Romance in Death Notices?

CVA 99-1035 – Double funeral for Captain M. D. & Mrs. Jessie McLennan. Sept 1922. Stuart Thomson photo.

One doesn’t often find stories of romance in the obits. But in early September 1922, if one looked in the local newspapers, you would certainly have found one. It was the love story told of Captain Murdock & Jessie McLennan, “one soul in two bodies” who, as their end approached, spoke openly and fearlessly of their desire to be buried side-by-side in the same grave. They had both lived to the ripe age of 82 and been married to one another for 56 years and 9 months. Capt. McLennan went first, on September 6th and approximately 48 hours later, Mrs. McLennan joined him in death — almost fulfilling their expressed wish that they would die together (Province 8 Sept 1922). Mrs. McLennan was doing so poorly when Mr. McLennan died, that the family decided to postpone his funeral for a couple of days. When she passed two days after his death, they decided that a double funeral would be appropriate.

CVA 99-1034 – Funeral of Mr. & Mrs. McLennan. The three sons of Captain McLennan are on the right side of one of the coffins. Sept 1922 Stuart Thomson photo.

Captain McLennan came to Vancouver in 1879 and was “one of the most widely known sea captains on the Pacific Coast.” Prior to that, had been a mariner based in Nova Scotia (Sun, 7 Sept 1922; Province 6 Sept 1922). The captain lived in Cuba for 20-some years; he returned to Vancouver to retire about 12 years before his and Mrs. McLennan’s passing. All three of his sons followed in his occupational footsteps and became sea captains. The McLennans also had a daughter, Mrs. Frank Gore, who along with the McLennan sons, lived in Greater Vancouver.

The funeral was at Armstrong & Hotson Funeral Home, located just north of Hastings on Dunlevy Street. The building shown in the first photo above, where Armstrong & Hotson was in 1922 still stands, although today it’s known as the “Chapel Arts” building. The crowded scene in the photo is probably largely due to the Vancouver Pioneers’ Association (of which the McLennans were members) turning out in force (Sun, 9 Sept 1922).

The octogenarian couple were laid together in the New Westminster Odd Fellow’s cemetery.

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