Family Treasures Hedgecoe-McKenna History

Family Treasures: The Thimble

We recently decided we were going to add something new to our Blog, in an effort to preserve the memories of our ancestors and the lives they lived.  The concept came from Pinterest, and after discussing it, we each agreed that it would only add to our Family Trees if we were able to write about the objects we still hang onto out of sentiment.  Each item will have a bit of a biography about it’s owner, and as much history about the item as we can manage.  We’ll also link the blog postings and images to the original owner in the family tree, so a recorded connection is available for our interested cousins.

Salada Tea

And with that introduction in place, our first edition of Family Treasures shall be titled The Thimble, in honour of Leonore Frances McKenna Hedgecoe.  Lee, as she was called by almost everyone, was the eldest daughter of Eva Campbell and Leonard McKenna.  The family moved into Irish Quebec in the Westmount area where they had both Irish and French connections through the O’Neill, McKenna and Clement families.  They were connected through marriage to the Mullin family, and the Trihey family.  The McKenna’s were heavily involved in sports in the area, including Lacrosse and Hockey.  Eva and Leonard would go on to have four children together.


When Lee was only about 4 years of age, disaster struck in the form of Polio.  She had very clear memories of having visited a farm with her class the day she fell ill, and there having been a pile of rotting tomatoes in the corner where flies were rampant.  That night when she had to go to the bathroom, Lee couldn’t get out of bed, she’d called for her parents stating she couldn’t move her legs.
Lenore McKenna

The medical procedures that followed were experimental and somewhat horrific.  13 operations in 17 years, with large long bisecting scars covered her legs and hips.  She recounted having been in the hospital at one point so long that she forgot how to speak English, only being able to address her Father as ‘Papa’ in French.  She was cared for primarily by Roman Catholic nuns, and although the family was religious in the first place, this instilled a life-long faith and practice in her.

Due to the tremendous amounts of time in a hospital bed, Lee was taught to sew and knit.  She was a spectacular craftswoman, able to create the most intricate, delicate stitching.  She carefully taught her daughter in the same tradition, but laughed when it came to her ‘all thumbs’ granddaughter, then tried all the same.  Today’s item stems from that very set of skills, a simple brass Thimble kept over the years as a memory of our Gran and all of her skills.


Upon our investigation we were able to turn up Salada as a Canadian Tea company, they seem to have been quite popular in Quebec from the 1930s through to the 1970s at least.  EBay is hosting a variety of other memorabilia, including a few tea pots, a tin box and a plastic thimble of an alternate design.  Although we have no idea when Gran came into ownership of this particular thimble, it was always in her sewing box along with her straight pins and needles.  It was most likely, a useful promotional item that came in handy and she kept it.  It’s a lovely tiny keepsake from days gone by.

Salada Tea

Always one for making things pretty, Jenn is our resident artist. Métis, British Home Child Descendant, family historian and genealogist, she is always looking into some new branch of research and encourages historical preservation and education.

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