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Williams, Caroline Anne (Rhodes)


Caroline Anne (Nan) Rhodes Williams 1861 - 1937

Caroline Anne (Nan) Rhodes Williams was the seventh child of Col. William Rhodes and Anne Catherine Dunn. She was born in Sillery, Quebec on January 10, 1861 and died at Tadoussac on July 30, 1937. Her family called her “Annie”, but to her children she was known as “Nan”. The ages of her brothers and sisters were spread over almost 20 years, yet they grew up actively engaged with each other. Army, her eldest brother made her a big snow house; Godfrey took her and her sister Minnie skating and sliding. They all spent summers in Tadoussac together, Nan with her dog “Tiney”. She and her brother Godfrey frequently “apple-pied” all the beds, causing bedlam in the house. Growing up at Benmore the family home in Sillery, she was surrounded by an endless collection of birds and animals - geese, chickens, bantams, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks and ponies and even beehives. All were welcome inhabitants of her family’s farm. Her brothers, Godfrey and Willy procured a bear cub and had a pole for it to climb. The family meals often included Caribou and rabbit meat from her father’s hunting trips. Croquet was a favourite family game on the lawn. In winter, Nan and her sister Minnie traveled by sleigh through the deep snow to their lessons at dancing school. Nan was a lively young girl who always loved jokes. Her father described her as “full of play”.

Nan became engaged to a young clergyman at St. Micheal’s Anglican Church in Sillery. She and Lennox Williams were married there on April 26, 1887. Her sister Gerty and her best friend Violet Montizambert were her bridesmaids. Their first child, James, was born in 1888, followed by Mary (Wallace), Gertrude (Alexander) and Sydney Williams. As their children were growing up in Quebec, Lennox served at St.Michael’s. His work always involved people and when he became Dean, and later Bishop of Quebec, his duties extended over the vast geography of the Quebec Diocese. Assisting him in his work brought Nan in contact with the many different people in the City and the Province, some of whom would go overseas to serve in the South African (Boer) War, WW1 and WWII.

Winter of 1913-14 in Quebec was the last carefree time before WWI began. Nan always welcomed her children’s friends around the Deanery for supper or tea. According to one of her future sons-in-law, “On some evenings it was quite amusing. The Dean and Mrs. Williams sat in his study, Jim Williams and Evelyn Meredith sat in an upstairs sitting room, Mary Williams and Jack Wallace in the drawing room, and Gertrude and Ronald Alexander in the dining room. Mrs. Williams was a very understanding person.” This was still the age of chaperons. Before going overseas, Jim and Evelyn were married, and both enjoyed summers in Tadoussac with the family at Brynhyfryd. In November, 1916, Nan received the news that her son Jim was killed at Grandcourt, the Battle of the Somme. Two months later in January 1917, she and Lennox, accompanied by their daughters, Mary and Gertrude, sailed to England. Mary went to see Jack Wallace and Gertrude to be married to Ronald Alexander. They stayed in London at Queen Anne’s Mansions and remained there until April.

After the War, Nan and Lennox continued their active life together as Lennox had been consecrated as Bishop of Quebec in 1915. The Rhodes family house in Tadoussac, built in 1860, had been left to Nan. It was to burn down in 1932 and be rebuilt the next year. Brynhyfryd remains in Nan’s family today. When Lennox retired in 1934, they had more time to spend in Tadoussac and ten grandchildren to enjoy it with them. One day, walking to town with one of her ten grandchildren, Nan discovered that her grandchild had lifted a bit of candy from Pierre Sid’s general store. She marched her back to return it and to apologize. To one of her grandchildren “Granny was always game for some fun and she had lots of energy”. Nan loved to be out rowing the boats and like others her age, she swam regularly in the refreshing salt water of the Bay. On June 30, 1937 she climbed up the path from the beach and reaching the house feeling a bit tired, she took a rest and died suddenly that evening.

Micheal Alexander

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