Lady Roddick’s Home To Go on Block Today

A Treasure of a By-Gone Age


THIS BIT OF CANADIANA goes under the auctioneer’s hammer today at the storied home of the late Lady Roddick on Sherbrooke street west, where a rare collection of Victorian furnishings and objects d’art is being sold. The tiny birchbark canoe, paddled by a French-Canadian coureur-de-bois and an Indian guide with a missionary priest as passenger, was presented to Lady Roddick years ago when she became a Princess of the Caughnawagas.

Lady Roddick’s Home To Go on Block Today

Montrealers from all walks of life got a brief glimpse yesterday of the magnificence of a Victorian household as they roamed at will through the home of the late Lady Roddick on Sherbrooke street west. On view were her antique furniture, silverware, china, paintings, and bric-a-brac, all of which go under the auctioneer’s hammer today.

As they walked up the blunt drive way that curves through the shrub- and tree-shaded lawn, and into the three-story grey stone house that sits four square facing Sherbrooke, some of them, unused to the opulence that met their gaze in the hallway caught their breath for an instant.

Many hesitated for a moment as they tried to make up their minds whether to turn right to the living room or left to one of the many sitting rooms in the house.

Either of the rooms is an antique dealer’s or an art lover’s paradise.

Set just as they had been when Amy Redpath Roddick, widow of Sir Thomas Roddick, lived there until just a few months ago, were all the cherished articles she had gathered in a lifetime of gracious living.

In either they saw mahogany and walnut bookcases, occasional tables and chairs a Chippendale secretary or a Georgian mahogany fall front secretary.

In glass cases and set on mantles were vases, some in enamelled porcelain, small enough and delicate enough to contain a drop of oriental perfume; others, slender, jade-green crystal fluted with silver, ready for the first rose that bloomed in her garden; and still others, weighing pounds, though still graceful and beautiful, in hand-painted china or hand-wrought brass.

Here, an elderly woman, gazed wistfully at a French processional curio cabinet while a young girl looked at a pierced and decorated ivory fan that it contained.

There another woman looked long into a graceful little cabinet containing miniatures, medallions and knives used in some long-forgotten war.

In the dining room many gazed almost in awe, while others looked on, obviously reliving past festive evenings, as before them was spread Victorian dining room furniture, a set of Chippendale dining chairs, Georgian mahogany and tables, an Old Mason’s Ironstone dinner service and Georgian, Victorian and early Canadian flat silver.

On the Georgian mahogany “D” end dining table or the sofa table from the same period, were spread the gracious lady’s sterling, cut crystal, English dessert services, tea sets and Sheffield plate.

Oriental Rugs

Throughout the house they walked on deep oriental rugs of rich and full colors. Not the wall-to-wall carpets of the modern home, but smaller ones, set in the centre of the room to shoe the magnificence of the parquetry flooring.

But, wherever they roamed, it was at her bedroom door that they all stopped for a moment before entering.

A large, airy room they saw, with satinwood chest and dressing tables, bird’s eye maple davenport desk and shaped top table and the chaises lounges of another day.

What caught their gaze, however, was the magnificent brass bed that took up a good part of the room.

Her old retainer, Joseph Hornayak, who was with her almost all of his 29 years in Canada, sits watching all who come and go. And, if you stop to talk with him, and it almost seems necessary to talk in whispers in this room, he will tell you, with a sweeping gesture towards the bed, and in his heavily accented English that, “Her die here in this bed.”

Many Pictures

It’s only on leaving the house, somehow, that one sees the pictures that hung on the walls of every room.

Many are paintings done in the deep, dark colors of the landscapes of another era; others depict religious scenes in bright reds, yellows and greens; while some are prints of young boys and girls in delicate pastel tints.

Still others show her love of the American Indian—she was made a princess of the Caughnawagas during her lifetime—depicting their work and their homes.

Most who walked through her home and wondered at the quiet graciousness of her life were a bit startled, and stopped abruptly for a moment, as they stepped into the glaring sunlight of Sherbrooke street and into the noise and rush of modern Montreal.

Source: Unknown, "Lady Roddick's Home To Go On Block Today," The Montreal Daily Star, June 16, 1954. Notes: PG, 5

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