The entire world can change in 100 years, and Barbara's life is testament to that.
Born to a Scottish father and an English mother, Barbara entered the world on 17 October, 1876. Queen Victoria was halfway through her reign, Benjamin Disraeli was Prime Minister, and the telephone had just been patented. Her father, David, was a tailor who had, for unknown reasons, immigrated to England before meeting her mother, Margaret, and the two married in 1861, eventually going on to have 8 children.
Not a lot is known about Barbara's early life, but we can assume, based on what we know of David and Margaret's family history, that she was educated, and learned at least a little about her father's trade.
In 1910, when she was 34 and yet to marry, Barbara moved to Canada, alone, for reasons I've still not uncovered. Both of her parents died in 1909, which may have triggered a desire for a major change, but I've thus far not found any reason that Canada specifically would have interested her. In any case, she arrived in Vancouver in 1910, and was in Lethbridge (which would become my own hometown) by 1911. Rumour has it that she met her future husband, Charles Harding, on the ship from England to Canada, and upon becoming engaged, she abandoned British Columbia for Alberta (if only Charles had abandoned Alberta instead, I may have grown up never knowing that -30 is a thing).
Wilfred Laurier was Prime Minister. The Royal Canadian Navy had just been formed. Cars had recently become accessible to the common public. Charles, 10 years Barbara's senior and having been married and widowed, brought five children into his new marriage, the eldest of whom was only 9 years younger than Barbara herself. I often wonder about their family dynamic - did the older kids resent having a step-mother so close in age to them, or did they enjoy having a step-mother they could perhaps relate to? In any case, their family began to grow in 1912 when, at 35, she had her first child, Margaret. Over the next five years, two more children were born - Mavis in 1914, and my grandfather, Frederick, in 1917 - and the family settled permanently on the same block as two of Charles' sisters and their families.
Barbara was deeply involved with the Pentecostal Church in Lethbridge, particularly after Charles' passing in 1929. She often served as the Sunday school teacher, and was given the nickname "Grandma" by church members. She apparently had a tough side as well, as her name appears several times in the Lethbridge Herald in regards to the school board wanting to buy her property and her countering with "excessive" offers (which they eventually accepted).
When WWII - the fourth of six major wars she would see in her lifetime - began, Barbara became involved in community efforts to send care packages to England, earning yet another mention in the Herald when an Essex resident who once lived in Lethbridge sent a note of thanks to Barbara and another woman.
When Barbara turned 100 in 1976, the first mobile phones were being released, Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister, and the Mach 2 Concorde had just entered service. She had outlived all of her siblings, four of her five step-children, her son, and her grandson. She lived through 6 English monarchs, 15 Canadian Prime Ministers, 6 major wars, and the Great Depression. She saw the first patented telephone and the first mobile phone, the first mass-market automobile and the first jet planes, the first commercial typewriters and the first computers. Her life covered a major period of development and advancement, and on a more personal level, both great tragedy and joy.
Barbara passed away on 7 January, 1977, and is buried near Charles in Lethbridge, Alberta.