You may have heard of renowned Canterbury watercolour painter Margaret Olrog Stoddart (1865-1934), but perhaps not her father Mark Pringle Stoddart (1819-1885).
Mark Pringle Stoddart, his wife Anna Barbara and children in the garden of Stoddart Cottage 10 March 1871. Image: 1991.113.3 M P Stoddart Collection. Dr A C Barker photograph
Mark came to New Zealand from Sydney with a ship full of sheep in January1851. He first tried to tame the harsh landscape farming at Rakaia Gorge before “howling, bellowing, horrid” nor’west gusts drove him off. He then set up a farm in North Canterbury naming it Glenmark Station.This didn’t suit him either, so at last in about 1853 he settled in Diamond Harbour. He had finally found his paradise.
He built Stoddart Cottage about 1856 from a “kitset” imported from Australia and set forth farming, buying up blocks of land (including Quail Island) and eating home-grown strawberries. Later he married and along came Margaret and other children and the family moved into the grand Godley House.
The small cottage Mark built still stands. It has recently been restored after earthquake damage by the hard work of the Stoddart Cottage Trust and Friends of Stoddart Cottage and is open to visitors throughout May on weekends, between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm, for those wanting to experience Mark’s little slice of paradise.
Frances Husband, Collections Technician