Tuesday, 28 July 2015

100 Years Ago Today

July 28, 1915

  • It was a Wednesday and the weather forecast for Winnipeg was fair and warm.
  • World War One had been raging for exactly one year and the Manitoba Free Press and Tribune listed on their front page the many local boys who were casualties, wounded or missing in action.
  • Other Headlines - Railways Prepare to Move Big Crops; Successful Fair at Regina is Promised; Portage Greets Premier Norris with Enthusiasm; Women's Reserve Corps is Formed
  • Advertisements from the Winnipeg Free Press:
Electric Fan Ad from July 28, 1915

Grafonola Ad - July 28, 1915

Eaton's Overseas Chocolates Ad from Jul;y 28, 1915

In my family, this day in history was the wedding day of my paternal grandparents, Alexander Simms and Mary Tait Sinclair.

The 1911 Census shows Alex working on the Sinclair farm north of Oak River.  The next year he took up farming himself south of the village on 10-13-22. Then on July 28 of 1915, they were married in Blanshard, likely at the home of her parents James and Elizabeth Sinclair.   There are no photos of the couple that I have seen except the one below, taken of them with their family on their 25th anniversary in 1940. 
Back row - Bob, Mary and Alex.  Middle - Doris and Gwennie  Front - Donald and Dorothy

Their legacy continues with grandchildren and great grandchildren carrying their genes and making their own contributions to the world.  

Monday, 27 July 2015

Road Trip - July 20, 2015

My cousin Rea took a group of us on a recent tour of some of the places important to our ancestors around Hargrave and Virden.  It was wonderful to see the places I've heard and wrote about during my research.

My grandparents, Frank and Frances Kinnaird lived in this home north of Hargrave.  It now sits near Lenore, facing south as it did on the farm.  It was moved several years ago and was added onto to make the beautiful farm home of the Hunter family.  Aunt Marge grew up here and recalls living in the downstairs portion of the house in the thirties and not using the second story, likely due to winter weather.  She slept in what we called the piano room at the west end with her parents and Uncle Keith was on a couch in the living room.  The window above the front door was originally coloured glass and Karen recalls a trunk with a plant on it always sat under that window.

This is the lone pine tree that marks the former farm yard of John and Christina Carruthers O'Neil, south of Hargrave.  The photo below is likely from the forties on this farm. The back of the original photo identifies May Kelly (a Carruthers connection) on top of the combine, John O'Neil with George and Ivans Reddons who were neighbours across the road.

 The O'Neil stone house is pictured above with J.J. and Christina and Frank Kinnaird to their left.

The pictures above are from a yard where my great grandparents Alexander and Jeannie Milne lived north of Hargrave. More pictures including how it looked in an aerial photo from 1959, are on a blog post about Jim Milne. The bottom left picture shows the two rows of trees that mark the location of the original lane up to the house.  Aunt Marge recalled the hollyhocks that used to grow and bloom in this yard, in the black and white photo above.

Hargrave School was the educational institution for 3 generations of the Kinnaird family along with many of their family and neighbours.  It was built in 1909 and remained in use until 1969.

The grounds are beautifully mowed and kept up as is the former stables for the school.
The bell is still in place.  Next was the short trip south to the Kinnaird farm.  I remember visiting my Grandma there in the 60's and early 70's but it seems so much bigger now. The aerial photo below dates from 1968.

Rea showed us the grain scoop that Grandpa Kinnaird would have used to move the grain before augers. He commented that it makes his back hurt just to think of all that labour to move grain from the cart to the granary.  Cousin Karen enjoyed the trip down memory lane too, recalling where Grandma lit smudges for the milk cows to keep the mosquitoes and black flies from biting.  
This is the lane looking west where the photo on the right may have been taken about 77 years later.

We had a look in Uncle Keith and Aunt Aida's former home in the farm yard.  It contains many treasures and wonderful memories!
Next on the tour was the farm home of cousin Lyle and his family, north in the Montgomery district.   This home was where Alex and Jeannie Milne lived when the 1921 census was taken.  It was later occupied by family friends Charlie and Bella Gardner and their daughter Violet, who was a special friend of Aunt Marge.  Below she is pictured on the right with Marjorie and little Margaret Kinnaird.

Rea had one more special stop to end the tour.  As we were driving along I commented about the neat hilly country ahead and his daughter Chelsey (who was in charge of the maps as our navigator) said, that's where we were going!  It was a beautiful piece of land that they call "28".  My Mom recalls going there to pick saskatoons but now there's a clearing on top of the hill that used to be a farmyard.
An old stone barn with one wall and window remaining.

A wonderful farm home on "28".  Rea told us there were 3 chimneys since each room upstairs had its own wood stove for heat.  An interesting thing about this yard is that it has no road or lane leading to it.  It's all cross country to get there.  The view from the yard is spectacular!

We left with a final look at some Kinnaird cows, who were looking for a treat.  Sorry girls!

Friday, 24 July 2015

James "Jim" Elmer Milne (1910 - 1983)

James Elmer Milne was the son of Alexander Milne and Jeannie Jamieson- born July 13, 1910 near Hargrave, MB.   My Grandma Kinnaird was his older sister and he is the last of the Milne family to be featured in a 52 Ancestors blog post.  Previous siblings with their links are:

As a youngster, Jim (as he was known) accompanied his family east to a ranch at East Keremous, BC in 1915 where his younger sister Nan was born.  The family remained there for a few year until his father Alex fell from a horse and badly broke his leg.  They made the decision to move back to Manitoba.

Jim holding his niece Marjorie Kinnaird about 1930 

 about 1933 -  Nan Milne, Sybil O'Neil, Jim Milne with Charlie Milne and Gladys O'Neil in front

Charlie and Jim Milne in front of their home, ready to go curling in Hargrave rink

The twenties and thirties found Jim living and farming just north of Hargrave with his parents along with brother Charlie and sister Nan.  Changes were to come to the Milne household in the next decade when Charlie married in 1940 and Nan in 1945.  Jim's mother Jeannie passed away in 1948 and his father in 1950.  

 Charlie and Jim Milne

 The Milne Farm just northwest of Hargrave about 1959 - Thanks to Ian for this picture 

Below - the barn from the upper left corner and the shed at the very top as they looked on July 20, 2015.  I am guessing the shed was the original barn and the current owner noted the vertical style of the boards is very unusual in Manitoba but more an Ontario style of building.  It is a beautiful building in good shape for its age.

In October of 1959, there was a farm sale and the move back west (where he had been as boy) was made.
Ian has told me that after leaving Manitoba, Jim managed a cattle ranch At Twin Lakes just outside of Penticton, B.C.  It seems this location  is now part of the Nature Conservancy in British Columbia.   Jim later made a venture into running a grocery store in Penticton but that was not to work out. He then went back to work for a well known rancher, Jim Leir.  A new opportunity came along in 1977 and Jim was one of the first people that worked at the General Coach Mobile Home Factory in Penticton and continued there until his retirement.  He died on March 3, 1983. 

Jim at Christmas 1962

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

John Milne (1898 - 1992)

John Milne was the eldest son of Alexander Milne and Jeannie Jamieson- born December 6, 1898 in Aberlour, Banffshire, Scotland.   My Grandma Kinnaird was his younger sister.  He was named for his paternal grandfather John, no middle name was needed.  At age of six, he left Scotland with his mother and 2 younger brothers Alex and Bill for Canada, a year after his father. For the next ten years, they lived around Virden, Manitoba, working for various farmers and no doubt attempting to put away money for their own.  To try to get ahead, the family of seven headed west to Cawston (East Keremeos) British Columbia in 1915.  Alex was going to try his hand at ranching and his eldest son John at 16 years of age would have no doubt been working alongside him.  However, the world of horsepower was giving away to machines and young John saw his future as someone who would fix these machines.  

It seems he felt the need to come back east and we know that John started his apprenticeship at Dominion Motors in Winnipeg in 1917.  He had spent a year before this in Winnipeg, driving street cars for Winnipeg Electric, while attending night school for a year to get the necessary education to begin his apprenticeship. What a wonderful picture of him above in his uniform!   The picture of the street car was found here 

Zelma Samson and John Milne's Wedding Day- October 19, 1924
John arrived in Hanna, Alberta in 1920, and began working as an automotive mechanic in a Blacksmith Shop owned by Ernest Gregory Samson, his future father-in-law.   Zelma had been born August 26, 1904 in San Jose, California. The Samson family moved to the future site of Hanna, Alberta in 1910.  The town was named Hanna after the CN Railway came through in 1912.   John and Zelma were married in Hanna on October 19th of 1924.  She had just turned 20 and he was 25.
From the Prairie Towns Website http://www.prairie-towns.com/hanna-images.html
The time spent earlier in BC with his family must have been positive experience for John because later that year they moved back to Trail B.C. where his oldest daughter Yvonne Mabel was born in 1925. In 1926, they moved to Princeton, B.C in the spectacular Similkameen Valley.  Daughter Margaret was born next in 1928.  Tragically she passed away at the tender age of 10 years old.  Gregory Alexander and Esther Jane completed their family.  Greg and his wife Donna Marie have supplied the photos and information for this post and I am indebted to them for their ongoing help with this blog.

John began working in Princeton in 1926 as a motor mechanic, but soon after began working as a Steam Engineer. He gained a 4th class steam ticket while working for a sawmill, but shortly after that, got his 3rd class ticket and started working as a stationary engineer in one of the local coal mines. He got his 2nd class steam engineer's ticket in 1933, and was the highest rated engineer in the Similkameen area. When the mines closed down in 1935, due to the Great Depression, he reverted to motor mechanics, and became the “Heavy Duty” mechanic for the Provincial Department of Public Works at Copper Creek, thirty miles west of Princeton, on the “Hope” trail. In 1937, he was established as the chief mechanic at the Provincial shops in Princeton. He remained in that position until retirement, though by that time he had become the Chief Master Mechanic for the Department of Highways in B.C.  An impressive career indeed!

John and Zelma circa 1950

John was active in the Oddfellows Lodge, serving as Grandmaster in 1952. He was also a charter member of the local Rotary Club. He joined the Princeton Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1937, and in 1941 he was appointed as Fire Chief. He remained Chief of the Fire Brigade until he retired in 1963. He had also been appointed as District Fire Marshall, by the Provincial government in 1944. This was a part-time (as required) paid position. When he retired, he allowed his name to stand for election as a town councillor, and was elected and held that position for 2 three year terms. He had previously (1946 – 1958) served as a trustee on the local school board, serving as chairman for his last two years.  John made occasional visits back to Hargrave including his parents 50th anniversary in 1947.  Below is a postcard that John and Zelma send my Grandma in 1973 after a visit.

In the above pictures, John is dressed in a period costume for a centennial reenactment in 1958.  The occasion was the year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the colony of British Columbia. It had formerly been the Hudson Bay Co. territory of New Caledonia, which was a part of the greater Oregon Northwest Territory.
John and Zelma celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 1974, 
pictured  with children Greg, Yvonne and Esther.
50th Anniversary with nine grandchildren 1974
John with his children on his 90th birthday in 1988
John with his great granddaughter in August 1988
Zelma passed away in Princeton, on the 8th of December 1983, two days after John’s 85th birthday.
John died in Penticton, B.C. on the 12th of April 1992 at the age of 93, nine years after Zelma. They are both buried in Princeton.