Mrs. Frances Magee – A Hintonburg Pioneer, by Linda Hoad

Mrs. Frances Magee (ca 1805- 1883)

Frances Magee never lived in Hintonburg but she was an early investor in the area that would become the Village of Hintonburg in 1893.

In 1871 Mrs. Magee purchased 7 acres fronting on the north side of Richmond Road, running on either side of what is now Stirling Avenue north to Scott Street, and subdivided it into lots. In 1880-81 she had a house constructed on part of the Richmond Road frontage. This building still stands today at 1119 Wellington Street and was designated as a heritage building in 1996.

The house was never occupied by Frances Magee but was rented to a member of the Rochester family, then to Magee family members and to the local Church of England minister. It became a branch of the Northern Crown Bank, later the Royal Bank, at which time the large windows on the ground floor and the mansard roof were probably added.

Frances Magee and her husband Charles emigrated to Canada from Ireland in the 1830s. Charles operated a tavern on his farm until his death in 1846, leaving his widow, 3 daughters and 4 sons ranging in age from 15 to infancy. Frances kept up the tavern business and farm, occupying a 1 ½ storey log house in 1851. In 1881 she was living with one of her sons, Robert, on the family farm near Skead’s Mill (now Westboro Beach).

At the time of her death in 1883, Frances Magee had three married daughters, two sons who were farmers and one son, Charles, who was a prominent Ottawa banker and capitalist, as well as numerous grandchildren. Her last will and testament gives a fascinating glimpse of the family and of her attitude towards her children and grandchildren.

Her farmer sons were bequeathed her fowl and horses, while her businessman son received nothing. Her granddaughters received her piano and her parlour furniture as well as money for their education. Her daughters received furniture, real property and the residue of her estate. Her grandsons received land that was to be sold for their benefit, to be paid to them when they came of age.

These bequests reveal more about Frances Magee than her obituary which stated that “she was always known as a woman of energy and firmness of character, as well as kindness of disposition; qualities of mind which, after the death of her husband, found a congenial field of action in the care of her family – a duty which she performed in such a manner as entitled her to woman’s noblest designation, a good wife and a good mother.”

She was recognized as a pioneer of the area: “Amongst those who bravely bore the toils and surmounted the difficulties and inconveniences of Carleton’s early settlement the name of Mrs. Magee will be deservedly remembered so long as industry and usefulness are considered characteristics of a record of worth.”  Her funeral procession  included over 150 vehicles.

One is left with the impression that Frances Magee was a very shrewd and capable businesswoman. All her children were well-established in life. She loaned money secured by mortages on several occasions, including two loans to Joseph Hinton after whom Hintonburg was named. Although she could not read and write and signed all documents with an X, she left a considerable estate.

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