Morewood, Gertrude Isobel

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Gertrude Isobel Morewood 1891 - 1977

Gertrude Isobel Morewood was born in Englewood, New Jersey, on June 13, 1891. She was the fourth child (of five) of Harry and Minnie Morewood, and throughout her life she was known as Bill or Billy. She trained as a nurse, but nothing is known about her working career.
When she was about 18 years old, (1909) her parents moved the family to a house called Benmore, in Quebec City, which was the house her grandfather had bought in 1848. It is believed that Billy was interested in a Jewish man for some time, but marriage to him was not acceptable to her mother, and Billy never married.
She loved small dogs and often had two. She was excellent at training them to do tricks and delighted many children by showing them what her dogs could do. She always kept a pack of small playing cards in her purse and in her house, she kept a drawer full of toys to amuse visiting children. She was a keen gardener and they had a large garden at Benmore with vegetables in the middle of a huge square border of flowers. There was also a large lily pond at Benmore that had been created by Billy. The pond had not only lilies, but also goldfish. In the fall she would capture as many goldfish as she could and they would spend the winter in a barrel in the basement at Benmore. In the spring she would usually find a few goldfish that had escaped the capturing procedure in the fall and had wintered in the pond, presumably by burrowing into the mud at the bottom of the pond.
When Harry and Frank Morewood were small children, their Aunt Bill took them to Tadoussac each summer to their Uncle Frank (Morewood’s) newly built cottage (Windward). They would stay for a month under Billy’s care and thereby give parents Bobby and Margaret a break. They traveled on the CSL boats to get there and back, which was probably a good thing as she was not a gifted driver. She was so short she actually looked through the steering wheel in her car so perhaps being able to see properly was a difficulty for her. Billy had a strong love for children and was adored by them in return. In Tadoussac she often took numbers of children out in the Williams’s Whiteboat, rowing them about in the bay and around Pointe Rouge for picnics. Many people remember her joking and making kids laugh. She used to visit for days at a time when family members had babies, to help the mums in the first week or two at home. She was also known for helping older relatives as they became more helpless toward the end of their lives.
At the de Salaberry house, Billy lived as an adult with her sister Nancy, who also never married. She was devoted to Nancy and looked after her until she died. The two of them used to make wooden jigsaw puzzles together. Aunt Bill, again, had a flower garden and a rock garden. After Nancy died in 1946, she invited her brother, Bobby, his wife, Margaret, and Harry and Frank to live with her at that house. Frank was about 12 years old and Harry 15 at that time. Aunt Bill continued to be very much a second mother to the two boys.
There were a few disagreements between the two ladies of the house but it was mostly a harmonious relationship. The house had six bedrooms so there was plenty of room for everyone. Aunt Bill had a life-long friend whom she had met when she was training to be a nurse, who became an Anglican nun. Sister Jane Frances, usually called Peg, was a frequent visitor at Benmore and the de Salaberry house.
Billy’s younger brother Bobby died in 1964. Aunt Bill and Margaret were alone – the boys now in their 30s had long since moved out – so they decided to sell the house and move into an apartment, not much more than a block away, on St. Louis Road.
Aunt Bill died December 5, 1977 at the age of 86.


Alan Evans

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