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Publication: Christina Mary Hendrie Trust website
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The year was 1904 somewhere in the wilds of Western Canada. A man walked into a bar and having no money on him asked the barman to give him a bottle of whiskey in exchange for a piece of paper he had in his pocket. The paper was in fact the title deed to an area of wilderness in Northern Ontario. The barman refused the offer, declaring the land to be worthless, mosquito ridden and desolate.
The man's name was Murray Hendrie, youngest of the ten children of William Hendrie, a Scotsman from Ayrshire who had settled in Canada as a young man. He had made his fortune by staring Canada's largest cartage business using draught horses initially and then later on transferring to the railroad, providing a rapid and economical delivery of freight.
He also had a passion for racing and passed on his love of horses to his children. The family, always proud of their Scottish origins, lived in great style in a house William had built in Hamilton, Ontario.
One of Murray's sisters was Christina Mary. If the barman had swapped the title deed for the whiskey this story would never have been told. Murray had been presented with the deed by a grateful Canadian Government on his return from South Africa where he had fought in the Boer War with the Allied Army. He was one of 1000 volunteers who had signed up to assist the Old Country.
After the war Murray married a widow with a son of her own whose name was William Gilmour He took his new wife and her son to live on a ranch at High River, Alberta.
Murray was a dashing character and a great horseman. Unfortunately his love of horses was to cause his death five years after his marriage. He was killed driving a four in hand, no doubt too fast. He died leaving no children of his own. In his will Murray left his apparently modest estate in liferent to his wife and after her death to his remaining family, but no mention was made of his stepson, William Gilmour.
Fifty years after Murray?s death in 1914, prospectors found large deposits of zinc, copper and silver on the neglected land. This changed the outlook on the will. William Gilmour made a claim through the courts and was initially successful. However, before the Hendrie family took the case to the appeal coup, William Gilmour agreed to a settlement. The land was sold and a share of the proceeds passed to the estate of Murray's sister, Christina Mary.
In 1900 she had married a Scot named Eckford and they settled in the Borders of Scotland. She died in 1950 without leaving issue. In her will she stated that the residue of her estate was to be left to charity. She had made her niece, Mary Hendrie Cumming, a trustee of her estate and it was she who arranged to set up the trust in 1972.
It was indeed fortunate that the barman had refused the offer of the title deed from Murray Hendrie, although neither of them ever knew what treasure the land had kept secret for so many years.
Most of the trustees are family members from both sides of the Atlantic. They distribute funds in accordance with what they understand to have been the wishes of Christina Mary, to the benefit of Scottish and Canadian Charities, specializing mainly in the young and the aged.