The Life and Times of Anne (Annie Shannon) Hickey
A Son’s Memoir
|Annie (Shannon) Hickey|
She was the second child, her sister Mamie (Mary) was born on April 19, 1897. There were eight more children brought into the world by the Shannon’s and all were boys. Anne would outlive all but the youngest, Ralph, who died April 17, 1999, less than four months after her.
She reported she had a happy childhood living in Archibald where her father worked in the woods in the winter and attended to a small farm the rest of the year. She told us stories of seeing a bear while picking wild berries with her sister and of her father catching salmon in the nearby Jacquet River. She said her Mother was very industrious by maintaining a large garden & taking advantage of all that nature provided, by preserving wild berries and placing fruit and vegetables in storage for winter.
There were many visits to and from the neighbors in this close-knit community of both Catholic and Protestant faiths. Anne would remain friends with these families for the rest of her life. She also talked about the house parties they attended where fiddle music was common – mainly by the Furlotte family.
She learned to sew at an early age when a “Sewing Machine Salesman’ came to her home when she was about 12 years old. She arranged to purchase a new “Singer Sewing Machine” for $1.00 or $2.00 a month. She was able to pay this off and made a few dollars sewing for others, including one of her friends Emmeline MacLean, who had a difficult time finding clothing to fit her because she was very tall. Emmeline would bring fabric and an Eaton’s catalogue (for inspiration) and Mom would make clothes to fit her. She also made a few wedding gowns and was often called upon to make gowns for the deceased.
Mom and Dad’s Marriage
On March 1, 1916, at the age of seventeen, she married Irvin Hickey, a distant cousin. Irvin’s mother was Rebecca Shannon. Dad had spent the previous four years working in British Columbia as a surveyor. He had planned to return, however, he changed his plans and started working for his father, Peter, a woods contractor, and Dad later qualified as a lumber scaler.
Death of their Firstborn
Dad’s Employment in the Early Years
The Hickey’s lived in Bathurst for a few years in the early twenties, where Irvin was employed as a scaler with Bathurst Power and Paper. Mom made friends there and they would stay in touch for the remainder of their lives.
The family returned to Jacquet River in the mid 1920’s. They purchased a home from Irvin’s father Peter. They opened a Country Store and Mom made and sold ice cream as well. This building is still in use and is known as the Poirier House.
Dad was employed as the District Forest Ranger from about the mid 1920’s until 1935. He was fired from this position when there was a change in government parties.
Her second son, Owen, was born on June 6, 1919.
Her first daughter, Iva, was born on June 16, 1921, followed by three more girls; Kathleen born July 23, 1923, Inez born May 31, 1925 and Frances born July 23, 1927.
A third son, Evan, was born August 27, 1929 followed by three more girls: Ada, born December 12, 1931; Monica, born August 24, 1934; and Theresa Shirley, born April 23, 1936.
Death of Mom’s Parents
The second tragedy in her life was the death of her father, Patrick Shannon. He died on October 16, 1920 from an injury to his spleen he received while working in the woods. He had reached the age of fifty just one day before.
Mom’s mother, Margaret Ellen (Sheeney) died suddenly on June 23, 1927, at the age of 49. This was a very difficult time as Mom was expecting Frances, who was born one month later. Mom’s younger brothers were the following ages at that time: Mike 17, Morvin 15, Amby 12, and Ralph 8. The boys moved to the Hickey home and were considered family members, even after they reached manhood. On some occasions, they would visit their sister, Mamie Patriquin, in Pictou, N.S.
An Additional Family Member
Mom and Dad adopted (not formally) an orphan girl by the name of Elizabeth (Lizzie) Miller, some time in the twenties. She would stay with the Hickeys until some time in the thirties. The combination of the two families plus Miss Miller created a full household.
Dad bought the former Anthony Dempsey property in the early thirties and they built a new home on that property in 1934. This property was about a half mile from the main road and we named the connecting road “the Lane”.
An incident happened during the “Belledune Forest Fire of 1935”. Dad and some other family members returned home for a rest and one of Mom’s meals. When they were seated for dinner, she asked where Amby was. They informed her that Amby did not come home with the rest of them. She said “yes he did”. She had seen him enter the kitchen and sit in his usual spot. They again insisted that Amby was still in Belledune fighting the fire.
This incident disturbed her, as she was not able to rationalize it. She may have believed it to be some kind of an omen, although she was not overly superstitious.
Dad was not employed for most of the next year. They had saved some money and still had a connection with a wholesaler in Campbellton from the days of operating the store. Mom travelled there and obtained a large supply of non-perishable food items. During this time, she usually cooked additional servings and many (who may not have had enough to eat at home) were treated to a wholesome meal. Her sewing abilities came in very handy in those days as she made most of our clothes, and the girls especially were as well dressed as any in the village. At one point she knitted ‘skip caps’ for the girls. These were very popular.
Mom and Dad operated a small farm, mainly for their own food supplies. The cows required milking twice a day and the cream had to be separated from the milk, by the use of a ‘Separator”. The cream was poured into a stainless steel container and sold to a creamery in Campbellton. It was placed near the Main Road early in the morning to be picked up. The cream could also be made into butter some of which was traded for food supplies. Many of these chores were done by Mom, with the help of other family members.
Dad obtained employment as a lumber scaler with “N.B. International Paper” some time in 1936 and would spend most winters in the woods scaling pulpwood for the company contractors.
Mom’s Brother Dies at an Early Age
Mom’s brother, Morvin, became ill in the fall of 1934. He contracted a virus and his health deteriorated progressively until he died on March 25, 1935, in the Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Campbellton, at the age of 23. Our neighbour and Mom’s cousin, Mrs. Plen Dempsey, visited Morvin while he was in Campbellton because she had a train pass.
Mom’s Extended Family
Mom was always close to her large extended family. Her grandmother, Margaret (Cameron) Dempsey lived until September 1940 and she visited her often. Her great Aunt Martha (Cameron) Doucet would visit us quite often and old times would be discussed.
Her uncle, Wilbur Dempsey, and her Aunt Martha (Matty) Brown lived nearby and Mom was very close to them. She visited often with ‘Wilbur & Mildred’ and ‘Matty and Amby’.
The War Years
In June 1940, less than a year after the Second World War started, Mom’s four brothers joined the “North Shore Regiment”. John (Jack) the oldest was discharged after a few months because he was considered old at 39. Ralph and Amby were still part of our household when they joined up. Sanford was married and had a family at that time. We received word in June 1941 that Owen had joined the Navy in Northern Ontario, where he had been working as a miner. This was a very difficult time for Mom.
During the war years, Mom was very busy with the family; however, she found time to prepare parcels of non-perishable food items, knitted socks and cigarettes to send to family members serving overseas.
In the summer of 1941 a family from Massachusetts drove in our yard. They inquired about their relatives, the Dempsey’s. Mom mentioned that her mother’s family name was Dempsey. They talked about the war that Canada was involved in. Mom mentioned she had recently received word that her three brothers had arrived in England. (She was very sad). She directed the visitors to our neighbors, Mike& Plen Dempsey, who lived nearby. I believe the visitors’ family name was either “Hay” or “Foley.”
Although all of our immediate family returned from the war in 1945, two of Mom’s first cousins did not. Lawrence Dempsey was killed during a training exercise in England in 1943, and John Brown a Captain with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, was killed in August 1944, during the liberation of France. A nephew, Gould Patriquin, was killed in a car accident in 1943, while in the service.
Mom became ill in the winter of 1945 – 1946 and was operated on for gallstones, then became very ill because she was allergic to penicillin. She was in the hospital for quite some time and it was interesting to see Dad attempt to prepare meals as he had never done this before.
In 1950 Mom was attacked by a cow that had been recently acquired and was trying to escape. She was transported to hospital and was given penicillin in error even though the hospital staff was informed of her allergy. Again, she was very sick and a broken vertebra in her neck remained undetected because of the swelling. As a result, she had limited range of movement of her head after this accident. It also caused her pain and discomfort.
Dad’s Business Grows
Dad’s business of selling horses from Western Canada, together with buying pulpwood from the local woodsmen and contractors, was successful during the 1940’s. He purchased many wood lots and had the wood cut for shipment.
There was a lot of excitement in the village when the carloads of horses arrived. Some of Dad’s friends and his brother Forrest would come from Belledune, as well as others from the village. The men from Belledune would stay over for a few days. During these times, Mom was kept very busy.
Another Move to a New Home
In 1946, Mom & Dad decided to build a new home. A parcel of land was purchased in the middle of the village and construction started in late summer. The completion date was scheduled for December. Meanwhile, Mom’s brother Sanford had agreed to buy our farm, however, when twin boys Peter and Paul were born to Edna and Sanford on November 2, we moved to the new home early to accommodate the Shannon family. The interior of our home was finished after we moved in.
The new home had modern facilities and the workload was somewhat lighter for Mom.
In the fall of 1941, four of our family members Iva, Kay, Inez, and Frances were involved in a car accident in Belledune. Iva suffered a broken vertebra in the neck area and was in serious condition. After an operation, she wore a large body cast for some time. Frances also sustained a broken collar bone. Owen had recently arrived in Halifax. He received compassionate leave and arrived home shortly after the accident. This was the first time we saw him in his Navy Uniform.
Mom and Dad instilled in the family the necessity of a good Education. Many of the family attended commercial and/or Business/ Accounting courses. Owen attended Forestry School in Fredericton after the War.
The Family Moves On
The girls were beginning to leave home in the early forties. Iva graduated from a Commercial course in Dalhousie in the late thirties. She was unable to find work in the secretarial field locally, even though she had excellent marks in both shorthand and typing. She moved to Fredericton where she was hired by the family of Charles D. Richards. Mr Richards had been the Premier of N.B. from 1931 to 1933 and was a member of the N.B. Supreme Court at that time.
I am not sure how long Iva remained in Fredericton, possibly one or two years. When she returned she was determined to teach the family improved social manners and grammar. Mom embraced these changes and the family was required to conform to them.
Iva received employment at the RCAF Training Facility in Moncton in 1942. Kathleen (Kay) went to Moncton and enrolled in a Hairdressing course around that time and worked as a hairdresser until she was married. Inez enrolled in a Commercial course in Dalhousie in 1944 and accepted employment with the local N.B.I.P. Mill. Frances also enrolled in a Commercial course in 1946 and obtained employment in Moncton. Evan attended Fredericton Business College in 1947-48. Ada attended Business College in the late 1940’s and worked for a few years at Quaker Oats in Moncton.
Mom and Dad’s Relationship
Mom and Dad’s relationship required much effort to maintain, mainly because of their different personalities and their numerous mutual responsibilities. While Mom liked to socialize, Dad’s interest was in politics and world events. He was a long time elected member of the ‘Restigouche County Council’. One of their mutual interests, however, was charity, both leaving a legacy of charitable endeavours. Dad had been appointed a “Justice of the Peace” and assisted many in the preparation of Deeds and Wills, usually without charge. He gladly assisted many Veterans in obtaining their Entitlements from the Department of Veterans Affairs after World War II.
Iva and her daughter Anne visited from England from late 1949 to early 1950. Anne was 4 years old and was Mom and Dad’s first grandchild. All the family was attached to Anne. Tragedy struck in May, however, just months after they returned to England.
Word was received on May 11, 1950 that Anne had died while playing in their yard. She had climbed a tree and her dress caught in a branch and she was strangled. This was a very sad time for all the family.
Just before we received word of Anne’s death, Dad, who had been in failing health for some time, was diagnosed with Cancer and was not expected to live long. He died on February 17, 1951, less than one month before his 60th birthday. Mom remained a widow for the next 47 years.
When Dad died, the two youngest girls, Monica (age 16) and Theresa (age 14) were still at home.
The Family Grows
Iva was first to marry. She married Arthur (Jenks) Jenkins in January 1944 in Goderich, Ontario. Jenks was a RAF Officer training in Canada.
Inez was next. She married Alban Mazerolle on August 6, 1947 at St. Gabriel’s church in Jacquet River. Alban & Inez both worked at NBIP in Dalhousie.
Kay was married to William (Bill) Delahunt in October 1947 in Moncton. Bill was an electrician with CN in Moncton and had served in the RCNVR (Navy) during the War.
Owen married Monique Valcourt in 1949 in Bathurst. Owen was operating a pulpwood hauling business at the time and later worked as a woods contractor.
Monica married Gerald Audit in October 1952 at St. Gabriel’s in Jacquet River. Gerald worked for his father as a woods contractor and later at NBIP in Dalhousie.
Frances married R.C. (George) Smith in Washington D.C in November 1953. George was a Sergeant in the R.A.F and was attached to the “British Embassy”. Frances had previously moved to Washington D.C. to live with Iva and Jenks and she also worked for the British Embassy. Their first child, Christopher, was born there.
Evan married Emeline McRae in Louisdale, Nova Scotia on May 8, 1954. Emeline was working as a stenographer at Eaton’s in Moncton at that time. Emeline’s sister, Rosie, was married to Mom’s nephew, Harry Patriquin.
Theresa married Weldon (Lyle) Gray in July 1954. Lyle operated a farm in Belledune and later was in the Service Station business in Bathurst.
Ada married Arnold (Cully) Frenette at St. Gabriel’s in Jacquet River on August 31, 1963. Cully had recently returned from Northern Quebec where he had been working with survey teams. He was later employed with N.B. Liquor.
There were five young grandchildren at the time of Dad’s death. Karen Delahunt (13/11/48), Barry Hickey (02/01/50), Brian Delahunt (13/01/50), Carmel Mazerolle (01/03/50) and Peter Jenkins (16/12/50).
There were 40 more grandchildren born during Mom’s lifetime, as well as many great grandchildren, including quadruplets born to Kevin and Cheryl Delahunt. Mom enjoyed interacting with all of them and missed the ones who lived away.
Mom enjoyed travelling. She went to Florida at least once with relatives from Massachusetts. She visited Iva in England at least twice, and went to Washington D.C. a few times while Iva & Frances lived there. She visited Kay, Frances & Evan and their families in Moncton quite often, as well as many visits to the Mazerolle’s in Dalhousie and Evan in Campbellton while he and his family lived there.
On one of her trips to England, she travelled with a tour group to Ireland and was delighted when she met her name-sake, Anne Shannon.
Mom was very close to her sister, Mamie. She and her husband Dean, children Gould, Harry and Joan, lived in Poplar Hill near Pictou N.S. They operated a small farm and Mamie managed the Telephone Central for the district. They corresponded often by letter and Mom was very lonesome for her company. They did not visit often, especially in the earlier years. Mom arranged a trip with Aunt Eliza sometime in the thirties. Mamie & her son Harry visited in October 1945, the year Mom’s brothers and Owen returned from the War. In the later years, they were able to visit at least yearly.
For many years Mamie would forward a barrel of apples to us each fall.
Mom’s Close Friends
Mom had many friends and was especially close to Eva Ward in Moncton. She was her childhood friend from the Archibald/Sunnyside area. She also considered Ethel Culligan, her second cousin, a close friend. Ethel lived in Culligan (Belledune) and Mom visited with her quite often and usually a card game was arranged.
Mom enjoyed playing cards, whether it was bridge, auction, or poker. These games would take place at her home, or other locations in the village, as well as during her travels.
She would say “Jaysus (not misspelled) Murphy, did you see the owl?” and when she was asked if she wanted more tea she would say “Just splice it a bit”. If she was startled, she exclaimed “Jesus, Mary & Joseph”.
Mom was very concerned about people having a difficult time. After the First World War, a few War Brides arrived in Jacquet River and were having problems adjusting. One was Barbara Hickey, wife of Dad’s cousin, Herbert Hickey; the other was Jean Splude, wife of Leo Splude. The Hickeys stayed at our home for a short period. Mom befriended and assisted these Scott women and they remained friends for the rest of their long lives.
When Ralph’s English bride, Gwen,arrived in February 1946, she and Ralph, along with her son Brynmore lived with us for a time before finding a place to rent in the village. They built a home down the lane the following summer.
For many years, Mom was an active member of the “Restigouche Children’s Aid Society” and she worked closely with a Mrs. Burns from Campbellton. Their mission was to place orphaned and/or neglected children in either a temporary or a permanent home. Many of these children were raggedy, hungry, and filthy. Mom would bring them home for a few days. The hunger was easily taken care of; however, the filth was another matter. She would always find clothing for them or make over clothing to fit.
I am at a loss to understand how she managed to improve their lives in just a few short days, especially the cleansing process, which included an unmentionable treatment.
Another one of her charitable missions was delivering parcels of food and clothing to people in need in the Eastern Restigouche area in the pre “welfare” days. She visited some of these families on a frequent basis; however, if she found out about any family in need, she would ensure a delivery was made. Ada, Monica, or Emeline would accompany her on these missions, as she did not drive.
Mom was instrumental in promoting “Blue Cross” Hospital coverage in the days before Medicare. She visited the homes in the surrounding areas and signed up many families for this much needed coverage. She worked closely with a Mr. Doyle of Blue Cross, who would later become a Priest after his wife’s death.
Mom was posthumously honoured as “Citizen of the Year” by the village of Belledune (which includes Jacquet River) for all her charitable endeavours. Her plaque reads:
Mom always loved music, and especially enjoyed listening to Bing Crosby and his Irish songs and she was very proud of her Irish heritage.
Mom was a faithful member of St. Gabriel’s Roman Catholic Church all her life. She attended church every Sunday and other times when there was a special mass or event and she received a ‘70 year pin’ from the Catholic Women’s League.
At times she was called upon to prepare the deceased for burial. I remember she attended to a Mrs. Godin, who lived nearby.
Mom operated a boarding house in the first years after Dad’s death. In the winter of 1956, a crew from N.B. Power boarded there for five or six weeks as a result of a severe freezing rain storm. While there they enjoyed Mom and Emeline’s good and generous meals.
Evan and Emeline came to live with Mom in September 1955. Evan was studying Accounting at that time and accepted a position of “Cost Clerk” with Bathurst Power & Paper. Three of their children, Colleen, Glenn and Rosa were born during their stay there.
The following year a “Service Station” was constructed on the property and it included a mini restaurant in the rear. A “Chrysler & Plymouth” dealership was established and the business operated until October 1961, when it closed.
Evan & Emeline moved to Campbellton in August 1963. Evan had accepted a management position with C.N. Rail in 1961, and continued studying towards his Accounting Designation.
Monica, Gerald & family moved in with Mom in August 1963. Their son, Bruce, was born three years after they moved there.
Some years later Mom purchased a Mobile Home and placed it on Ada and Cully’s property. She lived in the mobile home for approximately 10 years, and then moved to the Senior’s Apartments in Jacquet River for about three years, later spending time at Monica’s and Ada’s home.
Mom’s Declining Health
Mom was at Ada and Cully’s home in October 1984 when she suffered a stroke and her health deteriorated from that point onward. She was very well cared for by Ada, Cully and their family until 1987 when she entered the Restigouche Senior’s Nursing Home in Dalhousie. She received many visits from most of the family living on the North Shore, especially Inez & Alban who lived within walking distance from the nursing home. Ada was in charge of her affairs.
Death of her Siblings and Daughter
Three of her brothers died before she entered the nursing home. Sanford died on August 22, 1970, Amby died on June 10, 1975 and John died in February 1982. Mike died in May 1992 and Aunt Mamie died on December 14, 1996 (four months before her 100th birthday). Mom’s daughter, Theresa, died on February 1, 1998. Mom was not aware of the latter three deaths.
Note: In one of life’s ironies, many years later Mom and one of her close childhood friends, were in the senior’s home together but were not aware of each others presence because both were in a state of Dementia.
Mom died peacefully on December 28, 1998, thirty-two days short of her 100th birthday. Her funeral was held at Saint John the Evangelist Church in Belledune on January 31, 1998 and it was largely attended.
Special Thanks to my daughters Colleen and Rosa for their assistance in preparing the “Life of Anne”; Colleen for the computer entry, including many revisions and editing, and Rosa for her assistance in editing.
– Evan’s Memories of his Mother Written in 2007