February 14, 2000

The Blue Castle Encyclopedia

The Blue Castle Encyclopedia, portrait of Valancy Stirling from the 1935 Harrap edition of the novel by L.M. Montgomery

Explore The Blue Castle Encyclopedia for information on characters, locations, and objects from L.M. Montgomery's novel The Blue Castle. The quotes, chapter, and page citations are from the 1993 Bantam edition of the book.

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St. Alban's - the Stirling's church where Rev. Dr. Stalling has been the rector for 23 years (Chapter 5).


Banjo - the striped, snoring, "big, enchanting, grey devil-cat" owned by Barney Snaith (Chapter 26; 131).

Beck, Edward - a fifty-year-old widower with nine children, who began to think that Valancy would "make a mighty fine second wife" at Cissy Gay's funeral (Chapter 24; 124). He consults with Cousin Georgiana about proposing, but neither of them realizes that Valancy is already married to Barney Snaith (Chapter 27; 136-137).

Bentley, Rev. - Presbyterian minister who once tried to reform Roaring Abel (Chapter 14). Probably the same Presbyterian minister that L.M. Montgomery calls Rev. Bradly in Chapter 24.

Bluebeard's Chamber - The one room in the Snaith house that Valancy may not enter. Barney locks the door and keeps the key (Chapter 26; 133). He shuts himself in the room for hours each day. Although Valancy never saw the inside, "From the smells that filtered through at times she concluded he must be conducting chemical experiments—or counterfeiting money." She had no desire to see the inside (Chapter 29; 152-153). Late in the novel, Valancy enters the room to find a pencil to write a note to Barney and sees the equipment for his chemical experiments. She also learns that Barney is John Foster when she sees the galley proofs of his novel Wild Honey (Chapter 39; 194-196).

Blue Castle - an imaginary Spanish castle where Valancy had "lived spiritually...ever since she could remember." She feels that, "Everything wonderful and beautiful was in that castle," and, "All that supported her through the boredom of her days was the hope of going on a dream spree at night." Valancy imagines many lovers in her Blue Castle who "faded away," in turn, as she outgrew them. "Valancy never grew older than twenty-five in her Blue Castle, but recently—very recently—her hero had reddish, tawny hair, a twisted smile and a mysterious past" (Chapter 1; 3-5). At first sight, Valancy realizes that her home with Barney is her Blue Castle in reality (Chapter 26; 134, Chapter 28; 148, Chapter 45; 218).

Blunt, Margaret - She invited Valancy to a dance years ago. Valancy attended it and had tried to look her best to impress Rob Walker. Though Valancy crimped her hair and pinched her cheeks to redden them, her efforts only resulted in stories that, "Valancy Stirling was rouged at Margaret Blunt's party"(Chapter 8).

Bradly, Rev. - Presbyterian minister who performs Cissy Gay's funeral (Chapter 24). Probably the same Presbyterian minister that L.M. Montgomery calls Rev. Bentley in Chapter 14.

Bruce, Cecil - see Cecil Price


Chidley Corners - a place "up back" where dances and assemblies are held. As a rule, well-brought up ladies do not go there. Valancy attends a dance there that becomes rowdy, "noisy and reeking." When a drunk, predatory man and his friends target Valancy, Barney Snaith rescues her (Chapter 20; 104-108).

Clarkson, Miss - librarian of the Deerwood library who "smiled in a patronizing fashion that relegated Valancy's opinions to limbo" (Chapter 1; 8-9).


Deerwood - town where Valancy had lived, sheltered all her life, until she moved "up back" (Chapter 20; 109).

Desmond, Will - a young lawyer who had been engaged to Olive Stirling. Will died, and Olive mourned him for two years (Chapter 10; 55).

"Doss's rosebush" - a little rosebush on the Stirling lawn given to Valancy by Cousin Georgiana five years ago. Despite her efforts to make it bloom, no buds had ever appeared on it. Two days after her 29th birthday, Valancy slashes the rosebush with a garden knife, which shocks her mother (Chapter 7; 31). The rosebush is in full bloom when Valancy returns to the Stirling household to tell her family that she married Barney Snaith (Chapter 27; 139).


Edwards, Rachel - the Gay's housekeeper, who was fired by Abel Gay for being "dirty," "unreasonable," and for "moping" (Chapter 14; 78).

Elm Street House - house in Deerwood where Mrs. Frederick Stirling, Valancy, and Cousin Stickles live. Valancy thinks of it as the ugliest house on an "ugly, prim, respectable street" (Chapter 4; 20).


Free Methodist church - a "spireless little grey" church located in a valley on the outskirts of "up back" where Old Mr. Towers preaches. The church is located "among the pines, with a few sunken graves and mossy gravestones in the small, paling-encircled, grass-grown square beside it." Valancy begins to go to church there, and "for the first time in her life she liked going to church" (Chapter 20; 103).

Fortunate Isles - several small islets located to the west in Lake Mistawis. They looked like a group of emeralds at sunrise and like a group of amethysts at sunset (Chapter 29; 151-152).

Foster, John (see also Barney Snaith and Bernard Redfern) - a popular nature writer. Valancy was allowed to read his books "under protest, for it was only too evident that she enjoyed them too much." Valancy vaguely feels that if she read his books years ago that, "life might have been a different thing for her." The librarian tells Valancy that John Foster must be Canadian, but his publishers would reveal no other information about the author. His name is likely a nom de plume (Chapter 1; 8-9). Valancy quotes John Foster's works on many occasions. According to Uncle Benjamin, Foster's writing "put Canada on the literary map of the world" (Chapter 40; 203).


Gay, Abel (Roaring Abel) - a seventy-year-old, alcoholic, carpenter and fiddler; father of Cissy Gay. He is known as "Roaring Abel" because he is so colorful and is "never anything but drunk." Despite his age, Abel is handsome in a "stately, patriarchal manner." He is "six feet two in stockings" and broad shouldered. Abel has a long, flaming red beard, hair as "white as snow," blue eyes, and a fine, "aquiline nose." He was a "famous lover" in his wild, adventurous youth and was 45 years old when he got married to "a pretty slip of a girl whom his goings-on killed in a few years." When talking to Valancy, he says, "There's too much hell here...That's why I get drunk so often. It sets you free for a little while—free from yourself—yes, by God, free from predestination." Abel "knew more about Presbyterian theology than most ministers, which made him a terror to them in arguments. But Roaring Abel never went to church" (Chapter 14).

Gay, Cissy - a twenty-six-year-old woman who is dying of consumption; Abel Gay's daughter. Cissy is described as follows: "a faithful, unobtrusive, sincere, little worker. Everybody liked Cissy Gay and felt sorry for her." Four years ago, Cissy went to Muskoka to work as a waitress. When she returned home, she was pregnant. Cissy kept the father of her child a secret, but he was rumored to be Barney Snaith. Sadly, Cissy's baby died when it was a year old, and then Cissy was diagnosed with consumption and given months to live. Two years later, Cissy was still alive, but no one went to see her (Chapter 14). When Valancy learns that the Gay family doesn't have a housekeeper, she leaves home and moves into their household to care for Cissy. Near the end of her life, Cissy confides in Valancy that the father of her child was a college student in Toronto with a rich father. The young man offered to marry her when she told him she was pregnant, but Cissy refused, knowing that he no longer loved her. A few nights after telling her story to Valancy, Cissy dies (Chapter 22). Cissy Gay is called both Cecilia (Chapter 1; 85) and Cecily (Chapter 11; 64), possibly in error by L.M. Montgomery.

Good luck - Barney Snaith's "dainty little cat" who is "always looking wistfully at you, as if he wanted to tell you something" (Chapter 26; 133).

Gray, Aaron - Valancy's third cousin, who once had blood poisoning after being scratched by a cat (Chapter 6).


Henry - Doc Redfern's man who "disapproves of the whole expedition" to locate Bernie (Chapter 38; 188).


Jackson, Donald - a man that Olive Stirling had a "hectic affair" with when she was twenty-three years old. Aunt and Uncle Wellington did not approve of him, and "in the end Olive dutifully gave him up." In reality, Donald was "cooling off," but the Stirlings never hinted that this was Olive's reason for their break up, regardless of what outsiders said (Chapter 10, 55).


Lady Jane - Barney Snaith's car; an old Grey Slosson (Chapter 18).

Lake Mistawis - "a silver-green lake" surrounded by "shadowy, purple-hooded woods" and a "white, filmy mist." Barney and Valancy's island home is located here (Chapter 12; 71).

Leander - a "demure little tame owl," which Barney Snaith "brought up from a baby" that lives on the "mainland and chuckles to himself o'nights" (Chapter 26; 133).

Lloyd, Jennie - a woman who is engaged to marry Clayton Markley. Valancy envies her because Markley built Jennie such a pretty house, and Valancy dreams of having a house of her own (Chapter 4; 20).

Lover's Lane - a path in Deerwood that wound around the "back of the village, under great elms and maples, and deserved its name." Valancy usually avoids this short cut home from town because it's full of young couples and pairs of girls sharing secrets. Seeing them makes Valancy "self-conscious and uncomfortable" (Chapter 6).


MacMurray, Tom - a man who sold his island to Barney Snaith. Tom built a house on the island where he lived in the winter; he rented it to people from Toronto in the summer (Chapter 26; 132).

March, Dr. Ambrose - a doctor in Port Lawrence who is married to Second Cousin Adelaide Stirling. He is the only doctor used by the Stirling clan (Chapter 1). Dr. March is amused when Uncle James suggests locking Valancy up after she leaves home, and he explains that you can't lock someone up without "proof of lunacy." Dr. March felt that "nothing that Uncle James had reported seemed very alarming," and he "put up a hand to conceal a smile several times" before Uncle James stalked off (Chapter 13; 73-74).

Markley, Clayton - a man engaged to Jennie Lloyd, who built a house for her and furnished it in readiness for their marriage (Chapter 4; 20).


Nip - a old crow that lives near the Snaith home with Tuck (Chapter 26; 133).


Patterson, Mrs. - a nurse in Dr. Trent's office (Chapter 6; 27).

Port Lawrence - a large town with movie theatres, restaurants, and many stores and shops. It is located over fifteen miles from Deerwood (Chapter 22; 117).

Price, Cecil - a man who has been engaged to Olive Stirling for three years. He recently graduated in civil engineering, and he and Olive plan to marry when he lands his first contract. Cecil is clever, handsome, and "one of the Port Lawrence Prices." The Stirling clan approves of him (Chapter 10; 55). Cecil Price is also called Cecil Bruce (Chapter 44; 217). Likely, this was a mistake by L. M. Montgomery.


Railroad station and tracks - a climactic moment in the novel occurs at this location. As Barney and Valancy return home from Port Lawrence, Valancy's heel is caught between the train tracks as a train is approaching. Barney frantically manages to save her. This event leaves Valancy confused. She doesn't understand how she survived the shock because Dr. Trent had warned her that any excitement would be fatal due to her medical condition (Chapter 35).

Redfern, Bernard Snaith (see also Barney Snaith) - Barney's full given name. Barney has been calling himself by his mother's maiden name Snaith. His mother died when he was two years old (Chapter 42; 209-210). As a child, Barney was lonely and felt lost in the huge mansion with his father. He was miserable in private school because his classmates mocked him for his father's inventions. He was betrayed by his one close friend, who wrote a burlesque sketch that ridiculed Dr. Redfern's remedies (Chapter 42). Later, Barney got honors at McGill University (Chapter 38). He fell in love with Ethel Traverse and was very happy until he overheard her saying that she was only marrying him for the money (Chapter 42). Barney then lost faith in people. He left home at this point, 11 years ago, to travel the world. Eventually, six years ago, Barney settled in Muskoka and bought his island from Tom MacMurray (Chapters 38 and 42).

Redfern's Blood Bitters - one of Dr. Redfern's many remedies. Cousin Stickles claims there is nothing like them "for building a body up." Her husband used them until the day he died (Chapter 7).

Redfern, Dr. - a successful businessman and millionaire who sells medicines and cure-alls for various ailments. He is Barney's father. He is described as a "stout, short, pudgy man, with a broad, rubicund, good-humored face" and steel rimmed glasses. Ironically, Dr. Redfern is bald even though he invented Redfern's Hair Vigor. He hasn't seen his son Barney in 11 years (Chapter 38). He was once an unsuccessful veterinary in a small Quebec town. After the death of his wife (see Mrs. Redfern), Dr. Redfern and Barney moved to Montreal where he began to invent his cure-alls and became rich (Chapter 42; 211).

Redfern's Liniment - a medicine that Valancy must rub on Cousin Stickles's neuralgic back each night. She hates its smell and the "smug, beaming, portly, be-whiskered, be-speckled picture of Dr. Redfern on the bottle" (Chapter 6).

Redfern, Mrs. - Barney's mother, who died when he was two years old. She was a school teacher and was fifteen years younger than Dr. Redfern (Chapter 42; 209-210).

Redfern's Purple Pills - these drugs are "the standard medicine of the Stirling clan." Valancy is skeptical about whether they really work (Chapter 5; 25).


Snaith, Barney (see also Bernard Redfern and John Foster) - a reclusive 35-year-old man who lives on an island in Muskoka. Valancy proposes marriage to him, and he accepts and takes her to his island home and her "Blue Castle" (Chapters 25-26). The two are very happy and share a love for nature, but Barney hates to be quoted to from John Foster. He spends hours each day in a locked room called Bluebeard's Chamber. Barney is rumored to be a "defaulting cashier-counterfeiting-infidel-murderer-in-hiding" and to have fathered Cissy Gay's child (Chapter 11). He is friends with Abel Gay and owns an old, Grey Slosson car called Lady Jane. According to Valancy, "He told a great deal in a few well-chosen words," and "he had a knack of telling a great deal about his adventures and nothing at all about himself" (Chapter 18; 94). Eventually, Barney Snaith is revealed to be Bernard Redfern and John Foster (Chapter 38-39).

Snaith, Valancy - see Valancy Stirling

Stalling, Rev. Dr. - the rector at St. Alban's for the last 23 years. Valancy has feared Dr. Stalling since she was six years old, when he mistook her for a boy and ordered her to take her hat off in church (Chapter 5; 24). He thinks Valancy is queer and dislikes Abel Gay. The Stirling family sends Dr. Stalling to bring Valancy home after she moves into the Gay household, but she overcomes her fear of him and refuses to leave (Chapter 19; 97-101).

Sterling, Jane - an old woman from Port Lawrence whose letter from Dr. Trent was exchanged with Valancy's letter. She was "a lonely old soul. Lived by herself with a little home girl". Jane Sterling died in her sleep two months after her visit to the doctor (Chapter 37; 183).

Stickles, Christine Stirling (Cousin Stickles) - Valancy's cousin who lives with her and Mrs. Frederick in the Elm Street house. She was married at 17 and "whined endlessly" and complained about everything. Valancy describes her appearance, saying she had a "broad, flat, wrinkled face, a mole right on the end of her dumpy nose, bristling hairs on her chin, wrinkled yellow neck, pale, protruding eyes, and [a] thin, puckered mouth" (Chapter 3).

Stirling, Adelaide - Valancy's second cousin who is married to Dr. Ambrose March (Chapter 13; 74).

Stirling, Alberta (Aunt Alberta) - Valancy's aunt who has been married to her Uncle Herbert for 25 years. According to Valancy, she is "enormously fat, with an amiable habit of always referring to her husband as 'he,' as if he were the only male creature in the world." She "could never forget that she had been a great beauty in her youth..." (Chapter 1). She "had a great reputation for unselfishness because she was always giving up a lot of things she didn't want" (Chapter 10; 66).

Stirling, Amelia Wansbarra (Mrs. Frederick) - Valancy's mother. A cold and domineering woman who married Frederick Stirling at age 20. Valancy believes her mother is "Ashamed every day of her old maid daughter" (Chapter 1). Mrs. Frederick did not like opposition and had "sulky fits" (Chapters 1 and 2). She gives Valancy no affection. For instance, on Valancy's birthday, her mother tells her to "'Sit up straight, Doss,'" without any kind wishes (Chapter 3).

Stirling, Artemas - Valancy's cousin. Valancy wore a brooch containing Artemas's hair until her rebellion (Chapter 9).

Stirling, Betty - Valancy's cousin. Nine years ago, she considered asking Valancy to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, but she didn't. Olive later told her that, "Betty, after much consultation and reflection, had decided that Valancy was too insignificant—she would 'spoil the effect'" (Chapter 8).

Stirling, Benjamin (Uncle Benjamin) - Valancy's wealthy, childless, widower uncle who owns a grocery store. Valancy has been brought up to never offend him in case he cuts her out of his will (Chapter 1). He has a cruel sense of humor and tells jokes and riddles at Valancy's expense (Chapter 5). When Valancy tells him off for re-telling riddles, he is shocked (Chapter 11; 71), Later, Uncle Benjamin becomes Valancy's champion when she returns and tells everyone that Barney is Bernard Redfern. He aims to rectify the entire affair to make Valancy happy and to prevent them from divorcing (Chapter 40). In the end, he decides to put Valancy back in his will because "To her that had should certainly be given" (Chapter 42; 215).

Stirling, Byron - Valancy's cousin from Montreal. When Valancy was 10, 12-year-old Byron savagely pinched her arm during the family's morning prayers causing her to scream out in pain. When Valancy got into trouble, she explained to Aunt Isabel that Byron had pinched her. He lied, and Valancy was sent home in disgrace because "boys were always believed before the girls" in the Stirling clan (Chapter 8).

Stirling, David - Valancy's uncle. Married to Gladys (Chapter 27; 146).

Stirling, Frederick - Valancy's father who died when she was a year old. The Stirling family whispers that the late Frederick Stirling caught the cold which caused his death because Mrs. Frederick refused to light a fire on the twentieth of October. She lighted a fire the following day, "but that was a day too late for Frederick Stirling" (Chapter 2). Valancy's father "tacked on the Jane" as her middle name to civilize it (Chapter 3; 16).

Stirling, Georgiana (Cousin Georgiana) - Valancy's sixty-five-year-old cousin (Chapter 27; 137). She is named for her great-great-grandmother, who had been named George the Fourth (Chapter 1). Valancy predicts she will "recount dolorously the names of all the relatives and friends who had died since the last picnic and wonder 'which of us will be the first to go next'" (Chapter 1). Cousin Georgiana is "very dreary," and "The only thing she really enjoyed was a funeral" because "You knew where you were with a corpse. Nothing more could happen to it. But while there was life there was fear" (Chapter 10). After Valancy tells her she is married, Georgiana "had a momentary conviction that it would be a pity if the clan tried to scold her into sanity" (Chapter 27; 138-139).

Stirling, Gladys (Cousin Gladys, Aunt Gladys) - Valancy's aunt who is a neurotic hypochondriac. Gladys is "really First Cousin Gladys once removed" according to the strict Stirling calculations. She is a "tall, thin lady who admitted she had a sensitive disposition." She describes "minutely the tortures of her neuritis." Dr. Trent told Cousin Gladys, "that her neuritis was all imaginary and that she enjoyed it" (Chapter 1). Gladys's neuritis "was a convenient thing," which "jumped about from one part of her body to another" at choice moments. Gladys "was always praising her son, who had died young, and always fighting with her living one" (Chapter 10; 52). She is married to David (Chapter 27; 146).

Stirling, Herbert - Valancy's uncle who has been married to Aunt Alberta for 25 years (Chapter 9; 46). Valancy "rather liked Uncle Herbert" (Chapter 9). He has a cottage at Mistawis (Chapter 8) and a pretentious home on Maple Avenue in Deerwood (Chapter 9). Uncle Herbert gave brisk, short graces before meals, and this irritated Aunt Wellington. After Valancy leaves the silver anniversary party, Uncle Herbert thinks that, "things were rather dull now that Doss had gone" (Chapter 11; 69).

Stirling, Isabel (Aunt Isabel) - Valancy's aunt who is the "critic of the clan" and has a "biting tongue" (Chapter 10; 53). According to Valancy, Aunt Isabel is "downright and disagreeable as an east wind." She found "something new with which to jab you every time. Aunt Isabel prided herself on saying what she thought, but didn't like it so well when other people said what they thought to her" (Chapter 1; 7). Because of her jabs and criticism, many members of the clan feared her (Chapter 10; 53).

Stirling, James (Uncle James) - Valancy's solemn uncle who is "reputed to be very clever and was therefore the clan oracle" (Chapter 1; 6). Valancy dislikes him, but still respects him. He had a "sarcastic, trap-like mouth and iron-grey side-burns," and his "favorite amusement was to write controversial letters to the Christian Times, attacking Modernism." James Stirling's wife was "a pretty sensitive thing" who died young. Valancy thinks, "Uncle James had denied her everything she wanted and showered on her everything she didn't want. He had killed her—quite legally. She had been smothered and starved" (Chapter 10; 53). After Abel Gay throw James out of his house, Valancy thinks, Uncle James "was nothing but a rather stupid little village tin-god" (Chapter 19; 97). Following Valancy's marriage to Barney Snaith, Uncle James cruelly tells her, "you are a shameless creature, lost to all sense of propriety and virtue, and I wash my hands entirely of you. I do not want ever to see your face again" (Chapter 27).

Stirling, Mary (Aunt Wellington) - Valancy's aunt. Her real name is Mary, but she is "called by her husband's name to distinguish her from Great-aunt Mary." She is described as "A massive, dignified, permanent lady" with "Splendidly arranged iron-grey hair" and "Rich, fashionable beaded dress." She had electrolysis to remove her moles (Chapter 10; 54). "Valancy had long ago decided that she would rather offend God than Aunt Wellington, because God might forgive her but Aunt Wellington never would" (Chapter 1).

Stirling, Mary (Great-Aunt) - Valancy's great-aunt, who is called by her given first name, unlike Aunt Wellington (Chapter 10; 65).

Stirling, Mildred (Aunt Mildred) - Valancy's aunt. She was a "big, capable, patronizing, voluble" woman, who "thought herself the cleverest woman in the clan, her husband a little lower than an angel and her children wonders" (Chapter 10; 52).

Stirling, Olive - daughter of Aunt and Uncle Wellington who is "the wonder girl of the whole Stirling clan" (Chapter 1). Olive was a young woman who "had everything Valancy had not—beauty, popularity, love..." (Chapter 1). Olive has "Rich, golden-brown hair," "large, brilliant blue eyes and thick silken lashes," and a "face of rose and bare neck of snow." She is "Tall. Queenly. Confident. Everything that Valancy was not." Although Olive is a year younger than Valancy, "nobody had ever dreaded old-maidenhood for her." She had been "surrounded by a crowd of eager beaus since her early teens." At 18, after graduating from Havergal College, she was engaged to a young lawyer named Will Desmond. He died, and Olive mourned him for two years. At 23, she had an affair with Donald Jackson. Her third beau was Cecil Price, to whom she has been engaged for three years. Valancy sums her up thinking, "she's like a dewless morning. There's something lacking" (Chapter 10; 55-56).

Stirling, Valancy Jane (later Valancy Snaith, nicknames: "Doss" and "Moonlight") - a 29-year-old woman who has been relegated by her family "to hopeless old maidenhood." She experiences heart pains and "never said what she thought" (Chapter 1). Valancy is described as having "straight black hair," a small nose, "a three cornered, white face," "a small, pale mouth that always fell open a trifle over little, pointed white teeth." She is thin, of below average height and has dark brown eyes with an "almost Oriental" slant. She wears drab, ugly clothes and views her looks as "insignificant" (Chapter 2; 12). Her family criticizes her and treats her as a sickly child and servant. She escapes real life in her imaginary Blue Castle and in John Foster's nature novels. Valancy is misdiagnosed by Dr. Trent as having at most a year to live, leading her to rebel when she realizes that she has never truly lived and was now about to die (Chapter 7). When she hears of Cissy Gay's situation from Abel Gay, Valancy revolts and leaves the Stirling home to nurse and care for Cissy (Chapter 15). After Cissy's funeral, Valancy proposes to Barney Snaith whom she has fallen in love with. Valancy tells him of her situation, and he agrees to marry her and takes her to his island home, which is her "Blue Castle" in reality (Chapter 26). Life for them is smooth and happy, until the train tracks incident when Valancy realizes that she should have died, but didn't. Valancy and Barney must sort out several mix-ups and deceptions before the story's conclusion.

Stirling, Wellington (Uncle Wellington) - Valancy's uncle. He looked like a cartoon of himself according to Valancy. Uncle Wellington had a long pale face, "thin, stooping body," and "abnormally high forehead." He was "one of the fair Stirlings" with thin, light-yellow hair. Valancy thought his eyes looked "about as intelligent a fish's" (Chapter 10, 65).

Strang, Jemmy - an old drunk man who started the rumors that Barney Snaith was "dead drunk" in Port Lawrence (Chapter 40; 203).


Taylor, Sarah (Second Cousin) - Sarah "never said anything worth listening to" because she was so "afraid of saying something indiscreet" (Chapter 10). She had "great, pale, expressionless eyes" and was known for her pickle recipes and nothing else. She was "So proper that she blushed when she saw the advertisement picture of a corset and had put a dress on her Venus de Milo statuette..." (Chapter 10; 53). She was glad she never had any children (Chapter 27; 173).

Tierney, Allan - a "celebrated painter of beautiful women" (Chapter 34). In the winter, he lived in New York, and he owned an island cottage in the Mistawis, which he arrived at when the ice thawed on the lake. He was considered lonely and eccentric, and he did not flatter those who sat for his portraits. Valancy meets him while walking home through the woods in spring. Tierney wants to paint a portrait of Valancy as "the Spirit of Muskoka," but Valancy refuses to be painted (Chapter 34).

Traverse, Ethel - a woman that Barney once loved. According to Doc Redfern, she was the "prettiest girl in Montreal" with "Gold hair—shiny as silk—great, big, soft, black eyes—skin like milk and roses." She had a B.A. from McGill and was a "thoroughbred" from "One of the best families." Ethel got married two years after her break-up with Barney, but was now a widow (Chapter 38; 191-193). She only wanted to marry Barney for his money (Chapter 42; 212).

Trent, Dr. - an elderly, absent-minded doctor who specializes in heart disease. He is over seventy years old and was to retire soon. He is gruff and honest, and "none of the Stirling clan had ever gone to him since he had told Cousin Gladys, ten years before, that her neuritis was all imaginary and that she enjoyed it" (Chapter 1; 10). Valancy makes an appointment with him to check on her heart pains without her family's approval. After examining Valancy, Dr. Trent receives a phone call saying his son has been injured, and he abruptly leaves (Chapter 6). He mistakenly mails Valancy a letter, addressed "Dear Miss Sterling," which tells her she has angina pectoris complicated with an aneurism and that she had at most a year to live. This letter was really meant for old Miss Jane Sterling of Port Lawrence. Without realizing his error, Dr. Trent goes abroad to care for his son for a year (Chapter 7). In June of the next year, Valancy visits the doctor again and he realizes his mistake. The doctor tells Valancy that she has pseudo-angina, a never fatal condition that passes completely with proper treatment or sometimes with a shock of joy (Chapter 37; 182-184).

Trent, Ned - Dr. Trent's son. He was injured in a terrible automobile accident in Montreal during Valancy's first appointment with the Doctor. Ned is in good health a little over a year later when Valancy visits the Doctor again (Chapter 6, Chapter 37; 181).

Towers, Mr. - preacher at the free Methodist church. "Old Mr. Towers believed exactly what he preached and somehow it made a tremendous difference" (Chapter 20; 103). Mr. Towers performed the marriage ceremony for Valancy Stirling and Barney Snaith at his house (Chapter 26; 131).

Tuck - a old crow that lives near the Snaith home with Nip (Chapter 26; 133).


"Up back" - the vernacular name for the "sparsely settled, hilly, wooded country around Mistawis." Abel Gay's house is located here (Chapter 16).


Walker, Rob - a man who seemed attracted to Valancy at Uncle Herbert's cottage, but did not notice her at Margaret Blunt's party (Chapter 8; 45).

Wansbarra, Amos (Grandfather Wansbarra) - Mrs. Frederick's father; Valancy's maternal grandfather. Grandfather Wansbarra chose Valancy's name for her (Chapter 3; 15-16). The Stirling family thinks he was strange, and Amelia Stirling admits her father was "peculiar...but his mind was never affected." Uncle Benjamin says, "He talked all his life exactly as Valancy did today...And he believed he was his own great-grandfather born again. I heard him say it. Don't tell me that a man who believes a thing like that was ever in his right senses" (Chapter 11; 68). When Uncle Benjamin says that Valancy is acting like her Grandfather, she takes it as a compliment because, "He was one of the few human beings I have known—almost the only one" (Chapter 13; 72).

Created February 14, 2000. Re-posted online June 6, 2022. Last updated September 15, 2023.
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