Monday, 3 April 2017

McQueen Sisters-Kamloops BC; NS & Scotland

Recently, I was looking for WWI research guides via archives webpages in BC and Saskatchewan which resulted in a segway journey.

Via the Thomson River University in Kamloops BC, I found a library guide for history students. Scrolling down the list of historical resources a link to the McQUEEN Family Letters intrigued me, so I investigated further.

The McQUEEN sisters, Annie and Jessie were important residents of Kamloops and influential teachers in the public school system. Originally from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, they travelled to British Columbia in the late 1880s when the railroad was opening up the west and young women in the eastern provinces were feeling the pull towards financially stable futures and perhaps a little independence.

Kamloops ca 1886
Library&Archives Canada  MIKAN 330735
Jessie and Annie McQUEEN wrote many letters to each other which are now considered to be an important resource in understanding the efforts and lives of teachers in the development of education in western Canada.

From a book review in the BC Studies journal, of Sojourning Sisters: The Lives and Letters of Jessie and Annie McQueen, it is revealed that Jessie eventually returned to Pictou County to care for an aging parent and a sister. Annie, however, stayed in British Columbia, married, had three children, was widowed and, in 1919, became the provincial director of the Homes Branch of the Soldiers' Settlement Board.

Following is an exact transcript:
"The McQUEENs are the subject of two books and an epic poem and have been extensively used in a Ph.D. thesis. Relief Williams MACKAY, a descendant of Mary Bell McQUEEN WISDOM, privately published a family history in 1986 and Jean Barman has focussed on the careers of the two youngest McQueens, Jessie and Annie, in British Columbia. A professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia, Barman was initially attracted to the letters because of what they might reveal about the early years of public school teaching in British Columbia. While the correspondence was useful to that end, it also tracked the process by which eastern values were transplanted in western Canada. Robin L. Campbell consulted the McQueen letters for her thesis on female teachers in Nova Scotia. While transcribing the letters, Sandra Barry, a writer and poet, was inspired to produce "a domestic epic" that features the McQueens."
A list of some resources that provide a more in-depth look into the lives of the McQueens.
  1. Atlantic Canada Virtual Archives - this is an archived page, so caution is advised - however, it provides links to digitized free copies of all the letters between the sisters!
  2. Barman, Jean. Sojourning Sisters: The Lives and Letters of Jessie and Annie McQueen. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.
  3. Barry, Sandra. "In the Mouth of the World: The McQueens of Sutherland's River (a domestic epic)." (this link was archived via the University of New Brunswick Libraries - for more information, please contact them) 
  4. Campbell, Robin L. "Women Teachers in Nineteenth-Century Nova Scotia: An Analysis of the Effects of School Reforms, 1811-1881." PhD dissertation, Dalhousie University, 1991.
  5. Mackay, Relief Williams. Simple Annals: The Story of the McQueens of Sutherland's River. Pictou: Advocate Publishing, 1986. (written using letters between the McQueen sisters)
  6. Google Books: Sojourning Sisters: The Lives and Letters of Jessie and Annie McQueen by Jean Barman 
  7. Other resources:
    1. BC Historical News - Vol. 37 No. 1 | WINTER 2003 p.8-11  digitized by UBC
    2. BC Studies -  No. 141 Spring 2004 Book review by Suzanne Morton
Family members listed in the introduction: Bridget Gordon MACKENZIE, Dornoch, Sutherlandshire, Scotland (grand-daughter); George MACKENZIE, Nova Scotia; Betty MACNEIL, Nova Scotia; Margaret McCURRACH, Victoria, BC (grand-niece); Relief Williams McKAY (grand-niece);   Marjorie SCOTT, Nova Scotia.

I was also drawn to an account of Isaac Brock McQueen of Kamloops BC in an online pdf of the BC Historical News - but no mention of family or children. It is particularly an account of travel to the interior (the area where Kamloops is situated) from Ontario (Canada) as well as some information about the Hudson's Bay Company.

I hope you find this information useful in your research!

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