'My Dear Mrs. Millar': Soul Tending from the Townships to the Lower North Shore

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'My Dear Mrs. Millar': Soul Tending from the Townships to the Lower North Shore
While renovating the living room of her Drummondville home, the author discovered several pages of a letter written in 1873 that were hidden behind the plaster. The letter was addressed to “My dear Mrs. Millar,” an earlier occupant of the house. It had been sent from “Labrador,” as the Lower North Shore of Quebec was referred to in the nineteenth century. The signature page of the letter, with the letter-writer’s name, was missing. The author set out to find who had written the letter, based on clues contained in the pages she had. After much historical sleuthing, the author discovered the letter writer was Francis John Benwell Allnatt (1841-1920), a London, England-born Church of England missionary who had immigrated to Quebec in 1864. This article describes Allnatt’s life, from his family and education in England, his missionary work in the Eastern Townships (Drummondville) and on the Lower North Shore (St. Paul’s River and Schooner Bay parishes), and his association with Biship’s College. In 1874, having returned to Drummondville (St. George’s Church) after two years on the Lower North Shore, Allnatt married Jane Henrietta Robins. He also began studying theology at Bishop’s College in Lennoxville. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1878 and a doctorate degree a few years later. In 1885, Allnatt was named rector of St. Matthew’s Church in Quebec City but left in 1866 to teach theology at Bishop’s College. Within five years, he became Dean of Divinity and Vice-Principal of Bishop’s. As a reward for his many responsibilities at Bishop’s College, Allnatt was awarded the summer chaplaincy in Cap-à-l’Aigle in Charlevoix region, a tourist destination, and in 1919 he accepted the post of interim rector at Bishop’s College. He died on Saturday, April 10, 1920, and is buried beside his wife at Malvern Cemetery in Lennoxville.
Quebec Heritage News
Vol. 17
no. 5
Sprecial Edition 2023
Allard, Yolande. “‘My Dear Mrs. Millar’: Soul Tending from the Townships to the Lower North Shore.” Translated by Julie Miller. Quebec Heritage News, Sprecial Edition 2023.
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