Chaper Six Floss Skilling

My eldest sister was christened Florence Elizabeth but always called Floss or Flossie. She was born December 6, 1878 and by the time I was born in 1896, Floss had moved to Aurora, Ontario to work as a milliner.  I was told she taught piano before that. She was an accomplished pianist, but had many other talents as well. Floss had dark hair and snapping brown eyes that were almost always crinkled up in laughter. She had a wonderful sense of humour and in 1902, she married Will Guinn who had an even greater wit and a very congenial personality.

Their wedding is my earliest recollection of either of them. I was six when they were married in our tiny house in Teeswater, with Mae and Maude as bridesmaids. I do not remember the bride as much as I remember the bridesmaids’ white organdy gowns with many tucks and ruffles. I thought they looked like angels. The crowning event of that day for me was when the bridegroom gave me the stupendous gift of a whole dime with instructions to buy myself some ‘Newports’. Newport Chocolates were the elite chocolate of the day and I felt like a very lucky girl.
Floss and Will took up residence at Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island where Will started a monument business. In 1903 their first child Marion Winnifred was born, named ‘Marion’ for our paternal grandmother and ‘Winnifred’ after Winnifred Nixon, Floss’ best friend. I remember my mother went to Gore Bay to be present at the birth, taking my younger brother Vernon, aged 2, with her. I was left at home at the mercy of my older sisters. When Marion was 11 months old, the next child, Ruxton made his appearance.

Floss with Ruxton and Marion Winnifred Guinn
c. 1905
 I’m not sure when they moved to Neepawa, Manitoba but they lived there for their remaining years and produced seven fine children. Will moved his monument business there and was very successful.
Floss and I used to say to each other we were distantly related as she was the first and I was the ninth of our parents’ children.  Over the years she spent considerable time with us and this was when I really got to know her.  She had very high ideals and worked very hard to bring up her children to be fine citizens. She was an ardent member of the Eastern Star and the Methodist (later United) Church.

I visited them in the summer of 1920 when I was teaching in Winnipeg, and saw why they had such a happy home. She told me once she always hated to see Will Guinn go out the door. They were a truly devoted couple.  She lived to be 83 years old and still retained a youthful outlook on life. She never ceased to grieve for Will Guinn, who died several years before her.

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