Tribute – Mrs. Margaret “Maggie” Davis
In life, we are all privileged to meet and know people who have a special place in our lives. Such a privilege is the reason for our gathering together this evening. We celebrate the Life of one of our Dearest Citizen, Family and Friend.
Happy 84th Maggie!
Maggie! The very name evokes friendship and love. Songs have been written in dedication to your name. Saints have your name and Royal Families have adopted your name but, most important of all, the Davis Family has been privileged to have you as their Matriarch, their Mentor and Best of All, their Mother.
Margaret “Maggie” Davis was born into this world October 6, 1911, one of five daughters, to Luke and Julia Hayden of Harbour Grace. The family originally came from Austria to Newfoundland via Ireland. Her father worked away from home, mostly as an iron worker in New York, but was home each year from Christmas to March. He later worked on large coastal and ocean going steamers and died in Danzig, Germany in 1934. He provided well for his family and perhaps these long days of his being gone instilled a great spirit of independence in his daughters.
Maggie’s childhood was an exciting time. She grew up in the era of unfolding technology, especially the Development of Flight. She even met Amelia Earheart at Harbour Grace, whom she describes as “A very Grand Lady”. She especially liked Bishop March, whom she still fondly refers to as a ‘Darling’. She told me a story involving the Bishop and I would like to share it with you this evening. As a young girl in Harbour Grace, she, along with her sisters and friends, liked to do what all young girls do, get apples from someone’s tree. Now the Godden’s, who ran a Boot and Shoe Business and were a prosperous family, had an apple tree in their front garden. Two girls were dispatched to the front door of their home to distract any observers, while Maggie went under the Apple Tree and shook it. Unknown to Maggie, Bishop March was walking by at the time and looking rather nonchalantly at her under the tree, said, “You’re having a great time now, Margaret”.
Maggie describes herself as being a “Devil in School”. Never the shy one, she boldly asked Bishop March for time off for the students to see Alcock & Brown’s Historic Flight, but was unsuccessful, and she asked for time off to see Amelia Earheart’s Flight, for which she received detention.
Nevertheless, she graduated from High School and completed Commercial the following year, a remarkable accomplishment in Newfoundland in the 1920’s.
Shortly thereafter, she met a charming young man named Gregory Davis, who swept her up and they married in 1928 in Montreal, where Greg worked in a Cheese Factory. It was in Montreal that the first of their eight children, Constance, was born.
Returning to Newfoundland, Greg found work with the AND Co. as a Logger in Central Nfld and the young family moved to Bishop’s Falls. Shortly thereafter, he went to work with the Railway, where he remained working until his death in 1958. Maggie describes her marriage as good years, with good children and a husband who was too honest.
She adds quickly that she was and still is a one man woman and that’s why she never remarried. To quote Maggie, “I couldn’t find one good enough.”
With her husband’s death, she was faced with the task of raising a young family, so, undaunted; she found work in Grand Falls and continued tow work until the late 1960’s. Maggie likes to say she “managed” during that time and quickly adds 'I had the best dressed youngsters in Bishop’s Falls.' Considering she was pregnant with Paula at the time of Greg’s death, this remarkable Lady is a shining example of that true Characteristic of Newfoundlanders known as Persistence. Maggie told me she was determined to “Keep the Family Together”. She was and still is surrounded by Family and Friends who are all here this evening, except for two or three. That family consists of eight children, (Brendan deceased), forty grandchildren, fifty great-grandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren; in all 105 offspring, spanning five generations and still growing.
Treasured Friends, especially the Hopkins Family, The Antles, The Penneys, Cooke’s, Lingards and Hannons, are all very dear to her heart and their presence here is fitting Testimony to the esteem in which she is held. We must remember that living in Bishop’s Falls in the heydays of this community, fostered friendships which can almost be described as Extended Families, in fact, Maggie fondly refers to the Hopkins as an extension of her family. All families are treasures. She recalled for me just last evening, one of the ‘Times’ she had with my grandmother, when at Christmas, she attended a “Janny Dance” at her Boarding House on Station Road. Let’s see if the young people here this evening can figure that one out!
Many of us know Mrs. Margaret Davis because we had to Vote at her home. She describes herself as a “Friend to All Governments.” Maggie Davis worked in many Elections, conducted the Census for the very First Town Council in Bishop’s Falls and even has had the pleasure of meeting many of our Province’s Historical figures, Politicians and Famous People. She was a part of some Historical Events and has lived through the most exciting century of recorded history. She vividly recalls the Days of Sir Richard Squires, Sir Robert Bond, The Commission of Government and the Confederation with Canada. Two World Wars and major advances in technology have all been a part of her life. She was a guest in Joey Smallwood’s Home, has met all kinds of Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and Mayors. About our current Premier, she recalls an occasion when a small boy growing up here where his father worked with the Railway, he drank stove oil and had to be rushed to Hospital. Ironically, today, he is presiding over the World’s Largest Oil Development Project.
Through it all, she remains our dear “Maggie”. A devoted family helps and visits her daily. Friends drop by for tea, cake and a chat. Her door is always open and her love for everyone is always genuine. Her independence is strong and reflects the life she has lived. She plans to remain independent “as long as God is willing to let her.”
To conclude, thank you for allowing me the privilege of Paying Tribute this evening to a Lady who is very special to her family, to her friends and to our community. On behalf of all of us assembled, may you have many more years with all of us and “Happy Birthday”!
With love and friendship