This blog showcases stories from my family history research, and is a place to share my journey as a new genealogist in a world where so much is available on line. My lines lead to Canada mainly from England and the United States, but also from Ireland, Germany and France. Some surnames I will be writing about are Saunders, Sanderson, Hart, Merriam, Wright, Marlow, Bosomworth, Monk, Crawford, Lefevre, Green, Cook, Goff, and Dickenson.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Faith Cook Saunders 1888 to 1974
Faith Cook Saunders
Although I included Faith, my maternal great grandmother,
when I discussed her husband, Herbert Charles Saunders, and her mother, Emma
Green Cook, I feel she merits her own posting. Although I do remember Herbert,
I remember Faith well, as I knew her all my growing up years. She died in my
last year of high school. My grandmother Alice was very close to her, and cared
for her in her last years, as Faith cared for her own mother. My mother “idolized”
her. My great grandparents lived in the same house on East 23rd
Avenue from 1935 onwards, and later my grandparents lived there. Apparently,
the house was “old”, likely turn of the century, when Herbert and Faith
purchased it. I was thrilled to come across a realtor’s “open house” video of
it on Youtube. The house has been completely renovated, but many of the
original architectural features have been retained, such as the front door with
its stained glass, the stair railing, the pillars in the front parlor, the
bathtub, the veranda, and so on. Here is the link to the video, which was taken
in the spring when the Japanese cherry trees along the street were in bloom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crUf9DCfEwk.
Faith as a child
Faith as a teenager
Faith Cook, the seventh of nine children, was born on November
10, 1888 in Helpringham, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England--the same town in
which her mother was born. She was baptised in Timberland, Lincolnshire, her
father’s birthplace, on December 7, 1888. Her father, William Cook, had already
left for Canada by the time she was born, and then the very next year she, her
mother, and her siblings emigrated here. The family story is that on the ship
coming over, Faith developed an infection in one of her arms, and the ship’s
doctor wanted to amputate. Faith’s mother Emma refused to consent, stating, “I
didn’t call her ‘Faith’ for no reason”. The arm healed completely. (Please see
my postings on Emma Green Cook for a more detailed discussion of the family’s
early years in Canada). From having lived in Ontario at first, the family
homesteaded in Moosamin, Saskatchewan in the Orangeville district. She attended
the Orangeville School No. 88 N.W.T., and there is a picture of her class in
1902, which also includes her sister Mary, in the book Moosamin Century One: Town and Country at the following link: http://www.ourroots.ca/page.aspx?id=2885401&qryID=b779619d-199c-4c7f-9f5f-4bc07a62e537&pageSizeToggle=large.
It seems to have been one of the one room schools so prevalent on the Canadian
prairies. The story goes that she met her husband, Herbert Charles Saunders,
who was in the Royal North West Mounted Police at the time, when he escorted
her drunken father home one night.
Faith and Herbert married in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at Saint Matthew Anglican Church, on March 24,
1910, three days after Herbert’s contract with the Royal North West Mounted
Police elapsed. Her brother Edward and her sister Mary were witnesses. Their first child, Clara Evelyn Hope Saunders, was born there
on April 8, 1911, and the family moved to Vancouver soon thereafter in the same
year. They were living in Faith’s mother’s boarding house on Venables Street,
along with some of her siblings. Herbert worked as a clerk in a shipping office
for a time. It appears that they briefly moved back to Winnipeg, where their
daughter Alice May Saunders was born on November 16, 1912, and then came back
to B.C. During Herbert’s years overseas in World War One, Faith and her
daughters again lived in Winnipeg, where her mother and other family members
Alice and Clara Saunders
Faith and baby Bert (?)
Upon Herbert’s return from the war, they settled in Vancouver
permanently, where Herbert worked as a lather, and where they had two more
children, Herbert Edward “Bert”, and Verna Doreen. Faith’s mother Emma lived
with the family from 1927 to her death in 1930. Faith was a midwife, and delivered at least one of her daughter Alice's children. The story is that one of my uncles was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and that Faith was able to deliver him safely. She died on March 29, 1974 of “acute
indigestion and general debility” at the age of eighty-five. She was buried in Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby, B.C., where her mother Emma and her sister Mary Eliza are also buried.
Faith, like her mother, was a kind of “matriarch” of the
family. She was known for her sense of humour. My mother reports that Faith
could send her into gales of laughter with a look, often at inappropriate
times, such as at a violin concert in which the musician was less than adept.
Faith was called “Ma” by everyone, and referred to as “G.G.”, i.e. “Gravel
Gertie”, in cards between her and my mother as a private joke between them.
(Gravel Gertie was a minor character in the Dick Tracy comic strip). She apparently
was very strong-willed, and once she made a decision, including about people,
she stuck with it—forever. It used to be said that she was a “typical Scorpio”.
She was also known for her psychic ability, as was her daughter Alice, and her
sister Lily’s son, Stan Arnold, who was a “famous psychic” in Salmon Arm, B.C.
Faith, in her later years, said one day, “Someone’s got a lot of painting to do”.
The next day my grandmother received a call from one of my uncles saying that
his company had received the contract to paint the Western Whitehouse. I’m told
that when she was younger, she swore by an tonic called, “Lydia Pinkham’s”, as
did many women of the era. It was an early herbal remedy for women’s
complaints, and contained such ingredients as pleurisy root, life root,
fenugreek, unicorn root and black cohosh. It also turned out to be forty proof.
remember her as a loving, caring great grandmother, and I will always remember
sitting with her, my grandmother and mother in her kitchen drinking tea. Her
tea was always so strong that you could “stand a spoon in it”.