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Riis, Stella E. (Eugenie) Asling

Main entryRiis, Stella E. (Eugenie) Asling
Birth placeSimcoe, Ontario
Birth date4 October 1869
Death placeCanada
Death date1957
Birth nameHistella Eugenia Asling
Married nameRiis
Marital statusmarried
Religious affiliationPresbyterian
BiographyUpon marrying contractor Andreas ("Andrew") Riis (1869-1936) in 1906, Stella Eugenia Asling (1869-1957) moved from Ontario to New York State where she was active in the cultural life of Richmond Hill and the Women's Christian Temperence Union. When not hosting relatives at the couple's summer home at Honey Harbor in Georgian Bay, Ontario, Stella spent time researching and sorting out the details of her ancestors, whose first North American residences had included Schenectady, New York, the state of Vermont, and Blenheim, Ontario. Stella also kept abreast of contemporary issues, and on more than one occasion shared her sharp-tongued opinions through letters to the NEW YORK TIMES. In 1918, she indignantly criticised journalist William Bayard Hale's shifting political portrayals and dismissal of the New York Authors' League. Two years later, she rebutted zealous Americanization proponents who were wrongfully categorizing Swedes, Danes and Norwegians as "unsaved heathen," when they had, she felt, been those who had "saved Protestantism." Deeply affected by her husband's Danish cultural heritage, Stella was the historian and archivist of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, through which she explored his lineage in addition to corresponding frequently with relatives connected to her own family. Despite these wide-reaching interests, her published works reflect her own experience in the Ontario settings of her childhood. THE GREAT FRESH SEA (1931) is an historical novel based on the Huron conquest of the Iroquois near the town of Midland where she spent some of her girlhood and resulted in being given the Huron name "Be-daw-bun-o-kwe" or Lady of the Dawn. Widowed in 1936, Stella sold both her New York and vacation homes and moved back to Canada. She drew on her Loyalist descent in her last novel, STAR OVER FLUSHING (1939), which reconstructs the emotional and physical trials of her ancestors as they abandoned their homes during the American Revolution to settle in the British colonies that became Canada.
ResidencesSimcoe, Ontario (1869-); Barrie, Ontario (1871); Stayner, Ontario (1878); Midland, Ontario (1880); Hamilton, Ontario (1901-1906); Queen's, New York (1906-1936); Drumbo, Ontario (1940)
Geographic regionsSouthern Ontario; USA
Primary genresfiction
OrganizationsAuthors League (New York); Ontario Society of Authors
Father's nameCharles Wesley Asling
Life dates of father19 December 1843, Reach Township, Ontario - 15 July 1919, Hamilton, Ontario; m. 1866
Father's notemachinist; carpenter; cabinet maker; millwright
Mother's nameMary Isabella Morrow
Life dates of mother6 October 1846, Ashburn Township, Ontario - 3 May 1913, Hamilton, Ontario; m. 1866
Spouse 1Andreas Jensen Riis (anglicized to Andrew Jenson Riis)
Life dates of spouse 128 February 1869, Nykker, Bornholm, Denmark - 16 February 1936, Queens, New York
Spouse 1 notebuilding contractor, responsible for construction of dozens of homes in Richmond Hill, New York; with first wife, Marie, produced two children; committed suicide for unknown reasons
Marriage 1 date10 October 1906
Marriage 1 placeHamilton, Ontario
Children number2 step-children
Children's names and datesEdward J (1895-); Arthur A (1902-1968)
Biographical referencesletters, private collection of Sharon Haggerty; 1871 Census of Canada; 1881 Census of Canada; 1891 Census of Canada; 1901 Census of Canada; 1910 United States Federal Census; 1920 United States Federal Census; 1930 United States Federal Census; Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913; Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), p. 374
Research referencescomplete
Image credits"Stella E. Asling." Image from The Canadian Magazine 22.4 (February 1904): 381.
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.