Saturday, 11 October 2014

Week 41 - William Duncan Milne

William Duncan Milne (1902 - 1960)

William Duncan Milne was born in Aberlour, Scotland on November 18 in 1902. This town is famous today for Walker's Shortbread and Aberlour Whisky! He was no doubt named after his mother's brother William Duncan Jamieson, who was featured in an earlier blog post. This William, called Bill, lived with his parents Alexander and Jeannie (Jane) near Keith in Banffshire until they decided to emigrate to Canada, his dad in 1904 and he with his brothers John and Alex and his mother in 1905. I can only imagine the courage that it took for young Jane Milne with all her most important possessions as well as three young boys ages 3, 5 and 7 to leave their home and family in Scotland to follow her husband to this new land of Canada. The Milnes lived in the Virden area, working for different farmers and this is where Bill's sister, my Grandmother Frances, was born in 1906. Bill would eventually have 7 siblings. In 1915 the Milnes sold out and went to Keremeos BC to pursue the life of ranching in the flats of the southern Okanagan Valley. Wikipedia says about the word "Keremeos":
The name originated from the Similkameen dialect of the Okanagan language word "Keremeyeus" meaning "creek which cuts its way through the flats" referring to Keremeos Creek which flows down from the Upper Benchlands to the Similkameen River that runs by the village. Local legend claims the name means "the meeting of the winds" and joke that the only time it's calm is when the wind blows equally from all four directions.
Milne Family in 1906 - Alex, Bill beside his dad, John, Jane holding Frances and Alex in front

Bill returned to Manitoba with his family and  began to work at the farm of Charles and Isabel Ivens in the Boss Hill area near Virden in the early 20's. Charles Ivens was from Berkshire, England and arrived in Virden in 1883 with a cousin with the same name.  This Charles was given the nickname "Colonel" and the other called "Infant" to keep them straight.  Binding Our Districts history books says Colonel Ivens became one of the most diversified and extensive farmers in the area with a large stone house, outbuildings and fruit trees and also maple and spruce. He was very involved in local politics and was Reeve from 1908 to 1940 with one year off when he went back to England.  He is credited with being the founder of Good Roads Manitoba.  Infant Ivens, his cousin, farmed for a while and later moved to Virden and later still to the West Coast.  He had a granddaughter who eventually became Mrs. Pierre Trudeau, Margaret!

In 1924, William Duncan Milne married the Colonel's daughter, Elizabeth "Mary". Both were 21 years old at that time.  They lived at NW 15-10-27 until 1946 when they moved to SW 16-10-27, the original homestead of C.E. Ivens. Bill and Mary moved to Virden in 1950.

Bill and. Mary had a daughter Jean Elizabeth and a son Charles Jeffrey.  They were a part of the Boss Hill community and their children went to the country school nearby.  Binding Our Districts history book says that "Boss Hill" was known as a landmark to the old-timers and was four and a half miles west of Virden.  In the early days it was the highest point of land in the area so it was given its name - Boss Hill.

My mom recalls Bill as her favorite uncle.  He was a farmer and a curler and Mary was a busy farm wife and community volunteer.

Bill died on August 4, 1960 and Mary on May 2, 1985 and they are buried in Rosewood Memorial Garden in Brandon, near my Grandma and Grandpa Kinnaird.

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