1920s Fashion in Lethbridge

A beaded handbag that was donated to the Galt Museum & Archives.

A beaded handbag that was donated to the Galt Museum & Archives.

Mysterious medical circumstances surrounded the death of 22 year old Clara Saxon on November 15, 1924. Clara’s tragic death left her six-week old daughter, Lily Wright, to be raised by Clara’s parents in Lethbridge.

Lily’s grandparents kept a few things of their late daughter’s which eventually became part of a trunk that Lily cared for throughout her life. Lily’s daughter Kerry Wright said she remembered the under-the-stairs trunk from when she was a kid, “it was one trunk that [Mom] had always asked us not to go in”.

Kerry’s great-grandfather, Clara’s father, lived with the Wrights until Kerry was four. He was the one who shared with Kerry what was in the trunk. “[Clara’s dad] lived in the farmhouse basement, and I didn’t like that he was down there by himself so I’d sneak down there and I had Grampa John’s permission to look through that stuff but my mother didn’t know.”

As to what was shared with Kerry about her grandmother or the items, she said, “I just think that that handbag would be something that would have been a treasure because it was so intricate, and it would have cost a little bit more than what their socio-economic status was… Mom never really said anything that her grandparents had told her about Clara… maybe it was the whole abandonment thing and what that meant to her.” Kerry donated a handbag and dress from the trunk of Lily’s belongings to the Galt’s collections.

The Galt Museum & Archives has a trove of special objects with unique stories in our permanent collections just like this one. You can find out more about the objects and stories the Galt preserves at collections.galtmuseum.com.