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Friday, 3 October 2014

Week 40 - Frances Jeannie Milne Kinnaird

Frances Jeannie Milne Kinnaird (1906 - 1974)

My Grandma, Frances Jeannie was born to Alexander and Jeannie Milne on March 17, 1906 in the R.M. of Wallace in Manitoba.  She is the wee lass on her mum's knee in the photo above.  Alex and Jane were immigrants from the Banffshire area of Scotland.  Frances lived with her farming parents, 3 older brothers, 2 younger sisters and 2 younger brothers near Hargrave, Manitoba.  She lived her entire life there except for two years (1915 - 1917) with her family on a ranch at Keremeos, British Columbia.

Clipping of Frances and Frank's wedding 1927

When she was 21 years old, Frances married 33 year old farmer William Francis "Frank" Kinnaird on Thursday, March 31, 1927 at her parents' home with immediate relatives.  Attendants were her sister Margaret and Mr. Thomas A. Kerr.  The clipping says:
At five o'clock the bride entered the room on the arm of her father to the strains of  Lohengrin's Wedding March played by Mrs. Sparling.  The bride looked charming in a gown of soft white crepe and georgette with shoulder and girdle ornament of orange blossoms.  She carried pink and white flowers.  
Mr. and Mrs. Kinnaird left on the evening train for a short honeymoon in Brandon.  The bride travelled in a suit of navy blue gabardine trimmed with grey fur and a hat of navy taffeta with touches of red.  On their return, they will reside on the groom's farm near Hargrave.  

  I have never seen any photos from their wedding but can almost picture it from this vivid description!
Milne sisters - Nan, Margaret and Frances 1955
The Kinnairds had 3 children: Keith, Marjorie and my mom, Margaret. Keith farmed the home farm and Marjorie and my mom both became teachers. Frances was a member of the Hargrave United Church, United Church Women, Lady Foresters, Hargrave Ladies Curling Club and Virden Health Auxilliary. Her obituary says that her main interests were her family, her friends and her farm work.  Frances Kinnaird sang in the church choir and my mom recalls her playing "by ear" on the piano, often it was the church hymns that she would play. Other things she remembers and shared with me include that her favourite outings were for playing cards, usually euchre and going to dances at the local schools and even the "Orange Hall" in Virden.

Grandma and Grandpa dressed up for the wedding of eldest daughter Marjorie to Thomas Tapp, July 12, 1952.

Grandma and Grandpa in 1961 with their house in the background.  

Through the thirties, forties and onward, Grandma would have been a busy farmer's wife with a big garden and many daily chores. Keeping food on the table without the benefit of freezers and fridges the way we have today must have been a job in itself.  Beef rings were a necessity where a group of neighbours would take turns butchering an animal and sharing the meat among them so it could be eaten before it spoiled.  She was known for her butter making skills Mom recalls that her mom would enter hers in the competition at the Virden Fair.  How would they ever keep it from melting into a puddle on a hot summer fair day?  She supported her community in many ways like writing the Hargrave News column for the Virden Empire Advance newspaper for many years.  

My cousin Judy remembers helping Grama deliver cream and eggs and how Frances could lift the full cream cans into the trunk of the car by herself.  She also recalls that Grama washed all the dishes, by hand, without running water after the Hargrave fall supper at the church and that she was very involved in cooking turkeys and making soup and pies for the Hargrave curling bonspiels every year.

Grandma and I - Christmas 1965
I have a few memories of spending time at my Grandma's house.  When it was time to milk cows, morning and night, she would go outside and yell "COW-BOSS" and all the cows would lift their heads, form into a line and walk from the pasture to the barn and go right to their own stall.  The lead cow was always the same (Bessie?  Bossie?) and this fascinated me! How could cows ever be that smart?
I also remember the heavy red velvet curtains that were tied back on the way upstairs at her house and sleeping in the bed with her with a reading lamp on the headboard turned on so I wouldn't be scared.

Grandma's birthday in 1971 - Sharon, Karen, Donna and Janice
Grandma watched All Star Wrestling, played TV Bingo and listened to bagpipe music and the Irish Rovers on her record player.  We had colouring books with markers at her house and chicken canned in sealers in some kind of clear jelly was a special treat.  I would just eat the jelly!

Grandma got sick with colon cancer in the early 70's and died on July 13, 1974.  Her mother died of the same disease and I am so grateful that this hereditary form of cancer is now caught early with scopes and screenings.
The video below is from home movies that my mom took of Grandma and visiting at her house.  You have to watch carefully to find Grandma, she seemed to avoid the camera!  That's me that won't go anywhere near the chicken.  It's probably the same way I would react today if someone tried to get me to hold one!

I hope the readers of this blog who knew my Grandma will share some of their memories in the comments below or email them to me and I'll add them to the post.

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