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Williams, Lennox


Caroline Anne (Nan) Rhodes Williams 1861 – 1937 &
Bishop Lennox Williams, DD 1859 – 1958

Lennox Williams was born in 1859, in Chapman House at Bishop’s College School located in Lennoxville, Quebec. His father, James Williams, was the fourth bishop of Quebec and he was born in Aberystwyth, Wales. His mother was Anna Maria Waldron and she was born in 1821.
Lennox attended BCS as a boy and eventually became Head Prefect. He would often regale future generations of BCS family members with tales of experiences at the school and in particular his time as Head Prefect. Lennox studied theology at St. John’s College, Oxford, and rowed for the college. His oar, with the names of the team members, still hangs on the wall of his cottage, Brynhyfryd, in Tadoussac.
Lennox was ordained in 1885 and his first post was St Matthew’s, Quebec. After this, he attained the positions of Rector, Rural Dean, and Dean of Montreal before finally being made the sixth bishop of Quebec in 1915. While Dean of Quebec, Lennox visited the villages on the north shore of the St Lawrence to provide pastoral services. He would often travel in the summers to participate in confirmations throughout the region. Later in his life, he took services at the Protestant chapel in Tadoussac.
Caroline Anne (Nan) Rhodes Williams was the seventh child of Col. William Rhodes and Anne Catherine Dunn. She was born in Sillery, Quebec in 1861. 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 twenty years, yet they grew up actively engaged with each other. Armitage, 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 travelled 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 Lennox when he was at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Sillery. She and Lennox Williams were married there in 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) in 1890, Gertrude (Alexander) in 1894, and Sydney Williams in 1899.
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, World War 1, and World War II.
The winter of 1913-14 in Quebec was the last carefree time before World War I 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 chaperones. Before going overseas, Jim and Evelyn were married, and both enjoyed summers in Tadoussac with the family at Brynhyfryd.
The war also brought devastation for the Williams family as it did for so many families of that generation. James, the eldest son, who had also attended Oxford University, was commissioned into the Canadian Army shortly after the war began. He served valiantly as an officer but was killed at the battle of the Somme in 1916. Lennox was devastated by the loss of his son and many said he was never the same after. Each summer Lennox would read the lesson about King David’s son, Absalom, who was killed in battle and many of the congregation felt that Lennox was lamenting his own son’s death.
It was in November 1916, that Nan received the news that her son Jim was killed, and 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, Jim’s best friend, and Gertrude was to be married to Ronald Alexander (who was serving with the Victoria Rifles). The wedding took place on February 19, 1917, with Mary participating as a bridesmaid. 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 burnt down in 1932 and was 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 Cid’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 saltwater 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. Nan died suddenly later that evening.
Lennox’s favourite book was Alice in Wonderland, which he would often quote to his grandchildren. His grandchildren also had many fond memories of their time with Lennox in Tadoussac. Every morning at eight am the entire family would meet outside the dining room for prayers with everyone on their knees. Meals were served on time and exemplary manners were expected (elbows off the table). Afternoons were spent smoking his pipe or perhaps on special occasions a cigar, under the trees on the edge of the bank at Brynhyfryd with his white (Samoyed) dog Kara. Evenings were spent playing card games like Old Maid or Bridge with his children and grandchildren. He remained a great athlete and enjoyed tennis and golf into his old age. Eventually, in his nineties, he was slowed a little and transitioned from the golf course to the putting green at the hotel for his activity.
Lennox died in Tadoussac in his 100th year on the 8th of July, 1958. The Lychgate at the Protestant chapel in Tadoussac (roofed gateway at the entrance of the chapel) was donated by the congregation in his memory.

Kevin Webster

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