Helen Copping Helen Copping's Memories

Editorís note: From response received from visitors to the Rawdon Historical Society website, there seems to be a great interest in Rawdon during the middle of the last century.

Miss Mary Copping ***

Miss Mary Copping had a storey and a half house on Church Street 2 just south of Silver Birches that Eddy Booth had built for her. Later, Elwin Cameron bought it. It always thrilled me to open the front gate, walk up the path and around the verandah 3 to the side door. The side door opened into a summer kitchen but I do not remember her using it as such.

Miss Mary Copping had sparkling blue eyes behind steel rimmed glasses. Many times she would bring out a dish of candy from the pantry just off the kitchen. The candies were mostly three cornered lemon drops which were very hard and lasted a long time in your mouth. For a change there would be light brown hoarhound 4 cough drops. I never did make up my mind whether I liked these or not, but in those days a candy was a candy and not to be refused.

In the spring when we tapped our maple trees and had extra sap I would bring some up to her 5. She liked to put it on the cook stove and let it evaporate a little. When it was hot and tasted a little sweet, Miss Copping would enjoy a cup of it.

Miss Copping was a very frugal person. There were no pensions then for older people. She wore black wool stockings that she had knit herself. ( She taught me how to knit my first pair of mitts from brown wool.) She wore black felt boots and a dark blue or black skirt. Her long sleeved blouses were dark coloured with a brooch at the neck. A black wool shawl completed her costume.

Miss Copping hung a heavy blanket at the stairway in the kitchen. She liked to keep the upstairs cold so she could sleep better, she said.

One day, while I was there, the Reverend and Mrs. Ellis came to visit her. Mrs. Ellis opened her fur coat as we sat in the kitchen. As the visit went on, Mrs. Ellis buttoned up her coat. Miss Mary got up to look at the fire in the cook stove and found that the fire had gone out. No wonder we all felt cold - that was the only source of heat in the house.

Once she took me into the living room and put a roll on the player piano for me to listen to. I was fascinated to see the keys moving and no one playing the piano.

1 Mary Ellen Copping, daughter of Joseph Copping and Elizabeth Marlin was born April 9, 1866 and baptized at Christ Church July 29, 1866. She died in 1956 and was buried at the Christ Church in Rawdon, right across the street from her home.
The 1901 census shows Mary Copping was a servant in the home of John W. Loud, a freight agent, in the St-Antoine District, Montreal. From this we can deduce that, like many other young girls from Rawdon, she went to Montreal to work as a domestic. Presumably by the time Helen remembers, likely in the 1930’s, she was retired from domestic service. Although Helen does not say so explicitly, popular belief is she gave piano lessons in her home.
2 This little house still stands having been lovingly restored a few years back.
3This is an old spelling of the word.
4 Horehound is a member of the mint family and was used to soothe sore throats, stimulate appetite, and as a relief for gas.
5 Helen lived just down the hill from Miss Mary.

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