Saturday, 29 November 2014

Week 48 - Alexander Milne

Alexander Milne (1900-1970)

Alexander was named for his father when he was born on November 16, 1900.  He is the third man with this name on this blog along with  his father and his uncle.  Alex was born in Aberlour, Banffshire, Scotland as was his brother William.  When he was four years old, his father made the journey overseas to Canada and his mother and two brothers, William and John, followed him the next year.  They arrived to make their living farming, first for others and later on their own land.  My Grandma, Frances was the first sister for Alexander and she came along in 1906.

Alexander is the little boy in the front in this Milne family photo from 1906. 
Margaret, Jim, Charlie and Nan followed to make him the second eldest of 8 Milne siblings.  He worked for various farmers around Elkhorn including one by the name of Hercules Wood.  He built barns including one for his parents on their farm near Hargrave and one for neighbour Tommy Kerr.

Alex married Isabel Elizabeth Nelson on December 11, 1931.  She had been born on her parents' (Hugh and Elizabeth Nelson) farm in the Wallace Municipality in October of 1909. The couple lived and farmed at first near his parents and later moved to Elkhorn in 1942. 

Alexander and Isabel's son, Hugh.

This photo shows Alex kneeling on the right, holding his son Brian.  Beside him is his daughter Fern (with the cutest pout on her face!) and behind him is Keith Kinnaird holding Alex's son, Grant.  The three on the left of the picture are Frank Kinnaird, and his two daughters Marjorie and Margaret. The picture was taken about 1940.  Aunt Marge recalls on one visit that Glen fell playing on a stone pile at the Kinnaird farm and broke his leg.  

Family of Alex and Isabel:
Hugh Alexander married Shirley
Nelson "Glen" (1934-2005) married Lorette
Fern Elizabeth
Gerald "Grant" married Lin

According to Isabel's obituary, the family moved to Winnipeg in 1950 where they raised their family of a girl and 4 boys.   Online, I have not been able to find any information about what Alex did for a living  but Aunt Marjorie remembers that he worked at Birchwood Motors.  They lived on Lipton Street in Winnipeg for many years and Fern lived with and cared for her parents.  If any readers know any more, I would love to include it.  You can comment below this post or send me an email at  

Alex died on September 30, 1970 at the age of 69.  Isabel lived 34 more years as a widow, until she died at the grand age of 100 on Juły 23 in 2010.   She was survived by 3 of her children, 13 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren.  

Friday, 21 November 2014

Week 47 - Margaret Helen Milne Grant Switzer

Margaret Helen Milne Grant Switzer (1907 - 2006)  

Frank Grant and Margaret Milne wedding day October 27,1928
Margaret Helen Milne was born on December 7, 1907 at Virden, Manitoba.  She would have been named in honour of both sides of her family as her dad had a sister Margaret (nee Milne) Chisholm in Scotland and her maternal grandmother Margaret (nee Duncan) Jamieson, had died in Chesterfield, England two years before she was born.  It would seem both these women were known as "Maggie" but this Margaret was not.  Her father had another sister in Scotland called Helen and she came to Canada the year after Margaret Helen was born.  Helen Milne Mearns Connon has an interesting and tragic story, stay tuned to this blog for that one....

On the 1911 and 1921 Canada census, Margaret can be found living with her father Alexander and mother Jeannie in the Wallace Municipality.  Sisters Frances and Nan have been featured in previous blog posts as well as brothers Charlie and William. Other Milne siblings were John, Alex and Jim.  We know the family spent a couple of years in the Keremous, BC area when Margaret was young. 

She married Francis George Penny Grant on October 27 in 1928 in Hargrave, MB. "Frank" Grant had been born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1893.

Margaret and Frank began their married life in McCreary, Manitoba engaged in farming. They moved to Winnipeg for a while and  later settled in the Gainsborough district near Portage la Prairie, MB.  Initially they farmed but later both Frank and Margaret worked at Southport, the former Candian Forces Base at Portage as did many of their neighbours.  Those were tough years in the thirties and money was hard to come by.  

Margaret Milne in the middle with her sisters - Nan on the left and Frances on the right in 1955.

Margaret raised her five children and after Southport, cooked at Portage General Hospital for several years.  She belonged to the First Presbyterian Church and was a member of the Women's Missionary Society and Ladies Evening Guild. Margaret's first husband Frank died in 1961.  She remarried to Edgar Elmer Switzer, who was born in 1912 in Steele, North Dakota,  in 1969.  He died in 1985 and she on March 25, 2006 .

Family of Frank Grant and Margaret Milne:
Her obituary says she was a great volunteer, always ready to lend a helping hand.  She loved to play cards and bingo. It also says she cared deeply for her family and loved to visit with her 13 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren before she died at age 98 in Pilot Mound, MB.  Her granddaughter Lynne (with the middle name Margaret) tells me her own daughters knew Margaret as "G.G." and enjoyed a special relationship with her.  Margaret was always upbeat and happy, no matter what came her way.  She sounds like a special lady indeed and I'm glad I got to know her through this blog post.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Week 46 - Annie Mary (Nan) Milne Clarke

Nan Milne Clarke ( 1915 - 2004)

Nan Milne and Stewart Clarke' on their wedding day in 1945
Annie Mary Milne was born on July 18, 1915  at Keremous, BC, near Cawston.  Her father Alexander Milne and mother Jeannie Jamieson had immigrated from Scotland in 1905 and 1906 respectively and after farming for a few years in the Wallace area, they sold and moved to BC to work on a ranch.  "Nan" was the younger sister of my Grandma, Frances.

The Milne family can be found on the 1921 Canadian census where she is called "Annie" and is five years old.  Her siblings are Charles (8 years old), Margaret (13), Frances (15), William (18) and Alex (20).  Her parents are 45 and 44 years old.   The census says they are farmers and renting their home on 17-11-26 W1 in the RM of Wallace.  They declare themselves to be Presbyterians.

Nan tells in the Binding Out Districts history book from 1989 that she moved to the Hargrave district with her parents in 1924 where they farmed on NE 14-11-27 and she attended Grade 3 at Hargrave School. She continued there until grade 11 after which she stayed home to help on the farm.  In her words:
I can still remember the path through our pasture I took to walk to school and to the store and post office for mail.  Then when bonspiel time came, with just one sheet of ice, sometimes I walked it two or three times a day.
Nan at back left with Sybil and Gladys O"Neil and her brothers Charlie and Jim Milne in 1933.
Sisters Frances Kinnaird, Nan Milne and their mother Jane Milne in the Milne garden near Hargrave.  Marjorie Kinnaird is in the front.  I love their polka dotted dresses and hats which Marjorie thinks likely came from the Eatons Catalogue.  This photo was taken about 1936.
In 1945 she married Stewart Clarke of Virden and they moved northeast of Virden to NE 25-10-26 until 1949 when they moved to Virden.  In 1952 they moved to NE 14-10-26 in the River Valley District.  They had a family of 2 girls and 2 boys, Morris, Lois, Sandy and Phyllis and eventually 8 grandchildren.  

Nan was very involved with the Lady Forester Lodge in Hargrave, Court Harmony No. 14 and was the first president when they organized in March of 1945. She was also a part of the Maples Society which provided many comforts to the soldiers overseas in WW2.  The name "Maples" came from the district and the elevator siding that was once 3 miles south of Virden.  After the war, they were known as the Maples Young Peoples Society and held bake sales, bazars, teas and dances to raise money for charities and local causes needing support.  She and her family were also involved in the Virden Riding Club, showing in the Virden fair, having overnight trail rides and riding in parades.

 Stewart died in 1985 and Nan passed away in 2004.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Week 45 - Alexander Milne

Alexander Milne (1848-1873)

In my 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks blog, I have previously written about my great grandfather, Alexander Milne but have recently come across an item that leads me back a generation to his namesake.  The framed cardboard card below was among a collection of items that belonged to Alexander's daughter who was my Grandma, Frances Kinnaird.

A trunk of these old keepsakes belonging to my grandparents was recently lent to me by my cousin Judy and inside was the framed memorial to Alexander Milne pictured above.  Text of the card is as follows:

In Memory of
Alexander Milne
Who died 25th July 1873
Aged 25 years
Safe in the dust the body sleeps,
Christ his blood-bought treasure keeps;
Safe the soul enraptur'd stands,
Mingling with angelic bands.
When the trump the tomb shall break,
Then the sleeping dust shall wake.
Join the pure seraphic soul,
Glorifying in redemption full.

In online research, I found that the in memoriam cards became popular in the days of Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert in 1861.  This also is where many of our modern ideas of mourning, including wearing black,originated.

I believe that this Alexander Milne appears on the Family Search website as being born on May 14, 1848 and being christened on June 11, 1848 in Keith, Banff, Scotland.  Parents are listed as Lewis Milne and Ann Brown. 

The Scotland census from 1851 shows the family of Lewis Milne (from Week 32 of this blog) age 35 and his 33 year old wife Annie Brown.  The family has 5 children listed: Helen 9 years old, Clementina 7, William 5, Margaret 1 and a three year old Alexander Milne.  They are farmers of a small piece of land at Bogbain in Keith, Banffshire, Scotland and Lewis' mother, Helen Gordon, lives with them.

On the 1861 census when Alexander would have been 13 years old, he is not listed as living with his family.  He might have been working and living somewhere else, even at such a young age by our standards today.

Searching for "Alexander Milne" after that turns out to be difficult as so many men with that name show up in that area.  It has been compared to searching for a "John Smith" !  There are a few marriages and some children born to Alexander Milnes in that area before 1873 and any of these may or may not be our Alexander! 

When this young man died in 1873 , his brother John Milne (from Week 5) chose that name for his eldest son three years later.  The memorial plaque came to Canada with my great grandfather Alex and it remained among his possessions. Aunt Marjorie remembers that it always hung on the wall in her Grannie and Grandad's house at Hargrave.  The gravemarker pictured below in Keith Cemetery, Banffshire, Scotland includes an inscription for Alexander.   Thanks to Greg and Donna Marie for this photo and the transcription below.

“Erected by William Milne, Bogbain in memory of his daughter Clementina Milne who died 16 August 1819 age 6 years and 6 months.  Also his wife Hellen Gordon who died 20 April 1858 age 85 years.  Also his son Lewis Milne who died 17 Feb 1867 age 52 years. Also his grandson Alexander Milne who died 25 July 1873 age 25 years.  Ann Brown his wife of the above Lewis Milne who died 4 April 1901 82 years.”
 Although ever knowing anymore about this Alexander Milne is not very likely, it is interesting to find out the story behind the keepsake.