Mary Smith, Historic St. Marys
The holiday season means special music — concerts in schools, churches and other public venues. This week’s photograph, taken in the 1940s, features two of this community’s many wonderful music leaders in rehearsal in the auditorium of the St. Marys Town Hall for such an event: Marjorie Lofft is on violin and Edith McArthur at the piano.
Marjorie Moyer moved to St. Marys when she married Fred Lofft, second generation owner of a successful men’s clothing store on Queen Street. Fred and Marjorie shared a love of music. Both were violinists and Marjorie made use of her training and experience. She taught violin and piano to decades of students and gave many young musicians an excellent start in performance and theory.
She shared her own talent, performing in the St. Marys United Church and many other venues until she died in 1990, aged 85.
Edith McArthur was a pianist and organist. She is most widely remembered as the music teacher, first in rural schools in the area and then for many years in St. Marys public schools. Edith Kirkby was born in December 1899 on a farm in Blanshard Township and recalled a happy childhood with friends and family. She showed musical ability early, becoming organist for a church in Granton when she was still a teenager. Soon after, she was hired to teach music in one-room schools in Blanshard. She married John McArthur in 1931 and moved to St. Marys and to a new position as elementary school music teacher. In 1933, she became organist in the Presbyterian Church, a position that she held until 1985. In June 1984, the church held an appreciation day in her honour with hundreds attending a special morning service and an afternoon of music and fellowship. Edith McArthur died in April 1999 in her 100th year.
Marjorie Lofft and Edith McArthur were neighbours, living on opposite sides of King Street near Elgin. Through the decades, they played together in many community instrumental groups with other local musicians. They are both remembered for their great patience as music instructors. Not all students were as willing or as able as others but both were teachers with the skill and experience to bring out the best in their students.
St. Marys children have been fortunate to have had a series of remarkable music instructors. As adults, many of us remember each Christmas how we first learned the words and music to the wonderful carols and songs and the great pleasure that came from performing them well.