Maybe Hattie should have hightailed it to the local Fitch Bay church?-Photo BANQ
In the late 1800s and early 1900s women were expected to marry and have children as soon as possible. However, there was in fact a shortage of available men, and the census figures for the period reveal there were far more women than men.
Hattie West of Fitch Bay, Quebec was still single. At thirty an unmarried woman in that period of time was called an old maid-but Hattie wasn’t even 20. Women were told that the only door open to life was that of marriage, and for Hattie getting married was probably her only thought to escape farm and family life in Fitch Bay.
On the 1st of June 1901 The Ottawa Journal reported that the “16-year-old daughter” of Mr. West, who was a well-to-to farmer from Fitch Bay, had run away from home. The newspaper said in just a few sentences that her Adventist father had found his disillusioned daughter two days later on the 3rd of June in Dixville, Quebec. Hattie was just a few steps from the American border in the village that was originally called *Drew’s Mills in 1874, after the Drew family.
Faster than you can say *Uncle Dick Mr. West found out that she had run off with one of his hired hands, but now she was alone at the train station, loverless, and very penitent. What had happened? It was said that the excitement of the pending marriage proved too much for the groom-to-be. So, he did what he felt was best- he got drunk and simply disappeared. Drunkenness was extremely common in those days as it seemed for many as the only refuge from depression and misery. Was Hattie a source of depression and misery for the pending groom–or was it just the fear of being caught by her powerful father that drove him to drink that day in Dixville.
Dixville aka Drew’s Mills Quebec
Today the remains of the sawmill and hydroelectric dam can still be seen in Dixville, but the story of Hattie West has remained a secret all these years. When I found the archived newspaper article Hattie was simply referred to as ‘the daughter’ and only the last name of her father was mentioned. The Ottawa Journal also reported that she was 16 years-old when she was found by her father that day in June.
After much research I found out that Harriet Adelaide West was listed as only being 15 in the Canadian census in March of 1901. Her mother was not listed and it was obvious to me that she was responsible for her brothers Roy and Raymond West age 8 and 3, and her American uncle Henry Moranville age 34, who was also listed on the family census. Like a lot of young girls in those days marriage was probably the only means of escape for her.
Hattie West died in 1973 after being married twice in her life. She was the wife of Oral Drew who was born in in 1885 in Stanstead but lived in East Bolton as a child. Drew died at age 41 in 1926 and his mother’s name was Hattie also. He is buried in the same cemetery as Hattie.
Now you know the rest of the story of Harriet Adelaide West of Fitch Bay, and she will never be nameless again in history.
Just a few steps from the American border, on a promontory close to Cushing Falls, Dixville enjoys a great location. That’s what convinced Richard Baldwin Jr. (Uncle Dick) to found this village in 1874, calling it Drew’s Mills, after the Drew family. An employee of the Grand Trunk rail shipping company and a Barnston pioneer, Baldwin ultimately left his nickname – Uncle Dick – as inspiration for the name of the municipality, which merged with Saint-Mathieu in 1995. Apart from remains of the sawmill and hydroelectric dam, local residents appreciate the simplicity of their churches of various denominations – the Baptist (formerly Methodist) Church (1869), St. Paul’s Church (1882), St. Cuthbert Anglican Church (1884), and the Saint-Matthieu (1915) and Sainte-Suzanne-de-Stanhope (1914) Catholic churches.
West, Hattie, b. 1887, d. 1973, wife of Oral Drew & Albert Johnson
Drew, Oral, b. 1884, d. 1926
|Event Date||31 Mar 1901|
|Event Place||Stanstead, Quebec, Canada|
|Relationship to Head of Household (Original)||Daughter|
|Birth Year (Estimated)||1886|
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun