Thumbnail Sketches: Rothesay Past and Present
Collected by Priscilla Leger
Edited by James Noble
(Contributed by Connie (Blanchet) Thompson)
Paul Maurice Blanchet, “Frenchie,” (1908-1993) was born in Edmundston, N.B. on February 3, 1908. With his family he moved to the Salt House in Rothesay Park in the summer of 1911, although the family soon took up permanent residence at 52 Gondola Point Road (Until 1942). “Frenchie” graduated from Rothesay Consolidated School and the Royal Military College in Kingston. He went on to earn an engineering degree from McGill University and worked for a time for the Steel Company of Canada. In 1932, Mr. Blanchet returned to Rothesay to work in the accounting firm of his father Paul F. Blanchet, founder of the New Brunswick Institute of Chartered Accountants. “Frenchie” married Patricia L. Harrison in 1936 and had three children before going off to war as a Major with the 8th Canadian Hussars, a company that saw action in Italy and Holland. He returned in 1945 and trained as a chartered accountant. After the war, Mr. and Mrs. Blanchet had nine more children. Mr. Blanchet loved the river and was either in it or on it most of his days. His daughter Connie remembers fondly all the summers spend sailing, canoeing, swimming, and sunning on the beach, bonfires, and the great thrill of rowing boats over the roads during the spring freshet. Even in the winter the family frequently skated on the river and around Long Island. After working for the Hudson Bay Company, Mr. Blanchet became Comptroller for the Saint John General Hospital, from which position he retired in 1973. He died on August 6, 1993.
(Contributed by James Noble)
Margaret Fairweather Bourne, daughter of Percy and Christine (Robinson) Fairweather, was born in Rothesay in 1911, and educated at Netherwood School and The University of King’s College, Halifax. After graduating from King’s with a B.A. in 1932, Mrs. Bourne spent three years teaching algebra, geometry, and Latin at Netherwood before entering the School of Nursing at the Montreal General Hospital. After earning her R.N., Margaret worked as Head Nurse at the Montreal General for three years before joining the army in 1914. In 1943, while serving in the #14 Canadian General Hospital in England, she married Dr. Monroe Bourne, whom she had met in Montreal as a nursing student. After the war, the Bournes returned to Montreal where Dr. Bourne went into practice with his father ad had a family: Robert (b. 1946), Richard (b. 1948), and Mary (b. 1953). Having summered in Rothesay with the children as they were growing up, Mrs. Bourne returned to Firshade to live in 1983 when Mr. Bourne retired. Dr. Bourne died in 1992. Mrs. Bourne has been active in Rothesay in her “retirement” as a member of St. Paul’s Church, of the Rothesay Garden Club, the Rothesay Area Heritage Trust, and as a traveler, making frequent trips to visit her children and grandchildren in California, The Northwest Territories, Quebec, and elsewhere.
(Contributed by Sheila Mackay Dick)
Sheila Mackay Dick writes that after wanting so much to go to Netherwood, “I finally got my chance at thirteen when I entered Grade 8. It was the first time I was responsible for myself and I loved it. Our headmistress Mrs. Crimmins was a wonderful woman who created many happy memories for me. After Netherwood, I went to Europe for a year and then to McGill for an unhappy year. After completing a secretarial course in Toronto, I went to London, England, where I worked for J. Walter Thompson for a year before settling back in Toronto for 15 years and working various jobs in advertising, marketing, and public relations. When my father developed cancer in 1984, I moved back to Rothesay to be with him and settled into a cottage on the family property. In 1988, I developed the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation to support the visual arts in New Brunswick, principally through the Strathbutler Award, but also through arts grants presented across the country. On December 12, 1994, I married Hal Dick at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. We live in Rothesay and have a summer cottage in West Quaco, N.B.”
(Contributed by Margaret Bourne)
Susan B. Ganong B.Sc., LLD (1873-1961) was born in St. Stephen, N.B. in 1873. After graduating with honors from high school there, and then completing Normal School (Teacher) training in Fredericton, she returned to St. Stephen to teach for three years. Further studies gained her a B.Sc. from Smith College in Northumberland, Mass. And qualified her to teach science at the Halifax Ladies’ College. After four years at the Ladies’ College, Miss Ganong came to Rothesay in 1903 as Co-Principal of Netherwood. In 1912, she assumed full responsibility as Principal and owner of the school, in which she remained for forty-one years.
As principal, Miss Ganong’s priorities were the education, health, and welfare of her girls and, under her leadership, Netherwood became internationally known as a school of high scholastic standing. She was keenly interested in the study of French and, during summer holidays spent abroad, furthered her own study of the language and brought home various treasures to add to the beauty of the school. She encouraged music and art and, to foster interest in these subjects, brought musicians, artists, and art exhibitions to the school. These events were often generously offered to the public as well. Although her principal focus was always the school, Miss Ganong had many other interests and was honored for her involvement in at least two of them: the YWCA and the N.B. Museum. In 1943, Miss Ganong was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by U.N.B. in recognition of her significant contributions to education in the province of New Brunswick.
Dr. Ganong retired in 144 but continued living in her cottage on the school property until her death in 1961. In recognition of their high regard for her, the Old Girls commissioned Kenneth Forbes to paint Dr. Ganong’s portrait, which now hangs in the dinning hall at Rothesay Netherwood School. It hangs as a fitting tribute to a woman who profoundly influence the many girls who were under her and who remember her with affectionate esteem and respect.
(Contributed by Betty Jane Markham)
The Rev. Dr. Walter Robert Hibbard, M.A., D.C.L. (1876-1960) was born in Frelighsburg, Quebec and educated at Bishop’s University (M.A. 1899). He came to Rothesay in 1908 to assume the headmastership of Rothesay Collegiate School, which was then under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Fredericton. Under his stewardship, R.C.S. underwent a considerable expansion, which included the constructing of the Memorial Chapel and Dining Hall in 1922, the School House in 1930, and an addition to North House. Dr. Hibbard was a scholar of some distinction and is remembered for the intelligent and succinct sermons he delivered in the school chapel. When he retired from R.C.S. in 1938, Dr. Hibbard became rector of Renforth and Coldbrook, where he served until his retirement in January 1947. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in 1919 and made a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral in 1943. Dr. Hibbard and his wife Annie Brooks were the parents of three children: Emily (Millie), Muriel, and John (Jack), who died in 1930 while attending the Royal Military College. Dr. Hibbard died in Rothesay.
(Contributed by Gordon Fairweather)
There is some confusion about whether Jack Hall Alliger Lee Fairweather (1878-1948), son of Authur C. Fairweather and Annie R. Lee fair-weather, was born n Saint John or Rothesay. His parents moved permanently to Rothesay three years after his birth, and although his World War I records give his place of birth as Rothesay, it is possible that the family rented rather than owned property there at the time.
Mr. Fair-weather was educated at R.C.S. and earned a B.A. from UNB and an L.L.B. from the Harvard Law School. He practiced law in Saint John, taking over his father’s practice upon the latter’s death in 1911. He was twice married. His first wife, Agnes Clifton Tabor, bore him two daughters: Barbara, later married to Dr. F. Ralph Connell, and Hamlin, later married to Kingsley M. Hume. Jack’s second wife, Agnes Charlotte Mackeen, bore him four sons: Gordon, Jack, Richard (who died in infancy), and David. Although a widower of 37 with two dependent daughters, Mr. Fairweather served as an officer in the 4th Siege Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, from 1915 until the Armistice. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery.
Jack Fairweather was elected to the New Brunswick legislature in 1930 and was defeated (by less than 100 votes) in 1935. He was appointed to the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick in 1935 and served until his death in 1948. It was said by some that “he was too fair to be a judge,” a curious comment on the requirements for judicial office. Mr. Fairweather was a devoted Anglican and served his church in many capacities within his own parish and the Diocese of Fredericton.
Percy Rainford Lee Fairweather (1874-1952), son of Authur C. Fairweather and his wife Annie Rebecca Lee, was born in Saint John in 1874 and moved with his parents and siblings to Rothesay in 1881. Their home, Firshade, has remained in the family ever since and is currently owned by Percy’s daughter Margaret Bourne.
Mr. Fairweather served with the Canadian Forces in South Africa in 1901. He was a devout Anglican and an environmentalist and conservationist long before these terms became popular. His nephews used to delight at being summoned to “frolics” at Firshade where Mr. Fairweather had them “walk” the book to remove branches and other impediments to its natural flow. Mr. Fairweather carried on in the insurance business started by his father under the firm name A.C. fair-weather & Sons Ltd. With premises at 42 Princess Street in Saint John, but his primary interest was his dairy farm (Jersey Cows) in Rothesay. Much of his farmland has since been acquired by Rothesay Netherwood School and several smaller lots by private owners.
Mr. Fairweather married Christine Emily Robinson in 1911. They had four children: Margaret, Arthur, and twins Jack and Martha. Jack died in infancy and Martha when she was 12. Arthur died in 1982.
Robert Gordon Lee Fairweather (1923-) was born in Rothesay and educated at Rothesay Consolidated and Rothesay Collegiate Schools. After service in the RCNVR from 1941 to 1945, he graduated from the Faculty of Law at UNB in 1949. He first practiced law in Saint John in a two-person partnership and later joined the firm McKelvey, Macaulay, and Fairweather. He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick in 1952 and reelected in 1956 and 1960. He served as Attorney General of the province from 1958 until the defeat of the Flemming government in 1960.
Mr. Fairweather was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the riding of Royal (later Fundy Royal) in 1962 and re-elected five times. He was appointed first Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 1977 and served as the founding chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board from 1989-1992. he was an official observer of elections in Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Malaysia and headed the Canadian delegation at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on three occasions.
Mr. Fairweather has received honorary doctoral degrees from several universities, the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service in 1990, the 1997 Tarnopolsky Award for fostering human rights, the 1999 Canadian Red Cross (New Brunswick Branch) Humanitarian of the Year Award, and the 2002 Province of New Brunswick Humanitarian Award. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Mr. Fairweather married Nancy Broughall in 1946. They have two sons, Michael and Hugh, and a daughter, Wendy.
(Contributed by H.R.S. (Tim) Ellis)
Senator Walter Foster resided in a hous e which is now the site of the former service station at Rothesay Corner. He was a loyal Liberal and became Premier of New Brunswick at the age of 43. He served as Premier from 1917-23 and was then appointed to the Senate. Senator and Mrs. Foster were the parents of four children: Elizabeth (Mrs. John McCready), Joan, Walter Jr. (“Red”), and Charlotte.
“Red” Foster served as an artillery officer during the invasion of Sicily in 1943. Because his guns and ammunition had been lost on a convoy ship sunk during the invasion, “red” landed on the beachhead armed only with a pistol.
(Contributed by Hope Hazen Mackay Hunter)
W. Malcolm Mackay (1851-1936) came to Saint John in 1872 and established the firm W. Malcolm Mackay Ltd., shippers of spruce wood. He married Susan Rankin McMillan on August 25, 1886 in St. Paul’s Church, Rothesay. They had five sons: Hugh, Colin, Campbell, Malcolm, and Reay. Although the Mackays lived on Orange Street in Saint John, the boys went to R.C.S. When Saint John instituted a resident head tax, the Mackays moved to Rothesay where they had previously spent the summers. They moved into the house on Rothesay Road now known as Balmaghie. Reay Mackay was killed in action at the age of 23 during World War I (1918); his picture hangs in the foyer of Mackay House at R.C.S. As the remaining Mackay sons established their own families, each took up residence in Rothesay in close proximity to their parents.
Hugh Mackay (1887-1957), son of Malcolm and Susan Mackay, was called home from his studies at McGill University to run his father’s lumber business when his brothers were called off to the First World War. He stayed with the business until 1930 when he returned to Montreal to join Ward Pitfield and ultimately to establish the investment firm Pitfield Mackay Ltd. (now RBC Dominion Securities). When he married Kate Hazen of Saint John, they settled in Whiting Cottage (now Lee Mowatt’s home), which was moved to its present location to allow for the building of Strathnaver. Mr. Mackey maintained residences in Montreal and Rothesay and became involved in New Brunswick politics in the 1950s, sitting as leader of the Progressive Conservation Opposition. Kate Hazen Mackay (188-1969) was the daughter of Lady and Sir Douglas Hazen of Saint John. Her father was a lawyer in the city and became a leading political figure, serving as Premier of New Brunswick (1908) and Attorney General and, in 1911, in the Conservative Cabinet of Sir Robert Borden in Ottawa. His daughter Kate never ran for political office but followed in her father’s footsteps. She headed the Progressive Conservative’s Women’s Association and was active in the PC party, the Girl Guides, the IODE, the Church of England, Children’s Aid, Netherwood and R.C.S. BY the standards of her day, she was a political and social activist on many fronts. In recognition of her service to the community, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of New Brunswick.
“Memories of Hugh Mackay”
(Contributed by Mrs. H.A. ‘Sally’ Dick)
“My grandfather died when I was about eleven years old, so my memories are not many. He used to come to Toronto and stay at the Royal York Hotel. When we would go to see him he always had Laura Secord lollipops for us. In the summers when we visited him in Rothesay, I remember having breakfast in the dining room at a small round table, enjoying the morning sun. Sunday lunches were quite a performance and slightly difficult for small children. “Gramp,” as he was known, would stand at the sideboard and carve the meat, and we were no allowed to start eating until Gramp has served his own meal and sat down. What a long wait! My grandparents were in Boston when my grandmother called to say that Gramp had died. It was the only time I ever saw my father cry.”
Hugh and Katie Mackay and four children: Hugh H., Hope, Hazen, and Susan. Hugh H. Mackay was involved in the investment business and returned to live at Strathnaver in 1971. His children currently reside in Rothesay: Sheila in one of the cottages behind Strathnaver, Charles in the house built by Jeff Simson at the corner of Allison Drive and Rothesay Road, and Frances Simson off the end of Maiden Lane. Hope Hazen Mackay Hunter returned to live in Rothesay in 1988 and lives on Alexander Avenue in a house built on the site of her family’s former summer cottage. Hazen (Siti0) Inches lives in a house off the Old Hampton Road opposite Almon Lane; her son Dr. Hugh Scarth, lives in Highland Heights and her daughter Kathryn Grant in the Starr House at the corner of Church Avenue and Peter’s Lane; five other children live away. Susan Reay Mackay Leggat lives in Knowlton, Quebec.
“Memories of Hugh Hazen Mackay”
(Contributed by Sheila Mackay Dick)
“My father was a wonderful Dad. My earliest memories of him are listening to his war stories. For some reason I thought he worked in “socks and bombs” instead of stocks and bonds. I was his “little Miss Muffet,” It was always so exciting to meet the train in the summer on Friday evenings in Kingston as Dad would be coming to the cottage for the weekend form Toronto. The first thing he would do was jump into the lake (Lake Ontario) with a bar of ivory soap, which would always float on the water. Mum and Dad moved to Rothesay in 1971. He had an apple orchard on the Long Reach, and every Christmas he would load the car with soda pop and Ganong chocolates and visit all his neighbors on the Reach. I loved to go with him and will never forget the year on of the neighbors gave him a large portion of pork in payment for the apples Dad had given him during the year. I was still working in Toronto at the time and would only be able to visit on his birthday, the long weekend in August, and at Christmas. His birthday parties were great fun because he was always surrounded by his sisters, family, and friends. My mother’s chocolate birthday cake was always a treat. As for Christmas, my Dad was the best Santa Claus ever.”
Colin Mackay, son of Malcolm and Susan Mackay, went overseas during the First World War and returned to Rothesay to manage the family lumber business. He married Jeanette Bridges and lived in The Sheiling across from the old Netherwood grounds. They moved into Balmaghie in the 1940s. Their daughter Janet lives in BC, as do most of her children and grandchildren. Their son, Colin B. Mackay, was active with the Canadian Navy during the Second World War and delivered troops to Dunkirk. Returning to Canada, Mr. Mackay obtained a law degree form the University of British Columbia in 1949 and practiced law until he was called to assume the residency of The University of New Brunswick in 1953 at the age of 35. HE remained president until 1969 and was active in the International Association of Universities, especially in Lesotho, South Africa. He married Mary Ives Anglin and resided at Balmaghie.
“Memories of Colin B. Mackay”
(Contributed by Sheila Mackay Dick)
“Uncle Colin is a very special person to me. He introduced me to Canadian art, beginning with Fred Ross. My father bought me my first “real” piece of art, which was a Fred Ross sketch of the back of a young man in a black coat with his hands in his pockets. When Dad and I got home with the picture, my brother took one look at my newly acquired masterpiece and called it “Boy Peeing Over Harbor Bridge.” I had some wonderful trips with Uncle Colin. He, his wife Mary Ives, and I went to Scotland one time where we rented a car. The adventure proved quite scary because Uncle Colin, who had insisted upon a standard, got a bit confused with the gearshift being on his left side. You have no idea how many roundabouts we circled again and again while Mary and I were trying to match the exit signs with our maps. We drove right to the top of Scotland, to the land of the Mackays. It was a very moving experience to be there. I was also fortunate to travel twice with Uncle Colin to Africa, where I once waved to a king he had had to breakfast.”
Malcolm Mackay, son of Malcolm and Susan Mackay, returned from World War I to become a partner in the family lumber business. He married Daphne Crosby and lived in the Whiting Cottage then known as Braeleigh. They had two sons, William Reay and Malcolm (Micky), both of whom carried on the family lumber business. Mickey’s sons, Malcolm and Peter, are the current owners of Mackay Lumber. Bill’s son Reay went into the family investment business and is now head of Investment Banking with the Royal Bank.
Campbell Mackay, son of Malcolm and Susan Mackay, built the house at Kinghurst Farm and established the Kinghurst Dairy in the 1930s. He had two children; his son Douglas worked for RCB Dominion Securities. At one time the four surviving sons of W. Malcolm and Susan Mackay and their families lived in close proximity to one another in Rothesay: Colin Sr. (Sem) and Nettie at Balmaghie, Hugh and Katie across the street at Strathnaver, Malcolm and Daphne next door at Braeleigh, and Campbell and Lou down the road at Kinghurst Farms.
(contributed by Betty Jane Markham)
The Reverend Canon Cecil Jefferies Markham, M.A., D.Cn.L.E.D. ( (1984-1992), who retired as rector of St. Paul’s Rothesay in 1964 after thirty-two years in the ministry, never sought the limelight, believing that his reward and vindication would come from God. He was a faithful priest who tried to meet the needs of the unfortunate in the community. His daughter remembers hearing as a child that her father had walked through deep snow carrying groceries to a poor family “up the road”. A veteran of both World Wars, Canon Markham served as a soldier in the First World War and as Chaplain to the Canadian Army during World War II. He was also active in the Scouting Movement and was awarded the Queen’s Jubliee Medal for his services to the Boy Scouts of Canada. For the greater part of his life, Canon Markham was the avid stamp collector. He was eventually able to sell his mint collection of sovereign stamps for enough money to purchase a retirement home for himself and his wife. Canon Markham was blessed with relatively good health and died in his ninety-eighth year with the words “ God’s grace is sufficient for me” as his final statement of faith. He had been predeceased by his wife Georgia in 1976 and is survived by two daughters, Mary Anne Sweeny of Vancouver and Betty Jane Markham of Rothesay, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
(Contributed by H.R.S. (Tim) Ellis)
Walter Miles lived two doors beyond Senator Foster home on Rothesay Road on a property purchased from Thomas Bell. A pipe-smoking Englishman, Mr. Miles was a tea-taster employed by T.H. Estabrooks Ltd. It was his responsibility to ensure that the shipments of tea from different parts of the Far East were blended in the right proportions to give uniform taste to the product. Changes in the rainfall in the various tea-growing districts could affect the crop from year to year.
Mr and Mrs. Miles had three children: during World War II, Sally served overseas as a Nursing Sister; Barbara served with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps; and George servers as a high-ranking officer with the Royal Canadian Navy.
(Contributed by H.R.S. (Tim) Ellis)
James Fiddis Robertson was a partner in the large department store on King Street in Saint John known as the Manchester-Robertson-Allison (MRA). His summer home (now the Shadow Lawn Inn) was named Karsalie after the Crimean city of Kars, where a forebear, General Sir Fenwick Williams, on loan from the British army, had commanded the Turkish troops opposing the Russians who had laid siege to the city. Mr Robertson also purchased two properties on what was later to be called Collage Hill, hired a headmaster from England and established a school for boys in 1891.
Mr Robertson had four daughters, for two of whom (Mrs. Harry Puddington and Mrs Ned Armstrong) he built homes adjacent to his property on Rothesay Road. When one of his daughters was married, Mr Robertson hired a special train to bring guests out from the city and to transport them to Saint John after the wedding.
Mr Robertson’s sister Anna was the mother of Harold Ellis, a long time resident of Maiden Lane.
John E. Sayre (1885-1961) was born in Saint John and served as a Captain in the Artillery during World War I. He owned lumber mills and maintained and office in Saint John, from where he conducted his business. Married to Jean G. Trueman, with whom he had four children, Mr. Sayre moved to Rothesay in 1918 and became the first Chairman of the village. With Fred Crosby, he bought the first fire truck in Rothesay, an event which marked the beginning of the Rothesay Fire Department.
Geoffrey T. Sayre was born in Saint John but lived in Rothesay all his life. After serving as a pilot in the RCAF during World War II, he went into the family lumber business. He served for several years as a councilor and later as mayor of Rothesay. He was for many years the volunteer and then first permanent Fire Chief in the Rothesay Fire Department. With the assistance of volunteers he built the Fire Station on Gondola Point Road. While Mr. Sayre was a member of the Council, Harry Miller was hired as the first policeman in the village. Mr. Miller’s appointment marked the beginning of the Rothesay Police Department.
(Contributed by H.R.S. (Tim) Ellis)
Percy Thompson acquired “Karsalie” (now the Shadow Lawn Inn) from the Robertson estate and made additions to the original structure. He removed the cedar hedge fronting the property and replaced it with a brick wall. The coach house was converted into a garage to house a number of expensive cars, including a Marmon Roadster that made many young boy’s jaw drop in envious awe—chrome everything, including a massive swiveling headlamp at the driver’s elbow.
Mr. Thompson was interested in developing golf courses. He began with Riverside and built a large home on the edge of the coarse. His sister Mabel was a championship golfer. His only son Eric was also an athlete, an amateur baseball player who pitched for the village team on summer evenings on a ball field located on the present site of the Rothesay Park School. Owing to a dispute over property taxes, Mr. Thompson relocated from Rothesay to East Riverside and later Pinehurst, North Carolina.
(Contributed By Donald Turnbull)
Wallace Rupert Turnbull (1870-1954) was born in Saint John in October of 1870 and moved to Rothesay in 1990 with his wife Mary and four sons Wallace, Davis Donald, and Hugh to establish his Consulting Engineering practice and lifelong residence. He began an intensive study of aeronautical science in 1902 which cumulated in his invention of the “ Variable-Pitch Propeller” in 1927. Mr. Turnbull also invented many of the emerging technologies of his day from cameras to automobiles. His last major undertaking was a design concept for a tidal power generating station to harness the Bay of Fundy tides. Aside from his professional accomplishments, Mr. Turnbull was an avid sailor, handball and tennis player. Throughout his life he was know as a modest, friendly gentleman. In his later years, he took great pleasure in promoting the game of tennis, in fixing toys and bicycles, and in shellacking hockey sticks for his grandchildren and their neighborhood friends.
REV. M. A HARRIS
Michael Alphonsus Harris was born in Saint John on October 30, 1897. He attended St. Joseph’s University and Holy Heart Seminary, Halifax and was ordained a priest on April 5, 1924. His initial appointment was to St. Bernard’s Parish, Moncton. He became pastor of St. Anne’s Parish, Kingsclear in 1938 and pastor in Hampton in 1948.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church was originally located on the Hampton Road, near the present Catholic cemetery. Built in 1857 after the railway first ran through the district, it was destroyed by fire on June 8, 1941 and replace by the church that served from 1942 to 2004. The latter church was replaced by the new church on the Gondola Point Road.
In 1953, Rothesay was erected into a parish and Father Harris was appointed the first pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and served there until his death on February 28, 1965.