Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Love and Death - Edith's Story

The Rossmore Hotel Fire, Cornwall 1910.

Well, as I get down to writing Edith's Story (part of the Tighsolas Trilogy)
I once again go over the story of her great loss, her great love.

Charlie Gagne.

This time I look him up in the 1901 census, and he appears to be the son of French Canadian farmers from Weedon.

The father in 65 and the mother 58. He is 17. He appears to be the only surviving son of elderly parents.

Now that is sad, if, as I suspect, he is the Charlie Gagne, Bank of Montreal teller killed in the Rossmore Fire.

Edith's 'unofficial' fiance.

The fire was graphically described in 1910 accounts. According to the New York Times, those who died where employees or boarders, familiar with the hotel, so they took escape routes inside the hotel and died. The others leapt out of windows etc. A cigarette, tossed on a stairwell, is blamed for the fire.

Charlie was a boarder. Why he was there I don't know. Likely subbing at the Bank there. He was normally posted in Levis.

He said in a letter to Edith that he spent most of his time in the Presbyterian Church.... Was he a convert from RC? The 1901 census doesn't include religion, and I can't find his parents on the 1911 census.

Edith first mentions Charlie G in a letter from 1908. She says she heard he is still going to dances in Richmond. She tells her mother he has told her to write to him, so she does. (I guess women had to be invited to contact a man, back then. In 1909, she shows him to her father at the train station. Her father doesn't say what he thinks, according to Marion in a letter to her Mom. Edith also gets bitchy about a friend, Bert Cross, whom she suspects has her own plans to nab the man..(Hmm.) Then he is going to Mexico, and Margaret is worried 'the flirtation' (as she puts it) is over. And then in the fall of 1909 something happens to get them back together because in March 1910, she is heart sick. She says Villard gives her a tonic for her nerves and 'heart' and she is suffering so much from something they are giving her time off from work. That's when she mentions Cornwall.And then he dies. "Why are some allowed to live and other 'good people' taken so early, " Edith laments in a letter.

So her great love was a 27 year old bank clerk, son of French Canadian farmers.

I will have to fashion my story around that.