“The Collection […] belonged to people I knew, and most of these people knew each other […]
They are all together now telling a story of people who lived in Quebec in the 19th and 20th centuries.”
– Mary Hilda Freeland Stephens, My Quebec Collection (4)

Most of the items in this exhibit were donated by Mary Hilda Freeland Stephens (1911–1999).

Hilda, as people called her, knew Quebec City’s English-speaking community well, particularly the people who gravitated around what is now the Morrin Centre. She writes: “My earliest memories of Quebec City are around The Manse, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the Kirk Hall, and Morrin College.” Her grandfather, Andrew Tannahill Love, was the minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian church and a former principal of Morrin College. She would often accompany him on house calls, encountering the families of the English-speaking community. Later in life, she collected treasured objects and stories from many of the same families she had visited as a child.

Hilda studied art at the École des Beaux Arts de Montréal before completing a teaching diploma at Macdonald College. After graduation, she taught in various schools throughout the country. In 1955, following the early death of her husband (John Stephens), Hilda moved back to Quebec City and joined the staff at Quebec High School. She became Director of Art of the city’s Protestant schools.

Upon her retirement in 1968, she pursued her interest in art and built up a large collection of antique china and toys. In 1981, she published The Old Gentleman Stood to Pray, an anecdotal history of St. Andrew’s church. She later wrote The Story of My Quebec Collection, which tells the story of the objects in the collection showcased here. Hilda remained in Quebec City until her death in 1999, and she is buried with her husband at Mount Hermon Cemetery.