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Ann Dumville (née Baldwin)
(1834-1921): Biography

Written by Clifford Dumville of Ottawa, Ontario

photograph: John and Ann Dumville
John and Ann Dumville

Ann Baldwin's mother, being sick, was taken on a sea voyage by her Sea Captain husband. The children, Ann and her brother, were left in England in the care of a relative. The ship was lost at sea without trace and Ann and her brother were placed in a orphanage. She was later taken as a maid by a family and when the family decided to emigrate to Canada, Ann was asked to accompany them to help with the children enroute. She was offered the option of staying or of a ticket home, whichever she wished. She stayed and in 1854 married John Dumville, farmer, in Niagara township.

Ed Dumville told the story that it was his grandfather John's intention to retire when he had $1000 savings in the bank, and that he did. This would have been just before 1891, since they disappeared from the Census in Grantham township at that time. Apparently they bought a house in St Catharines because Clara Arbuthnot wrote in 1980, 'the old Dumville house is on Niagara Street in St Catharines. A judge used to live there so it is in good repair.' However the 1895 St Catharines City Directory lists them at 3 West York, Dufferin.

Ann could neither read nor write, a situation not uncommon in the times and circumstances. Annie Dumville (Little), after she started school, taught her grandmother to sign her name. This was about 1893, just before the Joseph Dumville family moved west, and when Ann was about sixty years of age.

Family snapshots show that John and Ann visited their children in the west several times prior to John's death in 1900. Ann kept house for a while for son Joseph after his wife Catharine died in 1916. She was by no means a young woman at that time being eighty-two years of age.

Ann disliked the telephone, and after Joseph Dumville had one installed at the farm, she refused to answer it if any one else was present. If forced into it, she would reluctantly pick up the receiver and shout 'Joe Dumville aint 'ome' and slam the receiver back down without waiting for an acknowledgment. She was very proud of her winter coat with an otter collar. Having a strong Lincolnshire accent, she called it her coat with the 'hotter' collar. It is understood that the coat was a gift from Ann's brother-in-law Joseph Dumville of Lockport, USA.

Ed Dumville recalled that his mother, Catharine, was proud of her table and baked fresh bread every day. His grandmother Ann however, was much more frugal and when the boys complained of stale day-old bread, her reply was a tart 'be staler tomorrow!'

When her health began to fail, Ann moved to live with her son Charles in Superb, Saskatchewan. In her final illness she was nursed by Nettie (Charles' daughter) who was a trained nurse. She died there in 1921, and her body was taken east by Nettie and Nettie's daughter Carell, and possibly Grace Dumville MacGregor, to rest beside her husband John in the McNab Christ Church Cemetery.