Friday, 23 June 2017

A Tale of Two Countries ...... by Norma Davis Cook ..... part two a ship journey and a new life

On board the ship, the children were confronted with sights and sounds and smells that they had never experienced before.  Seasickness was common for the first few days, but most of the travelers recovered quickly.  The chaperones assigned older children to help look after the younger ones.  Entertainment was provided by the crew members and some of the other passengers. 

SS Carthaginian, date unknown
Nearing the shores of Canada, fog set in, causing a delay in their arrival.  On June 8, 1912, the Carthaginian docked in the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia.   An official from Middlemore, Mr. George Jackson, and his wife, accompanied the children destined for New Brunswick.  Others in the group were distributed throughout Nova Scotia.

Traveling by train to Carleton County, Albert and Edward were met at the station by the couples who had applied to take them into their homes.  Mr. Jackson’s instructions had been to place these boys near each other because they were twin brothers.  Albert (Bert) went to Howard Brook with the Clendennings; Edward (Ted) was placed in the neighboring community of Carlisle with the Sharpes.  The two families were related, so it was assumed that the boys would be allowed to maintain contact with each other.

The port of Halifax, date unknown
Unfortunately, there were many long, lonely days before they ever saw one another.
Soon after his arrival in Howard Brook, Bert was taken to the little country school and dropped off for the day. Nervously opening the door, he was met by the curious stares of ten little girls, the only other students in the class.   It had been some time since the lad had even seen a girl; at the Middlemore Home back in Birmingham, the boys and girls were kept in separate wings.  Bert immediately turned around, slammed the schoolroom door and ran all the way back to the Clendennings.  Of course, they insisted on taking him to school once again and making him stay there all day.

Ted, the elder of the twins, had been born with a weaker constitution than Bert, so he was not suited for the intense physical labor of farming.  By the time he was fifteen, Ted was eager to be done with farm life.  He had run away a few times, but was always found and forced to return.
In the summer of 1916, both boys were visited by their mother’s sister, Edith, with her husband, Stephen Long.  The twins were surprised to learn that their aunt and uncle had been living in Saint John, NB but were moving back to England with their three little boys.  Edith told her nephews that, if she had only known what was happening, she would have taken them into her own home.  How different their lives might have been!

CPR station, Woodstock, NB
When Edith arrived back in England, Jane was able to receive a first-hand account of the boys’ welfare, which prompted several letters to Middlemore, pleading for the twins to be returned to their family.  Jane had gotten married to William Ayres, the butler who worked at the estate where she was a cook and they were both eager to reunite the family.  Her request was denied, due to the fact that the boys still had a few years remaining to finish their contract with the Canadian farmers.

The sending agencies for British Child Migrants generally investigated each applicant who wished to receive a child.  Inspections of the placements were scheduled every year, usually in the summer, but the child was often not available to be questioned.

Because of Jane’s anxious pleas, the inspector made sure to speak directly with Ted on his next round of visits.  It was obvious to him that the young man would be better off somewhere else, so approval was given for a transfer.

After the harvest was finished that season, Ted went to stay with Robert and Georgia Clendenning—more relatives of the couple for whom Bert worked.  It wasn’t long before the inspector received a telegram from Ted with the encouraging message that his new placement was a great improvement.  His clothes had been mended, he had new gum rubbers for his feet, and it felt like home.

One of the unexpected results of being transferred to the Clendenning home was that Ted got acquainted with their granddaughter, Dorothy, who would eventually become his wife.
Over the next few years, Ted moved from one job to another, spending some time in the United States, as well as in Montreal, Quebec, where he trained to be a mechanic.

Ted and Dorothy were married on August 11, 1928.  They lived in Connecticut during the early part of their marriage, and then returned to New Brunswick to raise a family of ten children.

© Norma Davis Cook, 2017

Location; Canada

Pictures; courtesy of Norma Davis Cook

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