Fairmount Villa

Fairmount Villa

In September 1948, a letter appeared in The Montreal Gazette noting the demolition of Fairmount Villa, a house that had stood on Sherbrooke Street near Saint Urbain for over 100 years.1 Today, that house has been gone for 70 years, but it is still not entirely forgotten: in 1892, Fairmount Avenue, in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood, was named to commemorate the house.2

Fairmount Villa was the home of my great-great-grandparents, Montreal notary and landowner Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873,) or SCB, and his wife, Catharine Mitcheson Bagg (1822-1914). SCB died of typhoid at age 53, but Catharine continued to live in the house with her son and four daughters until they married, and she remained there until her death at age 92.

After Catharine’s death, the house was sold to the Asch advertising company, which eventually became known as Claude Neon. The City of Montreal expropriated the property in 1948 in order to widen Saint-Urbain Street.

The property records go back 300 years. In 1701, the land on which the house later stood was owned by a religious community known as the Charon Brothers, and the Grey Nuns (Soeurs grises) inherited it in the mid-1700s. Around 1780, the sisters sold three lots at the crest of the hill where Sherbrooke Street was later to become a major artery, and those lots were subdivided and resold several times.3In 1837, merchant Stanley Bagg purchased lot number 58A at a sheriff’s auction.4(When a land owner was unable to make his payments, the sheriff seized the property and auctioned it off, often at a bargain price for the new buyer.)  

Fairmount%2BGoad%2Batlas%2B1881%2Bdetail - Fairmount Villa
Fairmount Villa, NW corner St. Urbain and Sherbrooke, 1881 
When SCB and Catherine were married in 1844,5 Stanley sold the property to his only son. It was a long, narrow lot at the north-west corner of Sherbrooke Street, running 2½ arpents north along Upper Saint–Urbain Street to the property line of Durham House, where SCB was born and grew up.
The notarial act in which the transfer was recorded described the Fairmount property as having “a two-storey stone house and other buildings thereon erected.”6 The house was probably still under construction in 1844, and SCB and Catherine lived at Durham House with Stanley for a few years. Their first child, who died at age two, was born at Durham House, but the others were all born at Fairmount Villa.
Some years later, an addition was added to the west side of Fairmount Villa. It included SCB’s office and a second front door so that farmers coming to pay the rent they owed to SCB did not have to walk through the house to get to the office.7

In his letter to The Montreal Gazette, SCB and Catharine’s grandson Rev. Sydenham Bagg Lindsay explained that the name Fairmount Villa was reminiscent of Philadelphia. Catharine Mitcheson grew up in a rural area just north of Philadelphia called Spring Garden.8 (It is part of the city today.) Philadelphia’s famous Fairmount Park was located nearby. The naming of Fairmount Villa after a place associated with Catherine’s early life was something of a family tradition: the house in which Catharine grew up was called Menteith House, after Catharine’s mother’s birthplace, Menteith, Perthshire, Scotland.
Sydenham also noted there was a family chapel at Fairmount Villa, called the Oratory of the Holy Cross. “The stained glass window in this chapel depicted Christ as the Savior of the World; it was given in recent years to the Anglican Church at Lake Echo….”9

cmb%2Bin%2Bher%2B90th%2Byear - Fairmount Villa
Sydenham’s younger brother, Stanley Bagg Lindsay, also recalled visiting Granny Bagg: “We can remember her well sitting at the front drawing room window at Fairmount with her white lace cap on, looking out at the people passing.”10

He continued, “We used to play in Granny’s garden. There were apple trees, especially one which was easy to climb and play house in. There was an iron bench under it, painted blue green…. There was a chestnut tree which we loved, the summer house, the white statutes of Adam and Eve with no arms, … the bleeding hearts, snowballs and lilacs … Nora the housemaid and Jessie the cook, who made good ladies fingers and sponge cakes and who we could always see through large sunken window which gave light to the kitchen.
“There were the stables, the horses, the rockaway and the brougham and Willis the coachman with white mutton chop whiskers whom we liked and who afterwards drove a wagon for Joyce the confectioner. We were very fond of Odell Comtois who did sewing…. She was practically one of the family.
“The garden became very shabby,” he concluded. “It seemed a large garden to us. It went as far as our house which was at the corner of Milton Street. The west side adjoined the Wilson-Smith property. Long before our house was built, a large house called Tara Hall stood just north of Milton Street. Mother [Mary Heloise (Bagg) Lindsay] remembers it burning down one night when she was a child. Where the house used to stand is a street called Tara Hall.”10
Clarifications added Jan. 16, 2020

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “Fanny in Philly” Writing Up the Ancestors, March 29, 2014,
Janice Hamilton, “A Home Well Lived In,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 21, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-home-well-lived-in.html
Photo credits:

Studio of Inglis, “Residence of Stanley Clark Bagg,” 1875, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/1956159(accessed Dec 6 2019)
Chas. E. Goad, Atlas of the City of Montreal from special survey and official plans, showing all buildings and names of owners, 1881, plate VII; detail of digital image, digital image 10, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2246915?docref=MtCYGy_XY512L82RM1ifMA(accessed Dec. 16, 2019)
Photographer unknown. Catharine Mitcheson Bagg in her 90thyear, 1912. Photo glued into the Bagg Family Bible, Bagg Family Fonds, McCord Museum, Montreal.

1. Sydenham Bagg Lindsay, “Montreal Landmark Destroyed,” Letters From Our Readers, The Montreal Gazette, Sept 1, 1948, p. 6.
2. Justin Bur, Yves Desjardins, Jean-Claude Robert, Bernard Vallée et Joshua Wolfe, Dictionnaire Historique du Plateau Mont-Royal, Montréal: Les Éditions Écosociété, 2017, p. 149.
3. Justin Bur, email to the author, Dec. 9, 2019.
4. J.A. Labadie, Inventory of Stanley Clark Bagg’s Estate, notarial act #16732, 7 June 1875, item no. 236;  Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
Stanley Bagg only bought about half of lot 58A, but he also purchased two neighbouring lots, greatly expanding the grounds. Later, SCB sold off a part of the property that he didn’t want, creating a long narrow piece of land along Upper Saint Urbain Street that he divided into lots.
5. The wedding took place on Sept. 9, 1844 at Grace Church, Philadelphia.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1078; database and images; Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.ca, accessed Dec. 16, 2019) entry for Catharine Mitcheson; Citation Year 1844, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013, citing Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

6. Henry Griffin, notarial act # 20645 (approximate page number;) June 1, 1844; also mentioned as items 235 and 237 in the inventory of SCB’s estate, prepared by J.A. Labadie, notarial act #16732; Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.  
7. Stanley Bagg Lindsay, handwritten notes on Stanley Clark Bagg; Lindsay family collection.
8. 1840 United States Federal Census, database; Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.ca, accessed Dec. 16, 2019), entry for Robert Mitcheson; Citation Year:1840; Census Place: Spring Garden Ward 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 487; Page: 259; Family History Library Film: 0020555; citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. (NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
9. Sydenham Bagg Lindsay, Ibid.
10. Stanley Bagg Lindsay, handwritten notes on Catharine Mitcheson; Lindsay family collection.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.