July 14, 2015 – Happy Bastille Day – and poetry time

I have a book that was in my Aunt Mary’s bookshelf and handed on to me.  It is called “Lays of the True North” by Agnes Machar. I took out the book and started to read some of the poetry this afternoon. She was a very spiritual woman and I decided I needed to know more about her so did what we modern folks do an I “Googled” her.

Turns out Agnes was born in Kingston Ontario the daughter of a Scottish Presbyterian Minister at St. Andrews Church, In Kingston. She had one brother and he married and she never did.  She started writing when she was young and appears to have been very smart.  Agnes took on social issues as she grew older and wrote many books and articles about the importance of not just being a good Christian who goes to church and acts holy but also the importance of doing for those less fortunate and making life easier for others.  I looked her up on several sites.  She was a fascinating woman and she also somehow knew my grandparents. There are Christmas cards to them when they lived in Gananoque which would suggest either that she knew my grandmother who grew up in Kingston or she met my grandfather while he was going to Medical School at Queens University.  Cannot figure that out but none the less they knew her and she knew them.  She died in 1923 at a ripe old age and lived on Earl Street where they moved to in 1918.

Here is a poem she wrote about the St. Lawrence River.  She loved the River and had a home in Gananoque during the summer. Where she also might have met my grandparents. The First National Peoples name for Gananoque was “Rocks in Deep Water”.    First a picture of her. and then sorry to say a broken up poem. I cannot fix it but all the words are there.  Following that I will put in another of Sheila’s WWII letters.

<b>AGNES</b> MAULE <b>MACHAR</b> (1837-1927)


Past the Rocks in Deep Water,  winding its way to the sea,
Sweeps our might St, Lawrence, grand, majestic and free;
Yet methinks he tarries, as glad to linger awhile
Amid the mazy channels where the happy islands smile.
Fair do they seem as Eden, when Eden was newly made,
To the wearied city toilers who seek their grateful shade;
Far from the hurry and clamour, far from the bustle and din,
See the cool and shady recesses that lure the wanderer in!  
Soft in the haze of morning, their shadowy masses seem
To rest on the calm blue water like the phantasm of a dream;
They float between earth and heaven like a mystic vision bright.

Happy the careless paddler who steers his light canoe
O’er the mingling ruby and topaz, the purple shadows through,
While the stroke of the ashen paddle beneath the skilful arm
Scarce clouds the magic mirror, or breaks the wondrous charm;

And when the mystic moonlight, with its white unearthly spell,
Like a vision of enchantment clothes river and rock and dell,
How the lights and shadows tremble with a hidden mystery,
And the silhouettes of the islands lie dark on the silver sea!

* ‘Gananoque.’ 

WWII Letter from Aunt Sheila to her sister Margaret

Mailed June 26th 1944 received July 10th 1944

Dear Marg and Allan:

I just don’t seem to be able to get around to writing to everyone, but at long last I’m finally getting around to writing to you. My address now is No 13 Can Gen Hospital, C.A.O.

I want to say how perfect it was to see you that Friday and Saturday at Valleyfield at the house, it was really terrific to see you and not know when I would see you again, and I felt so badly, but now I think what if we hadn’t felt badly at my going, and I get such a swell feeling all through me just to know, I’m loved and I love you all so much. The kids were so sweet. Sheila’s knee I hope clear up nicely as she got such a bump poor angel.

I imagine Mom is sending my mail too you, if not I shall just give you some of the news anyway. We stayed 3 weeks at Debert and I started to go with the cutest guy called Jack Gray, the paymaster, a really cute guy and I came over here with his picture under my arm and he hopes to be over in Sept if all goes well, as a result of this I loved Debert.

The the trip over, Marg, what a trip. 1 cabin, 2 in a cabin, gorgeous things and the meals, no kidding I’ve never seen such meals since 39 or sr, 7 course and entrees, oodles of stuff.

We arrived in Scotland on Tues and in England Wed morning, came down here Thurs afternoon and at work Friday morning, but I liked it all.

There is one catch to it all, I’m very much afraid I shall not see Patt, it makes me so mad, I could scream, but such is life.

Thanks again Marg for getting those pictures for me, Mum & Dad are so pleased and it was swell of you. Send me his address and I shall thank him, also the family are going to get him a subscription to Cornett I think.

Mary had a letter from Joe (Jon) Doyle and he said he had been talking to you on the phone and was going to go over to see you. Thank Marg as I know he will love you both, and you’ll like him. He’s the craziest guy.

Well Margy, kiss the 3 little gals for me, and tell Sheila I wish her a very very happy birthday, and I shall try to send her something as soon as I can go shopping.

Love to you all,


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