|Photograph of an original painting of Bishop Michael Power
The Archives has seven letters from Mary to Mick, written between 1822 and 1824 while Michael was at school. Sometimes Mary would send letters or packages with a family friend who was travelling to Montreal because she did not have enough money for postage; regardless of delivery method, she made sure to write to keep him up to date. The letters provide interesting insight into Bishop Power's early life and family.
|Addresses on letters for Michael Power
P AA04.01 (left) and P AA04.07
Even before he was born, Michael’s life course had been decided by his mother. She was a pious woman and sometimes used her letters as an opportunity to remind Mick of her promise to God.
The same year that Michael left for school, his mother had a baby and had another two years later. Being young and so far from home, it’s no wonder Michael was a bit unsure as to the exact make-up of his family.
All Mary hoped was that the family would see her dear Mick again before they died.
|Excerpt from letter dated May 27, 1822
My Dear may the Almighty God send us a happy and pleasing sight of you before our death[.] it shall be the [constant] [illegible] of your tender parents William and Mary Power.
Unfortunately, Michael did not return to Halifax until 1840, when he was 36. By that time, he was the only male left in his family; in fact, he had been so since before his ordination in August 1827. Sadly, after leaving Halifax the first time, he never saw his father or brothers again. In 1822, at just 16, Bishop Power’s brother James died of a lung inflammation. Shortly after retiring in 1824, his father died, followed by his brother John soon after. His brother William, who was a sailor like his father, died in July 1827. His mother wrote to Michael to tell him the news of James’s death in this heart-breaking letter.
|Letter dated July 20, 1824
These letters are a wonderful reminder that though the frequency and style of communication was different almost 200 years ago, a mother’s love remains very much the same. P.S. Call your mom.