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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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MANNY, LOUISE ELIZABETH, Miramichi historian, author, librarian, and cultural innovator; b. Gilead, Me, 21 Feb 1890, d/o Charles De Grass Manny and Minette Lee Harding; unmarried; d. Newcastle, 17 Aug 1970.

Louise E. Manny's father, who was of American Dutch ancestry, originated in Winchester, Mass., and her mother was from Bethel, Me. An only child, she was brought to New Brunswick in 1893 when her father, who had been in charge of the American Bobbin, Spool & Shuttle Works at Gilead, Me, became the manager of a new spoolwood plant at Newcastle.

Manny was educated at St Mary's and Harkins academies in Newcastle, at the Ladies' College in Halifax, and at McGill University (BA 1913). She was captain of a women's basketball team for three years at McGill and was a ranking tennis and badminton player who continued to participate in these sports throughout much of her lifetime.

After she graduated from university Manny joined the teaching staff of the Ladies' College, but when her father became sick and had to give up his employment she returned to Newcastle, took a secretarial course, and joined the staff of Clark, Skillings & Co., of which he had been manager. During her father's lengthy illness, which culminated in a fourteen-year hospitalization, she stayed with her mother and worked in the office of the spoolwood mill, where it was said she did more work than any three other employees. She was with the mill from 1916 to 1946. She was also a part-time insurance agent and had an antique and antiquarian book business.

Manny was a member of the Miramichi Hospital Board and the executive of the local Children's Aid Society, but she made her principal contribution to the community through her historical and cultural work. In the 1930s she started to write a newspaper column on Miramichi history entitled "Scenes from an Earlier Day," which appeared more or less regularly in the Union Advocate and other Miramichi newspapers from then onward. In 1946 she edited the book Miramichi Poet: Six Poems by Hedley Parker, which was published by the New Brunswick Museum. In the same year, Ships of Kent County, the first of three slim volumes on shipbuilding in New Brunswick, appeared. The most important of these books, Ships of Miramichi, came out in 1960, and Shipbuilding in Bathurst in 1965.

In 1947 Lord Beaverbrook supplied Manny with a tape recorder and convinced her to go out and collect traditional Miramichi folksongs from the surviving indigenous singers. This activity, in which she was assisted by Bessie Crocker, led to her hosting a weekly program of Miramichi folksongs and folklore on radio station C.K.M.R. in Newcastle for more than twenty years, and to the founding, in 1957-58, of the annual Miramichi Folksong Festival. The folksong collection also provided most of the subject matter for Songs of Miramichi (1968), which she co-edited with James R. Wilson, the Miramichi musician and musicologist who was a member of faculty at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

In 1953 the Old Manse Library opened in the former Presbyterian manse in Newcastle, in which Lord Beaverbrook had spent his childhood and which he purchased and gave to the town. Manny had worked closely with him in planning, equipping, and stocking the library, and she served as the first librarian, from 1953 until her retirement in 1967. Again at the behest of Lord Beaverbrook, she took the lead in the creation of The Enclosure provincial park at Wilson's Point, which opened in 1956, and the renovation of the Newcastle Town Square. She must also be regarded as the founder of the Miramichi Historical Society, which was organized in 1959-60 and incorporated shortly after her death in 1970. She was a participant in the work of the New Brunswick Historical Society and the New Brunswick Museum. She served on the advisory board of the Historic Sites Protection Committee and was a member of the Northeast Folklore Society.

Manny was the recipient of many honors, including LLD degrees from St Thomas University and UNB in 1961, an award of merit from the American Association for State and Local History in 1966, and one of the eleven Woman of the Century centennial medals awarded by the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada in 1967. In 1969, Mount Manny, in the Historians Range, deep in the Northumberland County woods, was named in her honor. In 1987 a monument was erected in the Square in Newcastle in recognition of her role as organizer and director of the Miramichi Folksong Festival.

Louise Manny was the leading cultural force on the Miramichi during her lifetime, and her achievements are of lasting significance locally, provincially, and nationally.


[b] census [d] Telegraph 18 Aug 1970 / Commercial World 30 Jul 1942, 13 Aug 1953, 24 Dec 1959; Leader 6 Jul 1956, 11 May 1967, 12 Jan 1994; MacDonalds; MacMillan; Manny Collection; Rayburn; Saint John Library (biog. file); Telegraph 4 Aug 1987


See R. Corry Clark.