Wildflower sketches by Ada Hope Leeder (1896-1990), later Yarrow and Stuart Taylor

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Front cover and title page.

In the Oak Bay Archives is an old school notebook in a plain black paper cover. The stitching is good but the covers are detached and one of the front corners is missing. The acidic wood pulp paper has browned with age. The first page simply states, 'A.H.L. Began May 1909,' hand lettered in red. On the following pages are 18 watercolour specimen sketches of spring-flowering plants found in Oak Bay, accompanied by tidily-written systematic botanical descriptions and lists of species identified in April-June 1909 and March 1911.

This is the schoolgirl sketchbook of Ada Hope Leeder, archival reference Oak Bay Archives PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook.

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. First page of 'Nature Notes', Fritillary (Fritillaria) and Fritillary Butterfly.

Ada Hope Leeder, known as Hope [fn 1], was born in Warwickshire, England, in 1896 [fn 2], and came to Canada with her family in 1907/8 [fn 3]. Her father was Dr Forrest B. Leeder, who worked at the Jubilee Hospital and later practiced with Drs. Hudson and Helmcken [fn 4]. The family, which included Hope's two sisters Edith Mary Faith and Dorothy Margaret Carita, and their mother Edith Mary (nee Hope), lived at 901 Burdett, near Christ Church Cathedral. [fn 5]

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Tuberous Pea (Vicia lathyrus papilionaceae)

Hope attended St Margaret's School, and produced this notebook while a student there - she and her sister Faith (later Grant) were two of the three original pupils, and one of the founders, Margaret Barton, had been their governess. [fn 6] Two entries mention 'Summer Term', implying that it was probably a school assignment. In the spring and early summer of 1909, Ada sketched and studied wildflowers growing in Oak Bay. The last entry is dated March 31st 1911.

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Broom (Leguminosae)The sketches were painted on smaller pieces of heavier paper and glued into the notebook. Why are they so much whiter than the notebook's pages? Watercolour paper is often made of cotton rag, which is more expensive to produce but gives a better painting surface than wood pulp. A further bonus is that rag, unlike wood pulp isn't acidic, so it lasts better and longer. Interested in the history of papermaking? There's a museum for that!

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Coral Root (Orchid family)The sketches are accompanied by the common English and Latin names and detailed botanical information about each plant, probably copied from a handbook. Which book might she have used? What books of western Canadian wildflowers had been published by this time, what information was available to her? On one day in May, she identifies 86 wildflower species. Which of these species are native to the area, and which had already been imported and naturalized as 'wild flowers'? Are her identifications correct?

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. List of 86 species of 'Flowers found at Oak Bay, May 19th 1909.'So many questions. An archival item like this sketchbook can be a fascinating prompt for investigations in many fields of interest - here are just a few suggestions.

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Diagram suggesting further context questions in the areas of botany/natural history, history of education, family history, art history, local history.What happened next?

The sketchbook came to the Oak Bay Archives as a single item, and there are no other family papers here to give it context.

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Tellima, Saxifrage.However, it's usual, when carrying out archival research to contextualize an accession, to need to refer to numerous primary and secondary sources, online and in archives and libraries, and it doesn't take long to discover other sources to continue the story of Hope Leeder. It's important in historical research, especially online, to be aware of the sources of sources - how does this story lead back to documentary evidence or other *primary* (original, contemporary, created at the time) source material, and how do we know the reliability of that material?OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Wild Tiger Lily, Lilium columbianum. A few years after the last sketchbook entry, on 9 November 1915, Hope Leeder married shipbuilder Norman Yarrow (1891-1955).[fn 7] Little did Hope know when she listed wildflower species identified in June 1909...

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. List of 'Flowers found at Foul Bay, June 3rd 1909'. No. 18 is 'Yarrow.'

Thanks to society columns of the day, we have some details about the wartime wedding. On returning from honeymoon, the Yarrows lived at 948 Old Esquimalt Road, a house they called 'Fairmont'. [fn 8]

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Pyrola Asarifolia.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest... or at least, over in Oak Bay... Just about this time, Hilda Seaborne and her father Charles Seaborne were travelling from England to Oak Bay, to visit their brother and son Charles 'Dudley' Cullamore Seaborne. Hilda's friend, photographer Alice Lisle (1879-1958), accompanied them. [fn 10] Throughout 1916, the three visitors stayed with Charles Jr at the Oak Bay Boat House. Alice documented their unusual life in that extraordinary year with her camera - some of the results can be viewed via Oak Bay Archives' photo search. More about that story in an article by Barrie Moen in Tweed Magazine, Spring 2016 (starts on p.14). [fn 11]

Back to the story. Hope and Norman Yarrow had three children: John Alfred Forrest (1916-1938), Cynthia Hope (1921-2012), and Daphne Veryan (1924- ). [fn 12] In 1921, the census taker found them at home at Fairmont with their 4-year old son John. [fn 13] John died in a car accident in England in 1938, and in his memory, his parents built the Archbishop's private chapel, designed by well-known architect PL James and known as the Chapel of the Peace of God, in the precinct of Victoria's Christ Church Cathedral. [fn 14]OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Spikenard, Smilacina stellata.

We now find a photo of Hope herself in 1924, with her husband Norman Yarrow and her father Dr Forrest Leeder [fn 18]. A later photo of Hope Yarrow shows her in the driver's seat, with an unusual story about the family car! [fn 19]

During the 1930s, the Yarrow family lived in Oak Bay, at 'Edgecliffe' (925 Foul Bay Road). [fn 15] They later lived at 'Orchard Gate' (5720 Patricia Bay Highway, now 691 Donnington Place), also designed by P.L. James and built for the Yarrows in 1949 near Elk Lake. [fn 16] The BC Archives holds several photographs of this house, as well as P.L.James' papers. [fn 17]

Norman Yarrow died in 1955. In 1959 Hope married again and became Lady Stuart-Taylor; her second husband was Sir Eric Stuart-Taylor, 2nd Bt (1889-1977), who was marrying for the third time. Sir Eric's second wife had been Hope's cousin Lilian Rosamond Leeder [fn 20], and the Yarrows had entertained them at Orchard Gate in 1950 [fn 21]. Hope and Sir Eric lived at 1663 Rockland (1959) and later at 2875 Lansdowne Road, in the Uplands. [fn 22]

Ada Hope Stuart-Taylor, formerly Yarrow, nee Leeder, died in Victoria on 23 March 1990 at the age of 95. [fn 23] More than a decade later, her daughter Cynthia gave her mother's sketchbook to Oak Bay Archives.

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Scarlet Painted Cup, Castilleja coccinea. Digitized finding aids and source material make so much of archival research faster and easier, but much is still not digitized, and the digital sources rarely tell all of the available story on their own. Once online sources and secondary materials have been made use of, it's always worth contacting the archivists at relevant repositories for more information about what other related material might be in their collections.

OBA PR 240, Ada Hope Leeder sketchbook. Dog Tooth Violet Lily, Erythronium americanum.

Primary and secondary sources:

[1] The Islander, Daily Colonist Magazine, 27 August 1967. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist19670827#page/n47/mode/1up

See also 1921 Census entry [fn13, below], etc.

[2] FamilySearch.org, sourcing England & Wales Census records 1901. Retrieved from https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LL45-S3V/ada-hope-leeder-1895-1990

Ancestry.ca, sourcing England & Wales birth and marriage certificates. Retrieved from https://www.ancestry.ca/genealogy/records/ada-hope-leeder-24-8q6mkx

BC Archives, death certificate entry for Ada Hope Stuart-Taylor. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3i2MO9D (shortened link, result from http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Genealogy/)

[3] BC Archives, description of Item AAAB3917 - Faith Grant and Felicity Graham interview, 1978. Retrieved from https://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/faith-grant-and-felicity-graham-interview

[4] Ibid.

Daily Colonist (Victoria BC), 30 June 1908, p.7. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist19080630uvic/19080630#page/n6/mode/1up/search/forrest+leeder

Murphy, Herbert H. Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, B.C., 1858-1958 [1958?], p.88. Retrieved from https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/bcbooks/items/1.0379014#p126z-5r0f:leeder

[5] Henderson's Greater Victoria City Directory 1910-1911. Retrieved from https://bccd.vpl.ca/index.php/browse/title/1910-1911/Henderson%27s_Greater_Victoria_City_Directory

Victoria Heritage Foundation, Heritage Register: 1369 Rockland Avenue. Retrieved from https://victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/Rockland/Rockland1369.html

Victoria Heritage Foundation, Heritage Register: 1162 Fort Street. Retrieved from https://victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/Fernwood/Fort1162.html

[6] Victoria Daily Colonist, 24 May 1925, p.7. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist0525uvic_20#page/n6/mode/1up/search/hope+leeder

Victoria Heritage Foundation, Heritage Register: 1162 Fort Street. Retrieved from https://victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/Fernwood/Fort1162.html

Victoria Heritage Foundation, Heritage Register: 1369 Rockland Avenue. Retrieved from https://victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/Rockland/Rockland1369.html

St Margaret's School, summary institutional history. Retrieved from https://www.stmarg.ca/explore-sms/history/

Oak Bay Archives, accession documentation.

[7] University of Victoria Development Office, Norman Yarrow Scholarship in Engineering. Retrieved from https://www.uvic.ca/givingtouvic/donorbio/y/n_yarrow.php

Macfarlane, John M. 'Yarrows Shipyard: a short history.' Nauticapedia, 2002. Retrieved from https://www.nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Articles_Yarrows.php,

Bosher, JF Imperial Vancouver Island: Who Was Who, 1850-1950. p.808. See snippet previews via Google Books: https://books.google.ca/books?redir_esc=y&id=VMmZhkMzy-IC&q=yarrow#v=snippet&q=yarrow&f=false

[8] [Unknown]. “Week.” N. Victoria : “The Week” Publishing Company, Limited, 13 Nov. 1915. Original Format: Royal British Columbia Museum. British Columbia Archives. Web. 29 Sept. 2020. . Newspapers - Progress and Week – Victoria.

[Unknown]. “Week.” N. Victoria : “The Week” Publishing Company, Limited, 18 Dec. 1915. Original Format: Royal British Columbia Museum. British Columbia Archives. Web. 29 Sept. 2020. . Newspapers - Progress and Week – Victoria.

[10] Findagrave.com, entry for Alice Florence Lisle Seaborne. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/132967441/alice-florence-seaborne]

[11] TWEED Magazine, 18 March 2016. Black Press Media Group. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/blackpress/docs/i20160318115836798]

[12] thepeerage.com, entry for Ada Hope Leeder, citing Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003. Retrieved from http://www.thepeerage.com/p61537.htm

Obituary: Cynthia Hope Pinckard (Hyslop) nee Yarrow. Oak Bay News, 27 February 2012. Black Press Media Group. Retrieved from https://www.oakbaynews.com/obituaries/cynthia-hope-pinckard-hyslop-nee-yarrow/

[13] Library and Archives Canada, Census of Canada 1921. Entry for Head St and Old Esquimalt Road, including the Yarrow family at 948 Old Esquimalt. Retrieved from https://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.item/?app=Census1921&op=img&id=e002872313

[14] Daily Colonist (Victoria, BC), 5 March 1966.p.17. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist19660305#page/n16/mode/1up

Victoria Heritage Foundation, Heritage Register: 908 Vancouver Street. Retrieved from https://victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/Fairfield/Vancouver0908.html

[15] Information via Jean Sparks

District of Oak Bay Heritage Commission, Heritage Properties: 925 Foul Bay Road. Retrieved from https://www.oakbay.ca/our-community/history/heritage/heritage-sites/925-foul-bay-road

[16] Bosher, JF Imperial Vancouver Island: Who Was Who, 1850-1950. p.808

District of Saanich, Rural Saanich Local Area Plan, 2007. p.108. Retrieved from https://www.saanich.ca/assets/Community/Documents/Planning/plans/Rural_lap_web.pdf

Swannell, A. 'This is the house where Charman lives (in style).' Daily Colonist (Victoria BC), 22 September 1979. p.8. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist19790922#page/n61/mode/1up/search/norman+yarrow

[17] BC Archives, Visual Record Collection, description and image of Item D-05513, '"Orchard Gate", the Elk Lake residence of Norman A. Yarrow, Saanich; P. Leonard James, architect.' Retrieved from https://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/orchard-gate-elk-lake-residence-of-norman-yarrow-saanich-p-leonard-james-architect

BC Archives, description of Fonds PR-0714 - Percy Leonard James fonds. Retrieved from https://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/percy-leonard-james-fonds

see also:

Gill, R.G. 'James, Percy Leonard.' Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950. retrieved from http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/1538

Granville Island Publishing. Publisher's description, The Life and Times of Victoria Architect P. Leonard James by Rosemary James Cross. Retrieved from http://www.granvilleislandpublishing.com/our_titles/architecture/p_leonard_james.html

City of Victoria Archives, description of Fonds PR-0271 - Warner James Johnson Architects Planners fonds. Retrieved from https://archives.victoria.ca/warner-james-johnson-architects-planners-fonds

[18] BC Archives, image and description of Item I-61882 - Mr. and Mrs. Norman Yarrow, with Dr. Leeder, Mrs. Yarrow's father. Retrieved from https://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/mr-and-mrs-norman-yarrow-with-dr-leeder-mrs-yarrows-father

[19] Edwards, A. 'Collector Classics: Back in the family - Christopher Yarrow’s search for his grandfather’s car led to 1930 Packard Phaeton restoration.' Driving magazine, 18 December 2013. Retrieved from https://driving.ca/auto-news/news/collector-classics-back-in-the-family

[20] thepeerage.com, entry for Sir Eric Stuart-Taylor, citing Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003.

Daily Colonist (Victoria BC), 30 September 1950.p.8. https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist0950uvic_23#page/n6/mode/1up/search/lady+stuart

FamilySearch.org, entry for Forrest Bertram Leeder showing brothers Ernest Holtham Leeder (father of Lilian) and John Nott [should be N not H] Viner Leeder. Retrieved from https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LL4P-TBG/forrest-bertram-leeder-1865-1945

see also The Cardiff Times, 17 September 1910, p.10. 'Estate of £110,000: Swansea Beneficiaries.' Retrieved from https://newspapers.library.wales/view/3416164/3416174

Daily Colonist (Victoria BC), 7 June 1959, p.25. Engagement announcement for Hope Yarrow and Sir Eric Stuart-Taylor. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist19590607#page/n24/mode/1up

[21] Daily Colonist (Victoria BC), 30 September 1950.p.8. https://archive.org/stream/dailycolonist0950uvic_23#page/n6/mode/1up/search/lady+stuart

[22] Victoria and Suburban Directory 1971, at Oak Bay Archives.

Oak Bay Archives, Demolition file for 2875 Uplands Road.

BC Archives, images and descriptions for Items D-05513, D-05514, D-05515 - "Orchard Gate", (691 Donnington Place), the Elk Lake residence of Norman A. Yarrow, Saanich; P. Leonard James, architect. Retrieved from https://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/orchard-gate-elk-lake-residence-of-norman-yarrow-saanich-p-leonard-james-architect

[23] BC Archives, death certificate entry for Ada Hope Stuart-Taylor. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3i2MO9D (shortened link, result from http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Genealogy/)


- Anna Sander for Oak Bay Archives, 2020.

To cite: Sander, Anna. (2020, September). 'Wildflower sketches by Ada Hope Leeder (1896-1990)'. [Blog post]. District of Oak Bay, Archives. Retrieved from https://connect.oakbay.ca/archives/news_feed/hope-leeder.


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
<span class="translation_missing" title="translation missing: en-US.projects.blog_posts.show.load_comment_text">Load Comment Text</span>