The Canadian Shield, Narcissism and a Red Fox

Wolseley Car sketch by Wendy Harty 2021

For 80 years Britain produced one of the finest luxury motor cars. By 1914 they were being manufactured in Canada.

She moved onto Jarvis Street, Toronto. She harbored dark secrets. Why weren’t the police called? She was the name sake of her aunt Mary Elizabeth, called Mary Melissa. The mansion on Jarvis Street looked like an authentic home but its everyday life tells a different tale.

This story begins 2.4 million years ago. The earth rumbled. A vast upheaval and a molten hot flow changed the path of the trickle of water flowing through the fractured rocks. The glowing rocks slowly cooled and another ice age advanced. Glaciers rolled the ground, rounding and smoothing and polishing. Inside the glaciers were boulders and rocks gnawing away and making scars on the Canadian wilderness. Waters flowed through the porous open grained rock. The waters cooled and deposited a flake like leaf of gold here, a foot of silver in a vein there, nickel and metals dropped into the fractured ricks. The ice retreated, mosses and ferns, swamps and lakes were established. Unaware, the red fox padded along a silver sidewalk, taking the easier walking path along the hillside. Joe La Rose watched the fox emerge from the bushes. On his forge he was sharpening his steel drill. The fox paused in its trot, and with a curious eye, eyed Joe. Joe reached for a hammer and sent it hurtling towards the fox. The fox bolted and Joe went to retrieve his tool. On a beautiful summer morning, where the hammer had struck the rock was a gleaming strip of metal that was about to change the fortunes of Mary Melissa’s husband. By the spring of 1910, a full swing rush was on. Thousands of fortune seekers poured into the area. By the end of the summer 8000 claims were recorded.

Uncle Charlie and wife Elizabeth probably only wanted their 27 year old daughter to marry well. They found out Mary was planning to elope and put a stop to it, encouraging her towards James whom they thought was a better match? From humbling beginnings, James had also been raised on a farm, first in St. Mary’s, Ontario, then at Port Hope, Michigan. Mary came from a farm family, was a devout Wesleyan Methodist and was not well educated. It is surprising the family preferred that she marry James, a Roman Catholic. The couple married February 18, 1891 at Port Hope and two children were born there, Frank Wesley and Lillian May. In 1896, they gave up farming and moved to French River, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Eva was born here and James went to work as a tax collector for $300, a Canadian Civil Servant. Marguerite Elizabeth or Peg was born in 1907 at Haileyburg, Timiskaming.

Where did James find the silver or how? Your author does not know. Perhaps it was by befriending the provincial geologist W.G. Miller. He was a big shy man, black bearded who quietly scribbled a diagram, winked and nodded, tasked with unravelling the rocky enigma of the geological puzzle. The find of La Rose could be reached overnight in a Pullman car on the new railroad, the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway. An ambitious premier promoted the rail line and the blacksmith made the first find. By 1909 prospectors flooded the area, travelled up the new railroad, staked a claim and returned to Haileyburg to register the stake and have their specimens assayed. One of the famous mines would be called the Dome Mine. The sun struck on a specular piece of yellow and glistened just waiting to be discovered. The Golden Stairway as it was called was a vein running down the side of the hill 150′ wide and several hundred feet long. A barber from Haileyburg and his partner Alex Gillies, with a flip of a coin divided 12 claims. It became one of the greatest gold producers in the Western hemisphere.

James emerged as a sudden made millionaire during the 1910’s discovering silver in northern Ontario. With the wealth came extravagance, a reward of success. The finer things in life became his. He bought a Wolseley automobile, in its day considered a luxury vehicle. The mansion on Jarvis Street, Toronto was purchased. There were servants and he wore tailor made suits and dressed impeccably. Perhaps James was in love with Mary once, but just as a handsome Greek youth fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, he showed narcissistic tendencies. Paul Nache in 1899 had used the term narcissism in a a study of sexual perversions and Freud, 1914 used the term. Narcissisms often leads to relationships where others are objects instead of equals. The chauffeur, would do his duty, bringing mistresses and prostitutes, delivering them in the Wolseley. James would remove himself from the family and go upstairs. Mary would take the children to the kitchen until he was done entertaining. There was one dark secret hidden away. Lillian May was mentally challenged, walked with a limp and probably had epilepsy. He kept her hidden away from strangers and was ashamed of her condition. James grandiose schemes, sense of entitlement, treatment of others spiraled toward his own demise. The threat to acquisition of social symbols were numerous. His way of life was stripped by unscrupulous stock brokers and he lost it all. The family moved back to Stoney Creek farm. James’ health began to deteriorate and he began showing symptoms of violence. Most likely he had contracted syphilis from one of his many extramarital affairs. He threatened to kill his grandchildren. Mary endured and feared for her safety and the rest of her family. His sudden rages, at first mild irritations became annoyed serious outbursts including violent attacks. James was an exhibitionist to the world, created the illusion that was acquired in adulthood by wealth and became a full blown personality disorder with erratic behavior.

An obvious question today is why the police were not involved? James was the breadwinner, and without him they would all be destitute. James’ health worsened. He would go into the fields without his pants on. Eventually James became a patient at the Ontario Hospital where he remained until his death.

Perhaps civilization has improved? Perhaps today Mary Melissa could reach out for help in her situation and be secure? I cannot imagine the decisions she made to stay!

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