My husband’s father was 19 years old when he emigrated to Canada from Chester-le-Street, a village near Durham in Northern England. He traveled on a cargo ship from Liverpool, England to Halifax, Nova Scotia, then continued west by train, looking for homestead land. He had studied Animal Husbandry in England, and thought the only job he would ever enjoy would to be a farmer.
He eventually settle in the province of Saskatch-ewan, met a lovely French lady, and soon had three sons. In his personal documents, which we now carefully care for, was a baptism certificate from Durham Cathedral and records that showed that his father was a sweets salesman for Dainty Dinah. The journal that Fred kept as he journeyed to his new homeland was in a writing book with a distinctive colored hardcover. The entries often were very brief, and the last entry was posted on the day that he received the documents, confirming his ownership of his homestead.
He didn’t talk much about his home in Great Britain, so the family knew very little about his British family. We actually came to our “uninformed” conclusion that he probably was a Remittance Man. I checked Wikipedia for a definition, and this definition is exactly what I heard from his Canadian family;
Within Victorian British culture, this often meant the black sheep of an upper or middle-class family who was sent away (from the United Kingdom to the Empire), and paid to stay away. These men were generally of dissolute or drunken character, and may have been sent overseas after one or more disgraces at home. "Remittance men" also lived in several towns in the American and Canadian West. There were also remittance women' but they are rarely discussed in scholarly works. Many remittance men were sent to the Australian Colonies.
After meeting Dad’s sister, a retired Army nurse, who came to live with Dad, we were anxious to travel to England to meet more relatives for the first time. At one family gathering, a cousin came to our table and handed several small books to Ed, saying that it was time these books returned to their Canadian family. The books had the same cover as Dad’s journal, and we were told that they contained copies of letters that Dad had received from his father, offering help and support to his oldest son. The onion skin pages were fragile and faded, but we eventually were able to reproduce the writings to computer files, so that they could be shared with Ed’s brothers and their families. We also learned that the books were actually order books that included the onion skin and carbon paper for order copies from Dainty Dinah Sweets Company, the company where Ed’s grandfather worked for many years. I am including a couple of photos; one of Durham Cathedral that I took on our last visit, and a picture of the vintage Dainty Dinah Sweets tin that I purchased on Ebay some years ago.
Tags: Family History Sweets