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Biographical Sketches of the People in Dorothea Allison’s Letters

Allison, Bob (Robert) 1871-1960:

Robert Allison was born in Claudy, County Derry, Northern Ireland, in April 1871. He was the eldest of eight children born to Dr. and Mrs. William Allison.

Robert Allison came to British Columbia in the early 1890s and spent time prospecting for gold in the Cariboo. In 1899, he joined the gold rush to the Klondike. Although he did not make a fortune in the gold rushes, he did make enough to later buy land and plant an orchard.

He settled in Oyama in 1907, making him one of the earliest settlers in that area. He married Dorothea Scott-Coward on 27 December 1913 in Vernon, British Columbia. As he was Protestant and Dorothea was Catholic, they were apparently married on the Catholic Church steps rather than inside the church.


Allison, Dorothea (Dorothea Agnes Scott-Coward) 1878-1981: 

Dorothea Scott-Coward was born in 1878, in England. She was the fourth of nine children. Her mother, Agatha Stokes, was born in 1850. Her father was an Inspector of Roman Catholic schools in England.

In 1908, she took a lengthy trip to Burma and India to visit two of her sisters. Her eldest sister, Emily (Em) McDonnell had married T. F. R. McDonnell in 1903, and at the time of Dorothea’s visit was expecting a baby. Dorothea stayed with the McDonnells until after her niece, Ursula McDonnell, was born December 19, 1908.

After visiting friends of the McDonnells in Mandalay, she travelled to India to visit another sister, Milborough (Mib) Mackay. Milborough was married to Charlie Mackay, a judge in the Indian Civil Service. Before returning to England at the end of 1910, Dorothea once again visited Burma. (There are a number of photographs of this trip to India and Burma available through the Lake Country Museum & Archives.) Although the first letter in this collection was written to Emily, the majority of the letters were written to Milborough.

In 1912, Dorothea Scott-Coward came to Canada to visit John Stokes, her first cousin. He had bought property in Oyama, British Columbia. He was suffering from tuberculosis and the family was concerned about his health. Dorothea was sent to report on his health. As the letter from Dorothea Allison to Emily McDonnell reveals, however, Dorothea was not always forthcoming with this information.

John Stokes returned to England in 1913, and later died. Around this time, there was an opening for a teacher at the one-room school in Okanagan Centre, a position for which Dorothea applied and was accepted. She had previously acquired a teaching diploma from Bedford College, London. While visiting John Stokes, Dorothea Scott-Coward met Robert Allison, whose orchard was located diagonally across the road. They fell in love and were married on 27 December 1913.

After marriage, though she no longer taught at the school, Dorothea Allison remained very active in the community. She served as a Trustee on the School Board for a number of years, taking quite an interest in the education of rural children. She was also a founding member of the Kalamalka Women’s Institute, and in the 1940s served as the President.

Dorothea Allison also ventured into the literary world. During the Second World War she compiled a book of poetry written by local settlers. The Songs of Kalamalka was published in 1944 and was sold in order to raise money for the Red Cross. Dorothea Allison also wrote a children’s book, A Fairy’s Garland of B.C. Flowers, which was illustrated by a local artist, Janet Middleton. (Copies of both books are available at the Lake Country Museum and Archives and in the Special Collection of the OUC Library.) Dorothea Allison died in 1981, at the age of 103.


Bowsher, Hessie (Hessy Alexandra Smyth Allison) 18? -1980:

Mrs. Hessie Bowsher was Robert Allison’s sister. With her husband, Fred Bowsher, she came to Canada around 1907. The Bowshers had three children, Pat (b. 1909), Dorothy (b. 1911), and Norman (b. 1913). They are the children referred to in the letter dated 9 March 1914. Norman was the baby who arrived a few days after visiting the Allisons.


Brown, Colin Campbell: 

The missionary, to whom Dorothea Allison alluded, in her letter of 4 February 1917, was Dr. Colin Campbell Brown. He and his wife lived at Amory Ranch on Kalamalka Lake. Dr. Brown wrote several books on China, where he had been a missionary, including China in Legend and Story.


Goldsmith, Phil (Philippa Scott-Coward): 

Philippa Scott-Coward was the eighth sibling, and the youngest sister of Dorothea Allison. When their sister Frances died in 1918, Philippa was the beneficiary of her estate. She married S. Gold-smith of Australia and had two children, Christopher and Timothy.


Hull, Judith (Judith Stokes):

Judith Stokes was a first cousin of Dorothea Allison. Judith was the eldest sister of John Stokes, of Oyama. She was the second child of May (Rapier) and Philip Stokes. Philip Stokes was Dorothea Allison’s maternal uncle. Judith married Hubert Hull.


Mackay, Charlie (Charles): 

Charlie Mackay was Milborough Mackay’s husband. He was a judge in the Indian Civil Service.


Mackay, Mib (Milborough Scott-Coward): 

Milborough Scott-Coward was the second child born to the Scott-Cowards. Milborough was a sister of Dorothea (Scott-Coward) Allison, and the majority of the letters in this collection were written to her.

Milborough obtained a Teacher’s Diploma from a college in Liverpool, England. In 1904 or 1905, she went to South India to be the principal of a school that trained Indian women to be teachers. Between 1905 and 1907, Milborough met and married Charlie Mackay, a judge in the Indian Civil Service. At this time she gave up her job at the school. She later wrote a number of novels, under the pseudonym of C. R. Milton. She also wrote magazine articles for both Punch and Cornhill.


McDonnell, Em (Emily Agatha Scott-Coward) 1872-19?

Emily McDonnell, the eldest of nine children, was Dorothea Allison’s eldest sister. In 1903, she married T. F. Robert McDonnell, who was a barrister in Rangoon, Burma. Their children, Ursula (b. 1908) and Peter (b. 1911), attended boarding schools in England, and often spent vacations with their maternal grandmother, Agatha Scott-Coward.


McDonnell, Peter 1911- :

Peter McDonnell is the second child of Emily (Scott-Coward) and T. F. Robert McDonnell. Peter was Dorothea (Scott-Coward) Allison’s nephew.

Peter McDonnell and his wife, Nancy, contributed a great deal of the information provided as explanation for the letters.


McDonnell, Ursula (later Ursula Pearce) 1908-:

Ursula was the daughter of Emily and T. F. Robert McDonnell, who resided in Rangoon, Burma. She was born December 9, 1908. Emily McDonnell was Dorothea Allison’s eldest sister, so Ursula was Dorothea Allison’s niece.


Prince of Wales 1894-1972:

Dorothea Allison mentioned “the Prince” visiting Oyama in 1920, which is a reference to the Prince of Wales, born in 1894. He was the eldest son of George V. He succeeded his father in January 1936, becoming Edward VIII. He abdicated in December of the same year, in order to marry a divorced American woman, Mrs. Wallis Simpson.


Rimmer, Agnes: 

Agnes Rimmer was the sister of Frank Rimmer. The Rimmers and the Scott-Cowards knew each other in England.


Rimmer, Frank: 

Frank Rimmer lived in Oyama and was friends with Bob and Dorothea Allison. The Rimmers and the Scott-Cowards knew each other in England.


Scott-Coward, Chris (Christopher) 1895-1922: 

Christopher Scott-Coward was Dorothea Allison’s youngest sibling. He was in the Indian Police. After persistent pestering, he was eventually released by the Indian Police and seconded to the Indian Army. He was subsequently awarded the Military Cross. He died in action in 1922.


Scott-Coward, Frances: 

Affectionately known as “Whanky” by her family, Frances was the fifth child. She took an Honours course in Classics at Newham College, Cambridge, and later qualified as a teacher. She died of tuberculosis in 1918, leaving everything she had to her youngest sister, Philippa.


Scott-Coward, Ro (Rodolph):

Rodolph was another brother of Dorothea Allison, the sixth child born to the Scott-Cowards. He trained as a Merchant Marine officer on the Conway in the Mersey River. He then joined the Irrawaddy Flotilla Co. in Burma.


Stokes, Enie (Irene Ionides): 

She was Lady Stokes, married to Dorothea Allison’s maternal uncle, Wilfred. Wilfred Stokes was an engineer and inventor.


Stokes, John 18? -1913: 

It was to visit her cousin, John Stokes that brought Dorothea Scott-Coward to Canada in 1912. At the time, John Stokes was suffering from tuberculosis. He returned to England in 1913 and subsequently died. John was the eldest son of May (Rapier) and Philip Stokes. Philip Stokes was Dorothea Allison’s maternal uncle.


Stokes, Phil (Philip):

Philip Stokes was Dorothea Allison’s maternal uncle. He was a barrister. Two of his children, John Stokes and Judith (Stokes) Hull, are mentioned in Dorothea Allison’s letters.


Strange, Madge (Margaret Scott-Coward):

Madge, who lived in England, was the third child of the Scott-Cowards. She married Fairbrothe Strange, who was a keeper of Oriental prints at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.



The Venables were friends of the Allisons.


Venables, Mrs. Russell:

Mrs. Russell Venables was a sister of Miss Wentworth.