Transcribed by Jean Taylor
Jean Taylor is the great grand daughter of Alice Maude Bain Snyder (b. September 26, 1870, d. July 6, 1953), daughter of Benjamin Bain (b. June 9, 1841; d. ?; m. 1868) and Martha Playfair Mills Bain (b. 1848, d. 1887). These three letters are presented in order of date.
686 Main St. East
Nov 24th, 1936
Mrs. Alice Snyder
Please accept my sincere apology for delaying an answer so long to your esteemed and welcome letter of June 26th last. I receive numerous letters from my dear friends scattered far and near, but it must be on account of my failing energy that I find it hard to keep up with my correspondence. However hearing from kind friends at a distance gives me nearly all the pleasure I have in life now.
I want to not only thank you sincerely for your kind and interesting letter, but also for the snap shots of yourself, Bryant and Beryl; Mr. Snyder, your Uncle John and grandson Charles; Mrs. Otis and two sons Bryant and his wife; David and Charles looking out over the Sea, and the beautiful home of Bryant at Traverse City. I cannot express to you how much I appreciate these pictures. I have looked them all over time and again, and always with increasing appreciation. My only regret is that I cannot at present at least return you the compliment.
I have been at the boys for months to get me snapshots but so far with out success. However, I expect them someday and I will not forget your kindness. I enclose you a bunch of newspaper clippings, which I have saved during the web of years. Obituary notices and other doings of the Playfair Clan. I fancy as you live so far away and had no chance of knowing anything about your dear mother’s relatives, that you might be interested in reading them. I sent them to Miss Vere Playfair of Weston-Super-Mare, England last year, and she was so delighted with them, that she got busy with her typewriter and kept a copy of them for her friends.
The Old Sunday School, was written by Rev. Andrew Murdoch nearly 40 years ago, in memory of Uncle Little John Playfair. He was without a rival as a public speaker in Lanark County in the early days. Your grandfather, my Uncle George Mills, was his assistant in Sunday School work. And by the way, Mr. Murdoch speaks of the School pupils being shown through the Mill that stood close by the school, and he gives the owners name as Sandy Bain. I do not know the history of the Bain family, but I remember Sandy Bain, and if I am not mistaken he would be an older half brother of your father’s. I may be mistaken.
Just a word or two about Lest We Forget. This article is supposed to have been written by a Mr. McFarlane (no relation) who taught school there about 1890 and he was back last year 1935 to visit the old place. The article is all quite true and I like the kindly way he writes of the old settlers. It will give you an idea of the district where your mother was well acquainted 75 years ago.
Now I do not like to trouble you, but after you have had plenty of time to read them, I would appreciate it if you could return them. If you think Bryant would like to read them, perhaps you could send them to him, and then he could forward them on to me, when he was through with them. Now don’t hurry yourself in the least, take all the time you want. I would not look for them but we have other friends at a distance that I may want to send them to. I have plenty more clippings of the same or a similar kind but they are pasted into my scrap book.
I hope you are keeping real well yourself, and that your grandsons will have entirely recovered from the mumps long before now. I am keeping fairly well for my advanced age, for which I am sincerely thankful to a kind Providence. Right here let me also thank you for the clipping, A Daily Thought re: different methods of prolonging life. A quiet simply life is the better way, like what you say you are living. I think you are safer without an auto. So many accidents. I used to have one when I was in Perth, but I gave it away.
I had a good outing this summer. Dr. Playfair and Winn generally go North every year for a couple of weeks. This year they wanted me to go along, so feeling quite safe when they were along I went! We were about 300 miles North of Hamilton, in Northern Muskoka. We went to a tourist hotel right back in the forest. There were about 40 guests, a fine bunch of people, they were all Americans except our own party, from Pennsylvania and Ohio. They were very agreeable and no sign of snobbishness. The trip agreed with me well. I ate just about double what I do at home. The elevation would be nearly 1000 feet higher than the Lake [not sure what the name was] here.
David was away in Germany all summer, brushing up on the language. He and his partner got bicycles and just went here and there through the country and they enjoyed it very much. He claims they are a very hospitable people.
I regret to say two of our highly esteemed connections passed away this summer. The first George Kerr, husband of Charlotte Playfair at Fallbrook, died in July. A very fine man, clever, well educated, and a good Christian. He had been Warden of the County. The Kerrs were great friends of the Mills family as long as they remained at Playfair. Then at Birnie, Manitoba, there passed away in August Amelia Playfair, wife of James Brown, and last one of Uncle Little Johns family. A very superior woman in every respect. Your Uncles George, John and Joshua all went to both Day and Sunday school with her as well as my self. My father died when I was only 3 and she was more like a sister to me than a cousin. She left her only son on the farm, one daughter Gertrude a Teacher in Public School, Winnipeg, and a daughter married.
I had a letter from Cousin Cordelia of Winnipeg, yesterday. All fairly well. She reported the wedding of Gordon Playfair Cain and a Mill Lilian Bulman. They go to Vancouver to live. He is a nephew of Mrs. Browns, and a G. Grandson of Little John Playfair.
Well I hope I have not bored you with a lot of stuff in which you are not interested.
I send my very best wishes to you and yours for your health and happiness, anytime you feel like writing I will appreciate it very much, and I will try and be more punctual in answering.
Very Sincerely Yours
W. A. Moore
686 Main St. East
Jany 22nd 1937
Mrs. Alice B. Snyder
811 C Avenue
Your kind and welcome letter of Dec. 10th was received in due time, and I was very pleased to hear from you.
I am glad to know the press clippings reached you safely and you are quite at liberty to keep them until you have carefully read them yourself and your brother Jay whom you expect then when convenient forward them on to Bryant with my best wishes. I would have answered your letter sooner, but I got so many letters about Christmas and New Years from kind friends both East and West, that I have been busy trying to get them answered. I cannot sit down and write five or six letters at a sitting, like in former years. The advance in my years has caused a slowing up in everything I try to do. However I am thankful to a kind Providence, that I am as well as I am.
This time I am enclosing you the Obituary Notice of your Grandfather Mills. I have it pasted in my scrapbook, or I would have sent it with the others. It was written for the Church Paper in Toronto, so I copied it. I also enclose a Table of the Mills family of Winnipeg. If there is any information in it, that you did not have you are welcome to it. I had very few dates, but the ones I have substituted are fairly accurate. You need not return any of these. I am putting in a snap of Charles, I intended sending one or two others, but cannot locate them. Perhaps more later. About the stamps I had Charles on the lookout for me. He ran across Edward VIII after a while, but they are scarce. The German Stamps I got from letters David had written his father last summer.
Your brothers seem to have a good time motoring, they are quite right to enjoy life before they get too far advanced in years. It would have done you good too to be with them on some of their long trips. Perhaps you will be able to take that Canadian trip next year.
In copying that Obituary of your Grandpa Mills it struck me as remarkable that he should live to be 90, and none of his first family reached 70 except John, who was 75. I knew Uncle George well and was in his class at Sunday School every Sunday until I was 14, when I went clerking in a country store.
We have had a very open, mild fall and winter here so far, very little snow or frost, but plenty of rain.
Edward VIII or Duke of Windsor his present title was a pretty lively chap and I am of the opinion his company was too fast for him. After all the change may be for the better, as you say George VI has the appearance of being more the stamp of a man his father was. In the table of the Mills family, I did not give the names of the younger generation for I did not know them except your Uncle George’s family, but if you would like to have them to complete the table, I can get Cordelia to get them. With very best wishes for the health and happiness of yourself and you grandchildren for 1937. I also hope and trust you daughter will be restored shortly to her usual health.
686 Main St. East
Feby 12th 1937
Mrs. Alice Snyder
Your kind and welcome letter of Jany 29th received a few days ago for which I thank you very much and just two or three days ago I received a letter from Bryant and the clipping too. So I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I received them safely and I thought you might be anxious until you knew they had come.
I was afraid Bryant had not kept them long enough to read them carefully but he said in his letter he had read and re-read them. You and your brothers thank me for sending them to you, but I feel that it has been a great privilege to me to have been able to do so. If you and your brothers have been interested in reading them and have perhaps secured a little more information about your mother’s people than you had before, then I am amply repaid for any slight trouble it was to me.
I have been doing more or less of this kind of work for 25 or 30 years, mostly with some members of the English Clan. I will quote you a few lines from one of her letters (Miss Vere Playfair) (Weston-Super-Mare).
I cannot tell you what pleasure your letter and also the Newspaper Cuttings gave me. I have typed out copies of all of them, during spare moments, and I am now the proud possessor of all those most interesting events. I shall have the privilege (thanks to you) of sending these descriptions on to the rest of the clan to show them what our Canadian Branch have done. The Old Sunday School is delightful and brings Playfairville very near to me, as one reads it through. I like the way the Rev. Andrew Murdoch expressed it all.
You will find Miss Vere Playfair’s name and the family she is a member of on page 57 of your Playfair Book. I correspond occasionally with her father Hugh S. Playfair who lives retired in Tokyo, Japan. He spent a few days with me in 1920, when he was on his way back to Japan from a visit in England. He also stayed a few days with Cordelia in Winnipeg, that trip. That was his ninth trip home to England. I am glad to know your grandson Charles was pleased with the stamps. I am sure it will give you much pleasure having your brother Jay, his wife and son with you for a while. The winter will pass away more quickly. I hope your daughter is gaining some in health. I remember when your mother and the children were home to Playfair that time. They stayed a day with us in Perth that time, but it is not likely Jay will remember it when he was only about four years old. I note what you say about remembering your father speak of Sandy Bain and that he lived with Henry Shillington in Perth during part of his young life.
I might say I was born in Perth, in May 1856 and my father died there in 1859, and strange to say our home was on North Street just about 100 yards West of the Shillington home. So that I guess your father was a close neighbor of ours at that time. After my father died my mother built a home for us at Playfair and moved back there about 1860 to be near her parents. Mr. Shillington was a well to do man, had considerable property, but was considered a very hard close living man. He had a brother Thomas who settled on a farm near Playfairville and his son Henry married Mary Playfair, daughter of James Playfair. He died about a year ago, aged 83, Mary is living yet. He was a fine man. I knew him from childhood. They were a well to do family.
About the Bain family. All I knew were 3 older half brothers of your father, Robert, James, and Sandy. They and their families have all passed away as far as I know except three youngest daughters of Sandys – Margaret (Mrs. Joe Avery) of Manitoba I think; Lizzie (Mrs. Jim McMannis), and MaryAnn (Mrs. Frank Rogers). McMannis and Rogers are living yet I think in Northern Michigan.
You mentioned John and Andrew Bain, having seen the names in Lest We Forget. I went to school with both these boys away back in the 1860s, in the same old log school, that Uncle John Playfair and Uncle George Mills had the Old Sunday School. John and Andrew were James Bain’s sons, but they have both passed away years ago. They would be nephews of your father’s.
Now if any of you take a motor trip to Canada this summer I will be glad to see you. You know of course I have no home of my own. If I had I would like nothing better than to have you stop with me. Now if there is any further information that I can furnish at any time either about the Playfairs, Mills or Bains, be sure and let me know.
I extend to you and your family, your brother Jay, wife and son, my very best wishes for your health and happiness.
Very Sincerely Yours,
[The following note was written in the margin of the last sheet of paper]
‘Lest We Forget’ was written by an old school teacher and refers to things as he found them in 1890 when he taught there. He had been away since 1890 and came back a year ago.