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Margaret Abernethy (1872-1962)

November 27, 2013
Margaret Abernethy

Margaret Abernethy

Margaret (Maggie) Abernethy was born in 1872 in Ireland. After her mother’s death, Maggie lived with an aunt.  A few years later , Maggie’s aunt sent her to the Barnardo Home in England to prepare for immigration to Canada. She arrived in Canada on August 31, 1884.

Maggie’s name doesn’t appear in Immigration Records. She is likely the Margaret with an illegible last name who arrived on the Peruvian. (Of the twelve children on that ship, eleven last names were illegible.) Maggie was placed as a mother’s helper in the home of John Doughty, a farmer, in Walpole Township, in Haldimand County, Ontario.

margaret abernethy 2 001 (3)

Maggie, center back, with the Doughty family

A year later, she moved to the home of Will Doughty and remained there until her marriage to Everden Wedrick. The Doughtys and the Wedricks both attended the local Methodist Church.

After four years of faithful service as a Barnardo girl, Maggie received a silver watch which she treasured and passed on to her grandson, Stan Sheppard.

Maggie knew very little about her family in Ireland. She had no memories of her father. She believed he died while fighting in a war. She also thought she had two sisters and that one of them had died at a very young age.

The watch Maggie received from Barnardo's after 10 years in Canada

The watch Maggie received from Barnardo’s after 10 years in Canada

Maggie lived her entire Canadian life in Haldimand County.  Today, her grandson, Stan Sheppard, still lives in the area. Maggie kept her last name, Abernethy, but she considered herself a Doughty.

Mr. and Mrs. Will Doughty thought of Maggie as a member of their family, which is evident from their inclusion of her in their  family portrait.

Maggie’s husband died in 1938. She was a quiet woman who seldom

Margaret Abernethy

Margaret Abernethy

spoke about her life before coming to Canada. She died in 1962.

Maggie kept in touch with Dr. Barnardo Homes and donated to the organization. Here is a letter she wrote that appeared in a 1930 edition of the Barnardo magazine, Ups and Downs:

Dear Mrs. Hobday: I have been married thirty-one years. My husband is a farmer; he owns one hundred acres of land. I have two children, a son and daughter, both are married. My daughter has two children so you see I am Grandma. My daughter married a farmer and my son is a farmer also. We are members of the United Church and are striving to live Christian lives – nothing else counts.

Special thanks to Stan and Mary Sheppard for providing the photos and information about Maggie Abernethy.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Arnold permalink
    November 27, 2013 3:07 pm

    what an awesome story !! It’s nice to know that many families that these children were placed with, were kind and compassionate……. Mary Arnold

  2. November 27, 2013 3:48 pm

    Yes, Mary. We hear so many sad stories. It’s nice to hear about those that were cherished. I’m sure even the loved ones struggled. But, at least they had a safe place to live.

  3. November 29, 2013 2:11 am

    Really lovely to read this happy story!

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