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August 27, 2016

Meme: Immigrant Ancestors From England to Canada

There is a lot of discussion about immigration in America right now. Tempers have flared, and different groups hold various strong opinions. There is also Brexit, where immigration was a large focus of the recent vote which resulted in the U.K. leaving the E.U.

I've been following this for several months and it occurs to me that those of us in Canada, America, and Australia have immigrant ancestors. Have you researched yours? Do you know who they were, why they came to your country and when? Do you know how they fared once settled in their new land? Were they welcomed? Were they shunned? Was their discrimination based on their religion or ethnic origin? These are all questions that are important, and interesting to discover. With that in mind, I'm the dedicating Saturdays (as many as needed) as the day to join me in discussing your immigrant ancestors.

Grandpa pre WW1. Kent Buffs
You will be able to read any you are interested in by using the keyword Immigrant Ancestors. I'm going to share each week what I know of my immigrant ancestors to North America (whether that is USA or Canada)

My maternal grandparents, Charles Fuller and Ruth Simpson, came from England to Canada in May 1913 on board the Cunard ship Ausonia. The ship arrived in Quebec in June and they continued on their journey to join Grandma's brother in Toronto. Grandpa was 21 and Grandma 19 and they were engaged and hoping to start a new life in Canada.

I've often thought how hard it must have been on Grandma as she was terrified of water and often told me how much she hated the voyage, how frightened she was.

A year after arriving Charles and Ruth married while still living in Toronto. Shortly afterwards they settled in Guelph Ontario where Grandpa had been offered a job as bookkeeper for the Guelph Lumber Company. Grandma was a dressmaker and the photos I have of her and her daughters show her beautiful workmanship.

I wish I'd asked Grandma more questions about those early years. World War 1 was raging and three of her brothers enlisted. Two were in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and one was in the Australian Army. Grandma must have been so worried and her only saving grace would have been the fact that Grandpa did not go to War.

Grandma always said he was denied service because he was by then the manager of the Lumber Company and needed at his job. I am not sure if that is true or if it was more that Grandma would have been hysterical if he'd signed up.


Wendy Callahan said...

These are such wonderful photographs!

I feel the same way - my most intriguing brick wall ancestor (great-great grandma Emma Anna Murphy) came from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts, but her parents supposedly were from Ireland and Scotland. She was my paternal grandmother's grandmother, and I wish I'd had the forethought to ask my grandmother more questions about her grandmother!

Teresa Eckford said...

Both of my parents immigrated to Canada from England (though my dad was Polish, events during WWII meant he ended up in the UK.) In the course of my research I discovered that two of my great-great uncles immigrated to Canada as well! So far I have no idea how they were received, though both came during the period directly preceding WWI and ended up serving in the Canadian army overseas, so I imagine they weren't completely shunned. I am in touch with descendants of them both so I hope to learn more :)

My dad died over a decade ago, but I don't recall him saying that he was the subject of too much prejudice. He had come to join his older brother, older sister, and their mother and found a job quite soon after at Northern Electric (the company that became Nortel.) At NE he met men who had all emigrated from Europe/Middle East - Scotland, England, Austria, and Turkey - they joined the company soccer team and remained lifelong friends. As such, I think their common experience somewhat shielded them from what must have been a harsher reality for some immigrants who didn't find people with whom they had a lot in common.

My mum too met people from England - she and my dad came to Canada a few months apart in 1958, but didn't meet each other until 1961. She says that she found many of the customs in Canada rather strange, and the laws around drinking very odd! For instance, on Sundays, the only way to get a drink in a bar was to also order something to eat. Apparently there was a wrapped sandwich that the bartender handed across to each person who ordered a drink - it was returned to him unwrapped and used again *g*.

Lynda Hundertmark said...

My ancestors also emmigrated from UK to Newfoundland, Canada, specifically settling on the Burin Peninsula from Burin to Carbonear. My great grandparents were all born there and I've traced several generations of aunts and uncles And grandparents back to England. On both my parents sides--Parsons and Holletts-- they originally settled in Newfoundland by eventually remaining through the winter from fishing, whaling, and sealing expeditions.