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DEAN ROGERS AND CARRIE ISABEL McPHAIL

by Gordon Rogers

Dean was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, February 12, 1897, and died in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 7, 1992.  His parents were Henry Wyckoff Rogers and Grace Dean McLeod Rogers of Amherst.  Henry was a lawyer who preferred trout fishing and Grace was a well known author of Historical Novels and school history texts.  She was also an early advocate of Women's rights; she was the first woman in Canada to run for a seat in a Provincial Legislature in Nova Scotia in 1920, the first woman appointed to the Board of Governors of Acadia University, and the first woman appointed to the Nova Scotia Historical Society.

 

Dean's brothers were Arthur Wyckoff MacLeod Rogers, Hon. Norman McLeod Rogers, and David Barss Rogers. 

 

Dean served in World War 1 from 1916 to 1919.  He rose from Private to Scout and Intelligence Officer for the 85th North Nova Scotia Highlanders . He returned to Canada as a 21 year old major to complete his undergraduate studies at Acadia University.  Following graduate work in finance at the Harvard Business School, he married Isabel McPhail, his long time fiancÚ in Perth, New Brunswick and began a long and eventful career in the Lumber and Hydroelectric Power business in Quebec and Ontario.

 

Dean  was a great outdoorsman, enjoying hunting, fishing, skiing, golf and the general beauty of nature.  He was physically very strong and solidly built and his early life experiences, as a common soldier and as a worker in the bush during his Harvard summers, had instilled in him a profound respect for ability and decency in people regardless of social standing.

 

Isabel was raised in Perth/Andover, New Brunswick, where her father owned and operated a general store and served as Indian Agent for the Tobique Narrows Malicete Indian band.  Her father, James, was the youngest son of the patriarch of the "Scotch Colony," a farming community in the hills near Perth, of Aberdeenshire Scots who emigrated as a community in 1874.  Her mother, Carrie Hartt, was a descendant of Isaac Hart, who came to Plymouth Colony in 1637 from Scratby, England, as tutor to the family of Richard Carver.

 

Isabel received her early education at the Perth Academy and went on to Acadia University where she obtained her B.A. and teaching certificate in 1921.  She had met Dean at Acadia when she was just 18 and he was a young Major just returned from war.  They became engaged and their correspondence and the vicissitudes of there long engagement are beautifully documented in the booklet, "Heaps of Love," compiled by her granddaughter, Susan Rogers Lash, in 1994, from letters preserved by Dean.

 

Isabel was a bright, beautiful and vivacious young woman with a zest for life and adventure.  She played goal on the University women's ice hockey team.  She taught school in both New Brunswick and the State of Maine while Dean completed his studies at Harvard.

 

Shortly after the birth of her first son, Dean MacPhail, she contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized in the sanitarium in Saranac Lake, N.Y.  After three years, she was judged recovered and re-united with her young son and husband.  This was a very trying time for all concerned just at the beginning of the Great Depression but the family ties were strong and the family unit survived. Isabel's health continued to improve and, by the end of the Depression, she and Dean had produced two more sons.

 

Isabel took an active part in the community life of Pembroke and like Dean enjoyed the outdoors pursuits of hunting, fishing and skiing. So adventuresome was she that she went on a fishing trip to Radiant Lake in Algonquin Park on the 24th of May holiday in 1939.  There are photographs of her perched on a log chute on the little Madawaska river dated May 31, 1939.  The writer, her youngest son, was born in Pembroke on June 2, 1939!

 

Isabel and Dean were well matched.  Her cheerful effervescence and "let's have fun" attitude to life were a perfect balance to Dean's somewhat serious and practical, no frills approach.  Dean was always working and saving for the "rainy day" while she encouraged him to lighten up and spend some while they could.  Dean's view of automobiles was one of practical, get us from here to there, preferably in plain black.  Isabel thought differently.  While he did give in over time and move from the old black Buick to some brighter colours and eventually to a chrome emblazoned Oldsmobile, Isabel for her 60th birthday, went out and bought herself, with her own money, a robin's egg blue convertible with white leather seats.  She took great delight in filling it with grandchildren, putting the top down, and going for a drive to and around the cottage property on Morrison's Island.

 

Isabel took a great interest in cultural and educational matters and served on and chaired the School Board for many years. She was instrumental in bringing Community Concerts and other theatrical productions to the town and was on the board of the Victorian Order of Nurses and various church women's groups.  She was superintendent of the Wesley United Church Sunday School for many years.

 

In January of 1967, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  Surgery was attempted, but to no avail.  She died peacefully at home in August, one of the most respected and loved women in Pembroke.  According to the local chief of police, her funeral cortege was the largest ever experienced in the town to that date.  She was a warm and loving, intelligent and stimulating woman, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, neighbour, and citizen.


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