Female writers were not commonplace at the turn of the century, and young girls had even fewer opportunities to have their voices heard. And yet, at the age of fourteen, Ada Almira Brown became the valley correspondent for the Ottawa Evening Citizen.
Ada was the third generation to work the land on her family’s Cantley farm. Well versed in farm life, she was also a prize-winning student at Cantley’s one-room school, where, after completing the curriculum, she spent her final year studying the dictionary.
For several years between 1895 and 1907, Ada was paid for her writings with a subscription to the Citizen, a pad of yellow paper on which she wrote her notes, and an honorarium of $30 a year. She wrote in a cheerful, down-to-earth manner about country life, informing her readers of the climate and soil of Quebec, the seasons (spring being her favourite), and the types of crops sown and animals raised on local farms. She also offered her observations on the larger world, giving us a glimpse of Ottawa as a booming capital of 40,000 with policemen constantly patrolling the streets to keep order.
In 1905, Ada married Charles Howard Reid of Kirk’s Ferry, where she spent the rest of her life as a busy farm wife and mother of five children. Her descendants still live in Chelsea. [PHOTO: GVHS 00834]