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A suitable memento

Several years ago, Gavin Murphy wrote in The Beaver about the book Portrait in Light and Shadow: The Life of Yousuf Karsh. Murphy bemoaned the volume’s emphasis on the more celebrated subjects of the famed photographer’s portraits, and he wished that it included a few examples of the less well-known individuals who posed for Karsh’s camera.

The above photo portrays one such person: my paternal grandmother, Gertrude Sophia Anderson Macnab. She would have been in her late sixties or early seventies when she rode the train from Arnprior, Ontario, to Ottawa in the 1940s to visit the Karsh studio for a portrait session that had been arranged by her children. They wanted a suitable memento of their aging mother.

Gertrude Anderson was born in 1873 in Wisbech, England, and emigrated with her family to the United States in 1879.

In the early 1900s, she moved with her husband, George Fergusson Macnab, to his hometown of Arnprior, where he took over the family insurance business. George died in 1927.

For many years before she was incapacitated by illness, Gertrude was heavily involved in church and charity affairs. She died in 1966. Like most people, she lived a life that was overshadowed by the exploits of the rich and the famous — and, like most lives, hers was marked by events and encounters that deserve to be remembered.

Submitted by Ron Macnab of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.


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