The Saga of Poor Alice G.

My life has been entangled with things Nova Scotian for more than 40 years, ever since I realized that I wouldn’t be going back to Sarawak for PhD fieldwork. The choice of Nova Scotia was both fortuitous and serendipitous (the tale is sketched elsewhere). In 1972, soon after we arrived in the Annapolis Valley, I started visiting antique stores (well, many of them were basically junk stores…) and buying tintypes, portraits, photo albums, boxes of snapshots. Thousands of them. I’ve been working on that trove ever since, and many are now resident on Flickr, where they await the Next Step.

A giant step occurred today as I fiddled with one of the images in Aperture:

Poor Alice G.
(on the back, in spidery handwriting: “the last snap Ernest took of poor Alice G.”)

This one has been a challenge and a puzzle since I bought it in 1973 or so. Here’s today’s rumination on the image:

Snapshots have tales to tell, though we can rarely know the truth in all its detail. Sometimes we have only fragments of testimony, thanks to an informant’s evoked memories, or to notations on the photographs themselves. Is it remotely possible that we could discover what happened to Poor Alice G.? We have some information to work with: the locale is probably one of the harbors of Nova Scotia’s Fundy Coast, and the date is probably sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. Alice G. is perhaps in her early to mid-20s. Would Annapolis Valley newspapers of the time have carried obituaries?

…so I did a quick Google search for ‘annapolis valley newspapers’ and found the Annapolis Valley Newspaper Extracts Project, run as a labour of love by Phil Vogler.

I started looking through the ‘Vital Statistics’ there summarized, looking for possible conjunctions of fact…

How about THIS, from the Berwick Register

Grevatt, Alice Maud d/o Arthur Grevatt, died at Berwick, 26 June, 22 years. [30 June 1926 obit].

Bingo. And just by chance I’ll be in the Annapolis Valley next week, and can go to visit the Berwick Register office and see the obit.

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