(Rev.) White Burton Morgan 1879 – 1956

Rev. White Burton Morgan c. 1950

My paternal grandfather White Burton Morgan was born in Hartland, NB on March 24, 1879. His parents were David Ezra Morgan 1852-1924 and Lois Parmelia Orser (Morgan) 1856-1939. Each was descended from Loyalists from New York State who came to New Brunswick from the U.S. following the American Revolutionary War. In 1879, Canada was but 12 years old. PM John A. McDonald was busy introducing protective tariffs on manufactured goods and promising a transcontinental railway as the Plains first nations people were starving in the west due to the disappearance of buffalo. I never really got to know my Grandpa Morgan as he died after a long illness when I was 6.

White was the middle of 5 children. Sadly older sister Martha died in 1878 at age 3 and younger brother David died in 1888 at age 4. Older brother Edmund and younger sister Lina lived a long life so little White’s life was tinged with both sorrow and subsequent joy from the very start. There must have been a lot of religion in the family to sustain them as both his mother Lois’ father Moses and Uncle Charles were Free Baptist Ministers. White’s father David listed his profession as farmer. His mom’s sister Minnie Bell was married to a Samuel White so I suppose this is how White may have got his unusual first name.

Edmond and White c 1882-3

Hartland (pop. 1000) had been founded by White’s mother’s great great grandfather William Orser in 1797. Known now for having the longest covered bridge in the world, it is in the heart of potato country and must have been a very peaceful place to grow up in.

I have little information about his early childhood life other than he grew up on a farm with his older brother and younger sister. He went to Hartland High School and later Provincial Normal School in Fredericton. White began his career as a teacher locally but then out west to teach in Saskatchewan and Alberta. He served a stint in the Royal Engineers in Halifax and came to Ottawa in 1905 to be boys’ secretary at the YMCA. He then went to Queens University, Kingston graduating with a BA in 1909. In 1913 he enrolled in Theology at Trinity College, Toronto and graduated with a BD in 1914.

He was ordained an Anglican Rector at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa in 1913 and briefly assigned to the mission at Madawaska and Killaloe in the Ottawa Valley. He then became assistant rector at St. Mathew’s Anglican Church in Ottawa before being assigned as Rector, St. John’s Anglican Church, Vankleek Hill, Ontario in November 1915. But just before this move he married Bella Mae Vallillee of Ottawa on July 7 at St. Mathew’s. They had courted for a year. She was the only child of George William Vallillee and Rebecca Jane Skuce both of Ottawa and was born Jan 4, 1895. Her mom Rebeka Jane nee Skuce died in 1914 when Bella Mae was 19. Her dad, George Vallillee remarried Margaret Tait in 1917 and they had a son George Vallillee.

In Vankleek Hill, White and Bella Mae gave birth to six children. It was a busy time for sure. White was 42 and Bella was 26 when my dad was born:

  • Lois Geraldine Feb 5, 1916
  • Burton Roper Mar 23, 1917
  • Vera Marjorie Apr 19, 1918
  • Barbara Caroline Jul 11 1919
  • Alfred David Apr 14 1921 (my dad)
  • Reginald Aug 24 1922
St. John the Apostle Anglican Church, Vankleek Hill, Ontario Today

In 1922 he moved to Russell and Edwards, ON where he was Incumbent. It was on May 1, 1927 he was appointed Rector at St. Martin’s Anglican on Woodroffe Avenue in Ottawa’s west end. St. Martin’s then was located in what is the current Hulse and Playfair Chapel just across from Our Lady of Fatima RC Church. White was also responsible for St. Stephen’s Anglican on Britannia Road. The Morgan family established themselves on Fourth Avenue in McKellar Park not far to the east from both churches. McKellar Park Golf Course had just opened in May so it was the start of a long love relationship with golf in the Morgan family.

Morgan Family c 1935
White, Bella Mae and daughter Vera on the golf course, c 1938

White was busy with his two churches and Bella with their 6 kids. He was also responsible for the Missions of Chelsea and Gatineau Mills across the Ottawa River in Quebec from 1933-40. The years flew by. The kids went to Broadview public school and Nepean High School just a few blocks away. Then it was off to university for some. When the war years came, oldest son Burton who also went to Trinity College, enrolled in the army and my dad Alfred, in the RCN Volunteer Reserve. White was a Mason of the Scottish Perfection, was very affable and popular, making many friends around town.

At my dad’s graduation from McGill 1942

Meanwhile the grandchildren had started coming and coming and coming. All told he and Bella had 20 grandchildren from 1941 to 1961. 4 of their 6 six children stayed in Ottawa, only the oldest Lois moving to Brantford, ON and the youngest Reginald ending up in Cornwall. So there was plenty of opportunity to be with their grandchildren. Many large family get togethers occurred at the Morgan household now on Windermere Ave, Fourth Ave having been renamed.

With grandson Robert Carson c 1941
At the sea 1940s

However, tragedy was about to strike. Rev. White retired from St. Martin’s in 1949 after 23 years as Rector, for illhealth reasons. Mind you he was 70 so he was likely ready to retire anyway. I do not know the details of his illness but I know it affected his retirement adversely. His friend Rev. Ken Cowan took over as Rector. Bella was not well either suffering from some disorders that I do not know the details of. As a young boy I remember visiting them in hospital and that is about all.

Me with Grandma and Grandpa Morgan 1951

Sadly White passed away on May 24, 1956 at the age of 77 in the Perley Hospital Ottawa and was interred at Beechwood Cemetery after the service at St. Martin’s. Bella Mae did not live much longer and passed away on Oct 19, 1956 at the age of 61. They had had a good very productive life together and the Morgan family name lives on in Ottawa and elsewhere thanks to them. I wish I had had the chance to get to know you both more Grandpa and Grandma Morgan, may God continue to bless your souls.

I wish to acknowledge and thank cousin John Morgan for supplying the bulk of the family material used to create this biography. Also posthumously, his sister Barbara who provided me with the Morgan family genealogy files some years back. This is one of a series of family biographies on Mattersofthemoment.com based on my family tree below. Cheers, Dave.

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