Annie L. McGrath
Annie L. McGrath (1881-1953)
Annie Laura McGrath was born on 11 June 1881 in Norway, Prince Edward Island. She was the daughter of John McGrath and Catherine Nelligan, who were married on 25 February 1862 in Tignish, PEI. John and Catherine were devout Catholic parents of twelve children: James, Maurice, John, Mary, Margaret, Gustavus, Frank, Nellie, Nettie, Annie, Joseph and Ella. Three of those children dedicated their lives to the Church: one priest and two nuns.
Annie devoted her life to education. She graduated from Prince of Wales College in 1911, and then moved to Halifax to obtain her Bachelor of Arts degree from Dalhousie University. The 16 September 1913 edition of The Charlottetown Guardian reads:
Miss Annie L. McGrath left Tignish Saturday, en route to Halifax, to attend Dalhousie College. She intends to spend a few days with her brother Dr. McGrath in Bloomfield.
After graduating from Dalhousie, she returned home and became a professor of English and Botany at Prince of Wales College. Annie's sister, Ella Mae McGrath, was also employed at the College, teaching Commerce.
Annie has been described as “plain, dark-haired... tall and thin", “exceptionally bright" and “a lovely person, kind and nice" (Bruce, 124).
In 1922, at the age of 41, Annie married Samuel Napier Robertson, the Principal of Prince of Wales College. At this time, as was the custom, Annie resigned from her teaching post. Together, they lived at 113 Upper Prince Street, in Charlottetown.
Annie was a devoted Catholic and her husband was a Protestant; they each attended their own Church on Sundays. After Samuel's death in 1937, Annie made arrangements to be buried beside her husband in the Protestant Cemetery in Sherwood (now within the borders of Charlottetown), when the time came.
In 1951, Annie McGrath Robertson was given an Honourary Life Membership for the Prince of Wales College Alumni. She died in 1953.
The Robertson Library is named in honour of Annie's husband, Samuel Napier Robertson.
UPEI's Provenance copy of the Sir Walter Scott novel, Marmion, includes Annie's signature and lots of marginalia (notes on content) throughout the book.
1891 Census; Census Place: Lot 1, Prince, Prince Edward Island; Roll: T-6382; Family No: 71
Baptismal record of Annie Laura McGrath found at PEI Public Archives and Record Office (PARO) online. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
Bruce, Marion. A Century of Excellence: Prince of Wales College, 1860-1969 (Charlottetown: Island Studies Press, 2005), 124-125.
Bruce, Marion C. “Samuel Napier Robertson", Dictionary of Canadian Biography XVI (1931-1940).
“Western Personals". The Charlottetown Guardian, 16 September 1913, p. 8. Accessed from Island Newspapers on 16 April 2016.
Some information was provided by Janette Fraser, a Nelligan descendant.
Photo courtesy of UPEI Archives: Prince of Wales College- Class Photographs Gallery (1914-1915)