Meanwhile Back at Fitch Bay-Harriet Adelaide West



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.


Photo-Historique – Municipalité de Dixville – Cantons-de-l’Est, Estrie

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.


Fitch Bay Cemetery by Leslie Nutbrown

West, Hattie, b. 1887, d. 1973, wife of Oral Drew & Albert Johnson

Drew, Oral, b. 1884, d. 1926

Hattie West

Canada Census, 1901
Name Hattie West
Event Type Census
Event Date 31 Mar 1901
Event Place Stanstead, Quebec, Canada
Gender Female
Age 15
Marital Status Single
Nationality Canadian
Ethnicity English
Religion Adventist
Relationship to Head of Household (Original) Daughter
Birth Year (Estimated) 1886
Birthplace Qc
Page 11

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

Related Reading:

The Sad Lives of Young Mothers and Children in Early Carleton Place

What Happened to Mary Abercrombie of Burgess?

Hocus Pocus –Necromancy at Fitch Bay


About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s