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Whitley, Jessie Margaret


Jessie Margaret Whitley - 1882

Most of us have probably read the inscription beneath the front windows of the chapel hundreds of times. It is both sad and funny. Read by itself, the left-hand window reads “To the Glory of God … died at Tadoussac, August” which may draw a smile to the faces of the faithful who never subscribed to the “God is Dead” movement of the 1960s. But to read across the three windows as we are expected to do, we learn of a baby who died in 1882 at the age of five months. There is sadness, and we can only wonder, well over a hundred years later, about the reason for the child’s death and the sorrow it must have inflicted on the family and friends, but particularly to her parents.
We do know something of the family, however, both backwards and forwards.
Jessie Margaret was born on February 27th and baptized on April 7th of the same year in which she died and, while named after her mother and her maternal grandmother, the family actually called her Daisy. She died on August 3rd in Tadoussac, and was buried on August 5th in Montreal.
Her father was Frederick Whitley who was the son of John Whitley and Sophie Hardy of “La Solitude”, St. Martin’s Parish, Jersey, Channel Islands. He was educated at Victoria College, St. Helier’s, Jersey and at Dijon, France, and came to Montreal around 1873-1874. Frederick was first employed in the firm of Thomas Samuel and Company, then established the firm Fred’k, Whitley and Co. Leather Importers, importing high quality leather mostly from England.
He returned to England in 1877 to marry Jessie Chouler and brought her back to Canada with him. She was the daughter of Christopher Chouler and Margaret Wilson of London, England. Her father, Christopher Chouler, was a member of the firm of Howell’s, Drapers, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London. He was the son of Christopher and Mary Chouler, Falcon Lodge, Althorp Park, Northampton. (That Christopher, Jessie’s grandfather, was the Estate Manager of Althorp, Princess Diana’s family estate.)
Together, Frederick and Jessie had five children of which “Daisy” was the youngest. The others were Frederick, Henry, Ernest and Elsie.
Frederick and Jessie’s son, Frederick, became an Anglican priest, and his other sons, Henry and Ernest, joined their father in his business. Frederick was an officer in the Montreal Garrison Artillery and was later transferred to the Montreal Squadron of Cavalry (about 1896), which became the Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars. In about 1899, he became Lt Colonel and Officer commanding the Duke of Connaught’s Royal Canadian Hussars, and still later, Brigadier for Cavalry in the Military District of Montreal, forming the Infantry Regiments in the country districts into Mounted Infantry.
He was also very interested in the work of the Church of England, was a Lay Reader in the Diocese of Montreal and was, at various times, Superintendent of St. Martin’s and St. James the Apostle Sunday schools.
Frederick died in 1914, just before WW I. His wife Jessie died in 1940.

Of Daisy’s siblings we know that the Reverend Frederick Whitley was the eldest. He married and had one daughter, Ruth, who never married.
Ernest married Gertrude McGill and had one daughter, Barbara Jane Whitley, who never married. Barbara Jane would have been Daisy’s niece. She was well-known at the Montreal General Hospital where she volunteered for 60 years. She also started the Whithearn Foundation, a family foundation which was set up to fund research on diseases and disorders of the eye. Barbara passed away at the age of 100 in 2018, but remembered Tadoussac very well and provided this family information just before she died.

Henry had one daughter Phyllis Rosamond who married Ralph Collyer and had three children – John, Peter and Jane (m. Wandell). Phyllis passed away May 15, 2002 in her ninety-first year at St. Lambert, Quebec. Jane Wandell is currently a Director of the above mentioned Whithearn Foundation which her aunt, Barbara Whitley, founded.
Elsie Married C.S. Bann and had one child, Joan, who married Gordon Rutherford and had one child - Hugh.

Cynthia Price, Karen Molson, Alan Evans

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