There’s a place along the Red River, humble in its beauty. A building with a rich history to offer. It’s just past the old church and the resulting cemetery. I try and go there often, as much as I can. It’s called the Kennedy House and it is my favourite place to be.
The Kennedy House has a wonderful past. A Cree woman from the Saskatchewan River met and fell in love with a Scottish man named Alexander Kennedy. The woman’s name was Aggathas Bear; she gave birth to nine children and lived happily with her husband along the river.
After settling down, Alexander left to travel to England with two of his sons. He often wrote to Aggathas and stated, “I intend to take Roderick and Alexander home to Orkney with myself and if I am alive, please God, I shall see you again next summer. In the meantime do not want for anything that I can afford to supply you with either for yourself, your mother, or the little ones, and be assured that as long as I live I shall never forsake you nor forget you, and if I die I shall not forget you.” Aggathas’s husband never made the trip back and the word ‘Widow’ became attached to Aggathas’s name. She became known as ‘Widow Kennedy’.
Their children grew up and pursued their passions. Some became doctors, teachers, storekeepers, farmers and married. One particular son, named William choose the path of explorer. He ventured to the Arctic notably searching for the lost explorer Sir John Franklin. He resided in the land that his father bought and married a music teacher, who worked at a school just down the road. William built a large stone house near his mother, Aggathas in 1866.
The house now has a wonderful garden in the back of it, over looking the Red River. There is the Maple Grove, which serves tea and Bannock, as well as the interior of the building which now is a museum.
I stumbled upon it on one of my bike rides along the river. I decided to venture farther than I usually went and found myself in the middle of a stone pathway. The trail led me in to a magical place, an area with flowers blooming within the confines of a tree fence, the leaves draped in for privacy. As a girl who adored reading “The Secret Garden” as a child, I was quite enamoured with the storybook I found myself in. The stone bench and various paths, encouraged the idea of whimsicalness. The sun set too quickly and I was pushed away by the darkness, but knew that I was soon to return. And I did, with every chance that I got.
The house now, is currently closed and under repairs. There is a problem with funding, I am told. But the garden remains open. I myself, am Cree and feel an innate bond with the area. A past that I remember within my heart. A history, one of my people and that of my home. The Kennedy House is an important part of St. Andrews history and is one of many buildings that still stand in the area.
Stay safe and well