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The Real Jennie

The real Jennie Marsland was my maternal grandmother. This picture of her was taken when she was eighteen or nineteen, shortly after her marriage in the early 1930s.

She grew up on a small farm in the village of Greenwich, in the Annapolis Valley. While still in her teens, Jennie married Fred Marsland, an Australian from Brisbane, who was a writer, a traveler and something of an adventurer. My mother has a couple of his stories which were printed in Toronto newspapers. Fred had come to Nova Scotia looking for farm work during the Depression. He was several years older than Jennie and I imagine he seemed very sophisticated to her.

After their marriage they lived in England for a time before returning to Nova Scotia. I think he must have been a man who couldn’t settle down easily. Before too long he returned to England, where he lost his life in a tragic flying accident. Jennie never remarried. She worked in the family florist business until she retired. I never heard her speak of her marriage, but I’ve always wondered about the young girl who had the courage to leave her world behind and follow her heart. And about the grandfather I never knew.

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