Collection MC 594 - Caughey fonds

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Caughey fonds

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  • 1926-1982 (Creation)
    Caughey, Estella Marjorie (Day)
  • 1826 -1991 (Creation)

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127.5 cm

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Name of creator

(November 1, 1907 - June 11, 1984)

Biographical history

Estella Marjorie Day was born in Guelph, Ontario, on 1 November 1907. She was the eldest child of William (Bill) Henry Day and Ethel Emily (Williams) Day. Her father was a professor of physics at the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC, later to become the University of Guelph). He held strong opinions on many subjects including education and Stella did not attend school until she was eight. It is quite possible that she had some home schooling from him. She had a sister Ida and two younger brothers, William and Harold.

Stella’s mother, Ethel, wrote poetry. The notebooks she filled with wonderful poems are scattered amongst her descendents. Stella’s father, Prof. Bill Day, was an excellent teacher and his students were fond of him. He became an expert on lightning rods and on the drainage of fields. The family summered on Sturgeon Lake and on their way there passed by the Holland Marsh, near Bradford, Ontario. Bill could see the potential in the marsh for a market garden. He obtained backers, left the University, moved to Bradford and drained the marsh, only to die of a heart attack in 1938 before his work was finished. After her husband Bill died, Ethel worked as a librarian in Bradford.

During the late 1920’s and the early years of the 1930’s Great Depression, Stella matriculated in Bradford, attended Normal School and was teaching in a one room school while putting her sister through two years of Home Economics at MacDonald College, a part of McGill University. Then with Ida’s help Stella attended McGill for two years to study Physical Education. Upon receiving her diploma Stella worked at the YMCA/YWCA in Montreal. During her summers she worked at a Y-camp in the Laurentians…except for the summer of 1932 when she became the manager of room service at the Algonquin Hotel in St Andrews, NB. There she met a local lawyer, Earl Thomas Caughey. When she did not return to work at the hotel the next summer, Earl went to Montreal and proposed to Stella. They were married in Brantford on 22 September 1934.

For a wedding present, his father gave Earl and Stella a building lot at the corner of Water Street and the Mary Street road allowance. It was within sight of his parents’ home. An inter-family loan allowed Earl and Stella to start building their home. They spent their first winter in the house next door which his mother owned and rented to summer people.

That first winter, 1934-35, was so cold that Passamaquoddy Bay froze over and some fool-hardy men walked across the ice to Deer Island. When Earl and Stella moved into their own home, only half the down stairs was habitable. Over the years, they finished it bit by bit as they could afford it.

David Michael (Mike) was born on 1July 1935 and Sheila Elizabeth, on 1 September 1936. Stella was quite sick with her second pregnancy and they were strongly advised to have no further children. Although they didn’t know why at the time, it was because Stella had 0- blood and Earl, A+, a deadly combination if her offspring inherited A+ blood.


By marrying Earl, Stella had been totally uprooted and transplanted. Like most converts she became more pro-Maritimes than most Maritimers. She came from a farming background and had the greenest of thumbs. Her flower garden was a riot of colour and purposely visible for passersby to enjoy. She grew her own vegetables and canned both them and other produce in season. But she needed more of a challenge and she missed her career and her students. She offered to teach Physical Education for free in the local school and was turned down by the St. Andrews School Board. She then taught dance classes to children and adults (mainly young matrons), charging only enough to pay Mrs. McLaren, the pianist.

Stella was one of a group of people to organize the Music, Art and Drama club (MAD club) which put on pageants that always included dance numbers. She and Earl were participants in a Garden Club that had floral shows. She refused to play golf or curl, perhaps because, unlike his brother David, Earl was an impatient teacher. If she went to bonspiels, she would be knitting while she watched the curling.

Stella’s hands were never idle. She could knit while reading books or watching TV. She took courses at Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre, one of which was weaving. She bought small looms and a large floor loom and wove plaids that she sewed into jackets for Earl’s curling team. She also wove drapes, bed spreads, and so forth. In later life, she took up petit point embroidery.


Before Stella came to St. Andrews she had been a member of the senior Girl Guide group called Rangers. She did not introduce Guiding to the County or the Town, but she did lead the first Brownie Pack in St. Andrews in 1939. Soon she also took on the role of District Commissioner. When she became Division Commissioner she began to travel around the county finding and training new leaders to start Guide Companies and Brownie Packs.

She strongly believed that Girl Guides should have camping experience and she helped with a local Guide Camp at Todd’s Point and, another year, helped organise one at Gibson Lake.

On Lake Utopia there was a Boy Scout campground owned by Alan McLean, President of Connors Bros., of Blacks Harbour. Stella approached him about letting the Girl Guides operate week-long , County-wide Girl Guide camps there when the Scouts were not using it. He agreed. Then she had to recruit and train leaders. Mrs. Hoyt from St. George was a marvellous cook. [Alva] Nicholson from St. Stephen was one of the swimming instructors and the life guard. Kay Walsh of St. Andrews may have been one of the nurses, to name just a few of the leaders. It was a magical time for the girls who got to know other young women from around the County. You could only reach the camp by boat or by a trail around the lake, along which was strung a wire connecting two “walkie-talkies” for emergency calls. Dr. McLean hired the captain of the launch which made daily trips to the camp. Stella was Commandant of these camps for perhaps a half dozen years.

In 1951 Stella became the Skipper of the first Sea Ranger Company in St. Andrews. The meetings were held in her home and sometimes on their waterfront. They all learned rudimentary rowing and sailing, knots tying, semaphore signals, and some nautical lore and terminology. Some went to Provincial, National and International Camps. At a time when school trips were unknown and Home Economics was not part of the local school curriculum, Guiding truly enriched the girls’ lives. It gave them new skills to use and a creed to live by. Many later became guiders themselves.

Stella finally became Provincial Trainer and Provincial Ranger Adviser. She was chosen to represent Canada at a Guider’s Conference in Mexico where she met Guiders from across North and South America.

In 1953 Stella took it upon herself to organize an international Guiders Camp at Lake Utopia, again with Dr. A. M. A. McLean’s blessing and support. It was a very successful camp, despite the challenge of organizing it long distance through the head office in Toronto

In 1957 Stella was named a Life Member of the Girl Guides of Canada and in 1959 she was awarded the Order of the Beaver, the highest award of the Canadian Girl Guides.

The stain glass window to her memory, which Earl commissioned for the Wesley United Church in St. Andrews, shows Jesus with his arms outstretched to a Guide and a Brownie, with the inscription, “Be thou my Guide”. Stella, a Methodist prior to the formation of the United Church of Canada, taught Sunday School at the Wesley United Church.


When Stella’s mother-in-law, Madeline Coughey, needed help with the Town Library, Stella would fill in for her. The library was in the upper floor of the fire hall (now the town hall) across from Market Square. It was open on Friday afternoons, and Maddie had volunteered there for years.

When Maddie turned the job over to Stella altogether, Stella, at her own expense, went to New Hampshire to take a crash course on Library Science for volunteers. When she came back she wanted:

To accession all the books
To obtain more books and shelving
To relocate the library to store-front quarters with few stairs
To catalogue all the books with a recognized system compatible with the Regional Library
To mark the books properly and shelve them in the right order
To increase the hours of operation by finding and training more volunteers
To make the library accessible to children, especially those that came into Town by school bus.
To join the Regional Library System

One by one she and her team accomplished all but one of these goals. With help from the Town and others, the library eventually contained 1000 books on a wide range of topics. In 1969 the library was moved to the building that had been Viola McDowell’s ladies clothing store (now Honeybeans) near the old liquor store (now Olde Tyme Pizza). She trained some 20 volunteers, mainly women, who took shifts according to a roster, keeping the library open for four part-days a week. She arranged with Randall Gleason, the barber who drove the school bus, that he would bring his passengers to the library one lunch hour a week without charge. She met with the Regional Librarian but was not yet successful with her quest for regional library status, when disaster struck.

In 1973 disaster struck, the library building was heated by oil and the tank under the building had a slow leak. When the pipes froze a local plumber went into the crawl space with a blow torch to thaw the pipes. He barely escaped with his life. Stella had to be restrained from entering the building to rescue the books. Those that weren’t burned were smoke and water damaged. It was heart-breaking for her.

Sometime after the fire, the money bequeathed to the Town from the Ross Estate became available to build a new library. Although Stella had put a lot of thought into what the Town needed for a library, she was not appointed to the Library Committee or Library Board.

Near the end of her 15 year library career she was named Citizen of the Year in St. Andrews.

Estella Marjorie (Day) Caughey declined into dementia and died in her 77th year on June 11, 1984.

Besides her husband, her daughter and son and their spouses, Stella was survived by seven grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren and by the many young, and not so young, people whose lives she touched by dance, Girl Guiding and books. Her photo hangs over the entrance to the children’s section of the Ross Memorial Library.

Name of creator

(July 5, 1906 - September 24, 1993)

Biographical history

Earl Thomas Caughey was born in the railroad village of McAdam, New Brunswick, on July 5, 1906, eldest son of Thomas James Coughey and Madeline Eunice Portia (Wood) Coughey.

Earl’s father Thomas was born in New Brunswick and had Loyalist (Craig) and North Irish antecedents. After the family farm burned at Lower Perth (near Kilburn), the family scattered. An older sister, Maud, went to work in the Boston area. Tom’s parents and his younger siblings eventually moved to McAdam. Tom was sent to live with an aunt married to Samuel Bishop in Woodstock. Tom worked in railroad construction until his sister Maud found him a job working in a bicycle factory in Massachusetts. He later became a male nurse. The father of one of his patients was US Senator Gunn of Greenfields, Mass. Levi Walter Gunn was an alcoholic with mental instability. His father offered Tom Caughey the job of caring for his son privately for the rest of his life. With Senator Gunn’s approval, he decided to move back to New Brunswick. He had a young woman in mind to invite to come with him.

Madeline Wood, Earl’s mother, had New England roots that went as far back as the mid-1650’s through the Plum family line. She was a strong willed school teacher from Greenfields, Massachusetts. She attended Normal School in North Adams, Mass and taught school for several years in nearby Vermont. Madeline had been engaged to a man who died fighting in the Philippine War. At the time Maddie and Tom were married, women were not “persons” and took the same citizenship as their husbands.

Prior to his marriage Tom obtained a heavy steel safe inscribed with “Thomas J. Caughey”. The name was often mispronounced, so Tom changed the spelling to “Coughey” at Maddie’s request, which actually only changed the mispronunciation. When his son Earl finished law school Earl changed his spelling back to Caughey, while the rest of the family, with the exception of Jamie’s son Eric, still keep the “o” version. There has been much confusion and much light-hearted ribbing over the two spellings, but it is hard to argue with the inscription on the safe.

The newly-weds moved to McAdam. Madeline was not very happy in this rough and tumble railroad town. Mr. Gunn’s presence in the household meant that the family could live anywhere, and Madeline preferred St. Andrews, an hour by rail from McAdam. When they moved to the seaport in 1911, Thomas bought a house from whose living room windows Madeline could see the United States of America. Tom eventually owned a number of houses which he rented to others, in both McAdam and St. Andrews.


When the family moved to St. Andrews in 1911, Earl Thomas was five, Alice Elizabeth four, Thomas James two and Mary Wood less than a year. Madeline wanted Earl in school. When the Chair of the School Board, Thomas Wren, said they could not accept children in school until they could read, Earl read some words from a newspaper, guaranteeing himself a place in grade one that year.

Before school started, tragedy struck the family. Since the 1890’s the golf course provided employment for groundskeepers and caddies and golf for the wealthy. Every child in the Town had access to old golf balls and some took them apart to see what was inside. In 1911, at the heart of a golf ball there was a tiny rubber ball full of deadly acid. Earl was playing with such a tiny ball when his two year-old brother Tommy asked for it. Tommy bit into it and swallowed it, dying soon after. Madeline gave birth to David Judson two years later and Jamie Moffatt two years after that. In time all three boys caddied.

Earl had asthma from his childhood until he was 50 when the last family pet died. His passion was to be on the water, where the air was pure and clean. He and his brother David built identical 17 foot sloops with younger brother Jamie’s help. Earl played hockey when young and was a competitive golfer and curler all his life. He was also musical, and at one time played both the clarinet and the saxophone.

Tom, who himself never went beyond grade 6 in school, wanted his sons to have a college education. Earl and David each attended the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Jamie was not a scholar and to get through high school he was tutored by his sister Mary’s husband, Lawrence Hashey, then a teacher at Fredericton High School.

Earl’s father was a self educated man and, being financially independent, had no conflicts of interest and could accept the stipendiary job of Magistrate, dealing with minor infractions. It did not increase the family popularity to have old Tom Coughey fining classmates’ fathers or putting them in gaol. Thomas wanted one of his sons to become a lawyer, and Earl accepted the opportunity when offered it.

Madeline was equally determined that her two girls, Alice and Mary, would have a college education too, so, with the girls’ help, she ran a boarding house. Thomas had expanded the family home several times so there was room to spare. Both daughters also received BA’s at UNB. Madeline taught art to a number of children in St. Andrews and it was Mary who inherited her mother’s talent, painting beautiful pictures of St. Andrews and Fredericton. Like brother David, Alice taught for a few years, but for the rest of her working life she was a secretary, first at Conley’s Lobster factory and later at the Town office in St. Andrews.

Because high school ended at grade 10 and because he started school at 5, Earl went off to the University of New Brunswick at the age of 15. By then, 1921, many students were veterans from World War I, a world of experience apart from the slender teenager from St. Andrews. After he graduated from UNB Earl studied law at Osgood Hall in Toronto. Upon graduation Earl worked in Toronto for the firm Wegenas and Hyndman, returning to St. Andrews in 1930 to start his own law firm. For the eight summers of his years at university, Earl worked as a bellhop at the Algonquin Hotel.

In 1932 Earl met a young woman who was in charge of Room Service at the Algonquin Hotel, Estella Marjorie Day. When she didn’t return to work at the hotel the next summer Earl went to Montreal and proposed to her. They were married on September 22, 1934. They had two children, David Michael, known as Michael born on 1 July 1935 and Sheila Elizabeth, on 1 September 1936.


Earl and Stella had both lived elsewhere and recognized what St. Andrews had to offer and what positive changes were possible. Some of the organizations Earl helped and the contributions he made were:

First president of the local Algonquin Golf Club. See NOTE below this list.
Member of the Board of the first New Brunswick Golf Association
Commodore of the St. Andrews Yacht Club, eventually owning a 24 foot ocean going sailboat.
President of the Heather Curling Club and a competitive skip
A founding member of the Charlotte County Board of Trade
A founding member of the Kiwanis Club of St. Andrews, and at the time of his death, the last surviving charter member.
Founding member of the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre, the St. Andrews Arts Council, the St. Andrews Civic Trust
Long time Secretary-Treasurer of the Liberal Association of Charlotte County
A founding member of the Irish-Canadian Cultural Association of Charlotte County which installed the Celtic Cross at Indian Point overlooking Hospital Island
Local historian, giving talks to such groups as Elderhostel
President of the Alumni of the University of New Brunswick and on the Board of Governors.
Through his daughter and her husband and at his request, he posthumously donated to the Nature Trust of New Brunswick the first piece of property in the Caughey-Taylor Nature Preserve

NOTE Re Golf Club and Court House

Until Earl returned from Toronto, year-long residents of St. Andrews were only allowed to play golf in the evenings and on Sundays. This incensed Earl who went to Montreal and was able to convince the General Manager of the Eastern Division of the CPR hotel system there would be much benefit to the hotel from having the local people playing at any time of any day at reduced rates. As Earl was on the Board of the New Brunswick Golf Association he could promise to regularly bring the provincial golf tournament to the Algonquin. Earl became the first president of this newly formed local golf club.

He was mover and shaker and a strong champion of the Town of St. Andrews. When the Province threatened to close the Court House in St. Andrews, Earl, by then a Judge, was instrumental in halting that course of action. When was this?


In 1929, at the time of the Stockmarket Crash and at the start of the Great Depression, Earl was working as a young solicitor in Toronto. Margaret Hyndman QC, was his first employer at the firm Wegenas and Hyndman. But when he came home on vacation in 1930 his mother had had a stroke and his father offered to support him until he had passed his New Brunswick Bar exams. He opened an office in St. Andrews in December 1931, almost a decade after the previous lawyer, Howard Grimmer, had died. Earl had to build up his practice from scratch with the help of some law books that Mrs. Grimmer gave him.

His career got off to a slow start. With several notable exceptions, the summer folk did not rush to give him work; they still saw him as a bell boy to carry their bags and shine their shoes. To support his family he diversified by selling both insurance and real estate.

Earl realized that much of his business would come from the people on Deer Island, Campobello, and Grand Manan, because both the mail boat and the Grand Manan ferry docked in St. Andrews, which was also at the end of the railroad. His client base also included St. George and Blacks Harbour. At first he prepared wills, deeds, and mortgages, etc. It was the title searches that increased his interest in the genealogy and the history of the region. He also researched his own roots travelling to places like Ottawa, London and Belfast to do so.

At first he was mostly a solicitor and did little court work, but eventually he had a newsworthy and successful case defending a man accused of rape and began to defend more clients in court. Then he accepted the position of prosecutor, which gave him court experience from a different perspective. Sometime after Elizabeth II became Queen in 1952 and before Earl became a judge in 1961, he was appointed to the Queen’s Council and could put QC after his name. Then after 30 years as a barrister and solicitor he became a Provincial Court Judge. Eight or nine years later he became a County Court Judge, but only held that appointment for three or four years then became a Judge of the Court of the Queen’s Bench, the first person to progress through all three courts. He retired at age 75 after 51 years as a solicitor, at the Bar or on the Bench.


Earl Thomas Caughey died in his sleep at home on September 26, 1993.

There was a memorial service for Earl on October 1, 1993. That day the members of the Algonquin Golf Club had scheduled their closing event at which they had planned to give Earl a Life Membership. They postponed that event so that golfers could attend the service for Earl.

The Barristers of Charlotte County have placed his portrait in the Charlotte County Court House.

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Scope and content

The Caughey/Coughey family collection consists of the working and personal papers of the Caugheys. Earl had a legal career in New Brunswick spanning 51 years, as a solicitor, at the Bar as Barrister or on the Bench as a Provincial Court Judge, County Court Judge and Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Charlotte County and New Brunswick. He played a very important role in the foundation of many organizations and associations in St Andrews and New Brunswick, including the St. Andrews Kiwanis Club, the New Brunswick Golf Association, the St. Andrews Golf Club, the St. Andrews Yacht Club, the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre, the St. Andrews Arts Council, the Charlotte County Board of Trade, and the Charlotte County Branch of the New Brunswick Chapter of the Irish Canadian Cultural Association.. He was a local historian, with a keen interest in passenger lists of immigrant ships, shipping in general and genealogy. Estella (Day) Caughey, was very active with the Canadian Girl Guides, she took the lead in establishing a Brownies Pack in St Andrews 1939, she soon became District Commissioner. Later she became Division Commissioner and eventually an International Commissioner. She was instrumental in Girl Guide summer camps in Charlotte County, not just for local Guides but ‘All America Guide Camp’ and an International Camp. She was named a Life Member of the Girl Guides in 1957 and was awarded the Order of the Beaver in 1959. Her other great interest was the St Andrews Town Library, where she volunteered for 15 years. She was named Citizen of the Year in St Andrews

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