teacher (school); writer; public relations officer
charitable work; Director of Canadian Chautauquas
Born in Gresham, Oregon, Frances Shelley Johnson (1902-1982) never gave up her American citizenship although she spent the majority of her life in Canada. After the end of her parents' brief marriage, Frances and at least one of her two brothers seem to have not lived with either their father and his new family in Idaho, or their mother and her new family in Oregon. During adolescence, Frances moved to Saskatoon where she became a teacher at the age of seventeen. While an undergraduate at the University of Alberta, where she received her BA, she wrote her first novel, which was never published. Her first book, THE MAESTRO MURDERS (1931), led to more than two dozen mystery and romance novels. Her marriage in 1924 to Wilfred Rusk Wees (1899-1981), who taught psychology at the Camrose Normal School and served as executive vice-president of Gage Publishing Ltd., resulted in two children. In addition to her more than a dozen books, Frances published primary readers, serial fiction, articles, and poems in various periodicals, worked as a Chatauqua director during the 1920s, did public relations work in Toronto during the 1930s and 1940s, and directed the national clothing drive for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration during World War II. She travelled to China in 1959. After spending some 30 years in Stouffville, Ontario, she moved to Denman Island in 1981, where Wilfred soon passed away from a heart attack. Frances died only six months later.
Some family records list name as "Frances Shelley Almeda Johnson" Almeda being one of Frances's paternal grandmother's family names. A "Frances Johnson" shows up on the 1910 census in Oregon, living with Walter and Minnie Linforth, and again in 1920 with an Estella Johnson. While "Estella" is indeed one of the Johnson family names, it's not clear whether this is the same Frances Johnson.
THE MAESTRO MURDERS (1931), reissued as DETECTIVES LTD. (1933); THE MYSTERY OF THE CREEPING MAN (1931); ROMANCE ISLAND (1933); HONEYMOON MOUNTAIN (1934); IT BEGAN IN EDEN (1936); POEMS (1936); UNTRAVELLED WORLD (1936); LOST HOUSE (1938); A STAR FOR SUSAN (1940); SOMEONE CALLED MAGGIE LANE (1947); UNDER THE QUIET WATER (1949); MELODY UNHEARD (1950); UNDER THE QUIET WATER (1951); M'LORD, I AM NOT GUILTY (1954); THE KEYS OF MY PRISON (1956); THIS UNNECESSARY MURDER (1957); WHERE IS JENNY NOW? (1958); THE COUNTRY OF THE STRANGERS (1960); THE TREASURE OF ECHO VALLEY (1964); MYSTERY IN NEWFOUNDLAND (1965); THE FACELESS ENEMY (1966); THE LAST CONCUBINE (1970); THE MYSTERY OF THE SECRET TUNNEL (1977); MYSTERY OF THE SECRET TUNNEL (1994)
CANADIAN AUTHOR; CANADIAN HOME JOURNAL; CHATELAINE; LADIES' HOME JOURNAL; MAYFAIR; SATURDAY NIGHT; STAR WEEKLY; WOMEN'S HOME COMPANION; ALTON EVENING TELEGRAM; THE EMPORIA DAILY GAZETTE
Canadian Authors Association
Ralph Eaton Johnson
Life dates of father
23 May 1880, Mount Pleasant, Barry, Michigan - 7 January 1959, Portland, Oregon; m. 1901 to Shelley, 1908 to Ida Brown, 1955 to Mabel Cyr
employed by Oregon department of agriculture, grain division
Roseanna Emily Shelly
Life dates of mother
6 June 1873, Katrine, Ontario - 1949, Portland, Oregon; m. 1901 to Johnson, 1910 to Swan Rhymer
Dr. Wilfred ("Wilf") Rusk Wees
Life dates of spouse 1
24 November 1899, Bracebridge, Muskoka District, Ontario - May 1981, Denman Island, British Columbia
Spouse 1 note
executive vice-president, W.J Gage & Company Publishing; educator; faculty member at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto; author of educational books
Marriage 1 date
Marriage 1 place
Children's names and dates
Margarita Josephine Smith ("Dargee") (-), m. Wallie Wallace;
Timothy John (6 April 1944 - 20 March 2009), m. Danni Crenna, Janet Minuk
FEMINIST COMPANION TO LITERATURE IN ENGLISH (1990); Canadian Crime Fiction; 1910 United States Federal Census; 1920 United States Federal Census; special thanks to David Wees for family contributions
Watters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), pp. 208, 415
Frances Shelley Wees papers, Boston University Library; correspondence with William Chapman, Chapman papers, University of Waterloo Library.
Line drawing by Una Vernelli (Vancouver, British Columbia).