Ellen Hill

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My panel is done in the style reminiscent of a children’s book illustration. What I know of my grandmother is mostly oral history passed down from family members. The scene depicted on my panel is how I imagined, as a child, my grandmother and her sister leaving their home in Culls Harbour on a boat when they were teenagers.
My grandmother Alexandra Caine (maiden name Roach) was born in 1907 in Culls Harbour, Newfoundland. Everyone called her Alice. Culls Harbor is in Bonavista Bay. Family history says that two generations before Alice, Victor Roach was the first Roach to settle in Newfoundland. He arrived in Bonavista Bay in 1861 when he was fourteen years old as a stowaway on a rum-running boat from Barbados. The boat shipwrecked on the Hower Rocks, and Victor survived by floating ashore on a beer barrel.
Alice was the oldest of four children. Her father’s occupation is unknown, but many of the men in Culls Harbor worked in the timber mill, and some were boat builders. When Alice was thirteen, her mother died, leaving Alice and her sister Jean to raise their siblings. The area where they lived (an island?) was fairly isolated, and her father would sometimes be gone for days for work. The household would run low on oil and food, and travel to and from the home was impossible in bad weather. The local school was reached by water, and Alice could attend only when the weather permitted.
When Alice was seventeen years old, her father remarried, and she and her sister Jean left home, taking a boat across to Newfoundland. She and Jean made their way to the Montreal area, where they found work in a lodge. In Montreal, Alice met my grandfather Edward Caine, a miner’s son from Magog. They got married and moved to the Boston area in September, 1929, a month before the stock market collapsed at the beginning of the Great Depression. Ed studied accounting at Northeastern University, and their first child Sybil was born in Boston nine months after they married. Alice and Ed raised four girls, Sybil, Joan (my mother), Sandra, and Nancy. My mother, Joan, married Richard Hill, and they had four girls. I am the youngest.
Alice Caine, Culls Harbor, Newfoundland 1907 - 1973.

Courtesy of Steven Scott Gallery, Baltimore.