Flora MacDonald Merrill Denison was born during a raging snowstorm in a logger's cabin where her mother had to take shelter. She was the sixth of eight children born to George and Elizabeth MacTavish Thompson Merrill, and was the author of a rare piece of early Canadian fiction called "Mary Melville, The Psychic" which she penned in 1900. This book of thinly veiled book of fiction was described the bizarre life and death of her older sister Mary.
Flora came from a wealthy family, but after owing to extensive real estate holdings, Flora's mother became destitute. Her father George left the family to secure a teaching position, but after arriving discovered that the position was fraudulent. After this ordeal, George turned to alcohol which let to further difficulties and unsettlement with the Merrill family. Unable to find suitable employment, Flora's father turned to alcohol. The following years in Flora's life were difficult and unsettled.
It was during this time that Flora experienced the dramatic events that led to her penning the book, "Mary Melville, The Psychic". Flora's sister Mary was twelve years old when the family lived north of the railway bridge on North Front Street in Belleville, Ontario. It was during this time that a pine chair followed her around the home, and answered questions by tapping its leg. This was the beginning of Mary's development of her abilities. When in her twenties, May died of convulsions in bed at her father's home. There were reports telling that even though she was not breathing - Mary had a faint heart beat. The doctor's of the time debated Mary's death, and kept the body for days after death. One opinion stated that the cause of death was "cataleptic fit which threw the patient into a trance, in which she died". Did Mary die on April 8, 1880, or was she in a trance state? As of today, there is no existing record of Mary's death, and no marked grave in local graveyards. But after that date, Flora MacDonald Dennison reported that her sister Mary appeared before her as a bright light.