Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Mrs. William Henry [Claire] Bell


Born Pitsburgh, Ont., Oct. 13, 1864, only daughter of the late James Callaghan, Esq., of Dublin, Ireland, and Adelle Caroline Howerth, of Portsmouth, Eng. Educated: Miss Rose's Private Ladies' School, Kingston, Out.; later at Florence, Rome, Italy, and Paris, France, where she studied music and art, sculpturing, modelling and wood carving. Mrs. Bell has always been a strong supporter of all charitable and educational work, one of her arguments being "you can do nothing without money," and in all movements at once donated or brought about action resulting in the obtaining of the required finances to carry on. Violet Day was a result of Mrs. Bell's efforts, and in the first year of the campaign, along with one or two ladies made all the flowers which brought nearly $1000; in the second year, Mrs. Bell alone cutting out one million petals by hand, $5,500 resulted, with only $50.00 expenses. In 1923, Violet Day brought $14,500. In 1911, established the first public charity Tag Day, donating and making the pennants. Mrs. Bell, with her daughter, took part in the Tercentenary Celebration, Francis I Court, in Quebec , 1908, the saddle cloths of their horses being embroidered by her with the French Coat of Arms. She also donated the brocade for the Mother Queen's Robes. During the war Mrs. Bell's activities were entirely centered on war work, one of her principal objects was to keep money supplied for the I.O.D.E. Free Wool Fund, herself donating personal jewelry, one piece (a watch) realizing $1000, a $50 Victory Bond bringing $700 and another Bond of $50 bringing $500 for the Khaki Club. Was instrumental in interesting the Moving Picture Theatre Managers of the City in war work, Mr. Georges, of the Strand Theatre, being the first to offer his house when $700 was cleared at a ten o'clock performance. Fruit and vegetables from Mrs. Bell's orchard and gardens were freely given for the cause. By raffling her big St. Bernard dog, "Victory," nearly $500 was raised and divided between University and Iverley Settlements, a small amount going to the Child Welfare Association. The dog afterwards collected money by means of a Harness Bank and also took part in Armistice Parade. "Victory" wore a collar, given by Mrs. Bell, inscribed "I belong to the Soldiers of the Khaki Club, if I am lost, please take me home." Married W. Henry Bell, Dec. 7, 1887 (a descendant of Admiral Von Tromp, whose portrait now hangs in one of the private Picture Galleries in Montreal, and which was loaned to and shown in the Art Galleries, Montreal, some eight or ten years ago); has one daughter, Grace Christian Bell, wife of Major J. W. Sifton, eldest son of Sir Clifford and Lady Sifton, and nephew of the late Hon. Arthur Sifton, of Ottawa. Societies: Canadian Red Cross; Municipal Chapter, I.O. D. E. ; Queen Mary's Needlework Guild; Iverley Settlement; Child Welfare Association; Women's branch of Navy League. Recreations: Rowing, riding, driving and dancing, and all outdoor sports. Conservative in politics. Member of the Church of England. Residence: "Glenwood," Coteau Landing , P.Q.


Source: Prominent People of the Province of Quebec, 1923-24, Montreal, Biographical Society of Canada, Limited, undated and unpaginated.




© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College