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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Week 10 - Alexander Milne

Alexander Milne (1876 - 1950)

Alexander Milne was born on December 14, 1876 in Botriphnie, Banffshire, Scotland. His father was John (from Week 5 of this blog) and his mother was Ann Robertson.

In the 1881 Scotish census he is living with his parents and older sister Ann and 2 younger sisters Margaret and Mary Jane in Elgin, Moray in the Gardener's Cottage at Braemorriston.

 In the census from 1891, I found an Alexander Milne living with his great uncle John Dey  69 Castle Street in Dufftown.  I can only guess he was living there while attending school at 14 years old but have not found a family connection to a Dey at this point so may have the wrong Alexander Milne. 
Wedding photo of Jane and Alex - thank you Greg
My Alex definitely married Jeannie Morrison Jamieson (aka Jane) from Week 3 of this blog on December 24, 1897 in Lodge, Mayne House, Rothiemay, Scotland when he was 21 years old. 

The 1901 Census has Alex and Jane with their 2 boys living in Auchindachy Right Side Cottage and his occupation is defined by the census taker as a "Carter Meal".  Cousin Greg and Donna Marie helped me with understanding this job was likely driving horse and wagon with barley (meal) to the rail head for the whisky trade.  Whatever it was, it did not satisfy him and word of Canada seemed irresistible. Eventually, his father, four of Alex’s six sisters and his two brothers came to Canada and settled in and around Brandon, MB with the exception of James Brown Milne who was known to be in Welland, Ontario when Alex died in 1950.

Alex immigrated to Virden, Manitoba in the spring of 1904. A large number of Scotsmen had come to the Hargrave, Pacific, and Cromer areas at the turn of the century and no doubt these were former friends of Alex and Jane.  That year he worked for a farmer and then wintered a herd of cattle for another local farmer.  In the spring of the next year, his wife Jane and three sons John, Alexander, and William followed him across the sea.  They began farming west of Virden on SW 20-10-26.  The 1906 Manitoba Census has them living on 18-10-26 with 4 children along with a John Milne (his brother likely) and WT Sinden and SF Ayers. These two men were born in England and were called servants on the census. It was taken on August 2 so they would have likely been farm labourers. The Milnes have 10 horses, 2 milk cows, 5 other cattle and 4 hogs.

In 1911, they have 6 children and live on 26-11-27. Their religion is declared as Presbyterian.  My great grandparents Alex and Jane eventually had a family of 3 girls and 5 boys. Their daughter, Frances Jeannie, my Grandma, was born March 17, 1906.
They can't be found on the Manitoba 1916 census as they had sold out and left for  East Keremeos, British Columbia where Alex got work on a ranch.  Cousin Ian recalls hearing the story from his grandfather about taking the S.S. Sicamous across the Okanhagan and being picked up by a man named Gint Cawston in his democrat buggy for the trip to their new home.  I think it would have been similar to the Elton homestead  and looking at old pictures of the area helps me imagine their life in B.C.  It would take such courage to sell everything and head into the unknown, especially with a large family and small children.  A couple of years later, the decision was made to return to Manitoba after Alex was thrown from a horse, got his foot caught in the stirrup and broke his leg badly.  

Greg's dad John was the eldest and he knows that John started his apprenticeship at Dominion Motors in Winnipeg in 1917, but not until after he had spent a year in Winnipeg, driving Street Cars for Winnipeg Electric, while attending night school for a year to get the necessary education to begin his apprenticeship. John liked the west coast and later moved back to BC to live his life there with his wife Zelma and his family of four.

The 1921 census shows them back in Manitoba at 17-11-26 with 7 children.  They finally settled on the farm in the Hargrave district on E 14-11-27. This farm was in Milne ownership until the fall of 1959 when it was sold at auction while the last Milne to farm it moved west to BC. It was on the north side of Number One Highway at Hargrave.
Alexander was an active member of the A.F. & A. M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) Lebanon  Lodge #43 serving as Master in 1930.  At the time of his death, he was a Past Master Chaplain, his obituary says.  Research has found this fraternal lodge was founded on February 1, 1888 in Virden and the club was active in laying cornerstones of schoolhouses and churches in their early days. 
He was also an active member of the St. Andrew's Society that Ida Clingan describes in her book , The Virden Story , as being formed in the area in 1888 due to the high population of Scots.  They held dances with reels, highland flings and bagpipes as well as continuing the old country traditions of games, sports - including curling, and the serving of the haggis. 
Community organizations were important to Alex and he was a director of the Virden Agricultural Society  and the Hargrave Pool Elevator.  He was also a trustee for the Hargrave School.  He was a long time secretary treasurer of the Hargrave United Church, also known as the St. Andrew's United Church pictured above, as well as an elder in it. 

 In 1947 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. my mom, their granddaughter, remembers being at this celebration where she sang a song!  Alex looks like such a jolly man in this picture.  It is taken from the history book called "Binding Our Districts" written in 1989.

His beloved wife Jeannie died in 1948 and Alexander two years later.   The obituary from which much of this biography was based was shared by Sheldon that he copied at the Archives in Winnipeg.  We named our second son Scott Alexander as a namesake of this man as well as next week's subject, but I'll keep my readers in suspense about him!

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