Maxwells of Montreal, Vol. 1
The early years 1870 – 1922
Beginning with their childhood years, this is the story of May Bolles and Sutherland Maxwell; their youth, their meeting and courtship in Paris; their marriage; their first pilgrimages; the birth of their daughter and the historic visit of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to their home in Montreal in 1912.
One family, bonded in their love for the Bahá'í Faith and for each other, committed through decades of uninterrupted service to the promotion and establishment of that Faith worldwide. They were born during the Heroic Age of the Faith – the parents during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh, the child during the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá – and they lived to serve the Guardian of the Cause during the early decades of the Formative Age at the most critical time of his ministry.
The mother became a 'beloved handmaid and distinguished disciple' of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, of whom He wrote that 'her company uplifts and develops the soul'. The father was a noble, cultured and saintly man, an outstanding architect, not only of the Shrine of the Báb but also as a partner in the largest and most preeminent architectural firm in Canada during the first quarter of the 20th century. And the daughter grew up to play a unique role in history as the wife of the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. Their names were May Bolles, William Sutherland and Mary – the Maxwells of Montreal.
Early Years covers the years 1870–1922, beginning with the childhood years of May Bolles and Sutherland Maxwell; their youth, their meeting and courtship in Paris; their marriage and their first pilgrimages. It tells the story of the birth of their daughter and the historic visit of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to their home in Montreal just before World War I. It also describes the early development and training of young Mary, the family's activities during the war years, the reception of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, and the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá which ended the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Faith.
The book draws on over 1,600 personal letters between May, Sutherland and Mary Maxwell (Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum), together with about 1,400 letters which the three Maxwells exchanged with their relatives and some of the early Bahá'ís. It includes citations from the 195 Tablets, letters and cables from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Greatest Holy Leaf to members of the family, which have never been transcribed before. It also contains extracts from Rúhíyyih Khánum's notebooks, the memoirs of her mother, sketches made by her father, and articles and photographs related to the period.