While I was living with my parents, I recall my mother mentioning that she had met a lady named Alice Wilson, while on a tour of English gardens. Mother enjoyed this lady’s company and would visit her often during the winter months when Alice was living in Hamilton. After my move to Ottawa, my parents would make at least one annual summer trip to visit me and always had on their itinerary a visit with Alice in Shawville. At least once, Kevin and I took our children along. Alice always spent her summers in Shawville so that she could visit with her son who had built a modern home for his family. Meanwhile Alice’s summer home was a log house with a name, The Kelly House.
A log house had been built in 1828 as the parsonage for a Wesleyan-Methodist Minister. The date of the building was confirmed one day, as Alice removed old wall paper and discovered that a wall had been insulated with old newspaper. One piece of paper had a date on it – 1828.
William Kelly was the first son of Irish immigrants James Kelly and Elizabeth Dailey. William was born in 1837, about 3 miles north of Shawville on the family farm on the Eighth Range Line near the end of Green Lake, near Yarm. William grew up and started a family of his own and at an unspecified date took over the log house which then became known as The Kelly House.
In 1958, the house was sold by the family, but in short order that purchaser sold it to Alice Wilson. She and her son bought it as a summer home because they fell in love with it. One of her commitments was to keep it in as close as possible condition to what it was when she bought it. This meant keeping the old crank wall telephone, and the peddle piano. Alice owned the house until 1996 when she moved to a retirement home where she lived until 1998. She died at the age of 103 years.
By now, given the title of this article and the name of the house, you will have an inkling that there might be a connection with someone at St. Martin’s. You’d be right, Ruth Kelley is a descendant of William and Elizabeth. This I discovered during a Stewardship Campaign visit with Ruth. In the course of our conversation Ruth told me that she had come to St. Martin’s from Aylmer and so I asked her if she might have a connection to Shawville. She did indeed and when I asked if she was linked to The Kelly House the answer was again positive. What a small world!
A little background on Ruth. When she decided to move to Ottawa from Aylmer where she had lived for many years and been an active member of Christ Church Aylmer, she decided that she would be most comfortable living in west end Ottawa. Before she found her lovely condo at Northwest One, Ruth lived in an apartment near the corner of Richmond and Woodroffe avenues. One Sunday morning she went for a walk and during her ramble she saw a sign for an Anglican Church and decided to go and check it out. When she arrived she climbed the steps to the Narthex and there she met Father Rob. They talked briefly and he said – why don’t you come in? She replied that she felt inappropriately attired, to which he said – God doesn’t care about your clothes – so she came in and has been a member of our congregation ever since.
Ruth attended some meetings a couple of years ago to discuss favourite books and she suggested that her favourite was written by an Ottawa author who had walked the Camino de Santiago and written about it. The author is Guy Thatcher, and his book is A Journey of Days. With Ruth’s encouragement I invited Guy to come to St. Martin’s and talk to whoever showed up. The best part that 45 people came and about half were not members of St. Martin’s. Great outreach Ruth.
Now Ruth lives in River Park Place enjoying her large room with her many family visitors and friends from St. Martin’s dropping in to visit.
BUT the link between my family and Ruth’s does not end with Alice Wilson and The Kelly House. James and Elizabeth had emigrated from Maguiresbridge, Enniskellen Parish, Fermanagh County, Northern Ireland. That happens to be where my father’s family lived before migrating to southern Ireland and then on to Canada.
WHAT A Small World!