Bringing Christmas in Hatley
December 19th, 2019
Barbara Rose Eardley-Wilmot was born June 30, 1915 to parents Rev. Canon Charles Revell Eardley-Wilmot and Rose Meredyth Bowen. Her father, Charles, served as an Anglican minister at various churches throughout the Diocese of Quebec from 1908 to 1941, when a stroke forced his early retirement.
By the time they found themselves in Hatley in 1923, it was Barbara’s third home in her eight years, which was not unusual for a clergy family. In the early years at Hatley there was one particular Christmas that stood out in Barbara’s memory as she later described the year when the Eardley-Wilmots made sure that Christmas came to a family that had little money and a very sick wife/mother.
That year, Rev. Eardley-Wilmot’s wife, Rose, directed her two oldest children, Barbara and Cecily, to wrap some of their own presents up for the two children and to find decorations (cookies, ribbons, tags) for a small tree the Reverend had cut for the less fortunate family. The Eardley-Wilmots even prepared their own turkey for them, content with chicken for themselves. In her recollection of Christmas morning, Barbara wrote: “All up, had some breakfast, horse all ready and harnessed to the cutter, bricks in place, turkey to keep them warm in their pan, and away we go, Dadie, Barbara and Cecily, the trip would be about ¾ of a mile, all goes well, dashing through the snow, when the horse balked. We had changed direction onto a side road where we were headed, and run into a big KAHOO. This was a large snowdrift, higher than the horse, and though I got out and talked to him, all he would say was ‘neigh.’ Cecily and I tried to knock some snow out of the way, then we heard bells. There was the other rig [cutter] behind us. Thank goodness, Dad had brought a shovel, just in case, so we were soon back on course.”
The Eardley-Wilmots successfully delivered all of the Christmas goodies to the family that year and this act of giving would remain etched into their memories for a lifetime. Even though Barbara and Cecily were young at the time, probably around ten and eight years old, they remembered this particular Christmas with a special fondness, recounting it decades later with detail.