Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Old Strathcona 1906 to 1913

Why did the Coulsons leave Canada in 1913?

The Canadian census of 1906 show the family living in Strathcona. It seems they moved there sometime after their youngest child, Esther was born in Midway, British Columbia the year before. The family is still there 5 years later in the 1911 census, although the eldest girls Bertha and Ethel are not living with them. Bertha had married the Englishman Charlie Smith in 1909. I am still trying to find Ethel’s marriage to Ray Scuffham, another new immigrant from England, but their first child was also born in 1909. John is listed as a farmer.

I understand that John Archer Coulson’s business included horse buying trips across the border to Montana, and they ran a livery stables in Strathcona. This is referenced in a published history of pioneer times in the area which is in the possession of my Aunty Ruth. More details to follow.

Strathcona has now been swallowed up by the city of Edmonton, Alberta, but at that time the Coulsons moved there, it was a separate town on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River. It was booming as an important hub of the new Canadian railway system. There was also a lot of construction taking place, and the city required buildings to be constructed in brick and stone, rather than wood. This move was made in response to the 1906 Fire of San Francisco which destroyed 80% of the city.

Unfortunately the boom led to a speculative real estate market. In 1913 the bubble burst and many residents moved away. I imagine my family were affected financially too, and this, as well as John Archer’s poor health was a factor in their decision to move to Western Australia.

My grandmother Jessie stayed on in Strathcona to complete her education as a teacher. She was living with her sister Bertha Lindsay in 1916.  The Lindsays later moved back to BC and established themselves in the Okanagan Valley.

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