...eldest of seven children of Robert Henry Flaherty and the former Susan Klockner. His father was the son of an Irish Protestant immigrant; his mother was of German Catholic descent. She was an intensely devout woman, and Flaherty's brother David said of her that though she "didn't know about music and such things, as my father did . . . she loved people dearly and had a great and deep compassion."From: Paul Rotha, Robert J. Flaherty: A Biography, University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, 1983 (http://nimbus.temple.edu/~jruby/wava/Flaherty/chap1.html), page 8:
Robert Flaherty was born in 1884. He was the eldest of seven children in the family of Robert Henry Flaherty and Susan Kloeckner. Robert Henry's father had emigrated from Ireland by way of Quebec in the midnineteenth century. Both father and son were Irish Protestants. Susan Kloeckner was a German Catholic from Koblenz.From Rotha, pages 308-309 (in Appendix II: Some Flaherty Stories):
Once, many years ago, I got aboard a P & C ship in Tahiti bound north from Australia to 'Frisco, and I was given a seat at the Captain's table... introduced to me [was] Lady Wolsey... she looked at me and said, "Are you an American?" I said, "Yes, Lady Wolsey, I am." "Oh," she said, "I don't like Americans."
After that pleasing introduction, we got on with our soup. The soup plates were taken away and another course came in; and up went her lorgnettes--more microscopically this time--and then she said, "Don't tell me you're a Catholic too?"
By this time I fairly frowned at her as I said, "Look, Lady Wolsey, as a matter of fact I'm half-Canadian, half-American; my mother was a devout Catholic and my father was an Irish Protestant." Lady Wolsey had nothing more to say.