabama.  In that census the family has two black servants -Sarah Edwards and Margaret Hunter.  Other than describing them as servants, both aged 50, both in Alabama, the only other bit of information is that neither could read or write.  This may be Sarah or Margaret or another woman entirely.  Unfortunately there are no names in the album.
Margaret Ethel Barr with her nanny, abt 1914

The Mulligan sisters hired a local girl, Betty Nichol, to work for them at Treetops.  Betty sent in these pictures of her with a couple of the children.  Betty was best remembered for leading the Salvation Army parade through town.

At Rose Hill, the Desbrisay's nanny Rosie Thompson appears in a couple of photographs that came from the Allen family's photo album.  In this one, she is topping beans.

In 1967, the Stewart's au pair Florence Monteil appeared in Zena Cherry's column About Town.

If you have pictures of people who came to work at the Point, we would love to see them.  If you can only remember names, we would like to hear them.

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