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Makepeace, Bernice: Angel Mary

Angel Mary

by Bernice Makepeace

Mary Knox was born June 23, 1784 in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland to James Knox (b 1750) and Jean Lang (b 1750). Some records mention a sister Catherine. (Not truly verified)

Mary Knox married John Cameron on April 14, 1804 at Abbey Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland. The couple remained in this area for some time and had the following children there:
John Cameron b May 4, 1804
James Cameron b August 11, 1806
Mary Cameron b April 18, 1809
Catherine Cameron b August 13 1811
Jane Cameron b April 23 1814
Duncan Cameron b April 11, 1816
Helen Cameron b September 13, 1819
Mary Knox CameronMary Knox Cameron

In 1820, John and Mary packed up their belongings and family and sailed to Canada. Life was not always kind to Mary as she lost her daughter, Mary, while crossing the ocean.

After landing in Canada, the family made their way to Rice Lake, where the wild rice grew. They first lived on the shores in the known as Cameron Point near where Rice Lake sits at the mouth of the Trent River. They spent their first winter here in a make-do-shelter. This land they discovered was owned by the surveyor so they then moved about five miles north.

After this move farther north, the family built a log cabin. Later they discovered that the land that John Cameron had built his cabin on was not the correct area as this property was in Otonabee Township. They then had to move east a short distance and start again. At their new place, Lot 13 Concession 1 in Asphodel Township, the family built another log cabin in 1826. This cabin consisted of a stone fireplace in the kitchen and two small rooms. it had a second storey containing one room and it was here that the boys slept. Several years later an addition provided them with a parlour, another room on the main floor and a large room upstairs which was for the girls to sleep in.

In this house four more children were born:
Peregrine Maitland Cameron b October 11, 1822
Ewen Cameron b. May 7 1823
Donald R. Cameron b. September 1827
Mary Cameron b. September 9, 1830

Peregrine Maitland Cameron was named after the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Many children born during this time period were also named after this notable person. Peregrine Cameron was the first white child born in Asphodel Township.

John and Mary’s last child “Mary Cameron” was named after their first daughter , Mary, who had died aboard ship during their Atlantic crossing. This practice of re-using a name following a child’s death seemed to happen quite often in families at that time.

John Cameron was a hard worker as were most of the people who came to Canada. Unfortunately John died December 20 1831. Mary was left to raise four children under 10 years of age. Her children were a great help to her.

While living in the area where they had built their home, Mary was soon named the “Angel Mary”. She had learned how to mix herbs and other remedies that helped many of the local people. She often rode horseback to be a midwife or to nurse others and she was greatly respected.Cameron HouseCameron House

Mary and her unmarried children left the homestead, when her son, Donald, married. A new stone house was built in 1866 not far from the original home and it is here that Mary and her children, John, Peregrine and daughter Mary moved to.

During her lifetime, Mary (Knox) Cameron suffered many painful losses. First her daughter Mary died en route to Canada., then she lost her husband in 1831, leaving very young children to raise. She lost a number of grandchildren in infancy. Daughter Catherine was diagnosed with tuberculosis so left her husband and young children to live with her mother, Mary. (Catherine had already lost a seven month old daughter Dorathy in 1836.) Catherine never recovered and died in 1851. This too, had to be difficult for Mary.

Mary continued to help others until the time of her death. Mary (Knox) Cameron died November 28, 1869 and is buried in the Cameron Cemetery in Westwood, Ontario.