#52 Ancestors Week 3 - "Longevity"

When I think of longevity I think of Frances Marr Adaskin, who lived to be 100 years old. She was my paternal grandmother's older sister. The sisters were close, but a study in opposites. Fran was a renaissance woman. She was born in 1900. She was a scholar and teacher, a writer and an extremely gifted pianist.

She met her future husband, violinist Harry Adaskin, in 1923. She played piano to his violin on her very first engagement as a professional accompanist. The couple  formed a duo and married in 1926. They toured Canada, the USA, Great Britain and Europe and performed often for CBC radio. They were both appointed Officer of the Order of Canada, Harry in 1974. Francis received the honour on December 15, 1976 and was invested as a Member on April 29, 1777. Her award was for "a life devoted to music as an accompanist of international repute and as a soloist and teacher". 

Frances and Harry never had biological children. They adopted Gordon Adaskin, Harry's half brother, when he was five years old and raised him as their own. Although Rifke, Gordon's birth mother was still alive, she allowed the Adaskins to adopt Gordon in keeping with his father's dying wish. Gordon would grow up to be a well known visual artist and art professor.He taught in the Vancouver school system, at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, the Banff School of Fine Arts and at the University of Manitoba in the Faculty of Architecture until his retirement in 1993.

Latvian-born Violinist-Broadcaster-Writer-Raconteur Harry Adaskin and his Wife Frances Marr Adaskin in their West Coast Home

23 July 1978, printed 1982 📷 by Walter Curtin
The photo above is from the National Gallery of Canada. Auntie Fran didn't play her first solo recital until she was 75 and continued playing until shortly before her 90th birthday. She was always creating something. I think that accounts for her longevity. The last time I saw her was in 1994 while visiting my grandmother and aunt in Vancouver. We had a wonderful day. About 2 weeks after I got home, I received a two page hand written letter. I wish I still had it, but it got lost after so many moves. She was in the middle of writing her memoirs (titled "Fran's Scrapbook: A Talking Dream", which is still unpublished). In her letter she told me about what she was working on and other newsy things. At age 94 she still had perfect penmanship.

Frances Alice Marr Adaskin passed away in Vancouver on March 8, 2001. She lived to see the turn of the century. Imagine all of the changes in the world from 1900 to 2001. Two world wars, the women's suffragette movement, prohibition, bobby soxers, hippies, yippies, yuppies, rappers, the moon landing, Y2K, the internet... mind boggling, really!Some of her work is archived at the Universty of British Columbia. Here is a list of what is on file 

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