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February 28, 2014

1919 Letter from Canada Surfaces in Old Trunk in Australia

1919 Letter from Canada Surfaces in  Old Trunk in Australia
An old trunk in Australia held a small treasure - a letter written November 15, 1919 in Vulcan Alberta Canada. Victoria Collier wrote the letter on stationary of the Vulcan Supply Co. and addressed it to a Miss Scholz. 

The letterhead provides 3 names in its business header, one being G. C. Collier. In the first paragraph the writer talks about welcoming the boys home [back from the war] and adds "Geoff has his four brothers home now. One was killed and one sent to Siberia."

The letter gives a fascinating peek into post-war times in the small town. It also provides terrific clues to the families, providing tiny entries such as these:

"My sister Mabel is well and talks of coming out to see me..."
"Aunt Julia in England... is 85 next birthday..."

A genealogist can't let those clues go, can they? You guessed it, I had to investigate to see if I could turn up anything more on the families!

In 1911 the Collier family was living in Medicine Hat, Alberta. They are recorded as:
  • Goffrey, 22, harness maker born England
  • Violet, 21
  • Walter, brother, 20, salesman for stoves, born England
The 1916 census for Alberta reveals that Guthrie [sic] Collier, 27, his wife Violet, 26 and two sons Russell (4) and Albert (10 months) were living in Lethbridge Alberta. Guthrie was born in England and shows his immigration year as 1907. Violet was born in Tasmania and gives her immigration year as 1910.[ ]

By 1921 the family was living in Bow River Alberta and were listed as:
  • Joseph [sic], 33 born England, harness maker, owns his own shop, immigrated 1907
  • Violet, 31 born Tasmania, immigrated 1911
  • Russell, 9, born Alberta
  • Albert, 5, born Alberta
  • Ruby, 3, born Alberta 

The Lethbridge Herald of July 04, 1940 - Page 8 reveals that Godfrey's mother was visiting the family. I found evidence that she died in 1943 and is buried in Lethbridge Alberta

Searching in U.K. records found Godfrey as a young man in 1901 with his family in Dorset. His parents were William, born Buckland Newton, Dorset, and Emily Collier born
Piddletrenthide, Dorset. Their children were Charles E. 16, Harry J. 14, Godfrey C. 12, Walter G. 10, Horace A. 7, Sydney L 4 and William W. 2 [ ]

British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
According to online ships passenger lists on , 19 year old Godfrey arrived in Canada on
25 Mar 1908 on board the Empress of Ireland

Godfrey's brother Horace enlisted in the British Army in WW1 and was killed 13 October 1914. He was a Lance Corporal in the Dorsetshire Regiment.

Further research found Violet and Geoff's graves in Vulcan Cemetery, Vulcan Alberta.

Violet Nora Collier

Godfrey Cyril Collier

Finding Violet's middle name on her grave marker allowed me to find her and her sister Mabel (mentioned in Violet's letter) and their parents. Violet was born in 1890 in Frankford Tasmania to Alfred Boucher Welch and Albertina Bugg. Her sisters Mabel Dora were born in 1884 and Florence Kate in 1886. []

Violet's father Alfred Welch was from Surrey England. He and Albertina applied for land in Tasmania in 1882.  The record states that Alfred was 21 and Albertina was 25 and they had recently arrived on the SS. Garanne or Garonne [Tasmania, Australia, Land Applications and Warrants, 1868-1887] The Garonne arrived in Sydney from London England on 10 November 1882.

20 year old Violet arrived in British Columbia Canada from Sydney Australia on 21 September 1910 on board the Marama. [Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935]
Read Newly found First World War-era letter from Alberta woman a window through time to early 20th century for the complete story. You can also download the entire letter in .PDF format

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