In 1896, Irene visited the Westheads who owned the only
big house in the district. Apparently it was a haven to
which all the young bachelor's flocked for a social life. At
Westhead social gatherings, Irene met Walter Parlby, in whom
she recognized a kindred spirit.
An Oxford graduate with an M.A. in the classics, Walter
had spent 3 years as a tea planter in Assam, India. Thus,
Irene and he could talk of books and theatre and life in
India. Both loved the freedom of Canada and appreciated the
natural beauty of the countryside.
They were both flower
lovers too. In front of his log shack, Walter had planted
portulacca seeds and Irene, who inherited a love of
gardening from both of her parents, was quick to appreciate
They married on March 15 at the Westhead house, and when
spring came, Irene began her work on the flower garden at
Dartmoor, as the Parlby home was named. Irene was passionate
about her flower garden, believing that: "Pleasant places
make pleasant people. If you want to accomplish sweetness,
serenity, graciousness, these things must find their service
in your home life and surrounding, and no home is really
sweet or gracious or pleasant which has not some kind of
flower garden round it."
Even the cows appreciated her gardening efforts, often
raiding her plot in the evening. A piercing yell of "Cows in
the garden!" awakened Walter Parlby—on more than one
occasion—so that he might banish the marauders from Irene's
In 1899, at the age of 31, Irene returned to England for
the birth of their son Humphrey—an event that gave her an
immense sense of fulfillment: "....for after all, what
greater adventure and joy in life can any woman desire than
to watch and encourage the delicious unfolding of her
child's mind and character?"
Six years later, following a visit to his daughter's
home, Colonel Marryat moved his family to Canada, bringing
all but the two oldest boys.
House parties, dances, theatricals, and sing-songs, as
well as coyote hunts, hockey, gymkhana, and polo games made
up the social activities of the district, keeping the
Parlbys, Westheads, Marryats, and others in the community
|Video: The Reluctant Politician
||"In the spring of 1896 a young
English women named Irene Marryat made a long
journey to the frontier western Canada. Touched by
the sudden beauty of the west and its freedom, Irene
would adopt this new country as her home."