Hard to remember those days, but there I am in Grade 3 –third row, number 4- big smile–blonde Bette Page haircut– soon to have massive dental work done in the 1990s. On the top right hand corner lies our beloved teacher Miss Righton from Cowansville High School. Everyone loved her, especially the boys. There were only two teachers that my fellow male classmates considered ‘’too hot for teacher” when I went to school and they were: Grade 2 teacher Miss Spicer, and my Grade 3 teacher Miss Righton. In a sea of the matronly and the spinsters were two teaching women that wore stiletto shoes and petticoats that peeked out of their 50’s circle skirts. Remember Van Halen’s music video “Too Hot for Teacher” in 1984? I wondered if anyone ever had a teacher like the video model Lillian Muller in their lifetime.
As I looked in the mirror today I wondered if Miss Righton still looked the same way– or was she still alive? Even though I still think I see the same young person in the mirror at age 70, I know that I am gazing at a mirage. By the looks of also 70 year-old Muller she has had some Botox, a wee bit of plastic surgery (she denies it) and some media photos of herself appear photoshopped.
When I Googled her I was relieved to also find a few unflattering pictures of her. One has to imagine that there has to be a little something sagging under those clothes, and where the heck was her bellybutton on one website photo. Once again, the miracles of Photoshop mysteriously eliminated another body part of a celebrity.
Many years later Muller has made a career as an inspirational speaker and author. Unlike Miss Righton and myself, she has been a raw food vegetarian since she was 27 and has never had a drink in her life. When Muller auditioned for the Van Halen video she thought she wouldn’t get the part because she was 30 at the time. Now, at the
same exact age as myself she is now posing for senior publications instead of Playboy, but really she has not changed much.
Miss Righton and I had parts in the Cowansville Elementary School Grade 3 “stick, triangle and tambourine” band while Muller went on to star as Rod Stewart’s affection in “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” video in 1978. Muller also posed in matching white bikinis for a photo shoot with her 21 year-old daughter before she went to college. I can feel quite positive in saying that there is no way that Miss Righton and I followed suit.
Muller is still acting and became the author of “Feel Great, Be Beautiful Over 40” in 1995. She was never married, even though she dated “Magnum P.I.” star Tom Selleck and Hugh Hefner. If I do remember correctly Miss Righton married a country lad, and let’s not get started about my private affairs.
As I pop my second Arthritis pain caplet into my mouth I salute her and former teacher Miss Righton. Do we women really want to look like Muller and have to maintain an illusion on a daily basis? Personally, I’d rather be me; and besides George Clooney said he was comfortable looking older because it’s better than the other option, which is being dead. High five to that!
Ten years ago today I posted this note to Mrs. Hawke at Cowansville Elementary.- that I wrote in Grade 3 in 1959. Same age as my Granddaughter Sophia. My friend Decker Way put this up on our Cowansville High School group and my late great friend Audrey said I was a suck and her brother Bob said I was blogging before blogging was invented hahah. This made my day
I was a child who missed the saddle shoes of the 40s and the 50s by a few years, but my older Albert Street friend and neighbour Verna May Wilson made up for me. There were those of of my friends who thought the return of saddle shoes in 1972 was the best thing since Lucky Charms and Lava Lamps. Then there were two or three and myself who said they hated the entire situation with I believe we said, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”. And, as would be expected, there were a few old timers that had to throw in their two cents and tell “us kids” about the “olden days”. One of my friends launched the conversation, and her first words were, “Hey, saddle shoes are coming back, and my Mother thinks that is great!” For her Mother it was like smelling wine and roses— no, more like winning a sweepstakes contest. Some of you some will remember the old days of saddle shoes when you bought them sparkling white and clean, and then you tried your very hardest to get them dirty before the kids at school got the chance to do the job for you. Seems nice white saddle shoes just wasn’t the thing in those days, and it was very painful to have your friends trying to take every inch of bark off the uppers of your saddle shoes.
I really don’t wander around beginning conversations about saddle shoes these days, but when the subject has come up I once again have always always expressed my displeasure with them. I do remember hearing Verna telling me her Mother became hysterical at the sight of the new saddle shoes when she returned home after her first day at school. They were scuffed and gave the appearance of having gone through a small war, but that was the “in” way to wear saddle shoes. Day after day a bit more wear and tear became noticeable, and just about the time you really got the uppers of your saddle shoes to the point where they were socially acceptable with the “In” crowd things started happening to the rest of the shoes, and it was time to get a new pair.
There were all sorts of things Verna Wilson did with saddle shoes. She would change her laces to match an outfit and I swear some peaked out of their Albert Street Venetian blinds on a daily basis to see what she had done. But, this was a girl that came home at lunchtime to change into another fresh white blouse that she wore with her navy blue school tunic, and she was perfect in my eyes. She mentioned there was a professional scuffer at Cowansville High School that would scuff your saddle shoes for a nominal price. I heard that his scuffing business was so popular that you had to wait as long as three or four days to get his attention. My style once older never followed Verna, but it involved my Grandmother’s borrowed pearls, penny loafers, with a scent of Evening in Paris. I was also so mesmerized with tap dancing that sometimes I taped nickles on the bottom of my shoes. The coin sometimes came in handy for a call on an emergency payphone. Can you even imagine– a penny! But after months of wearing them my father began calling them “clodhoppers” as that’s what they used to call big shoes that just didn’t fit well anymore.
Shoes have always been part of everyone’s lives and they can either afford you the adoration of your peers, or jeers from the cool kids table in the lunch room. Should we get into the Hush Puppies era, or can we just stop now at Saddle Shoes and Loafers and suppress those memories? Did you know that all these shoes we wore actually changed the shape of our feet over the course of our lives? As Leonardo DaVinci once said, “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” Maybe so, but after a lifetime of fashionable shoes, my feet are no masterpieces– they in fact looked like very scuffed Saddle shoes that no one would want– and that my friends are going easy on them.
I was Linda Knight, Junior bridesmaid at this wedding.:)
I began to laugh and had to think to where it all began. I was barely 13 years old when I ran away from my Grandparents home outside of Seattle, Washington on Mercer Island in the 60s to the Haight Ashbury district San Francisco to join ‘my kind’ as I called them.
I saw how things happened in small towns with the cronyism etc., even way back then in the prehistoric era.:) I began to try and fight the town hall (well my Dad was an alderman) at age 14 about heritage homes being taken down because nothing seem to matter to the town council in my small rural town in the Eastern Townships.
I remember standing outside Sir George Williams University (Concordia) protesting the professors when students took over the building at age 16. Then it went on to protesting the Vietnam War when I lost a friend who was barely 18– the fake desks one of my late friends had to get Vietnam War deserters into Canada. Then there was the FLQ issue in Montreal and living right downtown on Pine Avenue and oh my, the list continues– even fighting the city of Ottawa about building art.
I might not have won some of the fights, but I tried to make a difference. Too many people just turn their back thinking they won’t make a difference– but you can. Stand up for what’s right and what you think is wrong. Even if you don’t win– you tried. You can at least say that. Don’t let people make your decisions that matter without your input.
Here is the story about lost Heritage Homes
Last week a simple photo of one of Cowansville’s first homesteads popped up on the Facebook blog thanks to Paul Cournoyer and originally posted by Kenny Bay Hall. From a lone picture of a simple sod/log home, a discussion about the disappearance of heritage houses in the 60’s and 70’s got a lot of people’s dandruff up. The founding homes of Cowansville seemed to vanish one by one overnight and no one seemed to stand up and fight the architectural decisions being made.
Comments from the former students of Cowansville High School
Claudia Forster Allen– Is this one of the first homesteads in Cowansville?
Paul Cournoyer– Margaret Clay Jacob, could this house have been in your husband’s familly?
Paul Cournoyer- The picture was taken around 1930-1940
Kendall Damant- Where was that house exactly? Do you know?
Claudia Forster Allen- Perhaps the Ville de Cowansville Facebook pagecould answer this question.
Paul Cournoyer- I think it was on the left hand side of River St. as you left Cowansville going toward Farnham Ctre.
Bob Bromby What is the location?
Decker Way- Kenny posted that pic earlier & gave the location as Beadeville
Paul Cournoyer- Margaret Clay Jacob, could probably tell us more as her husband is Donald Jacob and this house belonged to the Jacob familly.
Bob Bromby- Beadeville..aha….across the road and a bit further east from that stone house that we were all trying to esatblish a location for earlier. The Pages (Bob,Terry,Steve) also lived next door until they moved to the relocated school house overlooking the pond a bit further west.
Margaret Clay Jacob- Paul, Donald says that his Dad built his home in 1950 and it’s not this house. The other house beside it was built by his uncle after that and was then habited by his grandmother after she was expopriated to build Albany Felt. That house was taken down in 1996-7. Donald does not remember this house at all by memories or family pictures.
Margaret Clay Jacob- None of the houses had a second floor except the Butler home which was a very nice home. Donald says that possibly this is the small house that has been rebuilt now beside the place that sells the flowers up the road accrss the road from Fordyce Road.
And then it began-
Paul Cournoyer- When Roland Desourdy was mayor of Cowansville 1955-74 many beautiful buildings on Main Street were destroyed to build the shopping centre, that is now just a white elephant. Back in the early 60’s nobody said anything because they were afraid of the town hall. Today, people would speak up and not let a town be destroyed like that. When they built the shopping centre, that was the beginning of the slow death of the merchants on Main Street.
Linda Knight Seccaspina– My father Arthur J Knight was an alderman when Desourdy was mayor and we argued constantly about the demolition of the homes. As father and daughter we never agreed on anything but he supported Mr. Desourdy 100%. I am shocked they did not move former premier Jean Jacques Bertrand out and destroy his house.
Paul Cournoyer- Well Linda, nice to see that someone other than me knows what went on back then.
Linda Knight Seccaspina– I know full well; my father would talk about it all the time. To me it was nothing but the devastation of Cowansville. Yet, he sat on that council, approved those homes coming down and agreed to have that lake built. I do not wish to speak ill of the dead especially when it’s family- but what went on there was wrong.
Before and after. I remember my Grandfather George Crittenden’s home when I was a child and it was beautiful and amazing.. How they let it get to this I have no idea.
Linda Knight Seccaspina– Like the Cowan house you used to live in Paul that my Grandfather Crittenden owned for decades on Albert Street. Who destroys the founder of the towns house? No one but idiots!
Paul Cournoyer- You are right, but everyone was afraid of the council back then, if they didn’t agree they would be put aside.
Linda Knight Seccaspina– If I sound peeved it is because historical architecture is a passion of mine. My home in Carleton Place was built in 1867 and even after a fire ripped it apart it went back piece by piece the way it was. I just get mad at the lack of respect for old homes.
Roland Desourdy, served as mayor of Cowansville for nineteen years and founded Bromont as a “model town” in the early 1960s. Roland’s brother, Germain Desourdy, also served a mayor Bromont in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the younger Desourdy oversaw family interests such as a ski resort and golf course. He served as mayor of Bromont from 1996 until 1998, when he was defeated by Pauline Quinlan.
Paul Cournoyer- That was one house that should have never been touched; it was part of our heritage.
Linda Knight Seccaspina– So who called the shots on the Cowan house?Dions Lumber would never sell it.
Paul Cournoyer- Rona Hardware bought the old Dion place, the house and the land was sold to unknowns.
Paul Cournoyer– Today where Dion’s was rests an auto parts store and the rest is a vacant lot.
Linda Knight Seccaspina- I knew that Rona bought it, but seriously the town should have taken it over.
Paul Cournoyer– The town seem’s to be going in the right direction now; they don’t let people tear down buildings just because they feel like it.
Linda Knight Seccaspina- Thats a good thing but too bad it did not happen way back then.My father’s response to tearing down homes? “They were old!”
Well heck.. I am old too but no one is going to tear me down.
Linda Knight Seccaspina- My Dad was an alderman for years and he was also the campaign manager for Jean Jacques Bertrand until he was premier. Were they all together? Was it like the bloody Canadian Illuminati— one has to wonder some times what went on in their heads. But, too late now.
Jonathan Reid-Sévigny: ” I was drawing a lot of heritage homes, small-towny bungalows and dépanneurs from my hometown of Cowansville Québec (you haven’t heard of it) and it all culminated in a little book called Prologue. Ever since I can remember I always daydreamed about familiar structures and spaces (for example, the mini-mall in front of my dad’s house) being overtaken by otherworldly, eerie-like or even disastrous events.”
Jonathan Reid Sévigny was born and raised in Cowansville, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, a culture so unique and full of rare and local treasures that become significant to those who grew up there but perhaps seem completely foreign and often tacky to outsiders
Did Mr. Reid-Sevigny have it right? Was Cowansville overtaken?
In all my research there was nothing about the demolition of Cowansville’s heritage homes- but there was lots about Desourdy’s legacy. One has to ask themselves if they were all ‘burning down the house”?
Audrey Bromby’s fave picture of herself from a long time ago- a time I cherish and remember
Most of you would not know my friend Audrey Bromby, but chances are that each and every one of you has a friend you were best buds with in school. So this essay is not only for Audrey, but it is also a reminder not to take life or your friends for granted.
Today I got a very lost message on Facebook that said:
I have some sad news to pass on to you. Our beloved and special friend Audrey Bromby passed away on July 11 around 5am. She had a massive stroke and never gained consciousness before passing.
These days at my age it seems you loose friends you never thought you would– like Audrey. You go from having a plethora of best friends, good friends, and acquaintances to only having a core group of people in your life. The great Audrey Bromby always seemed immortal to me, and one of the strongest young women I knew in High School. No one ever messed with Audrey, and Leslye Wyatt and I clung to her every word. Nothing seemed to bother her, and every day I wished I could be just like her.
We lost touch through the years, but thanks to Facebook, the old Cowansville High School gang reunited and created a group called: Those Darn Kids from Cowansville High School. Together we created a book that I helped write and edit called:Cowansville High School Misrememberedand the proceeds went to a bursary program at our old school. Audrey had not lost an ounce of attitude through the years, and my admiration for her was now even greater.
In theory, close friendships are supposed to be everlasting, and now it happens even more so online. They’re built to survive even your husband or wife and glide with you to the finish line. So hearing that Audrey wasn’t going to be with me at “the end of the road” has devastated me since I heard the news just a little over an hour ago.
Even though we were in our 60s-Audrey still remembered everything about me, she still recalled everything I went through in my childhood. I knew most of what had happened to her, but still I didn’t see her as a senior like myself. I knew her health was bad, but still visioned Audrey as the girl with the beautiful brown hair and laugh that I danced with at the local Knight of Columbus Hall on Friday nights. It didn’t matter how old we were, we still talked about Bruce from Les Sultans who had driven us gals crazy in the 60s. Nothing had ever changed for us when we reconnected on Facebook-absolutely nothing.
Friendship is deep and powerful and amazing, but it is hard to really explain why. Often you have to let people go as everyone is meant to be part of a journey- and sadly, not meant to remain. When people die it brings up our feelings about our own immortality- and you realize you won’t every have another friend exactly like the person you lost. Like my friend Audrey Bromby.
If you are listening up there Audrey– just a few hours ago, Margaret’s lost message let me know you were gone.
“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again”.
…and now I mourn your loss.
11 JUILLET 2016
Passed away suddenly at BMP Hospital in Cowansville, on July 11th, 2016, at the age of 66, loving wife of Mr. Kevin Cookman, resident of Bedford.
For Canadian school kids, our history involves tedious tales of explorers lugging canoes between mosquito-infested rivers as they contemplate what or whom to eat. Apart from the odd skirmish between the French and English, stories of fur trading routes being established and canals being dredged are among the juicer bits. But what about the real stories like the sewing needle, and walking through the swamp and hunger? What are some of the real stories?
Rob Forster— I remember what I believe was a true story about one pioneer mother sending a kid miles through the woods, a full day’s journey, to bring back some fire from another homesteader after his theirs had gone out. The reason was that the father had taken the family flint and steel off on a trip of some sort and that was why they couldn’t restart the fire themselves. The child started out for home carrying a torch but came back with coals wrapped in birch bark, which of course were just as useful. He had some help from some native people along the way who showed him how it should be done.
There’s an Eastern Townships story about two men who were out chopping wood when they spotted a bear at the edge of the clearing. Being 19th century men, they didn’t flee or take photos, they chased the critter down with their axes and killed it for food. I don’t think that was anything very unusual for those days because it seemed the only reason the story got written down was that one of the men had his heel clawed by the bear and was off his feet for a few days.
Rupert H Dobbin— Another one you don’t expect: During a winter famine a family had only one week’s supply of food left. The husband went on a one week journey to get food. There were terrible storms and he was delayed for two weeks. After end of the first week food ran out. The cat, who up to then only slept by the stove, appeared each morning with a rabbit. When the husband finally made it home through the snow, expecting to find the family all starved, found them well fed. The cat went back to sleeping next to the stove. (apparently recorded in a family journal from eastern Ontario in the mid-1800’s)
Here’s another one: Years ago when writing a paper for my prof., I went to Brome Historical and spoke to, yup, *Miss Phelps. She loaned me a journal from the 1800’s. In those days of logging and land clearance, somewhere around Mansonville, they couldn’t keep a teacher for the one-room schoolhouse. The kids were too unruly. A young man, who had an education, came through town looking for work. He agreed to teach. School was assembled and his confidence kept all in order for a couple of days. Third day an older student began to cause a disruption. A large knife appeared in the beam beside his head. The teacher simply said, “Bring that knife up here and place it on the desk”. No further problems with discipline. Apparently they respected him because they finally had a teacher who spoke a language they understood.
Arguably the most famous elephant of all time, Jumbo was a prime London attraction before PT Barnum purchased him from Queen Victoria against the wishes of weeping youngsters who sent thousands of letters in protest. Nonetheless Jumbo was sent across the pond to become part of Barnum’s traveling North American circus—and Canadian history.
The latter would never have happened had Jumbo not died in a small town in Ontario in 1885, killed, according to reports, by an oncoming train. That small town, St Thomas, would feast off the death—both literally and figuratively—for years to come.
The Ottawa Citizen published a letter in which a woman recounts her great-grandfather’s memories of the day after the crash. Local butchers cut up the carcass so that taxidermists could stuff its hide and its skeleton could go on display in a museum. No instructions were given for the meat, which was put in a giant funeral pyre for fear it would rot. The tantalizing smell of roasted tusker filled the air and many, the woman’s great-grandpappy included, came by with a fork and dug in.
A century after that feast in 1985, St. Thomas reaffirmed its auspicious ties to the elephant’s violent death by unveiling a life-sized statue of the beast during a rollicking “Jumbo Days” celebration. The town’s Railway City Brewing continues that tradition, oddly proclaiming that, “When you raise your glass of Dead Elephant Ale, you will enjoy everything that Jumbo was and became.” An exploited animal and the strangest Canadian lunch meat ever? No thanks!
Sitting in a grade 9 art class I wondered how I could do a book cover art project and relate it to the latest “infatuation” in my life. I cannot remember how the word eagle came in to play right now and wonder if it might have been his nickname. But there I was showing art teacher Miss Marion Phelps my idea of doing a cover for a book called The Eagle Has Landed. She lowered her glasses a tad and gave me a small pat on the back. Quite perplexed; she asked me why on earth I was going to do something like that when others in the class were doing book covers of popular subjects. Of course she was completely right and had she known the real reason she would have politely suggested that I choose another subject.
I was never an artist as I am the Queen of stick-figures but Miss Phelps always tried to bring out the best in me and everyone else. That year in grade 9 I won an award for art and still to this day have no idea why.
Almost fifty years later everyone remembers Miss Phelps and to some like former CHS student Jim Manson, she became his mentor. In the Stanstead Journal in 2001 Manson gave an interview how she helped him with research when he was getting his PHD at Concordia. He became engrossed in Samuel Willard who had spent many years petitioning the Quebec government for land owed to him in 1792. For two years Manson haunted the archives with Miss Phelps being the head historian cheerleader. Manson published a booklet and became part of the Brome County Historical Society and it was all thanks to our Miss Phelps. Jimmy Manson was not the only one that had fond memories of her and here are some comments from former students of Cowansville High School.
Claudia Forster Allen- Not only did I like Miss Phelps as a teacher for all obvious reasons as we’ve said before . . her passion for history (local) and getting us to know our own history but she babysat me as a little girl when I was still crawling. It was in the apartment over the Dairy .. lol my parents lived there when they were first married. I would go in and immediatly go for the cupboards and throw around and bang her pots and pans. She told me the story years later. I would also stand in the window and watch the cars go by. . . and pee my pants. . lol I think she lived with her mother and they would just laugh. Audrey Bromby- I had her in 6th grade, and she was very quiet, soft spoken and very kind. She was in the Fordyce Women’s Institute and used to come to our house when my mother had the meetings at our house. I remember one time when she came, there was a painting on the wall done by my brother, Bob. She stood looking at it and said that she should have given him a better mark. Bob Bromby- I recall that”piece of art”, a still life bowl of fruit. I believe she gave me a 61% on it, which was close to the 59% FAIL and the worst mark in the class. Truth is that Miss Phelps drew most of it as she would frequently lean over my masterpiece and erase portions of my pitiful attempt to produce a classic and redraw it. She did this so many times that there was little of my ‘blooming talent’ left to see. The following year I went back to taking ‘Gym’ where I could at least clear the boxhorse. To this day I can draw a mean stick man. I only took the class at the urging of Stan Aiken (who did have talent) because he didn’t want to be the only guy in the class. I wonder if that ‘painting’ is still around… Wayne King- Loved her.
Barbara Goettel Lacroix– I had Miss Phelps in Grade 6. When she was writing on the blackboard, we used to copy each others work!! I believe she was a bit hard of hearing also. She was a great art teacher – only year that I ever drew anything. Margaret Clay Jacob– I also had Miss Phelps in Grade 6. I really don’t remember that much about her actual teaching other than, as Audrey mentionned, she was soft spoken and kind. I loved her art classes and took them in Grade 9 & 10.
Linda Knight Seccaspina– She was one of the few teachers that believed in me. Beverley Hastings Howman- I remember her art classes – my best subject. And the day Keith Bell posed for a full length pencil sketch (clothed of course). Good memories! Claudia Forster Allen– it was, she was a lovely lady . . . inside and out . . . 🙂 Pennie Redmile- Not only was Miss Phelps a good teacher- but her love for local history caused her to “take on” the Quebec Gov’t (about 20 years ago- – in her 80s) The Gov’t wanted to straighten the hwy between Sweetsburg & West Shefford (Bromont) — Near W Shefford, they were going to build their road over one of the earliest cemeteries. Miss Phelps was not about to allow that– & she made her voice heard. Amazingly, the Gov’t heard her outrage– & though they had no intention of changing their road’s new location, they offered to put up a monument in the Methodist cemetery in W Shefford, with all the names & dates of the deceased from that old pioneer cemetery! Thanks to Miss Phelps intervention – that monument exists as a lasting memorial to some of the very early Shefford settlers!! Pennie Redmile– With so many of her former students not living in the area, you may not know that every year there is a “Marion L Phelps Award” given to a person who has contributed a great deal to the preservation or promotion of local history in an area of Quebec. The first one went to Miss Phelps some years ago. I wasn’t there to see her accept- but I was at the same conference & she was just “beaming”. & I’m not certain of the precise wording of the award– but if no one else knows – I can find out.
There is a series of books available on the Canada Archives & Library website called “Dictionary of Canadian Biography” & Miss Phelps contributed some of the articles about earlier “folks” from out home.
Adelaide Lanktree– Miss Phelps is living at Manoir Lac Brome in Knowlton. I’m sure that she would love to hear how much she was appreciated. She is 103 years old.
Miss Phelps was actually born on a farm in South Stukely, Quebec, and graduated from Macdonald College with an intermediate teacher’s diploma. Phelps has been given numerous awards throughout the years for her dedication to the history of the Eastern Townships but really it is the award of the heart that she deserves to get as she touched all of ours and will never be forgotten. Miss Phelps, there will never be a day where I or others forget what you brought to our lives and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Feb. 9, 1908 — Jan. 22, 2013: Remembering Marion Phelps
Brome Lake loses one of its most esteemed residents Marion Louise Phelps, distinguished Townships teacher, archivist and historian and widely acknowledged as “the” authority on Brome County history, died last week in Knowlton. “It is with sadness that we inform you of the death of Marion Phelps, former archivist and longtime volunteer of the BCHS,” said Arlene Royea, managing director of the Brome County Historical Society (BCHS). “Miss Phelps passed away on January 22 at the age of 104, just a few days short of her 105th birthday.”Royea, who knew Phelps since 1977, called her “remarkable.” Royea also visited Phelps on a daily basis at Manoir Lac Brome, a retirement residence in Knowlton.Phelps was the daughter of William W. and Maude (McDougall) Phelps of South Stukely. She attended the Blake School, the Stukely Village School and Waterloo High School before graduating from the School for Teachers at Macdonald College. She went on to teach at Ste. Agathe and Waterloo High School before going on to Heroes’ Memorial High School in Cowansville. An outstanding teacher, she was awarded the Order of Scholastic Merit by the Department of Education in 1960.Always interested in history, Phelps was a leader in organizing and giving classes in local history and genealogy for the Missisquoi Community School during the 1950s. From those classes a renewed interest in the Missisquoi County Historical Society was kindled. Although still teaching, she spent many hours organizing the books and documents that helped to get Missisquoi Historical Society back on its feet. In 1959, Phelps was appointed curator of the Brome County Historical Society.