Dorothy Forsythe

I was saddened to learn of the death of my longtime neighbour Dorothy Forsythe last weekend.

When we moved into 100 Prince Street, we became neighbours to Dorothy and her late husband Bob at 108 Prince Street. We’ve benefited from good and generous neighbours all-round, and Bob and Dorothy were certainly that: helpful, caring, supportive. Dorothy was a great friend to Catherine over the years on many fronts, and to me especially after Catherine’s death.

I will never forget running into Dorothy and Bob at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market one Saturday some years ago and finding them excited by the impending visit of their nephew. I asked what their plans were: perhaps they’d go to Rainbow Valley with him, or Sandspit, or the beach? “Well,” replied Dorothy, “he’s in his 50s and he’s a lawyer…” It was easy to forget they were several generations older than me.

Earlier in COVID times, I started a newsletter for my neighbours in the C1A 4R4 postal code; Dorothy was an enthusiastic reader and, in the last issue, a contributor: she wrote a piece about her home at 108 Prince Street, and her lifetime association with the house:

108 Prince St., where I live, was built in 1878 as a single home by M.P. Hogan. The builder lived here for four years until it was sold to W.W. Wellner, a well known Charlottetown jeweller. 

In 1913 it was bought at auction by my grandfather, John Bell Andrew, who owned a farm and carding and grist mill, “Belmont Mills” at East Royalty. 

My grandparents never lived on Prince Street and it was rented to a large family. There were eight bedrooms, some with sinks. The depression years followed and the house needed extensive repairs and often the tenant wasn’t able to pay the rent. 

In 1914 World War One began and in 1915 my father enlisted at seventeen. He was wounded three times, the last time only three days before the armistice. As he was recovering in England after the war he got the Spanish flu and was very ill. Now we can identify with what was like then! 

In 1940 my dad, Frederick L. Andrew, reenlisted and his first posting was to organize an army Basic Training Centre at Beach Grove. It had been a summer hotel owned by the Sterns family. The hotel was used as a barracks and many more army buildings were added. After the war the hotel became a nursing home until a new home was built on the same location. 

Our home in East Royalty was sold and, at that time, my grandfather turned the house at 108 Prince St. over to my father. Dad immediately had renovations started: James Harris was the architect and Neil Blank was the contractor. 

The apartments were ready to move into in the fall of 1942. I started grade VII at the old three-story brick school in the present Prince Street School location. I had previously attended the one room school in Central Royalty. 

In January 1942 my father was transferred to Halifax to take command of № 6 District Depot where soldiers left by ships for overseas and returned home for discharge when the war ended. He was there until 1947 and during that time Mother and I were living at 108 Prince Street. 

Mother and Dad lived the rest of their lives here and my husband Bob and myself moved here from Saint John in 1984. Bob died in 2014 and I’m still here at age 90. 

I’m very grateful to have great neighbours keeping an eye out for me. 

In the fall of 2018 we helped Olivia organize an epic 18th birthday party for herself, so epic that we needed to rent the St. Paul’s Parish Hall to host it. Dorothy was there, and at the end of the night, with only a few stragglers left, it was Dorothy who grabbed a broom and swept the floor, something captured by the livestream camera: 

Dorothy Forsythe sweeping the floor in St. Paul's Parish Hall

The generosity of spirit in that act is how I will forever remember Dorothy: a kind-hearted, curious, engaged woman. A great neighbour. 

She will be missed.

Comments

Laurie Brett's picture
Laurie Brett on March 10, 2022 - 21:10 Permalink

Peter, this is a lovely tribute to your neighbour Dorothy and the legacy of her family home. I hope your city keeps a heritage registry and that Dorothy’s contribution to your newsletter is on file with the city.