Manny, Louise (Dr.)

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                                      A Remarkable Life
                          Manny’s love of Miramichi traditions a driving force
                                      by Joan Burchill

Joan Burchill is a Miramichi native living in the Hampton area and working on Louise Manny's papers at the New Brunswick Museum. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Manny's death.


Dr. Louise Manny was a long-time Newcastle resident and historian. She is remembered for her knowledge of Miramichi history and her work as librarian at the Old Manse Library, now Beaverbrook House. And she is remembered for the Miramichi Folksong' Festival, which was founded by her in 1957. It is still held every summer, making it the longest running festival of its kind in North America.

Born on Feb. 21, 1890 in Gilead, Maine, Manny came to New Brunswick at the age of three with her parents. The family settled in Newcastle where her father became agent for the R. Corry Clark, Spoolwood Factory.

Louise's first schools were St. Mary's Academy in Newcastle and the Ursuline Convent in Quebec City. She also attended Harkins Academy and Halifax Ladies' College, and went on to Mc Gill University's Royal Victoria College. There she was awarded three scholarships, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1913, honors English and French.

Louise taught English at Halifax Ladies' College, then returned to Newcastle, took a course in Pitman shorthand at. St. Mary's Academy, and worked with her father in the office of the R. Corry Clark Spoolwood Factory. She was secretary and eventually office manager there from 1916 to 1946. She also became a part-time insurance agent for the Royal Exchange Assurance Co., sold antiques and old books, and from 1953 to 1967 was librarian at the Old Manse Library.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Louise Manny became well-known as a Maritime champion tennis and badminton player.

Over the years other involvements included the Miramichi Hospital Board of Trustees, the Children's Aid Society, the Canadian Red Cross Society, the Miramichi Historical Society, the Miramichi Art Club, the Miramichi Coin Club, the Acadian Historical Society, the New Brunswick Historical Society, the New Brunswick Museum, the University of Maine's Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, the New Brunswick Historic Sites Advisory Board and the New Brunswick Centennial Administration.

Her love of local history led to weekly newspaper columns, articles for magazines, the Enclosure and folk song projects for Lord Beaverbrook, radio broadcasts on CKMR and the CBC, and invitations to speak to schools and groups.

Her interest in ships and shipbuilding resulted in her first two publications: Ships of Kent County (Tribune Press, Sackville, 1949) and Ships of Miramichi (Historical Studies No. 10, New Brunswick Museum, 1960.)

Discovering and collecting the traditional songs of Northumberland County and beyond inspired in Manny a deep regard for those who had kept the tradition alive. That included the poet, singers, and storytellers in the lumbering, fishing and farming communities, and the people of the Micmac and Acadian cultures who shared their songs with her and allowed her to record them. Her wish to preserve traditional music led her to start the Miramichi Folksong Festival in 1957. It also prompted her to publish the book Songs of Miramichi (Brunswick Press, 1968), which she co-authored with musicologist James R. Wilson. In the 1960s there was recognition of her accomplishments and years of service.

In 1961 Louise Manny received LL.D's from St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick, in 1966 an award from The American Association for State and Local History, and in 1967 the New Brunswick Women of the Century medal from the National Council of the Jewish Women of Canada. In 1967, the Town of Newcastle held a civic reception in recognition of Manny's achievements and on the occasion of her retirement as librarian at the Old Manse Library. In 1969, the province of New Brunswick named Mount Manny in her honor. In 1970, members of the Miramichi Coin Club presented Dr. Manny and Miramichi artist Richard Howe with Shipbuilding on the Miramichi medallions. The first to be produced by the club, they were designed by Richard Howe, with historical and background information supplied by Dr. Manny.

Today a monument in the Newcastle Square honors Dr. Louise Manny as founder of the Miramichi Folksong Festival. And a plaque at the Old Manse Library testifies to a life well lived and a woman in high regard by her community.

Louise Manny died on Aug. 17, 1970 and is buried in the Miramichi Cemetery in Newcastle beside her parents, Charles DeGraff Manny and Lee Harding Manny.

                              Her epitaph reads:
                            Louise Manny LL.D 1890-1970
                              Historian - Authority
                            On the Miramichi she loved


Source: Miramichi Leader – April 18, 1995

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