Details about servants in historic homes are often difficult to document. At Glanmore, information has been found in early correspondence, in census and immigration records and from oral histories. Census records only reveal details about live-in servants on the specific date of the census. Finding and keeping good domestic servants was often a challenge and it is likely that there was a fairly regular turnover in staffing. Day workers were probably employed at Glanmore as well, although no records pertaining to this have been found. Research about servants at Glanmore is ongoing.
The earliest record of a servant at Glanmore is found in the 1891 census. Sarah Colley, age 34 and born in England is listed as the live-in domestic at Glanmore. The census also reveals that she was Anglican and could read and write.
The 1901 census lists Edith Darne, age 24 and born in Canada as the general servant living at Glanmore. Edith could read and write and her religion is listed as Methodist.
The live-in cook at the turn of the century was Sarah Howes. According to oral history, Mrs. Phillips ordered produce from Sarah’s parents at the farmer’s market. Sarah’s younger brother would make a special trip to Glanmore to ensure that their produce was delivered before noon. It is not known how long Sarah Howes worked as a cook at Glanmore.
From 1901 to 1905, Eleanor May Bowden lived and worked at Glanmore as a housemaid. As the only housemaid this position was often referred to as the “Maid-of-all-Work.”
Eleanor was born in England in 1886. Due to unfortunate family circumstances, Eleanor’s mother was placed in the Whitechapel Workhouse. Essentially homeless, Eleanor and her sister were eventually sent to live in the Girl’s Village Home in Barkingside, Essex where they learned domestic skills. Eleanor was shipped to Canada as a Barnardo Child in 1900. In the late 1800s and early 1900s Dr. T. Barnardo and other social activists in the British Isles brought thousands of disadvantaged childern, like Eleanor, to work as household and farm labourers in Canada.
Eleanor served at two other households before being placed at Glanmore in mid-1901. Early correspondence indicates that Eleanor’s skill as a maid was highly regarded by John and Harriet Phillips. In 1902, Eleanor posed for a photographic portrait wearing her serving uniform. This was likely her best clothing.
Eleanor described her time at Glanmore as “…my happy days…” This, together with the fact she also remained in service at Glanmore longer than was required of her, show that her employers were decent and kind.