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Maude’s early childhood

The story of Maude Abbott: her childhood (subtitles available in EN and FR). Watch video with transcription.

When she was barely seven months old, little Maude Babin lost her mother to tuberculosis. A short time earlier, her father had moved to the United States, leaving his young family, and a dark past, behind. Effectively orphaned before her first birthday, Maude and her older sister Alice were cherished, adopted and raised by their maternal grandmother Frances Mary Smith Abbott.

Sepia photograph of an elderly Frances Mary Smith, 1880, sitting, from the knees up. She is facing slightly left and looking at the camera with a calm expression. Her left hand rests on an open book on a desk. She is wearing a black dress and a white lace cap. Her white hair is tied behind her head, under the cap.

Frances Mary Smith, Maude Abbott’s grandmother (1807-1890)


“They gave me strength that helped me to resume my journey,” said the grandmother one day on leaving church. Frances Mary Smith Abbott had the girls’ surname legally changed to Abbott.

Black and white photograph of Maude and her sister Alice as children. They are sitting by a fence and gazing seriously at the camera. They are wearing dresses with bare shoulders and dark puffy sleeves. Maude, on the left, has dark hair tied behind her head and wears a flower on her right arm. Alice, on the right, has light hair, also tied behind her head. They are sitting behind an arrangement of flowers, two hats and three rocks on the lawn.

Maude and Alice Abbott, 1873

Maude and Alice grew up in the village of St. Andrews, steeped in Anglican values and traditions. They lived in a large American-style red brick house built in 1821, which they named Elmbank for the majestic elms by the banks of the nearby North River.

Photograph of Elmbank, Maude Abbott’s home, in winter, black and white. It is a two-storey brick house with a gable roof, two chimneys and a gallery on both floors. There is a wooden fence and a sign marked “HONEY” in front of the house, and many trees on the property.

Elmbank, 1938