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Search for the hidden stories...they're waiting

I love to write. I'm no novelist that's for sure, but I do like to tell a story. If it's funny, scary or a mystery, even better.

When I was working on my family album I added a few pages with some of my observations of what life may have been like for my ancestors.

I breathed in the history, these stories took me to places, to where my ancestors lived, worked and died. I got to thinking a bit more about my ancestors, and what stories may be hidden. And did I find it.

My maternal great-grandfather, it is believed, went to Canada in 1913 by himself. He visited the prairies, Windsor and Toronto to possibly decide where best to settle his family.

Postcard to my grandmother

He wrote to his wife and requested that the two oldest daughters, Jean (18) and Esther (16), join him. Which they did on June 6 1914. As the story goes, Jean and Esther loved Canada.

How different it would have been for the two sisters in cold Canada compared to the dampness of Belmont in Lancashire England. It must have suited them. They stayed and with encouragement my great grandmother made arrangements to sail to Canada with Mary and Prudence.

I have discovered the ship's manifest for the September 11 1914 crossing aboard the Grampian for my great grandmother E.A. Helme and Mary and Prudence.

The four sisters, my grandmother, Aunt Pat, Aunt Jean and Aunt Mary 1914
The sisters dressed in what could have been their travel clothes. Love the leather gloves, large hats and subtle jewelry.

But of course, the story didn't stop there.

My great grandparents did not get along and in August 1916 he sailed back to Liverpool. Too old to be enlisting to fight in WW1. There are no military records to even suggest he did. So why? Why would he encourage his wife and 5 daughters to move to Canada to only go back to the UK 2 years later? Could he have had other reasons? More personal reasons? Money perhaps? A woman perhaps? To date I can't find any clues.

What is interesting is that in July of 1922 my great grandmother went to the UK. and in September the same year she returned to Toronto, as did her husband. They sailed on the same ship, but did not travel together. In fact she doesn't list him on the entry card. However, he does list her.

So why? No idea. These are the struggles of researching family stories without the luxury of having the person to talk to. The search and snooping continues.


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