The bright life of Lillian Mulvany

Barney and Lillian Mulvany washing clothes in front of their hotel, the Cheslatta.

Lillian Mulvany doesn’t get half the credit of her famous husband, Trygarn Pelham Lyster (Barney) Mulvany, but by all accounts, she was a remarkable person in her own right.

Born Lillian Ruth Hill, she hailed from Boulder, Colorado and her arrival here coincided with that of the railroad. Described by her husband as “a big blond woman – good looking and pretty … a very competent sort of person,” she was an accomplished singer and dancer who was reportedly well-liked by those who knew her.

Not much more is known about Lillian’s life before she arrived in Burns Lake. She clearly caught Barney’s fancy, though, because the couple married on June 23, 1914 at the Mulvany homestead on Sanctuary Lake. Because Barney was known throughout the north, newspapers as far away as Prince Rupert reported the wedding. “The bride,” stated one writer, “is charming and popular in a wide district, and Barney is complimented on winning her.”

Lillian might have come from a larger community than the one she settled in, but she was anything but a soft city girl. When Barney was still in the packing business, she ran his hotel (the Cheslatta). At first, she had help from Bob MacDonald, who (as Barney put it) did the “heavy work in connection with the hotel,” but MacDonald quit when his new wife voiced objections to his chosen occupation. After that, Lillian ran the business on her own, but often took time off to accompany her husband on packing trips into the wilderness.

She also made one long pack train trip with a group of land locators who were in the area cruising property and timber. Barney was short staffed at the time, so Lillian rode the bell (lead) mare, did the cooking for the 11-man party, and helped care for the 35 pack and saddle horses. “I paid her regular wages,” Barney later wrote. “She did a good job… She liked that kind of life… It was like a family party.”

Sadly, the Mulvanys’s time together was short. In the fall of 1921, Lillian became ill with an undisclosed ailment. Her condition quickly worsened, as described in the diary of her friend, Mrs. Mabel Hatch:

Oct. 3, 1921 – Mrs. Mulvany down sick in bed. Pretty low.

Nov. 21, 1921 – Mrs. Mulvany, she is pretty low, change for the worse.

Nov. 21, 1921 – Came to see Mrs. Mulvany but didn’t go down there, Bob (Hatch) said it might be contagious and not to take any chances.

Lillian Mulvany died at 5:45 a.m. Nov 21, 1921. Roman Catholic by faith, she was buried in the only consecrated ground in Burns Lake at the time – the Catholic cemetery traditionally used to inter the remains of First Nations people. Father Allard performed the service.

Judging from the tone of his later writings, Barney carried the sadness of her death for the remainder of his life. He never remarried.

© 2018 Michael Riis-Christianson and the Lakes District Museum Society

 

Lillian Mulvany (left) with her friend Mabel Hatch.

Just Posted

Regional District says goodbye to Houston Rural director Rob Newell

Newell passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 74

Royals fall short to Lakers in five-set nailbiter

After winning the first two sets, the Royals dropped the last three 25-22, 25-20 and 15-13

Pipeline camp workers to buy locally, TC Energy says

As preparations for TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project pick up… Continue reading

Village eyes new mass communication system

A new mass communication system might provide emergency information more easily for… Continue reading

Chamber to get electronic locks

The Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce building will soon get… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Holiday outfits on a budget

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Smudging in B.C. classroom did not affect Christian family’s faith, says school district lawyer

Lawyers make closing arguments in a Port Alberni case about the Indigenous cultural practice

Canadian Forces member charged with possessing magic mushrooms in Comox

Master Cpl. Joshua Alexander, with the 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, facing two drug related charges

Most B.C. residents, including those hit by 2018 storms, not prepared for outages: report

Create an emergency kit, BC Hydro says, and report all outages or downed lines

Study finds microplastics in all remote Arctic beluga whales tested

Lead author Rhiannon Moore says she wasn’t expecting to see so many microplastics so far north

Services needed in B.C. for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease patients: doctor, advocates

More patients are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at an earlier age

65-million-year-old triceratops fossil arrives in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a Triceratops prosus

B.C. widow sues health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Most Read