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The Elsie and “Nix” Brennan Story

The Elsie and “Nix” Brennan Story

Thursday March 7, 2024

As I am writing this, Valentine's Day is approaching so there must be a hint of love in the air to provoke me into writing this. Recently a collection of family scrapbooks made its way into our collection. One titled “The Elsie Dawson Story” caught my eye. As I was flipping through the book, I felt like I got to witness the life of Elsie Dawson. 

There were photos of her growing up at Woodlawn Farm, located at 248 Concession 2 Road. Here she grew up with her parents, at least one younger brother, Harry Dawson (who would go on to be a member of Town Council), and an aunt all under one roof. The family had a peach farm, a dog and many cats. Growing up in the 1920s, Elsie enjoyed participating in mock weddings, which I guess were all the rage in the ‘20s! Several photos show Elsie dressed as the groom. Her father taught her how to drive in a 1925 Buick Roadster, and in 1927, at the age of 16, she got her driver's license! 

It was around this time that Elsie appears to have started dating a young, local man named Nixon “Nix” Brennan. Nix begins appearing cozied up to Elsie in photographs. In the days before Valentine's Day 1928, Nix wrote a letter to Elsie that I thought was really sweet. He says: 

“….Honey, I can’t live without you. The sooner we’re married the sooner I’ll be happy. It’s my most cherished hope that some day you’ll love me like I love you now”. 

Isn’t that just so sweet?! There aren’t many letters in our collection that show this kind of love between a couple. Nixon and Elsie eventually married in Niagara-on-the-Lake on October 21, 1930.  

As I continued flipping through the pages, I saw their family grow from one to five kids. But my heart sank when I saw that Nixon enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII.

Fortunately, his hearing wasn't what it should be for a special radio operator, so he was discharged from active duty. He eventually enlisted as a Civil Security Police Officer. 

“Nix” went on to work for the family business, publishing the Niagara Advance, and it appears that Elsie became a business partner.  They eventually moved from NOTL to St. Catharines.   

Family scrapbooks are a great social history resource and occasionally you get some great stories from their pages.