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April 3, 2014

52 Ancestors: Charles Fuller, an Ordinary Man But Loved by All

Charles Fuller in The Buffs, Ramsgate Kent England
I'm writing about my grandfather Charles Henry Fuller as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 

I never knew my grandfather. He died in Guelph Ontario in 1941 at the age of 48. I do have many photos of Charles and heard many stories about him from my mother, her sisters and my grandmother Ruth. 

Charles was born and grew up in Ramsgate, a seaside town in Kent England. It was there he met my grandmother Ruth. I don't know much about his life in England although I have  photos of him as a young teen still living in Ramsgate.

As a young lad he joined The Buffs and was sent to ride along the coast on his bicycle watching for invading Germans. 

When Charles was 19 years old he and his fiance Ruth decided to come to Canada. On May 29, 1913  Charles Fuller and Ruth Simpson sailed on the Cunard Line ship Ausonia from Southampton to Montreal then Quebec, Canada. The ship arrived in Quebec on 9 June at 8:10 p.m. My grandmother often spoke of this journey with loathing. She was terrified of the water and the trip was something she never wanted to do again.

1914 Wedding Charles Fuller & Ruth Simpson
One year later in August 1914, Charles and Ruth were married in Toronto. Shortly afterwards they moved to Guelph where Charles obtained a position as bookkeeper in the Guelph Lumber Company. It didn't take long before he was promoted to manager. 

Apparently my grandfather had a wonderful singing voice and used to sing in the church choir as well as entertain on stage in amatuer vaudeville performances.  My aunt, his daughter, remembers the Sunday afternoons when her dad would entertain the neighbours and his family at the piano.

Charles in Blackface
Although it is certainly not appropriate in today's world, his forte was singing in blackface, much as the singer Al Jolsen had done.  This was a popular way to entertain in the 1920s. And Grandpa was certainly not a bigot, he respected everyone.

Charles was by all accounts, extremely kind-heared. He would help anyone and often brought strangers home for dinner. His wife, my grandmother, was used to having Charles walk in the door from work with one or two down-on-their luck men he'd spotted on the street. No one was turned away from their table and Grandma always found a way to stretch the meal to accomodate. 

WW1 had not seen Charles enlist because as the manager of the lumber company he was needed at home. Since he had been active in The Buffs in England I am sure he was disappointed at not being able to join in the fight. 

And so Charles lived out his short life, not having done anything particularly outstanding, but a kind decent man who was loved by family and friends. His mother adored him and in fact his parents left England, bought a house beside Charles and Ruth and planned to live out their lives in Guelph. Eventually they were so homesick for Ramsgate that they returned but that is how much his mother missed him. As an aside, she and  her daughter-in-law (my grandmother) did not get along and I'm willing to bet the years when they lived next door were a struggle for Ruth. 

Grandpa Charles fell ill sometime in 1940 and doctors could not determine what was wrong. After a year of pain and fatigue he died in the Guelph Hospital. My grandmother never got over his death and even though she married two more times during her life, she always spoke of "Charlie" and how much she missed him. In some strange ironic twist of fate and genetics, Charles youngest brother is still alive at the age of 102. 


1 comment:

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

Wonderful story about your grandfather. How great that he would bring folks home to dinner, folks who needed a meal. How many of us would do that now? I admit that I have given money or food but not brought someone into my house. Your Gramps was special.