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Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by remembering Peggy Newsham
General News · 14th March 2021
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day, coming on March 17, by remembering Peggy Newsham, one lovely Irish immigrant to Cortes.

Peggy emigrated from Belfast to Vancouver at the age of 16. In 1937, Peggy met Dolly (Jeffery) Hansen and together they travelled on the Union Steamship to Cortes Island. She worked for Alice Robertson at Burnside in Whaletown, helping with the gardening, livestock, and household chores. Peggy moved to Manson's Landing in the late 1960s, where she was active in the Community Club and took part in many social activities. She was crowned "Queen of Cortes" by acclamation at Cortes Day in 1979.

In a Campbell River Museum blog post, curator Beth Boyce recalls: “When I was a child, I would go to visit my great-great-aunt in her tiny cabin at Smelt Bay. My aunt, Peggy Newsham, was the Queen of Cortes. She was tiny, at under five feet tall, but she was a feisty Irish lady, more than making up for her diminutive size with a big personality. I remember she had a driver’s license that that was only legal on Cortes Island. When visiting the island recently, I was told that islanders would see her barrelling down the road in her VW bug and pull over to get out of her way.”

There is more information about Peggy Newsham in the Cortes Island Museum’s informational files as well as in an album of memories about her. A circle of herbs in the Heritage Garden surrounds a tribute installed in her honour.

St. Patrick’s Day observes the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, drinking and a whole lot of green.

Check out our Museum's jigsaw puzzles created with St. Patrick's Day postcards from the Gilean Douglas Collection.