Friday, March 23, 2012

Wales Home and High Tech

This is a picture of Sarah McLean McLeod, my husband's great great grandmother, born Isle of Coll and living in Kingsbury, Quebec most of her life.

She lived from 1827 until 1912. So she died 100 years ago, early May. In Richmond, at her son's house.

I write about her because the newspaper the Sherbrooke Record contains a story by Corrinna Pole about the Wales Retirement Home in Richmond, Quebec, claiming it is the first such institution in the Province to implement a Real Time Surveillance System, in the form of a bracelet for each of its residents.

I'm guessing, but the Wales Home (a majestic place situated on a tall hill) might not have existed except for people like Sarah Mclean McLeod.

I say so because in 1911/12 Sarah was aged and infirm and taking care of her took quite a toll on the Nicholson Family of Richmond.

I wrote about them in Threshold Girl = a free ebook, that tells the story of Flora Nicholson's year at MacDonald College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. The year is 1911/12, the year of the Titanic sinking. It is also the year Sarah dies.

The Nicholson Family Letters tell the full story. Sarah is living with Flora's Uncle Dan in Richmond. Flora's mother Margaret often is called on to sit with her, sometimes all night. Margaret has her own problems as the letters and my story Threshold Girl reveal.  Uncle Dan gets TB and dies in March. Sarah dies in May. Below is the ticket Norman took to get from his job on the railway home for his brother in law's funeral. Ironically, it is signed Charles Hays, who died on the Titanic a few weeks later. Hays was President of the Grand Trunk. The BBC included this artifact on their History of the World Website.

As it happens, Mr. Wales was friends with the Nicholsons. He no doubt knew about the stress that this situation put on the Nicholsons and perhaps other Richmond families. In fact in almost tore the family apart.

In 1917 when he died he left money in trust for a seniors home. Norman Nicholson, Margaret's husband was one of two trustees for the Wales Home.

I have all the papers.

My husband and I visited the Wales Home in 2005, because a Mrs. Montgomery was there. She was born in 1910 and Margaret minded her for she was the neighbour's child.

...The picture above was a TINTYPE, and not a good one. But I cleaned it up in Photoshop. I made Marion pretty. This is the only picture of her as a young woman, for it would be in around the 1850's. One of her great granddaughters looks a lot like her.

Now, according to scholars, Edwardian era families DID NOT take care of their elderly, not in England. They did not 'take them in.'  If an old person was lucky, he or she held on to her house and then was in the position to take in a grand child or helper. Otherwise, it was the POOR HOUSE for them.

Sarah had some money, and that's the problem. Everyone fought over it.

Margaret McLeod lived to 1942. She lived in her home until 1938 and I believe she stayed with her daughter in Montreal for her final 4 years.