I posted this picture yesterday and it reminded me that I really should try (again) to sort out who all those kids are. A copy of this picture (I don't know where the original is) is in the possession of my grandmother, who remembers that her mother is the girl on the father's lap.
The father is Robert Burns Dewar. Born on 28 May 1857 on Prince Edward Island of Scottish ancestry (With that name? No!), he was the son of James Dewar and Elizabeth Young. Robert grew up without his father; the Hutchinson's Directory of 1864 lists Elizabeth as a widow living in Charlottetown.
Anyway, Robert married Annie Caroline Sneeston on either 27 Nov or 9 Dec 1876 (both dates are in the bible). I've seen an entirely different date online; not sure what to make of this, since none of them push a child out of the marriage. Anyway, they seem to have married. And they promptly began having kids.
(Disclaimer: many of these dates are from an index, but I really wanted names to go with all these faces! The birth order, at least, is confirmed by multiple census returns. Unfortunately, only the birth of their first child, Mary, appears in the family bible. Seeing these baptism records with my own eyes is a must do!)
1. Mary Elizabeth Dewar, also called May, born 13 May 1878 and baptized 9 Jun 1879. Living with her parents at the time of the 1881, 1891, and 1901 census returns.
2. Alice Grace Dewar, born 18 Jul 1880 and baptized 13 Oct 1882. With the family at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census returns.
3. John Sneeston Dewar, born 10 July 1882 and baptized as an infant with his big sister Alice on 13 Oct 1882. With the family at the time of the 1891 census.
4. George Dewar, born in about 1885. I cannot (as yet) find a baptismal date for George. With the family at the time of the 1891 and 1901 census returns.
5. Ethel Dewar, born in about 1887. Also can't find a baptismal date for Ethel. With the family in 1891 and 1901.
6. Annie Lee Dewar, born on 8 Nov 1888 and baptized 23 Jan 1895. With the family in 1891 and 1901.
7. Florence Matilda Dewar, just two months old at the time of the 1891 census. She was born 24 Jan 1891 and was baptized with her big sister Annie on 23 Jan 1895. With the family in 1891, 1901, and 1911.
8. William Henry Dewar is next. Born on 15 Dec 1892 and baptized 23 Jan 1895 with Florence and Annie. With the family in 1901 and 1911.
9. Elise Maud Dewar, born 19 Dec 1894 and baptized 23 Jan 1895 with William, Florence, and Annie. My great-grandmother! With the family in 1901 and 1911.
10. Evelyn Margaret Dewar, born 21 Feb 1897 and baptized 18 Nov 1897. With the family in 1901 and 1911.
11. Olive Jean Dewar, born 25 Dec 1899 and baptized Jan 1904. With the family in 1901 and 1911.
12. Thomas Taylor Dewar, born 16 Oct 1902 and baptized Jan 1904 with Olive. Appears with the family in 1911.
So, let's take a stab at labeling this picture, shall we?
Middle row: Ethel (10), Robert Burns (40) with Elsie Maud (3) on his lap, Annie Caroline (38) with Evelyn Margaret (six to nine months) on her lap
Front row: Florence Matilda (6), Annie Lee (9), William Henry (5)
That worked out nicely, didn't it? Since Evelyn is a baby (six to nine months old?) I'd guess that this picture was taken in the fall of 1897. So I'm going back up to my picture caption and adding in approximate ages. There. (But why do Florence and Elsie have such short hair?)
Family lore says that Robert and his family led a comfortable life. They certainly look well-dressed. His daughter Elsie dressed for dinner, kept out of the sun, and did not do housework as a child. One other funny thing I heard: she did not crochet; she knit. Crochet was for servants. According to the census returns, Robert worked as a cabinet maker, shoe store clerk, and the janitor of a school. Hmmm....
Anyway, as you can see, I've only scratched the surface of this PEI research. The to-do list is getting longer!