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MASON’S FALLS by Beverly Prud’homme

Our gift to the next generation...

the lower corners of the township early in the nineteenth century possibly between 1815 and 1820.As settlers pushed toward the interior of the area they were confronted by steep rocky hills leading to a plateau before the mountains, and two rivers that created waterfalls where they tumbled over the rocks heading down to the flatlands. There were four falls of varying heights in the RawdonTownship, three on the OuareauRiver, and one, Mason’s Falls on the Red River. Although Mason’s Falls is neither the highest nor the lowest of these, as well as being very picturesque it is the most accessible of the three remaining falls.

Although the Red River was dammed just above the falls about 1921, this intervention has not detracted from their beauty. In spring, when the snow melts in the mountains above, the water rushes and roars over the rocks, misting and foaming. 

Summer brings a more sedate fall with the water tumbling headlong over the rocks to the river beyond and winding its way down to St. Liguori de Montcalm. 

In winter the banks are cloaked in a mantle of snow and ice while the falls are white and misted in the cold air. 

If you know where to look the remains of foundations from a sawmill can be seen on one bank. This mill was known as Mason’s Mill as the Mason family owned the landaround this section of the river and supposedly built this mill about 1865. To learn more about this Mason family read on.



THE MASONS of MASON’S FALLSRAWDON, QUEBEC

Richard E A Mason 

INTRODUCTION

My great-grandparents Edward and Mary Mason lived at Mason’s Falls, in a house that is still in use. This article contains and updates information about them that has been passed down through our branch of their family. A primary source is a 2-page ‘Mason Genealogy’ document written by my father, Harry Edward Mason, in about 1978-79. Most of the direct quotations in the following are from his document; however, his information was based on the recollections of his own father and aunts, and its details don’t always agree with the information now being uncovered by genealogists and local historians. 

Other dates and places mentioned below come from letters and clippings, and from the very comprehensive Copping Cousins website of Neil Broadhursthttp://worldconnect.rootsweb.com, which has been most helpful, as well as another site, www.jinman.org/inman/dat915.html.Important details have also been very kindly provided by Beverly, by Neil and, most especially, for the very early years by Daniel Parkinson db.parkinson@sympatico.ca. I am greatly indebted to them all.

This article works backwards in time through the 1800s. The first part is about Edward and Mary and their family, whom we know lived at Mason’s Falls. The second tells about Mary Armstrong and James Mason, Edward’s parents. Was James the ‘Black James’ Mason of local legend? A short final section introduces the earliest Masons at Rawdon.

There are plenty of gaps and guesses in the story of the Mason’s Falls Masons. I have tried to give a flavour of what is not known, as well as what’s known. I would very much like to hear from anyone who can supplement, verify, disprove or elaborate on any part of the story of the Masons of Mason’sFalls. Newspaper clippings, photos and personal recollections of stories about my ancestors are especially welcome. And, who knows, we may find the truth of the story of ‘Black James’ Mason!

February, 2003 – Richard E A Mason 

remason@ican.net

A NOTE ON SARAH ALICE MASON COPPING

Sarah Alice Mason was the 6th child of Edward and Mary Copping Mason. Late in her life, in retirement, she took up painting, and produced this evocative scene of the family homestead at MasonFalls from memory. She also kept many interesting old letters, newspaper clippings and the like, and a daily journal from late 1899 to (sporadically in later years) the 1920s, which have helped us understand our family history. 


Aunt Alice seems to have been a favoured pupil at school in Rawdon for many years – one of her many school award cards is reproduced here; her teacher seems to have been her aunt, Elizabeth Ann Sharpe. 

Aunt Alice went on to train as a teacher herself, at the McGillNormal School 1890-92. There she won the prize for French and was co-winner of the Prince of Wales Medal and Prize. She taught French and other subjects for three years at the CoaticookAcademy, south of Lennoxville. In 1895-6 she taught in Montreal, at the Protestant District School de St. Louis du Mile End – which seems a good Canadian name! Her salary was $300 per year.

Meanwhile, her husband-to-be John Alexander Copping worked in Ottawa for his brother James, a builder and contractor. Aunt Alice kept a January 1896 letter from him, in which he told her he had arranged a farm, so she could let the school know she would not be teaching that fall; they were married that July and moved to the home farm in Rawdon, where Alice taught school until 1898-99. 

Looking for a place to relocate in the spring of 1899, John wrote from Lennoxville where, he told Alice, “they say there are lots of farms for sale out here at from $1,000 up – I have not been up to see that one with the orchard yet.” He must have liked it when he finally saw it, for on May 4th that year they moved to a farm at Compton, which had an orchard. Early that December Alice began her daily journal. Her mother joined them for the winter of 1899-1900, helping with household chores and with making the new house comfortable. 

Alice and John farmed at Compton for seven years before moving again to a farm at Sand Hill, where they lived and worked together for another 39 years, to 1945, when he and Alice retired to Lennoxville. John Copping had also served as a municipal councillor for about 20 years. He died in the summer of 1949, from complications following an operation.

At 85, Alice was still very alert in all respects. She enjoyed reciting long passages (she claimed she could do all) of Walter Scott’s works from memory. She also demonstrated that she could still nab an annoying fly in her hand! Quick with her hands; quick with her wit; she enjoyed showing off to a youthful grand-nephew with a new camera.

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