[ Mrs. J.J. Redpath and Child, Montreal, QC, 1871 ]

William Notman, Musée McCord Museum, Photographer William Notman shot this portrait of Ada Maria Mills Redpath with her only daughter and eldest child Amy Redpath in 1871. For more information about this image please click here

Born on April 26, 1842, Ada was the youngest daughter of John Easton Mills and Hannah Lyman. Her father was a prominent merchant who was elected mayor of Montreal in 1846. He died of typhus the following year while personally caring for infected victims of the epidemic in the Pointe-St-Charles immigrant sheds. Ada had three sisters, Alice, Hannah Jane, and Mary Elizabeth.

In 1867, Ada married John James Redpath at Putney, near London, England. Her marriage contract stipulated that she would control her own assets as if no marriage had taken place. In November 1870, Ada purchased the family villa at 1065 Sherbrooke Street. From this marriage, she bore five children: Amy, Peter, John Reginald, Harold, and Jocelyn Clifford. In her will, Ada bequeathed her estate to her surviving children; she stipulated that in the event her daughter Amy was married, she was to have complete control over her portion “as though single.”

Family correspondence in 1880 suggests that Ada was already in frail health and sometimes spent long periods away from her children. It is unclear what specific disease afflicted Ada . Diary excerpts and correspondence reveal that she suffered from ulceration of the eyes, neuralgia of the jaw, painful joints (which involved the fitting of a brace), and melancholia.

In the years leading up to the tragedy, Ada’s health deteriorated. She usually passed the summer and autumn in upper New York state sanatoria. In 1899, Ada still entertained occasionally, accompanied her daughter on rides around the mountain, shopped, and visited family members. Even so, Amy noted at the beginning of 1898 that her mother was not as well as usual and that “life is really a burden to her.”

By 1900, Ada seldom left her bedroom and was unable to even attend family functions and celebrations. Letters and diary passages also suggest that Ada was physically and emotionally dependent upon Amy and Clifford. At her death, she left an estate, made up of stocks, bonds, and real estate, valued at $179,086.06, which would be the equivalent of about $5 million today.

Diaries, Journals or Reminiscences


Notarial document

Photographs, Paintings or Drawings