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Catherine Susan Ann McNab Howe

Catherine Susan Ann McNab was the daughter of Captain John McNab of the Nova Scotia Regiment of Fencible Infantry. She was born on May 12, 1807 in St John’s, Newfoundland where her father was in command of the troops. John, his wife, Eleanor, and his children Catherine and James, moved to McNab’s island located in Halifax Harbour about 1817.

As a young woman, Susan Ann as she was commonly known, was reported to be pretty and affectionate, sang nicely and excelled at fine needlework. By 1827, she had caught the eye of Joseph Howe who it is said rowed out to the island in the evenings where they “worshipped the fireflies and the moon… under the trees”. At first, Susan Anne’s father did not approve of the brash young man but upon Joseph’s purchase of The Novascotian newspaper, he relented. Susan Ann and Joseph were married in St. Paul’s Church, Halifax on February 2, 1828. Their relationship remained strong throughout their often-chaotic marriage.

Between 1829 and 1839, Joseph and Susan Ann had 10 children, only 5 of whom lived past 21. While she preferred the role of wife and mother, as Joseph’s wife, she had many societal obligations. As the family grew, so too did Joseph’s ambitions and political activities; so much so that he was often away from home, frequently for extended periods. Fortunately, Susan Ann was an intelligent woman with sound judgment who, In her husband’s absence, not only ran his household, and family but also edited the Novascotian for which she earned the nickname “Little Editor”. 

Finances were often an issue in the Howe household and when Joseph died in 1873, she was left destitute. In 1885, government gave her a pension of $5000 in recognition of Joseph’s contribution to the province. Susan Ann died July 5, 1890 in Dartmouth and is buried with Joseph’s in Camp Hill Cemetery, Halifax.


1.              Ingram, Katie (2019). Women who shaped Halifax, Halifax Magazine, Halifax

2.         Beck, J. Murray (1972). Joseph Howe, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, University of Toronto/Universite Laval, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/howe_joseph_10E.html

3.         Parks, M.G. compiler (1985), My Dear Susan Ann: letters of Joseph Howe to his wife 1829 – 1836, Jesperson Press St. John's Newfoundland.

4.         Fenety, G.E. (1896). Life and Times of the Hon. Joseph Howe, the great Nova Scotian and ex-Lieut. Governor, E.S. Carter, St. John, New Brunswick,  pages. 68-69https://archive.org/details/cu31924028897480/page/n7/mode/2up

5.         Morning Chronicle newspaper clipping dated April, 23, 1885 entitled ‘A Graceful Act’ Sydenham Howe Nova Scotia Archives 1994-272, page 169  https://archives.novascotia.ca/howe/archives/?ID=404

6.         Morgan, Henry James (1903) Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada, Vol1, page 164, William Briggs Publisher, Toronto.https://archive.org/details/typesofcanadianw01morguoft/page/164/mode/2up

7.         Beck, J. Murray (1984). Joseph Howe 1894-1848 : Conservative Reformer, Vol 1, Pages 43-45, 
McGill-Queens University Press, Kingston/Montreal, 

8.         Marriages Nova Scotia, Government of Nova Scotia, Canada (Nova Scotia Archives), Marriage bond for Catherine. S.A. McNabb and Joseph Howe, Registration Year: 1828, Book 1800, page 5572.https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com/ItemView.aspx?ImageFile=1800-5572&Event=marriage&ID=196551

9          Find A Grave,  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/42362199/catherine-susan_ann-howe

Owner of originalSandi Inglis Corbin
Date11 Mar 2021
File nameCatherine Susan Ann McNab Howe
File Size
Linked toCatherine "Susan Ann" MCNAB

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