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Big House on Story Net

jos_k2_items Table (1)

idtitlealiaspublishedintrotextfulltextvideoplugins
1Big Housebig-house

Cooks, butlers, maids and gardeners: Grand 19th-century households were not the exclusive privilege of Britain's leisure classes.

 

 

 

 

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Big House

Recording Date:- 13-04-2013

Storyteller:- Evelyn Bufton Annett

Province:- Quebec

Language:- English

Listen to Sound

Cooks, butlers, maids and gardeners: Grand 19th-century households were not the exclusive privilege of Britain's leisure classes.

"Domestic service in those days was a good thing, in that you're housed, you're clothed and you're fed."

Cooks, butlers, maids and gardeners: Grand 19th-century households were not the exclusive privilege of Britain's leisure classes. They had their imitators in Canada, where a small group of ultra-rich families with ties to railway, banking, shipping and timber industries established themselves in Montreal's Golden Square Mile and were able to pursue an aristocratic lifestyle, à la Downton Abbey.

Robert and Elsie Reford headed up such a household on Drummond Street following their marriage in 1894. He was heir to his father's shipping company, and she, the daughter of an Ontario businessman who was married to the sister of the Canadian Pacific Railway's co-founder and first president, George Stephen.

Ernest Bufton came from humbler origins. Born in England, Bufton came to Canada in 1922 and devoted the better part of the next 50 years serving as butler to the Refords and their family.

In this conversation with the Refords' great-grandson Alexander, Bufton's daughter Evelyn shares her childhood memories of a world that centered on catering to the Refords' needs and wishes, both at their city residence and at Estevan Lodge, the property near Grand Métis that Elsie inherited from her uncle and whose grounds she famously set about transforming into today's internationally renowned Reford Gardens.

Recorded in Grand Métis, Quebec.