Annie Cameron Murray

Those who have been reading this blog from the beginning know that the property at 1037 Clifton Avenue in Moose Jaw changed hands many times in the years after the land was surveyed.  We think that the lot just to the north of this lot (1043)has changed hands perhaps 4-5 times, but the current residents (my family) are the 17th owners of this lot at 1037. Of course, we want to acknowledge again that the land on which the city of Moose Jaw was established is in Treaty 4 Territory, the original lands of the Cree, Ojibwe, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota, Lakota, and is on the homeland of the Métis Nation.  

On Sept. 4, 1957, the title of the lot and house at 1037 Clifton passed to Mr. Walter Simington and his two sons, Graham and Glen.  The Simingtons were from Kincaid, SK. Walter had been a pioneer in Saskatchewan since 1911 and now with his two grown sons purchased the house on Clifton from Ernest Cook in 1957.  As Mr. Cook had done for many years, the Simingtons continued to have the house rented out. None of the three Simington men’s families lived in the house which was likely purchased as a business investment to provide rental accommodations to a number of Moose Jaw residents for the next several years until a new family purchased it in 1974.  The house doubled in value between 1957 and 1974.

Mr. Simington sold the Clifton house on August 6 of 1974.  His wife died about a year and a half later when she was 85 years old. As a landlord, he seems to have hired some of the tenants over the years to have managerial responsibilities for the renting and maintenance of the house.  There were, of course, tenants who stayed for a short time, and others who lived in the house for years. I would be glad to hear from tenants who lived in the house even for a short time.  Often people were here and gone with no record of their time if there were no voters’ lists or census records for their short stay on Clifton Avenue. 

One long-term tenant from the second floor was a teacher in Moose Jaw.  Her time in Moose Jaw began in early 1900s, but she lived in a variety of homes before she settled into 1037 Clifton after her retirement. In fact, in all of her years in Moose Jaw, this house was the only one where she was a long term tenant.  Watch as the addresses where she lived are presented. Maybe she lived in your house in the years before she came to mine.  Annie Cameron Murray‘s Moose Jaw sojourn and career as a single woman teacher has been making me curious for years.  A later post will track her through the many moves she made in Moose  Jaw.  This post will look at her back story and her family, some of whom came to Moose Jaw and others who did not. 

Annie Cameron Murray’s story can be traced back to the separate arrivals of her grandparents who came when young and single to Canada: her grandfather, Ewan Cameron (b. 1791), from Scotland, and her grandmother, Bridget Higgins (b. 1812), from Cork County, Ireland.  It seems, according to stories that have been passed down in Bridget’s  family, that after being in Canada for a while, Ewan became estranged from his parents over a relationship he had developed with a young Irish girl who was in service to his family. One version of the story claims Ewen and Bridget had actually met on a boat that had both Scottish and Irish immigrants on their way to Canada. Ewen’s people were Highland Scots who then settled in the Ottawa Valley.  Perhaps not knowing that the two had developed a fondness for each other, the Cameron family had hired Bridget Higgins as a maid in the Cameron household. Ewen, who was more than 20 years older than Bridget, fell in love, which upset the Cameron family very much. The couple ran away to be married and settled in Sombra Township, where they raised a large family. 

One great granddaughter of Bridget and Ewen told Bridget’s story this way: “Good looking old woman when I knew her and was probably a real beauty. Also smart. She took service in the Cameron family, the son came home, fell in love with her, couldn’t get her any other way so married her and was disowned by his family. She was the oldest of a family of 13 and never saw any of her people again except two brothers who later came to Canada. I could write a volume about her and almost have. This picture was taken in her last summer when she was 85 and I’m in my 12th year.”

“Bridget (Higgins) Cameron is on the far right; next to her is her daughter Ellen; next to Ellen is her husband Duncan.”

Bridget and Ewen’s family grew to include Alexander in 1831, Ellen in 1833, James in 1837, Ewen Jr. in 1840, Mary Eliza in 1843, Malcolm in 1846, Sarah Jane in 1849, Johanna Annie in 1853, and Isabella in 1856.  When Little Johanna was 7 years old in 1861, the census taken shows her mother Bridget as a widow. Bridget’s eldest daughter, Ellen, is married and will raise her family in Michigan, but the 4th daughter, Johanna is the one whose family members will move to Moose Jaw early in the 1900s.

When Johanna Annie Cameron was born on December 19, 1853, in Chatham, Ontario, her father, Ewen, was 62, and her mother, Bridget, was 41.  Johanna married a farmer, James Scott Murray, on August 19, 1873, in Sombra, Ontario.  The bride was 19 years old and the groom was 33.  

Wedding day portrait of James and Joanna (Cameron) Murray

By the census of 1881, Johanna and James had 3 daughters: , Sarah, Isobel  and Anna, aged 5, 3, and 1.  After the census, 3 more children were added to the family: 2 sons, Walter and Ewen, and another daughter, Mary Beatrice, in 1888.  All told, they had six children in 12 years. Their son Ewen who was born in 1885 died at age 5 in 1890 before the next census was taken in 1891.  The grieving family is shown below with their ages for the 1891 census. 

Zoom forward ten years: Johanna and James Murray’s family in the 1901 census below has only one school-age child now. The older children are grown and likely ready to try their wings.

And wouldn’t you know it, some of them went winging off to Moose Jaw!  The first Murray to come from Petrolia to Moose Jaw was the second oldest girl. In 1901, Elizabeth Sarah from the 1891 census is listed as Sarah E., and this back and forth with the order of her given names continues in documents until her grave has its version written in stone.  The 1901  family of Murrays listed above no longer includes Isabel (Bella, Belle) who married in Port Huron, Michigan but returned to live in Petrolia in 1897.  Her husband, Alexander White was a miller by trade. Of course, they are in the Census in their own household along with their two young sons: Alex and Dundonald.  

Meanwhile, in Moose Jaw,  Christopher Waugh, a young carpenter, is written up in the 1901 census as a “lodger” along with two other single men in the home of a family of six.  Christopher had been born and raised in Lobo township 45 miles from the Murray family and in 1902 returned to Ontario to take Elizabeth (Libby)(sometimes Sarah)  Murray as his bride. Their wedding took place in Petrolia on March 25th and Libby and Chris returned to Moose Jaw to make a home together.  

Libby, although the oldest sister, was not the first Murray sister to marry, but she was the first to move to Moose Jaw!  She had been working as a dressmaker in Petrolia, and before long will be taking in “Lodgers” as well as having children of her own. It seems that Annie Murray may have come to Moose Jaw to visit, perhaps to help when the first baby was born at Christmas time in 1903.  In the 1906 census of the prairie provinces,  Christopher and Elizabeth (Libby) Waugh are heading up a household for two little sons, Libby’s brother, Walter, and 3 other working men. They are living on High St. W.  Elizabeth is probably very busy cooking and cleaning. She may be sewing her own dresses and clothes for her children, for her husband and brother, both carpenters. I hope Libby brought a sewing machine with her from Ontario.  The dress-making and tailoring industry had been changed by the introduction of the sewing machine and had been at the centre of some controversy since the early 1800s there.  

Although Libby (nee Cameron) Murray was working hard in Moose Jaw there must have been times when she was very lonely for the siblings and parents she had left behind in Ontario. Her father and mother, James and Joanna Cameron continued living in their family home on Pearl Street in Petrolia even though their daughters married and single moved on.  Pearl Street is still there in Petrolia, and using Google Maps Street Level, I virtually wandered up and down the short street wondering which buildings might have been there before 1910.  Annie Cameron Murray remained in Ontario, teaching in public schools and caring for her ailing parents, JoAnna and James S. Murray.

Anna Cameron Murray’s Family Tree Clip

Anna C. Murray had been granted an Ontario Professional Second class Certificate (#16287) on January 26th, 1901.  According to the book The Good Old Days: The History of Education in Enniskillen Township, Lambton County, Annie Murray taught at three schools: School Section #6   1899-1900 (Murray School located on Lot 7 Concession 5 Enniskillen Township), School Section #18 1901-1902 (Clark School located on Lot 20 Concession 10 Enniskillen Township), and School Section #16 1907-1909 (located on Lot 5 Concession 10 Enniskillen Township)  These appear to be country schools and possibly Annie was later employed in a town school and was able to live at home on Pearl Street.

In the 1911 Census, Anna and her youngest sister Mary are both enumerated in the Pearl Street home where their parents had been until their deaths. JoAnna Murray had died first at age 56 on October 12, 1910 with breast cancer, and her husband James Scott Murray died just 5 months later at age 72. He had been ill for 2 years. Anna is listed as the head of the household at the time of the census.  She is teaching in a public school.  Mary Beatrice is listed as a dressmaker. Both of these sisters seem to have cared for their parents as they suffered through their final days.

But now that both parents have died, these two Murray sisters decide to come from Petrolia to Moose Jaw. Annie and Mary Beatrice arrive in the west with different goals.  Annie is looking for a teaching position in Moose Jaw, and Mary Beatrice is wanting to get married. Meanwhile in Moose Jaw the June 1911 census taker found the older Murray sister (Sarah Elizabeth)  living in a somewhat  crowded home.  At 148 (old numbering system) Ominica Christopher Waugh at age 40 and Elizabeth (nee Murray) Waugh(35) have six children: 5 boys (including twins 4 months old) and one daughter aged 2. Leonard and Gordon, the twin boys had been born in February right between the deaths of their maternal grandparents in Ontario.

The city of Moose Jaw grew as the Waugh family did. The population at the time of the 1901 census was 1,558. The flow of people to the prairies was happening so fast that an extra census was held in 1906 just to try and keep track of people. The 1906 number was 6,249. This was enough people to give Moose Jaw status as a city and to keep a carpenter like Christopher Waugh very busy. By 1911 the population was 13,823. Imagine the demand for carpenters and other building contractors at the time.

I have often wondered which buildings in Moose Jaw were worked on by Christopher Waugh. Two times Chris Waugh made a trip to England in the company it seems of some other construction workers and a civil engineer. This makes me think he might have worked on some larger buildings.  At the time of this trip, for example, William Grayson was building his 22 room house at 30  Stadacona St. W. (old numbering).  The home had some interior design elements that had been brought from England. Maybe Mr. Waugh was doing some contract work for Mr. Grayson.  Christopher is arriving home on the SS Campania sailing from Liverpool on June 15, 1912.  It must have been an important reason for Christopher Waugh to leave Moose Jaw and travel to England, leaving his wife and children.  Just two months prior to Christopher’s trip in 1912 the world had been in shock over the sinking of the Titanic.  One of the lost passengers had been a Moose Jaw business man well known in the community as Frank, one of the Maybery brothers.  I like to think that the prospect of having two sisters move to Moose Jaw was a great comfort to Libby Waugh.  Although she was grieving the recent loss of both parents, she would be very glad for Anna and Mary Beatrice to be moving to Saskatchewan, especially when Christopher was travelling to England and back so soon after the tragedy of the Titanic. 

It seems that Anna began teaching in Moose Jaw in the fall of 1912.  However another important event was also taking place and the family had preparations to make for a wedding of Mary Beatrice that will take place at Christmas of 1912. Anna’s teaching career in Moose Jaw will be the subject of another post.  Mary Beatrice has met her husband and Zion Methodist church will host her wedding. 


As the Moose Jaw paper write-up makes clear, a great deal of dress making and hat trimming led up to the wedding.   

Lily and Daisy Martin, sisters of the groom are employed as “trimmers” for a local milliner named Ida Butler. (Henderson Directory

Ostrich feathers seem to be a favourite trim in 1912.

When the hat trimmer bridesmaid, Lily, became a bride herself in July of 1913, she chose to wear a veil instead of a hat.  She married  Mr. Harold Woollings, the best man from the Christmas wedding.  They  moved to Ontario. 

The youngest Murray sister, Mary Beatrice,  who found her husband in Moose Jaw is making her home in Saskatchewan.  She lives part of that time in Beverley, SK but is living again in Moose Jaw with her husband and three children on Chestnut Ave. in the 1921 census.  The family moves in 1923 to Oregon.  There is no wedding in the works for Anna Cameron Murray.  She has already embarked on a teaching career in Moose Jaw.  Her 60 years in Moose Jaw and her dedication to her vocation as a teacher will be the subject of the next blog post.