Tides of Tadoussac.com Marées de Tadoussac
Rhodes, Col. William and Anne Catherine (Dunn)
Lieutenant Colonel the Honourable William Rhodes 1821 – 1892 &
Anne Catherine (Dunn) 1823 - 1911
William Rhodes was born in 1821, at Bramhope Hall near Leeds, in England. His father, also named William Rhodes, was a wealthy farmer and a soldier who fought for the British in the War of 1812 in Canada. The older William was a Captain in the 19th Lancers, the former 19th Light Dragoons, and married Ann Smith.
Young William was educated in France, and as a second son, knew that he was not going to inherit, so his father bought him a commission in the army. He entered the British army in May 1838 as an ensign in the 68th Foot (Durham Light Infantry).
It was in August of 1841 that twenty-year-old William Rhodes came to Quebec from England as part of a military posting, and served in Quebec from October 1842 to May 1844. He fell in love with the land, the river, the people, and eventually with a young lady from Trois Rivieres named Anne Dunn whom he planned to marry.
The older William did not want his son to marry a colonial and pulled strings in the military to have him recalled but William returned and married Anne Dunn in the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Quebec City, in 1847, and left the army with the rank of captain.
Anne Dunn’s grandfather, Thomas Dunn had come to Quebec in 1760, a year after General James Wolfe’s invasion. He administered Lower Canada from 1805 to 1807, and in 1811. Anne’s parents were Robert Dunn, who was an assistant to the Office of Civil Secretary, and Margaret Bell. Her maternal grandfather was Matthew Bell. In 1848, Captain Rhodes and Anne Dunn purchased the estate of Benmore on Chemin St. Louis in Sillery, where they settled and engaged in horticulture. The house remained in the Rhodes family for a hundred years and still stands, although today it is part of a condo development. William Rhodes was known for his experimental agriculture, learning what crops and cattle would best tolerate the Quebec environment.
During the 1860s he got into business where he associated with Evan John Price and others and engaged with them in mining in the counties of Wolfe and Mégantic. He was one of the founders of the Union Bank of Lower Canada and of the Grand Trunk Railway, President of Company Warehouse Quebec and the Quebec Bridge Company which eventually built the first Quebec Bridge. He led a delegation on April 12th, 1888, to meet Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper to lobby for funds to build the bridge. He helped to establish the Quebec and Richmond Railway and the North Shore Line, which later merged with the CPR.
In politics, Rhodes was the MP for Megantic from 1854 to 1857. Later, he joined the Mercier cabinet as Minister of Agriculture and Colonization and was elected Liberal MP for Mégantic in the Legislative Assembly in a by-election in 1888.
During this time, William and Anne produced five sons and four daughters over a twenty-year period and they were very eager that all of their children be educated and guided into a successful future. Rhodes was an avid hunter and outdoorsman and the boys were taken on lengthy camping trips in the winter with friends, often returning to Quebec City with sleds loaded with enough game to provision the household for two months.
The daughters in the family were not neglected in their education. In one of his many letters to the family in England, he wrote: “… the little girls have now music, dancing, and French masters, to say nothing of sewing machines, pudding making, and English writing. In fact, tuition and all its branches are the order of the day.”
It was through his friendship with the lumber merchant Price family that William Rhodes first discovered Tadoussac. A businessman and politician at heart, it wasn't long before he was taking leadership here too. He built the anglophone community's first summer cottage and his friends in the Russell family, also of Quebec City, built an exact copy right next door which is still in the Russell family, Spruce Cliff owned by Susie (Scott) Bruemmer. William Rhodes's cottage would have looked exactly like that at first, but then he extended it to accommodate his growing family and it burned down in 1932. It was replaced by the cottage that is there now, Brynhyfryd.
Robert Hale Powel was another friend who decided to build a summer cottage in Tadoussac. He bought the next lot, currently the Baileys. It is said the three friends, Rhodes, Russell, and Powel often played whist together. Perhaps it was during such a game that the opportunity was either offered or asked for that William’s sons, Armitage and Godfrey, move to Philadelphia to work in one of Powel’s rolling mills. The boys got experience like any other worker on the machine shop floors where the manual labour was hot and hard. They gradually moved up the ranks learning every aspect of the trade until they became executives in their own right, as leaders in the rail business.
William Rhodes and Mr Russell were part of a group that built the original Hotel Tadoussac in 1864, and it was in a meeting in that new hotel that they committed themselves to build the Protestant Chapel in 1866. His son Godfrey kept a diary that records camping trips when they would row locally built Nor'shore Canoes up to Baie St. Etienne to camp and fish. But for all the forays out into the wilds, William remained devoted to his first and only love. He wrote of Anne:
“… I find her a valuable assistant, in interpreting to me the characters of the young men I have to deal with. (…) Few women have performed all their duties to their children so well and so unceasingly as my wife”.
For all his work in business and politics, it is clear that William Rhodes was a devoted father and, judging by photographs that have survived, he and Anne were lovers of their time with family in Tadoussac. One summer he wrote to a family member:
“My family is all down at the seaside at Tadoussac. We are all together which is a great comfort, far preferable to having sons away in India or floating about the ocean on His Majesty’s ships.”
Lt Colonel William Rhodes died at Benmore on February 17th, 1892, at the age of seventy. His death was quite unexpected. He had been well but took sick with La Grippe. After the funeral, celebrated in the Anglican Church of St. Michael, he was buried in Mount Hermon Cemetery. 3
The Rhodes had nine children and twenty grandchildren, all of whom spent significant time in Tadoussac, so it is worthwhile recording some of the descendants here.
William’s wife Anne (Dunn) Rhodes outlived the Colonel by twenty years, and it is said that she was a sweet lady; however, with so many grandchildren she became a bit vague as to which child was which. Just imagine the struggle she would have in keeping her descendants straight today!
The oldest son was Armitage, and his daughter Dorothy (Dorsh) married Trevor Evans and their children are Phoebe, Ainslie, Trevor, and Tim, producing nine more Evans, Skutezkys, and Stevens.
Next was Godfrey, who bought the estate Cataraqui in Quebec. He had two daughters: Gertrude who died in infancy; and Catherine, who married Percival Tudor-Hart and lived at the estate until her death in 1972. Godfrey built the Tudor-Hart cottage in Languedoc Park here in Tadoussac. There are no descendants.
The third son was William. His daughter Carrie would marry her first cousin, Frank. William and Godfrey had been sent to the United States to work in the railway business, so they lived in the US and William also travelled around the world.
The fourth son, Francis, married a Quebec girl, Totie Le Moine, from Spencer Grange, another old house that’s still standing in Quebec – now the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor. Their two surviving daughters (of four) were Lily Bell and Frances, whom many of us remember fondly.
The fifth son was Robert Dunn Rhodes who settled in the United States and had eight children who led to Rhodes, Johnson, and Robes descendants who settled in the Boston area.
The sixth child, and first girl, was Minnie Rhodes. She married Harry Morewood, an American, and they had five children including Frank Morewood who married his first cousin, William’s daughter, Carrie, above. It was Frank and Carrie who built Windward cottage in 1936 and the Evans family are descendants. William’s other children were Isobel, known as Billy, John, and Nancy as well as Bobby who had two sons, Frank and Harry Morewood.
Seventh, there was Nan who married Lennox Williams. Their children were: James, who was killed in World War I; Mary, the matriarch of the Wallace and Leggat families; Gertrude, who led the Alexander and Aylan-Parker families; and Sydney, whose descendants include the Williams, Ballantynes, Websters, and Campbells.
The eighth and ninth children were Fanny who died in infancy and Gertrude, who married, but died childless at twenty-six years old.
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