Nancy M. Lee

By: Nancy M. Lee

 Nancy Lee in interview with Thy Phu at the ROM. (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

Nancy Lee in interview with Thy Phu at the ROM. (Photo: C. Barreto, 2017)

Nancy Lee, a proud mother of six, and a grandmother of three, was born and raised in Toronto. For the last fourteen years she has resided in Barrie, Ontario with her husband Doug.

Over twenty-three years ago, Nancy began the long search to uncover her black ancestry.  As a woman of colour, and from an inter-racial family, Nancy always had deep connections to her African-American, and African-Canadian roots and familial connections. Her mother Nancy Stubbs was born in Carlisle, England and migrated to Canada via steamship in 1926 at the age of six. Her father, Norman ‘Diddy’ Henry Lee, was a multigeneration Canadian of Afro-Canadian and Caucasian heritage. Diddy often shared fond memories of his maternal grandmother, ‘Grammy Miller,’ with his family and from a young age, influenced Nancy’s drive to understand the woman who had left such an indelible mark on Diddy. Without even knowing her great-grandmother’s given or maiden names, Nancy started her journey to finding her black roots and uncovering where she came from.

Through her research Nancy discovered direct ancestral connections going back five generations in the Grey County area of northern Ontario. Her genealogical journey also took her to southwestern Ontario and back again to her hometown of Toronto. Nancy, eventually, was able to tell the story of not only her Dad’s grandmother, Grammy Miller (Fannie Jane Buckner), but that of Fannie’s daughters as well, whom she now affectionately refers to as the ‘Miller Girls’.

During her interview Nancy shared turn of the century ancestral photos including those of the ‘Miller Girls’, ‘Grammy Miller’ and Fannie’s mother-in-law Margaret Deadman-Miller-Bird. Nancy also talked about her journey to discover her black heritage and how the strength and fortitude of her ancestors have left their mark on her life, and that of her children.

 Norman H. Lee (Diddy) and Frank Newton Lee Jr. (Newtie), on a pony near St. Patrick Street. Around 1920. Unknown Photographer. Toronto, Ontario. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Nancy M. Lee. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Royal Ontario Museum. 2018.31.2. (Photo: 2017 © ROM)

Norman H. Lee (Diddy) and Frank Newton Lee Jr. (Newtie), on a pony near St. Patrick Street. Around 1920. Unknown Photographer. Toronto, Ontario. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Nancy M. Lee. Courtesy of The Family Camera Network and the Royal Ontario Museum. 2018.31.2. (Photo: 2017 © ROM)


Nancy's photos and their stories can be accessed in The Family Camera Network public archive at the Royal Ontario Museum and in the ROM's online collections.