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Chapter Seven Maude Skilling

The second child born to our parents was Eugenia Maude on June 29, 1881. Like Floss, she had bright brown eyes and dark hair, but a much quieter and gentler manner than her older sister. She had a lovely singing voice and was an accomplished pianist.


She too, was away from home when I was little, but spent more time in Teeswater in my childhood than Floss. She was very loving and treated us younger children with affection and grace. She played the violin in the Teeswater Orchestra and had music pupils in Gorrie, Fordwich, and Wroxeter in Huron County, as well as being organist on the large pipe organ in the big church in Gorrie. These villages were not far from Teeswater so she got home fairly often. She travelled to these places by train and the fare was only a few cents in those days.
I was always delighted when Maude came home. She would curl my hair and never pulled when she was combing it. I loved to hear her play the piano. Whenever singers came to give concerts in Teeswater, she was called on as an accompanist and complimented for her skill. The ‘Sons of Scotland’ used to bring talent and put on what we called the ‘Scotch Concert’ every year in Teeswater. Maude used to tell me how the performers made up behind the scenes: added little false curls to their hairdo and even painted their cheeks. 

Maude married Lambert Stinson from Gorrie in 1915. He was quite a humorist and always looked nice as he was a very classy dresser. He was quite a clever man and the story was that he had passed his exams for University Entrance at age 15 and his parents enrolled him in Victoria College. They later were informed that Lambert had never turned up for classes; so his father went down to investigate and found his son working at pasting up signs on billboards. He just didn’t want to go in for higher learning. When Maude met him he was the proprietor of a little butcher shop in Gorrie, Ontario.
Maude and Lambert left Gorrie after their marriage and went to live in Toronto. Maude always had a large piano class and kept a number of boarders, usually teachers. Lambert worked for my brother Orville in the office as a bookkeeper. After Orville died in 1918 Lambert became a car salesman. Maude sang as a paid singer in the Eaton Memorial Choir and was one of Sir Ernest MacMillan’s favourite choristers. Lambert also sang there.
Maude and Lambert never had any children and this was a great disappointment to them. (She had a large tumour removed from her uterus at one time.) Maude however showered a lot of love on her little nieces and nephews. Orville’s children, Jack, Grace and Harold, all went up to Aunt Maude’s every Saturday morning for their gratis music lessons. Our two children were too young to avail themselves of her wonderful talents as a teacher, but she loved them dearly and they loved her too.
When Ray and I were married in 1926, Maude took over complete responsibility for the catering and had plates for 30 guests. As there was no refrigeration then, these plates were all taken down to the cool basement and carried up again for the wedding supper. I wonder if I ever thanked her enough.
Maude had a thyroid condition which was wrongly diagnosed by her doctor. When she went to have the operation, it was too late, and she succumbed to complete dehydration. My dear, gentle, patient, kind, loving and generous sister passed away too soon.

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