By Melanie Low
The final chapter in the story can now be written as the 130 year old book, The Popular Art Instructor, inscribed “Maggie C. Banks, Kemptville 1887″ has found its new home in the hands of Margaret “Peggy” Guest, the granddaughter of Maggie C. Banks.
Yesterday I was welcomed into Peggy’s home, located just north of Peterborough, among rolling hills covered in glowing Fall trees, and together we pieced together mismatched dates, and chatted about her family history. At times she would flip through the fragile pages of her grandmother’s book, while other moments were lost to thoughtful contemplation as she tried to recollect stories she had heard. She admitted that her family history had never really been spoken about, but I could see a shy curiosity emerge from Peggy as she inquired as to my findings.
Through our conversation, we clarified that her father did, indeed, divorce Mary Hargreaves Finlayson after their separation, and he then married Laura Marie McGee. Contrary to my earlier findings, Peggy’s father passed away in the late 60s, not in the 40s. He and his new wife, and their daughter Peggy, eventually settled in Cobourg, and it is there that Peggy’s parents, William Hastings Guest and Laura Marie McGee, are interred.
Before making the trip to visit with Peggy, I ventured to the Merrickville Union Cemetery to search for the final resting place of Maggie C. Banks. After a fruitless search, a gentleman who was busy cleaning headstones asked to be of service and produced an old log book of plots. I later learned this gentleman was Casey McKibbon, founder of All Seasons Weddings. After cross referencing stones and plots, I was finally able to pay my respects to, not only Maggie C. Banks, but also her husband, Samuel Hastings Guest, and their daughter, Lyla May Guest Hugill. One simple stone bearing only the name GUEST adorned their plot.
As Peggy held the old book on her lap, she quietly admitted she didn’t have much family that would inherit this information, having no siblings or children of her own. I pushed my research across to her and told her that her ancestry was indeed huge, with lineage that I simply never had the chance to look into (and as well, I did not want to intrude too deeply into someone else’s story). I also reminded her that her family is a part of Kemptville’s history, and her family will now hold a special spot in my heart.
Following this old book from Kemptville to Peterborough has been intriguing, to say the least, and I suppose my curiosity simply evolved, as I imagined Maggie C. Banks wandering the streets of historic Kemptville, as her father’s horses and wagons carried passengers and freight to their destinations. Those same streets now house my neighbours, friends, and colourful businesses that form the modern day town I love.
A special thanks to the following local businesses that generously donated items to a gift basket that was presented to Peggy Guest: Maplewood Apiary, Pink Soapworks, Brewed Awakenings, and Rideau Roastery, with items added from Grahames Bakery and Mrs McGarrigle’s.