by Melissa Rollit/Special to The News
As staff at a community museum, one of our favourite things to do is to help people find personal connections with Maple Ridge history.
Recently we received a research request on one of the artifacts in our collection, a wedding dress worn by Olah Selkirk.
The research request came from Dianne Lenarduzzi, who is herself on an ambitious family research quest.
Starting with Irwin and Sarah Armstrong, who settled in Quebec in the early 1800s, Dianne’s goal is to trace all 12 of their children to present day.
While the connection to Maple Ridge may not be clear at first, as it turns out, Irwin Armstrong is the great grandfather of Olah Selkirk, which brings us back to the research request.
A lovely confection of satin and ninon lace, the dress was worn by Olah at her wedding to Thomas Falconer in 1910. The dress was passed down to her younger sisters, Ruby and Kitty, who wore it at their own weddings to Nelson Lougheed in 1912 and William Longfellow in 1915, respectively.
Although research into Olah came to a dead end, we did find photos of Ruby’s wedding to Nelson, with Ruby wearing the dress in question.
It was a high-profile event as both bride and groom came from prominent Maple Ridge families.
Nelson Lougheed left a lasting impact on Maple Ridge, playing an instrumental part in the building of Lougheed Highway, which is named after him. He was also the co-founder of the Abernethy and Lougheed Logging Company – the largest railway logging operation in British Columbia during its time.
The wedding ceremony, described as a fashionable affair by The Province, was held at St. Andrew’s Church in Haney.
Ruby was accompanied by her sister Kitty, who was dressed in a grey satin dress, and Nelson was supported by his brother Millar, both wearing fine three-piece suits. The flower girls, who were the sisters of the bride and groom, wore matching bright yellow silk dresses and carried yellow chrysanthemums.
After the ceremony, a luncheon was reportedly hosted at the Selkirk family home.
The reception was beautifully decorated with floral arrangements hanging from the ceiling and windows. An ornate three-tiered wedding cake took centre stage on the table amongst vases of chrysanthemums.
Research requests are often a two-way street, and thanks to Lenarduzzi’s research we were able to expand our records on the Selkirk family.
Uncovering family history can sometimes be a long journey full of unexpected turns and connections – much like this research request – but ultimately can be such a rewarding experience.
If you are interested in your own family history, consider joining the Maple Ridge Family History Group to meet with like-minded people.
– Melissa Rollit is the museum curator for the Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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