Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Louis Creek from 1924

Further online research confirms that when my great grandparents returned to Canada in 1924 they settled in Louis Creek, British Columbia, and spent the rest of their lives there. 

They never got to meet any of their daughter Jessie’s children (my grandmother), as she had married a Rongomai (via Eketahuna, the address specifies) farmer, John Evans and remained behind in New Zealand. How she must have missed them: her first child was born only a couple of weeks after her family departed by the ship, leaving her with no relatives in the southern hemisphere.

I have to remind my children that in those days, communication was so much slower and more expensive. Trans-pacific travel generally entailed travel by ocean liner, rural phone lines were party lines: one line shared by several families. You identified the calls meant for your household by your own morse code call sign. When you wanted to make a call, you first needed to make sure one of your neighbours wasn’t already using the line, then speak to the operator at the local exchange to put your call through. No such thing as Privacy laws then! Even up to the early 1980’s, toll calls had to be made via a real live operator, and the capacity of the international lines was so limited that calls at peak time, like Christmas, had to be booked in advance. Calls abroad were also limited by their expense: at around $3 per minute in 80’s prices, makes then more like $30 a minute in today’s money (2016)

My grandmother did make the return trip to Canada once in her parents’ lifetime. In 1935 when my mother Audrey, the youngest child was only 4, Jessie travelled to Louis Creek to see her dying father. All the children stayed in New Zealand. My aunty Ruth says she thinks her father forebade her to take the children as he wasn’t confident of her returning to New Zealand otherwise. It was also during the lean depression years, so money would have also been an issue.

I do not yet know why the Coulsons decided to base themselves in Louis Creek. As well as my great grandparents John Archer Coulson and Jane (nee Jacklin) their younger children Esther and Tom lived at Louis Creek too. The older sisters who had remained in Canada in 1912 were the three eldest: Bertha, Ethel and Maggie. They had all married before the family departed and were settled. Sadly Ethel died in 1922. 

My grandma Jessie had a different narrative arc. She only travelled to New Zealand around 1919: I believe it was after the war. She never lived in Australia. She had stayed on as a student teacher in Strathcona, and was living with her married sister Bertha in the 1916 census. I believe she was also tasked with winding up her parents financial affairs in Strathcona. Travelling as an unaccompanied young woman from Canada to New Zealand must have been quite an adventure. More of her story another day.

1 comment:

  1. Marion Gauntlett1 November 2016 at 19:42

    I have nanas (Jessie) diary for that year 1924, and although I have read entries before the homesickness she felt still makes me cry.