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Catherine Vickers

Portrait of Catherine Vickers

Submitted by the Heritage Advisory Committee

 

Name: Catherine Mary Moodie Vickers

Date of birth: Southwold Suffolk, England February 14th, 1832

Date of death: Toronto Dec 14, 1904

Accomplishments related to: Community Development

 

Catherine emigrated to Canada in 1832 as a newborn with her mother author Susanna Moodie and father, John Moodie, a retired officer who had served in the Napoleonic Wars. Catherine is known in Susanna Moodie’s classic on Canadian Pioneer Life “Roughing it in the Bush,” 1852 as little Katie.
Catherine married John Joseph Vickers in 1855. An Anglo-Irish emigrant John Vickers started the Vickers Express Company and developed interests as far afield as Fort William (Thunder Bay) including land holdings.

Catherine and John had ten children- Georgina Eliza, John Alexander Dunbar, Katie Moodie, William Wallbridge, Isabella Josephine, Victor Gilmore Ridgway, Ethel Rosina, Henrietta Moodie, Arthur Algoma and Agnes Strickland.

 

Living in Toronto, JJ Vickers maintained close ties with prominent people in both Lakehead communities and invested in mining an in the local real estate, patenting 12.5 acres in the Fort William town site and reportedly owning over 1200 acres in the surrounding region. Today many streets in Fort William and the Westfort area are named for the family.

 

In 1902, Catherine Mary Vickers made a ten acre donation to the town of Fort William on the premise that the "Public Park" or "Garden" be for the "free use and enjoyment" of the inhabitants of the town of Fort William. A famous condition was that boulders were to be placed in the four corners of the park in a visible and "conspicuous location." These boulders have the names of founders of Fort William inscribed into them: John Joseph Vickers, Catherine Mary Vickers, John McIntyre, and John McKellar.

 

Other public art recognizes the family’s contribution to the community.

 

In 2006, as part of the reconstruction of the Vickers Street bridge artist John Books created art work as a tribute to the Vickers and immigrants of Irish and Scottish descent- two Celtic harps that bear Catherine’s and John’s visages and sing from either side of the Neebing River.

 

A small sentence from Catherine’s diary has been sandblasted onto a granite bench at Prince Arthur’s Landing: “If I were an artist, I would choose Thunder Bay in a storm as the greatest representation of the end of the world.”  

~Catherine Moodie Vickers (1873)

 

John Books Sculpture of Catherine Vickers

Vicker’s Street Bridge Sculpture of Catherine Vickers. Courtesy of John Books

Vickers Quotation-2Emily Pauline Johnson Literary Quote

Waterfront Public Art Literary Selections. Public Art City of Thunder Bay