Guelph's Sweet-Voiced Singer -- Maud Stevenson Pentelow
Publication Date: 1965
Over half a century ago a talented singer who was known to audiences across the continent, Maud Stevenson is all but forgotten today. A daughter of one of Guelph’s early mayors, William Stevenson, she belonged to a family that exemplified the spirit of their times with strong ties and devotion to each other.
Miss Stevenson was a handsome girl and the youngest of six daughters named Miriam, Belva, Laura, Carrie and Clara. There was one brother, the Rev. E. B. Stevenson.
Their home was 'Maple-Bank', an attractive house that still stands on the north-west corner of Grange and Stevenson Streets, the latter street getting its name from the outstanding family.
The girls were all musical and the family were at different times connected with the Norfolk Methodist (now United) Church, Dublin Street Methodist (now United) Church, Knox Presbyterian Church and St. Andrew’s Church, singing in the choirs at different times.
The Toronto Globe of November 4, 1899, carries an account of Miss Stevenson and mentions that she is known from coast to coast across Canada for her concert work. Also in London, England, she received flattering comments on the tone and quality of her voice as well as the keen dramatic instinct she possessed. She was, it said, able to sing with equal ease, the most difficult classical selections, and Scottish ballads. Her soprano voice had a magnificent range and sweetness. She was called 'Guelph’s sweet-voiced singer.'
All the Stevenson daughters were married from the family home, 'Maple-Bank.' When one sister, Clara, was married, Maud Stevenson played the wedding march and their brother the Rev. E. B. Stevenson performed the ceremony, making it strictly a family affair.
An old newspaper clipping, bearing no date, features a sketch of Miss Stevenson after she had long been married and was Mrs. William Mitchner Pentelow. She was the 'Personality of the Week', for in her later years she took a great interest in the work of the Human Society in Guelph. She brought in, so the account reads, the most 'signed' membership cards. Each year her cards numbered hundreds. It was impossible, so the piece reads, “To gauge the number of miles Mrs. Pentelow walked or the number of hours she has given to accomplish her task.”
Today, a photograph hangs in the office of the Humane Society in Guelph, a small but significant honor.
William Stevenson was mayor of Guelph in 1885 and again in 1886. He was born in a tiny village in England named, quaintly, 'Thurmpton.' It is said to be close to the old home of Lord Byron. The house of his birth, very old even when Mr. Stevenson was born, is described as being of red brick and having a plate set into the side with the date of its erection.
He married Isabella Clark of whom little is known.
Clara, their daughter, was honored by having Clara Street named for her. She married a Mr. C. W. Harrington and years later, after being long widowed, married again. Her second husband was J. W. Lyon, who was well known as a publisher and for his connections with Sir Adam Beck in the development of hydro.
Another newspaper clipping mentions that William Stevenson greatly objected to the fine trees in the Stevenson Street section being cut down by the city. In some instances, he paid the city money to leave the trees standing. Mrs. Pentelow’s last home was at II Stuart Street, where she died in 1949, leaving one son. She was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Guelph.
A copy from “Historical Highlights
of Wellington County” by Hazel Mack.
Series #2 copyright 1956.