We don’t know when Percy met Janie. We do know where — at brother Ted’s, through his colleague at the railway, George T. Boone. (He was known as George T, always.) George T was from New Brunswick, and had married a young woman from the settlement of Brockway, York County, in the same province. The settlement consisted of farms strung along the road that ran parallel to the Magaguadavic River. At one point in the straggling settlement, a community church had been built, and a schoolhouse, with a cemetery in between. The first schoolmaster was Aaron Hartt Libbey, who lived over the schoolhouse with his sister Carolyn to look after him, until he married Annie Laurie Vail, and moved a little way north along the Brockway road. George T’s wife Claire was the eldest daughter of Aaron and Annie Laurie. Janie was their fourth and youngest daughter.
Aaron died when Janie was about five, and his fifth child, and only son, an infant. Annie Laurie was a resilient and independent woman: she kept the family going by maintaining the post office (fifty miles from Fredericton), through midwifery, catching trout in the river, and the support of relatives. Claire and her sister Helen had married and undertaken family life; the third sister, Tenah, went to the Boston States. Janie and her brother Moulton were close, despite a five year gap, but when Claire needed help in Joliette with her growing family of daughters, Janie went to lend a hand.
Janie had an artistic soul, and a gift for drawing, though there were only meagre supplies of paper and ink to develop it. She learned a beautiful copperplate hand, which she used in all her correspondence, but there was a little more flourish in the white ink inscription on the back of the photograph above.
“Percy, with my best Xmas wishes, Janie.”
She was not quite twenty.