Tuesday, October 14

Granny Ross: A Leader in History

October is Women's History Month in Canada and the 2008 theme is Women in the Lead. That being said, I'd like to introduce you to Marie Henriette Ross, aka Granny Ross.

It's hard to imagine what life was like for early settlers to Canada. Early pioneer, Marie Henriette Ross faced daily challenges. In addition, she blazed a trail in the world of science in Canada, inspiring future generations to follow their dreams.

Granny Ross, as she was eventually known by fellow Nova Scotians, served as a midwife and healer for over sixty years. Her name has been passed down through generations. Though information on this woman is very difficult to find, I did find out that she gave birth to eleven children. This would have made each day a challenge, just keeping their clothes clean, preparing meals and other household duties. However, Marie always found time to help her fellow man.

Marie LeJeune was born in 1762 in Rochefort, France. Her parents, Joseph LeJeune and Martine LeRoy were Acadians who had been deported to France from what is now known as Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. In 1771, they returned to Acadia. In 1778, they were once again deported to France. It was here, at the tender age of seventeen, that Marie married Joseph Comeau. He was thirty-seven years older than Marie. Marie returned to Acadia with her husband in 1784. Later that year, Joseph drowned. At age twenty-two, Marie was a widow.

Shortly after Joseph's death, Marie followed her family to Little Bras d' Or, Nova Scotia. She married her first cousin, Bernard LeJeune dit Briard. Bernard drowned shortly after the wedding, leaving Marie a widow once more.

At the age of twenty-six, Marie met Protestant Scottish soldier, James Ross. The couple married and first settled in Little Bras d' Or. Later, they followed James' family to East Margaree River.

While living in Bras d' Or, Marie realized that she'd been blessed with the gifts of healing and midwifery. The legend of her life began there. During a small pox epidemic, she cared for friends and neighbours, both French and English. She was always ready to attend anyone in the community who needed her services. Since she had already had small pox, she was immune to the deadly disease. Marie saved many lives during the epidemic. The people she helped never forgot the dedication of this woman.

Over the years, Marie studied plants for their medicinal purposes. She spent many hours in the forest and became a knowledgeable herbalist. She traveled miles from her home to nurse the sick. She delivered hundreds of babies in her lifetime.

Marie's forest adventures and her knowledge of herbs became known far and wide. This is when the Granny Ross legend began to take shape. She dedicated her life to the study of plants, in the hope that her findings would save lives. As she advanced in age, she became blind. Still, her healing and midwifery services were much in demand.

Marie's life was one of inspiration and dedication. She thought only of others and never of herself. Her goal in life was to help mankind. Her dream was certainly realized. She died in 1860, at the age of ninety-eight.

Marie left behind a great legacy. This midwife, herbalist and healer devoted her entire life to the study of plants and the healing of those in her community of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her name holds a place in the history of that province.

Canadian Heritage Alliance
National Archives of Canada

I wish everyone a wonderful week. ~Blessings, Mary~


  1. I'm late wishing you a Happy Birthday ;) I've been a little behind lately but hope to be back up to speed soon.
    Your post on Granny Ross was very interesting. I always learn something new each time I visit. Take care Mary...

  2. I'd love to be a herbalist. Granny Ross sounds like she was a gem :-)

  3. I hope y'all had a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving!!

    This lady is an astounding historical figure. I love reading your notebook blog on this kind of thing. She was amazing. To be widowed twice from drownings is eerie...and then to have eleven children of her own and doing all the wonderful, helpful, and courageous things of kindness in sicknesses around her community, far and wide, blows my mind!!!

    Excellent entry Mary.

  4. I think just raising 11 children is accomplishment enough! Mercy.... I wonder where these ladies from our past got their inspiration and gumption ! I sometimes wonder where I will find the energy to to the small tasks that I have each day.. She was an amazing woman and again it was so interesting to read of her story!
    Me and Hubby are leaving in the morning I will post on it latter today.......

  5. Great post, Mary! Thanks for sharing this. What an incredible woman she was in ANY day and age!

    Happy, happy late birthday!!

  6. So I missed your Birthday..not sure when the exact day was...but Happy Birthday....loved the gift from Pea.

    This was a great piece of history...loved it. I have often wondered how the first people to find cures from plants found them. Guess I will have to give their maker a little credit for that one. This lady was pretty remarkable...how sad about her first two husbands. Kind of reminds me of Elisabeth Elliot.

    I hope you had a great thanksgiving and were able to enjoy time with family and friends.

  7. Granny Ross was an amazing woman-thank you for sharing her story with us.

    And I'm sending a Super Duper belated Happy Birthday from Appalachia to you!!!!

  8. Isn't it amazing the women we have in our history...they accomplished so much and in such hard times when life wasn't easy at all. Thank you so much for telling us about Granny Ross!!

    Will now send you an email:-) xoxo

  9. What a wonderful branch to have in the family tree. It's great that you know so much about her.

  10. Interesting to see a picture of Granny Ross. Do you know where I could find a high resolution copy of that picture of her - or what the orignal source is? Does it belong to a family member?
    Thanks, M

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