Knitted Mittens for the Dionne Quintuplets–Mary McIntyre




Author’s Note–Mrs. Mary McIntyre was once called the ‘grand old lady’ of Dalhousie Lake. Mother of Mrs. Walter Geddes she lived to be over 100 years of age. In her 101th year she knitted  5 tiny pairs of mittens for the Dionne Quintuplets. She lived for years with her her daughter who gave her a birthday party every single year.


Perth Courier, Sept. 16, 1932

Almost a Centenarian:  Mrs. Mary McIntyre


After a curved or crooked course of many miles through rocky channels, past dense forest growth of birch, poplar and ever green trees where cultivated farms alternate with rocky barrens and hills the wide Mississippi river comes to a formidable crisis in its path at the high falls of the Mississippi where the leaping stream furnishes the greatest water power for the hydro development between the Ottawa river and the Trent system.  A mile or so further down the wild water furnishes a minor power for the saw and roller mills of Walter Geddes; then after a rapid descent past high picturesque hills, one finds peaceful rest for a time on the broad expanse of Dalhousie Lake.  On the wide beach of the lake and backed by all kinds of native trees and shrubbery have been built neat summer cottages owned by holiday people from far and near on the hill just above stands the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Geddes overlooking the lake and cottages and hills and farms which border the beautiful lake.

In this comfortable and hospitable dwelling an aged lady finds a welcome home.  This is the mother of Mrs. Geddes, Mrs. McIntyre, of whom we were privileged to see and converse with a short time ago.  Mrs. McIntyre was born in North Sherbrooke in 1834 and is now therefore 98 years old—an age somewhat remarkable as life comes and goes in this sphere.

With the original settlers about 1820 came the representatives of two Highland clans—Duncan Ferguson of Argylshire and Alexander McDougall from Perthsire.  Soon after their arrival in the new land,  a son of Ferguson married Miss Violet McDougall and to them a daughter, in 1834, was born, the subject of this sketch.

The parents could speak little or no English only their native Gaelic and the little daughter, taught in this parental home, could speak it fluently and in fact never wholly forgot it to this day.  Association with lowland neighbors and teaching in school brought her a knowledge of the Anglo Saxon tongue and this practically became her thinking language.  Here we must mention that the first schoolhouse in North Sehrbrooke was built at Elphin in 1834 in the east half of Lot 10, 2nd Concession.

Mrs. McIntyre has seen the greatest growth in the township in farm cultivation and improvements through many a year of hardship and privation of the settlers until the original cabins have been changed into comfortable farm homes and the very primitive log school houses succeeded by ones of frame and brick all over the two townships.  And so the course of progress along life’s highway has been the history of her own life—the sickle, scythe, cradle, mowing and threshing and binding machines and the kindred working implements have all passed before her life’s work on the farm; and it is a pleasure to know that in her daughter’s home she has found congeniality and affection after life’s burdens have been laid down.

Mrs. McIntyre can yet put a neat patch on a garment and another patch on that even better than the first, so say her friends.  In her girlhood days there was no bridge across the Mississippi in the two townships and their way to market at Perth or Lanark involved much hardship that we can hardly imagine now.  She has walked to Perth, rode there on oxcarts, on horseback, on rough sleds and cutters—and in motor cars as well—and she has heard and seen the airplanes flying far above.


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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