Catharine (Cassie) Welland Merritt was born in 1866, the oldest daughter of Jedediah Prendergast Merritt and Emily Alexandrina Prescott Merritt. She had 7 siblings.
Catharine lived most of her life in her family home in St. Catharines but had also spent a great deal of time travelling across Canada and throughout Europe. She was often promoting patriotic projects with the goal in mind of strengthening ties between Canada and Britain.
It is said that Catharine narrowly escaped becoming a prisoner of war in Germany when war broke out in 1914. However when she returned home to Canada, a letter awaiting her enlisted her as the head of one of the Queen’s projects in Canada. Catharine became the founder of the Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild of Canada. She also turned her family home into a hospital for soldiers. She also enjoyed art and completed several water colour paintings.
In 1927 Catharine married Sir Henry Pellatt who was a financier famed for his role in bringing hydro-electricity to Toronto and for owning the large chateau in Toronto known as Casa Loma. He had only lived for 10 years in the castle because he lost most of his fortune. Catharine and Henry had been childhood friends however Pellat had been married previously. It was not until Pellat was 67, 3 years after his first wife died that he married Catharine Welland Merritt.
In 1928, Catharine completed a project that she had worked on for many years; the raising of a large monument in St. Catharines in honour of her grandfather the Honourable William Hamilton Merritt (1793-1862). The monument is located on the corner of St. Paul Street West and McQuire Streets. It was unveiled in December 1928.
Catharine Welland Merritt had no children.
In Spring of 1929, Catharine became very ill. She spent the last six months of her life in the home she shared with her husband at 78 Crescent Road in Rosedale.
This series is written and compiled by Alicia Floyd, Collections Technician – Archival at the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre