James & Jane Hall
- Margaret J. North -
The descendants of James and Jane (Breakey) Hall owe much to Margaret (Hall) North for her early research on the Hall family as well as for identifying its connection to the Breakeys. Margaret was James and Jane’s great granddaughter. Her work on her own (Rev. Thomas Wellington Hall) line, which was completed in 1978, is the first known book devoted to our Halls. A copy is in the National Archives of Canada.
Margaret’s grandfather, Thomas, had said that Jane Breakey was from Ballybay. Although she found no documentation to confirm it, Margaret’s conjecture linking Jane with the Breakeys of nearby Drumskelt House is stronger than any other. Certainly, the letters from Irish solicitors addressed to “Heirs of Drumskelt” that her father showed her as a child (and promptly discarded), would support that conclusion. The letters must have had some element of truth even though they were part of a scam designed to line the solicitor’s pockets at the expense of the gullible.
Further research has added some details to Margaret’s account and necessitated a few revisions. Our best inference from Canadian census records places James’ birth some time between August 1815 and March 1816 and Jane’s between April and August 1817. Both were born in Ireland. However, James and Jane’s marriage took place not in Ireland but in Canada. The register of St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope, Hope Twp., Ontario records their marriage on January 1, 1835. By that time the bride was living in Cavan Twp., Ontario and the groom in Hope. In 1840 when they first appeared in the Cavan Twp. Records, they already had three children. Their farm was on a clergy reserve, leased from the Church of England, and when they moved in 1846 James sold the rights to the leases on the two halves of the property. The bills of sale with James’ signature on them are in the Township Papers in the Ontario Archives. The signatures are identical to the one on the 1835 marriage record.
Alas, the story of their amassing 700 acres in Cavan is undoubtedly false. According to the Ontario land records, James and Jane did own a 50 acre farm in Cavan Twp. from 1856 to 1863 but it was mortgaged several times. About 1867, they moved to Grey County, Ontario. There, James faded into the background, leaving the active farming responsibilities to his sons. James died some time between the 1881 and 1891 censuses and Jane likely died in the following decade.
John W. Hall
Editor’s Note: The following manuscript has been transcribed as typed by Margaret North with the exception of the following: on the first page, in handwritten script, it states ~ To my newfound kinsman, John W. Hall from Margaret J. North. [Margaret Hall North died during the summer of 1988].
Marilyn J. Breakey
We can never divorce ourselves entirely from the past, because in each of us there live myriad fragments of the personalities of all our forebears; it follows that the more we know of our progenitors, the better we can understand ourselves. It may be interesting, then, to read this chronicle and determine what kind of person each of us has been able to build out of the ego-chips handed down to us!
This recital is as factual as I can make it; dates have been cross-checked from all available sources and where assumptions have been made they are indicted as being such. The framework for the Breakey history was provided by the Ulster-Scot genealogical table, fleshed out by details gathered when we were in Ireland in 1971. The story of the Halls in Ontario was built from information supplied by Ontario-born-and-bred George W. Hall of Kamloops, grandson of James and Jane (Breakey) Hall, and by his nephew, John Harvey Smith of New Lowell, Ont. And, finally, the story of Thomas and Mary Jane Hall and their B.C. descendants grew out of the Hall family bible, the notes and reminiscences of James W. Hall and many helpful details supplied by members of the B C. clan.
My gratitude to those who have helped me with their recollections, and my affectionate regards to you, my kith and kin, who share with me the virtues and the failings of the subjects of this chronicle.
Margaret J. North
37 West Nicola St.
Kamloops, B. C. V2c 1J5
The Breakeys, and James & Jane Hall
The Halls – Thomas & Mary Jane
The Breakeys, and James & Jane Hall
Three hundred years ago there lived a man, a trickle of whose blood runs today in the veins of those who can claim Jane Breakey Hall as a forebear. Here is that man:
The year was 1686. Catholic James II, Stuart King of England, deposed by his subjects had taken refuge in France; his daughter Mary and her husband William, the Protestant Prince of Orange, had been called to the English throne. France, ready as ever to embroil her Anglo neighbor in domestic strife, supplied James with an army and his forces landed in Ireland to commence a campaign to recover the crown.
The astute William had brought an army with him from Holland whose officers and advisers were friends and associates of proven loyalty; among theme was our man, William de Brequet, a Flemish gentleman of some means and a staunch adherent of the Protestant faith. William's forces prevailed in Ireland, and the battle of the Boyne in 1690 and of Aughrim in 1691 delivered the whole of the misty isle into his hands.
The usual harsh reprisals followed: James’ Catholic followers in the higher echelons were executed or banished and their estates were given to William's supporters. Located at strategic points throughout Ireland, these men administered the country and ensured its submission to the new Protestant regime. Among them was deBrequet, who received lands near Ballybay among the many steep-pitched green-thatched little hills of northern County Monaghan. ("de Brequet" did not sit easily on Irish tongues, and by the middle of the 18th century the family name had been transmuted to the present "Breakey".)
Unlike many of William’s appointees, the Breakeys made Ireland their homeland. They were gentry, rather than nobility, and as such their main concern was with the land and its people. With considerable business acumen they developed new resources, and that they themselves profited did not detract in any way from the fact that the area prospered through their activities.
deBrequet's son, Isaiah, built the Greenvale Linen Mills; the other two sons, William and Obediah, were associated with him in this profitable venture, and that the business continued in the family for at least two generations is attested by the Ulster-Scot table (Note 1) which gives deBrequet's grandson, William "Billy-bon" Breakey, as "a linen manufacturer, lived at Drumskelt"; another grandson, Francis, son of Obediah, is stated to have "lived in opulence in Dublin". There is no further reference to the mills in the table, so one can only conjecture that in the late 19th and the 20th century those Breakeys who remained in Ballybay depended for their livelihood on farming the two properties.
Two great angular stone houses in the Ballybay district were built by the Breakeys and have given their names to the two main branches of the family: Balladian House (pronounced Balla-dye-an) built in 1690 and Drumskelt House., built in 1717 are still inhabited today. A Mr. William Breakey lived at Balladian until his death in 1970, and the search for his heirs, two nephews presumed to be in the United States, was continuing in 1971. Drumskelt House passed out of the family in the late 19th century and is presently owned by a Ballybay farmer. (Note 2)
The Breakeys in Ireland were Presbyterians; the large bare stone church which was built in 1786 a mile or so outside the village of Ballybay served their spiritual needs, and under weathered tablets in its grass-overgrown churchyard some of them sleep their last sleep. The barnlike First Presbyterian Church, still in use today, is devoid of all ornament and demonstrates the revolt of the early Protestants against the ostentation of the Roman Catholic Church, its stark austerity offering no barrier to the direct and personal communication of man with his God.
The Irish were a prolific race: “Billybon” Breakey (1732-88) and his youngest son, John (1780-1878) each had thirteen children, a number which would seem not uncommon for the times. A largely agricultural country, Ireland could not support its ever-increasing population and consequently many of her sons emigrated; this outflow received a tremendous impetus from the devastating and long-lived “potato famine” which came to a peak in 1845 and 1846. Where the demands of absentee landlords had already stripped tenant-farmers of all but a meager subsistence, the potato blight now snatched even that pittance from the folk. Over the famine years of the 1840s the starved bodies of 750.000 Irish men, women and children were laid in the earth which had refused to feed them, and countless thousands fled the green isle to pour across the oceans of the world in search of a kinder land.
Among them were Breakeys of both houses; the Ulster-Scot table shows that their far-wandering feet took them to Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, the U.S.A., and Canada – lands in which their descendants may be found today. In Quebec, a token of bygone Breakeys is the town of Breakeyville on the Chaudiere River south of Quebec City, which was named for Isaiah’s grandson, Hans Denaston Breakey of Balladian and his son, John, who owned a large lumber and pulp business there in the late 19th century; most of their descendants seem to have moved to the United States.
To turn to our own Drumskelt branch: there was little happiness in Ireland in the 1840s; famine, death and sorrow engulfed the land and drowned even homely family joys. At Drumskelt House in happier days the marriage of Jane Brekey to James hall would have been the occasion for festivities, but when the wedding day dawned there lay heavy on every heart the knowledge that the young couple, together with Jane’s brothers, were to sail to Canada to live out their lives there. In the dragging weeks at sea they would plan for their years in this new world, and in the dark hours when doubts and uncertainties tormented them, each young heart would cheer the other.
Of comfort, too, was their religious faith, deep-rooted in the Protestant tradition of both families. It is interesting to note here that, while the Breakey families in Ireland belonged to the Presbyterian church, the Canadian branch with which we are concerned espoused the Methodist church after settling in Ontario – in all probability because this was the only non-conformist sect which had a preacher and/or a church in that area at the time. In any event, they became staunch adherents of this austere faith. (Note 3).
The young couple were not without fellow-countrymen in the new land; in previous years several compatriots from Cavan and Monaghan counties in Ireland had settled in the Millbrooke area near Peterborough, Ontario, a section which was later incorporated as Cavan County, and it was in this district that James and Jane acquired 700 acres of land. It was an unusually large tract for the times, but their unremitting hard work eventually made it one of the finest farms in the area.
Their familial crop, too, was a good one. In all, fourteen children were born to them (Note 4). In those days, when the death rate in young children was appallingly high, it speaks well for their sturdy constitutions that of the fourteen only two should have died in childhood. (It was here on the farm in Cavan County that their son, Thomas Wellington Hall, was born in 1847).
When he was a very old gentleman, George Hall shared with me his childhood recollection of his grandmother, and my great-grandmother, Jane, as small and slim, with auburn hair and strikingly brilliant grey eyes; he could remember sitting on her knee while she sang to him – not a lullaby, but a rousing Methodist hymn! She was of a quietly imperious temperament, so much so that her husband only half-jokingly dubbed her “Lady Jane,’ a sobriquet which came into general use in the family and which later led her B.C. grandchildren and great-grandchildren, isolated from their eastern origins, to believe that their progenitress had actually been a titled lady! (And I apologize for removing this glittering fantasy from the family tree!).
Jane Hall maintained the standards she had known in her father’s home; her children were drilled to be God-fearing, self-respecting and well-mannered, and to gain as much book-learning as possible. A true Irishwoman, she loved the land and could understand the pull which drew some of her sons to it, but it is probable that her proudest moments came when William and Thomas preached their first sermons and Robert taught his first school.
James and Jane in later years sold their Cavan farm and moved to one some twenty miles or so east of the present city of Owen Sound. (They were on this farm when Thomas was ordained in 1871). The nearest village was Thornbury, on Nottawasaga Bay in lake Huron, and it is in Thornbury that they are buried.
Notes - The Breakeys, and James and Jane Hall
Note 1: I was able to obtain from the Ulster-Scot Historical Foundation in Belfast photostats of hand-written genealogical tables of both branches of the Breakey family, beginning with the founder, William deBrequet. These are copies of the original documents kept in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. The table for our own Drumskelt branch is very extensive and has been kept fairly well up to comparatively recent times.
The Drumskelt table makes for interesting reading. Of the thirteen children of “Billybon” Breakey (1732-88), only five lived out their full span of life; the remaining eight “died young” of smallpox and fevers. Of the thirteen fathered by his son John Breakey (1780-1878) only one died in childhood; of the remaining dozen, four emigrated to Australia, Canada and the U.S.A. and eight remained in Ireland; these latter included a surgeon in the Royal Navy and no less than three Presbyterian ministers.
There were also men of war among the Drumskelt Breakeys, ranging from deBrequet’s grandson, the second Obediah, who was “killed in the French war under Wellington,” to Claude Marton who was blown up with his ship of Sheerness in 1914, to John Breakey, who was an Air Commodore in the Royal Air force in the Second World War.
An interesting entry is that of Janet Breakey, great-granddaughter of the long-lived John of the thirteen children. Born in 1900, she conquered the prejudices of her times and became a Doctor of Medicine; she married Alan Fawcett, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the birth of their son in 1938 is one of the latest entries in the record.
Note 2: The outward flow of Ireland’s population during the 18th and 19th centuries greatly benefited certain Irish solicitors: in many cases the entire second generation would quit the ould sod and would become so much a part of their new life that they would not bother to claim the bits of Irish land left on the death of parents; with taxes unpaid, the property would be placed “in chancery” or ownership by the government, and eventually sold. Over the years, less-scrupulous solicitors would search the land records for such cases and then write the heirs suggesting that they be retained to recover the property in return for more or less substantial fees. Jane’s son, Thomas Wellington Hall and her grandsons, James Wesley Hall, at different times in their lives received letters from Irish solicitors urging that the firm be appointed to recover Drumskelt from chancery; it was obvious that these letters were sent by firms specializing in such claims, where the legal counsel would profit more than the heirs. Moreover, considering Jane’s twelve children and their progeny, as well as the issue of her brothers, it was obvious that the share of each heir would be miniscule. Thomas and his son, James, ignored these letters, but more credulous members of the Ontario branch spent considerable sums in unsuccessful attempts to recover Drumskelt. As far as I could ascertain in 1971, Drumskelt became the property of the Presbyterian Church and was later sold to a local farmer, who held tenure at that time.Incidentally, Ballybay, Drumskelt and Balladian are in County Monaghan in what is now the Republic of Ireland, only a few miles south of its border with Northern Ireland
Note3: In our permissive times, one cannot realize the rigidity of the rules laid upon its members by the early Methodist Church – rules which were observed through three generations of the Hall family in Canada from James and Jane in the 1840s to their granddaughter Jessie in the mid-20th century. The church did not countenance drinking, dancing, profanity or smoking and Sunday, as the Lord’s day, was devoted entirely to His matters: all secular reading material was put away; no sheet music other than the hymn book was left on the piano rack; as much of the Sunday meals as possible was cooked the day before; only sufficient farm work was done as would ensure the comfort of the animals; and children must refrain from playing any games. Faith was renewed at two church services on Sunday and further reinforced at Wednesday night prayer meeting.
From anecdotes of the Ontario branch, it would seem that James Hall was not as sincere in his religious professions as was his Breakey wife. While his household observed the rigid rules and restrictions of the church, he himself paid only lip service to its major prohibition of alcohol, and he was known on occasion to indulge rather spectacularly a certain fondness for “the crayture.” This failing does not seem to have impaired his standing in the community; with the bewildering illogic of the Irish, neither he nor his neighbors saw any incongruity when on occasion he took over the pulpit of an absent preacher and from it thundered denunciations of backsliders.
Note 4: George Hall gave me the names of the children born to James and Jane (Breakey) Hall. He told me that they had ten sons and four daughters; of these, a boy Andrew and a girl Susan died in childhood; the others lived out their full span of life. The names as given below are not necessarily in chronological order:
William - preacher
James - farmer
Thomas - preacher; father of James W. Hall (see (i) below)
Joseph - farmer
Isaiah-painter in oils, whose artistic bent was in disfavour with his practical father, despite the precedent set by the young man’s Breakey granduncle John, who is shown in the Tables as “a painter and linguist.”
Samuel - farmer; father of George W. Hall (see (ii) below)
Henry - homesteaded near Salmon Arm, B. C.; then went up to the Klondike gold rush. Later returned to Ontario, where he married and settled down.
Norton -studied for the ministry, but didn’t finish. Became a builder-contractor and lived at Streetsville, Ont.
Robert - school teacher (see (iii) below)
Elizabeth (Thornton) - All three daughters married farmers
Mary (Douglas)- and all settled in the Owen Sound
(i) Thomas is the subject of the next chapter.
(ii). Samuel Hall remained on his farm near Kirkville, Ontario but his son, George Wesley Hall, in 1910 when he was 26 years old moved to Manitoba, then to Alberta and, finally, in 1914 to British Columbia. He lived for many years in Kamloops, where he died in December 1972. His son, William E. Hall, and his daughter Sylvia (Mrs. John Whalley) now live in Kamloops
George Wesley Hall – Lillian Fennell
William – Elizabeth Mylett (now in Kamloops):
Beverly – Mary Mylett (now in Vancouver, B.C.):
Hilda – Peter Eliuk (now in New Westminster, B C.)
Sylvia – John Whalley (now in Kamloops, B.C.)
Ashley (Jim) – Grethe Wahl (now in Britain)
Hazel – died in youth
(iii) Some years after his brother Thomas, Robert Hall came to B.C. and for many years in the 1890s and early 1900s was principal of a school in New Westminster. He had two daughters, Arvilla and Marjorie, both of whom were exceptionally fine musicians. Marjorie married and moved to Ontario. Villa and her cousin, James W. Hall, kept in touch from 1893 when they first met in Westminster, and several times after his marriage in 1904 she visited Jim and Janet in Kamloops. She herself did not marry, and died in New Westminster while still a young woman.
THE HALLS – Thomas and Mary Jane
Thomas Wellington Hall, son of James and Jane (Breakey) Hall, was born on May 28, 1847 in the township of Cavan, Ontario. In 1871, at the age of 24, this dedicated young man was ordained a Methodist minister. His first post was under the Reverend J. Scott in Owen Sound, where his high principles and sound doctrine made a most favourable impression on the older members of the church. He had a quick wit, too, which made him an agreeable and stimulating conversationalist. And it is certain that among the ladies the tall trim form, the clear grey eyes and noble brow, and the glossy dark hair and burnsides of the young preacher did not go unnoticed.
Among that congregations were William Cole and his wife. Of English and Welsh extraction, they had lived in Manchester, England were in 1846 a son, George, was born to them and on December 11th, 1848 a daughter, Mary Jane. In 1849, when the baby girl was only a few months old, the couple emigrated [sic] to Canada and settled in the Owen Sound area. So in 1871, sitting in church with her parents was Mary Jane, a small, slight young woman of 23. Fine brown hair drawn softly over level eyebrows and hazel eyes, a sweetly curved mouth above a rounded chin, and the generous nose which at least two of her granddaughters bear today – not a beautiful face, but a wistfully appealing one.
Or so the young preacher found it. Found, too, that the decorous mien concealed a quiet humour, a goodly fund of common sense and an infinite kindness. And married Mary Jane “on June 20th, 1872 at seven o’clock in the evening.” A momentous event which Thomas proudly recorded in their new family bible. (Note 5).
The policy of the Methodist church at this time was to rotate its preachers at regular intervals; in pioneer days a young minister might spend only one year in each posting, but as time went on a three- or four-year term became more common. The moves to new churches were usually made in early summer, so it would be very shortly after their wedding that Thomas and Mary Jane went to his new parish of Aurora, some 200 miles south-east of Owen Sound. Here Thomas, the crusader, rose to the challenge of this, his very own pastorate, and here the small Mary Jane found little time for homesickness amid the happy press of duties which now became hers as helpmate in both home and church.
The summer of 1873 brought the happiness of a transfer to Chatsworth, only eight miles from their families in Owen Sound, and the great joy of the birth there of a son, Ernest Spurgeon. Even the inevitable move in 1874 was faced with equanimity: while Huntsville was far away, its location on a lake in the Muskoka area offered great beauty. And in 1875, Thomas was given a four-year tenure at Spence, a small settlement in the Parry Sound area some 25 miles north of Huntsville; what relief the respite from annual uprootings (sic)!
In the spring of 1876, Mary Jane returned to Huntsville for the birth of a daughter, Jessie Jane. The Halls must have had very good friends there who cared for Mary Jane and her small children during her confinements, for of the three babies who were born during the Spence ministry two had Huntsville as their birthplace.
That was a happy summer in the Spence parsonage, with long sunny days in which to romp with their active three-year-old and to marvel at the daily unfolding charms of the baby daughter. But winter winds brought sorrow, and November of the year which saw Jessie’s birth saw also the death of Ernest. This first great grief of their life together struck deeply at their hearts and their faith but time inevitably brought a measure of healing and acceptance, and in 1878 there came consolation with the birth in February of a son, James Wesley. The still-wintry roads forbade the trip to Huntsville, so this young man was born in the Spence parsonage, just one day too late to be a valentine.
The winter of 1878-79 was a time of decision. Thomas was now 32; the long term at Spence had shown him the comfortable path he could follow in the East, but his pioneering spirit burned to go out into raw new lands and win souls for his Lord. In the lamp lit evenings he and Mary Jane talked; womanlike, her heart ached at leaving so much that was dear to her in Ontario, but she could not find it in that same heart to deny him the fulfillment of his great desire. His church, too, agreed and by spring the couple knew that when the Spence ministry concluded that summer, they would leave for a post at Birtle in the North West Territories.
(At that time Manitoba was the most western province of Canada; it was bordered on the west by the Districts of Saskatchewan and Assiniboia and on the north by the District of Kewatin, all three being lumped together under the name of North West Territories. In 1905, Manitoba’s border was extended westward and at the same time the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were created out of the western districts. Prior to 1905, though, the settlements of Birtle, Millford and Souris where Thomas was to serve were in the North West Territories, although after that date they became part of Manitoba.
It is not known how this weeks-long journey was made; there was no Canadian railway west of Ontario, but the previous year a branch line had been run from one of the American railways up to Winnipeg, so it is possible that the Halls went to Winnipeg by this means and then on by wagon to Birtle, some twenty miles east of the present Saskatchewan-Manitoba border.
They were confronted with great changes; neither the soft countryside of Parry Sound nor the tree-clad rocky beauty of Muskoka had prepared them for the seemingly endless prairie prostrated by the long summer’s sun and now shuddering under the rain and wind of autumn. And not even the cheerful little Birdtail River with its fringe of golden creek willow could redeem the drabness of Birtle’s shacks and soddies and all-prevailing mud.
It was at Birtle that they first received the “missionary barrels” sent by the Methodist Mission Board in Ontario to its preachers in the field. Packed from donations, they contained worn but still serviceable clothing, occasional toys and household items and, memorable, a demure grey bonnet which a delighted Mary Jane wore to church for many, many Sundays. These portly emissaries from the mother-church followed them to Manitoba and B.C. until such time as the Methodist Church in the west became so well-established that the area could not longer be classed as a mission field.
The following year, in 1880, the family moved to Millford, some 50 miles south and 60 miles east of Birtle, set on the benchland [sic] above the Souris River where Oak Creek flows into that lovely stream. The natural surroundings here were more appealing than those of Birtle: the distant green bulk of the Brandon and Tiger Hills defined the horizons to the north and south, the intervening slopes were thickly wooded, and the rich black loam of the bottom lands provided fields unbelievable in their fecundity.
The area seemed destined to progress: not only was it on the Souris River waterway but indications were that it would be on the south line of the C.P.R. when that should eventually be constructed. These considerations impelled Col. J. Z. Rogers of Coburg, Ont. to survey a “township” of 500 lots here in 1879; in 1880 he brought men from Ontario to colonize the area and when the Halls arrived in the early summer of that year the new village already boasted a grist mill, a steamboat landing, a store, a blacksmith shop and a boarding house, as well as several settlers in the outlying sections of the township. That Thomas earned a respected place in the area is attested by the speaker at a reunion of Millford pioneers held some 65 years later in 1945; as a child, she had known him there and she said, “Then came that cheerful, devoted missionary the Reverend Thomas Wellington Hall, who accepted all the privations without a murmur. He visited the people, and held services in the boarding house in Millford. I can hear him yet singing the grand old Moodie and Sankey hymns.”
(Despite its bright promise, Millford village lived for only 7 years; its death came in 1887 when the C.P.R. by-passed the settlement and the residents “skidded” their houses to villages on the railway. Its name no longer appears on any map but pioneers in the area have perpetuated its memory in a cairn which was dedicated in 1945. This stands near the Millford cemetery, a few miles south of present-day Treesbank.).
In September of this same year of 1880, John Mooney brought his family from Ontario and took up land five miles north of Millford; his youngest daughter, Nellie, then seven years old, in later years was to become Mrs. Nellie McClung, a woman of humour and talent and one of her generation’s better-known writers with her tales of life on the prairies. She was also a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights and a strong proponent of prohibition. Her autobiography “Clearing in the West” offers us her childhood recollections of Thomas Hall and his family when they lived at Millford.
On December 18th, 1880 a son was born to the Halls, and christened Frederick Milford.
The spring of 1881 was unusually stormy, and in March there were heavy and continuous snowfalls, blown by the west winds into deep impassable drifts which isolated outlying families. At the snow-smothered Mooney farm the oldest daughter, Lizzie, a victim of pneumonia, lay near death while her agonized parents tried vainly to rouse her from what seemed to be the terminal coma. The rest of the story is told by her little sister, Nellie:
“Someone was coming on snowshoes. He came in hastily, shutting the door quickly behind to keep out the storm. A big man in a fur coat (Note 6); one cheek was frozen, but he had a handful of snow to rub it out. ‘I heard you had a sick girl’ he said, ‘and I have some medicine in my bag. I am the Methodist minister from Millford. My name is Hall- Thomas Hall.’
‘You are as welcome as an angel of God,’ mother said solemnly, as she rose to meet him. From the moment he entered the feeling of the house changed. I saw the fear vanish from mother’s face. She was herself in a moment, taking his coat and cap, setting a chair for him beside the stove, and putting on the tea kettle. When the chill was gone from his clothing he went to see Lizzie and felt her pulse. “She has a good strong heart and I believe we can pull her through; she has youth on her side and God always helps,’ he said.
I could have knelt at his feet and worshipped him.
For three days he stayed with us, taking charge of the case like a doctor, and when he left Lizzie was able to speak and could drink beef tea. She made a complete recovery in the next few weeks.”
Thomas was determined that Millford should have a proper church; he accordingly persuaded the Methodist Mission Board to pay for all necessary materials and he himself, with the help of volunteers from the community, built a small frame church. As Nellie McClung was to say, “The Reverend Thomas Hall had the full qualifications for a missionary, for he could do anything.” The first couple to be married in the church were Roman Catholics, and Thomas came under fire from the more hidebound members of his congregation because his ecumenical sympathies, far in advance of his times, had led him at their request to use the sign of the cross in the service. His unruffled defence [sic] was that since the cross was the sacred symbol of all Christian faiths, it should have a place even in a “shouting Methodist” service.
On May 3rd, 1881, death visited the preacher’s home: the little Wilbur, not quite two years old, contracted diphtheria and died. And Mary Jane sadly joined the sisterhood of prairie mothers who, far from medical help, found that their utmost love and skill were not enough to save the beloved child, and thus carried forever after a burden of sorrow compounded by bitter self-reproach.
So it was that the first funeral from the new church was that of the preacher’s own small son. Nellie McClung tells of that poignant ceremony:
“…the wild anemones were spreading their blue carpet over the prairie. We children made a blanket of them to cover the plain lumber coffin, by opening a new gunnysack and sticking the stems of the flowers through the open mesh. The church was full of their sweetness that hot spring morning as we sat and listened to the solemn words of the burial service, and when the little coffin was lowered into the grave on the hillside and the clods of earth fell on it, it was with a softly muted sound.” (Note 7)
Over the next year Thomas was increasingly busy; a Sunday School [sic] was started in Millford Church and he preached each week in three nearby prairie communities. And in 1882 the Stationing Committee of the Methodist Church transferred him to Souris, some thirty miles to the west of Millford.
In Souris, on October 11th, 1882, their son Ernest Wilbur was born, named for the two small brothers who had predeceased him. This Ernie was a rollicking, chuckling infant who brought gentle laughter to his parents through a winter which foreshadowed a great change in their lives. For once again the evangelistic spirit was stirring in Thomas. He was preaching in several communities and his revival meetings in Souris were well attended and fruitful, but to him it seemed that he had well-sown the seed of the Methodist faith through the area and now, with the C.P.R. expected to reach Souris the next year, he could sense soft civilization just over the horizon and once again he strained toward the western frontier.
In the colony of British Columbia some twenty years before, the glint of Cariboo gold had drawn thousands of treasure seekers up the reaches of the Fraser River and Yale, the head of navigation, had grown tremendously. In 1871 the colony achieved the status of a province; by 1883, while the gold rush had tapered off, there was still considerable mining in the Cariboo and placer-mining along the banks of the upper Fraser. When Thomas Hall appealed to his church for a pioneer pulpit, he was therefore assigned to Yale, which was reputed to have a population of 5,000 and to be a fertile field for the gospel. True, the Anglican Church of St. John the Divine had been built there in 1860 (even today its doors are open to worshipers), but in so large a community there would be room for the Methodist mission.
In early summer 1883, then, they started the long roundabout journey. First, east by the infant C.P.R. back to Walkerville (Note8), where surely they must have gone to the Owen Sound area to visit their parents, whom they were never again to see, but this we do not know. Then south to the United States, where the Union Pacific Railway carried them west three thousand miles to San Francisco. There were sleeping cars and a diner on this train, but these only slightly mitigate the discomforts of traveling so far with four very young children through the summer heat. One wonders how Mary Jane coped with the domestic problems of the baby’s daily diaper wash, and baths and clean clothing for Jessie, Jim and Fred – after a day of staggering forays through the soot and cinders of the railway car that active trio would look like sweeps. And Thomas! Thomas who was accustomed to an orderly routine of church duties and the sacrosanct hush which swaddled the hours when he was preparing his sermons, now found himself involved in a chaos of hourly emergencies and childish griefs. How welcome were the long light-filled evenings when the children slept and they could relax and compare their impressions of the changing scenes the day had unrolled.
At last they reached San Francisco, largest and most sophisticated city on the Pacific coast; cosmopolitan, incredibly variegated San Francisco with its ephemeral fog and blessedly cool soft air. It is likely that these traveling brethren would be billeted at the home of some preacher of their faith and that their tours of the city would be limited to the edifying and educational, but even so they could not escape entirely her rich charm and infinite variety. Jane and the children were as one in their wide-eyes wonder at the exotic tapestry spread before them.
At San Francisco they boarded a large ocean steamer, with port and starboard paddlewheels and auxiliary sails, and steamed northward a thousand miles until they rounded the bold headlands of the Olympic Peninsula and slipped into the sheltered waters of Juan de Fuca Strait to Vancouver’s Island and Victoria, capital of the young province of British Columbia. They were not impressed by the village, many of whose muddy streets were cluttered with the huge stumps of recently-felled forest giants, but they were not to have much time to enjoy its amenities since Thomas had booked almost immediate passage for the last leg of their journey on the sternwheeler “Western Slope.” This vessel bore them across the Strait of Georgia into the wide mouth of Fraser’s River, whose broad flow they breasted some fifteen miles to New Westminster, then the largest town on the B.C. mainland. (The settlement of Granville did not attract any traffic at this time; it was not until 1886 that it took the name of Vancouver and, as the terminus of the C.P.R., began its fantastic growth.)
The following day the “Western Slope” started the up-river voyage. These riverboats were well-matched to this turbulent thoroughfare: their sturdy hulls could withstand the pounding and tearing of the jagged canyon rocks, and their construction was such that, even when fully loaded, they drew only three feet of water. This shallow draft, indispensable in the lower sandbar-plagued reaches, also meant that they could pull in alongside the bank at almost any spot and, dispensing with formal dock, unload by means of a plank stretched from the lower cargo deck to the bank.
The 90-mile journey to Yale was made in a long day; since no captain would risk making the last treacherous run from Hope to Yale in any but full light, they cast off at dawn and through the morning mists rising from the wide swampy valley, the “Western Slope” churned placidly up the broad muddy-brown Fraser to Hope, perched high on its gravel bank. Here the dimensions of their journey changed: for weeks they had known the horizontal immensity of prairie and ocean; now, as the riverboat penetrated the gorges of the coastal mountains, their perspective encompassed only the vertical, with giant peaks cutting off the sun and constricting the boiling river in a narrow tortured gullet which every moment threatened to swallow the “Western Slope.” At high water, steamers had been known to take five hours to battle up this chaotic fifteen miles but the late summer flow did not offer such terrifying resistance; even so, what relief to sight the roofs of Yale in the dusk and to step ashore in the happy knowledge that this last obstacle in their 5,000-mile journey had been overcome.
Morning revealed towering mountains on all sides, threatening to crowd the settlement off its narrow bench into the river; revealed, too, that Yale was not the populous town expected – only four or five hundred souls remained of the thousands reported to be here. Thomas was bitterly disappointed, but as the days went by news came that Clinton, 150 miles north in the Cariboo area, was calling for a “saddlebag preacher” and in response to that call the Hall family once again took to the road.
The Wagon Road, that miracle of engineering fostered by Governor Douglas and the Royal Engineers, which in 1862-63 had been punched through the solid rock of the Fraser Canyon into the Cariboo to carry the thousands of tons of freight needed by the miners and settlers in the northern area. This eighteen-foot ribbon in places clung insecurely to log cribbing over horrifying drops and crept over wooden bridges shuddering above deep chasms; by 1883 it had been widened at strategic points, but it still presented the traveler with many terrifying moments.
Once again there was an early start – it was four o’clock of a dew-drenched, misty morning when they carried their heavy-eyed children to the BX stage.
The BX (the almost affectionate colloquialism for Barnard’s Express and Stage Line) had been created by a Quebecois, Francis Barnard, who in 1860 carried letters on foot over the 400 miles of trail from Yale to the goldfields. In 1863, when The Wagon Road had penetrated the Fraser Canyon, Barnard established a stage and freight line which became famous for its reliability over the fifty years it served the northern areas from Yale to Barkerville.
The facilities of the BX were many, ranging from the tall freight wagons pulled by twelve or more horses to the arrogant stagecoach which carried passengers, mail and express and which commanded the right of way anywhere on The Road. Not the least picturesque of its equipages were the very large sleighs used in winter, one of which could hold fifteen passengers.
All BX equipment was painted red on the body with yellow wheels and tongue; the coaches were the regular Concord style with thorobraces, or layers of leather springs, extending the length of the coach; the body of the coach had rockers on each side which fitted onto these springs, thus imparting a swaying motion which was comfortable but also conducive to nausea in sensitive passengers.
BX horses were the best of their kind, specially bred and cared for. In 1868 the company had imported 400 head of breeding stock from California and Mexico, and had established a horse-ranch near Vernon from which their stock was drawn. The horses were trained only to staging or freighting; they were not “broken” in the usual sense of the word, and it speaks for their spirit and fine condition that the standard procedure was to firmly attach all baggage and seat all passengers in the coach before the riotous animals were harnessed to the vehicle!
The stage and freight drivers were the heroes of The Wagon Road; capable, reliable, resourceful and temperate men who were truly the captains of these land-craft and whose names passed into history with the great ones of the era. Jim Hall as a boy in Clinton saw LaForest, Bill Bose, Charlie George and Jules, and the stage on which the Hall family traveled was driven by Dave Tingley; this was actually Dave’s last trip, as he contracted typhoid and died a few days later.
The schedules of the stages were carefully calculated; the teams, which in good going could cover six to eight miles in an hour, were changed approximately every eighteen miles, and the passengers were fed every 35 or 40 miles. Stopping-houses were situated at many places en route for the refreshment of both man and best, and for the overnight accommodation of the passengers. It must be admitted, though, that sometimes the exigencies of the mail contract outweighed passenger comfort – if the stage were delayed, lost time was made up by foregoing a night’s rest in bed and the passengers got what sleep they could in the rocking coach as it pounded on through the night.
To close this saga of the BX, it continued its operations out of Yale until the newly-completed [sic] C.P.R. took over passenger and mail traffic; in 1886 the company moved its headquarters to Ashcroft and from that point served the Cariboo district until 1915.
Throughout their 2-day journey along the muddy Fraser and the grey-green Thompson, Thomas and Mary Jane found their interest challenged at every turn of the road; they marveled at the paradox of Alexandra Bridge, the first suspension span in the west, and many times followed with apprehension the manoeuvres [sic] of stagecoach meeting freight wagon, when it seemed as if a single misstep would plunge them into eternity. The road was seldom empty – cumbersome freighters, lone horsemen, a prospector plodding beside his top-heavy mule, blue-clad Chinese jogging in single file, their flapping queues and bobbing carrying-poles adding a note of gaiety to their impassive advance – all formed a living frieze against the stark canyon walls. The children were delighted by the thundering gallop of their entry into each hamlet and the lively changes at the relay-posts, and took full advantage of the attention paid such very young travellers [sic].
Over the hours the passing scene gradually changed from craggy defile to close-packed jackpine to open rolling hills; at Lytton they met the brassy gold of the fall-blooming sagebrush and sniffed the clean pungent odour which was to become so familiar; and at Ashcroft they turned north into the broad valley in which lay Clinton, its rolling tawny hills splashed with the autumn gold of aspen and the scarlet of sumac.
The reception at Clinton was to become a family anecdote. Somehow, the rumour had spread that the new preacher’s family included four pretty daughters of marriageable age and accordingly the arrival of their stage was attended by every unattached male in the district. However, the delight which Thomas felt at this apparent interest in the bearer of the Gospel was speedily dispelled by the chagrin only too evident on male faces when seven-year-old Jess was lifted from the coach, followed by two small boys and a babe in arms.
At the time there were only a dozen or so houses in Clinton, but its importance as a centre for the area was shown by the existence of a hotel and two general stores, Foster’s and Bell’s, both of which freighted their supplies from Yale with resulting high prices.
The parsonage was a two-storey [sic] log house; clapboarded over, it still stands today at the north-east corner of LeBourdais Street and the Cariboo Highway. Here Mary Jane settled thankfully to the long-familiar routine of making a home for her family, and once again the greatest problem was that of money. As on the prairies, missionary barrels helped to clothe them, but hard cash was difficult to come by. Beyond a modest remittance from the home Missions Board, Thomas’s stipend was paid by his small congregation, usually in kind and all too often with a sad lack of variety, since every tithe tended to include chiefly the certain vegetable for which it had been a good growing season. Small wonder that in their dietary calendar one winter was wryly dubbed “The Carrot Year" and another “The Turnip Year.”
This financial problem plagued most of the Protestant clergy of the day since an incumbent’s salary depended mainly on voluntary contributions from his parishioners, and so could vary according to current economics in the area as well as the degree of approval felt toward the preacher himself. Small wonder that wives had to patch and contrive to present to the world a family neatly and decently clad. A further complication was the hospitality which the parsonage was expected to extend, not only for various church activities but also to any visiting dignitary, indigent widow or orphan child in the community. Thomas was supported in the recurring crises by his serene belief that “The Lord will provide; trust in Him,” but experience had taught Mary Jane that the implementation of divine will required considerable assistance from human hands – usually hers!
Jess and five-year-old Jim were enrolled in the one-room school, where their fellow students were not only the local children but also the sons and daughters of nearby ranchers at Maiden Creek and Big Bar, who arrived by buckboard or on horseback.
Thomas found here a plentitude of the Lord’s work. His parish stretched more than 300 miles from Barkerville in the north to Lytton in the south, and this vast area was traversed by him on horseback and by buckboard in his desire to bring the word to every living soul in it. The cattlemen on their remote grasslands, the miners and dancehall girls in Barkerville, the Indians on the rancheries, the cowboys on the bunchgrass ranges – all knew the tall form in dusty black and all, whether of another faith or no faith at all, respected the integral honesty and sincerity of the man.
At first, in Clinton, he held his services in the lobby of the hotel where the owner, Mrs. Smith, hailed this first resident minister as a harbinger of more urbane living. To supply music for the services she would have the bar-room piano pushed to the lobby door, and when the offering was taken this indomnitable [sic] woman would pass the plate among the bar patrons as well, claiming that, even if not actually at the service, they had a least heard the hymns! Later, Thomas was able to use the Clinton schoolhouse for his services, but in Lytton a saloon provided him with a pulpit on his infrequent visits there. Few barkeeps welcomed a preacher, but the proprietress of this bar dragooned her patrons not only to contribute but also to participate. Fortunately for the unregenerate, owing to the magnitude of his parish Thomas was unable to preach in the outlying villages more than once or twice a year!
This man had the capacity to inspire loyalty to himself and his ideals; the rules of his church were rigid and he adhered to them faithfully, but his humour and his genuine humanity warmed its Spartan regime. His children never faulted him for any deprivation they might suffer through church restrictions; an eight-year-old Jim, agonizing through Wednesday night prayer meeting while his schoolmates went to the first circus ever to come to Clinton, wept inwardly as much for his father as for himself because he know [sic] The Dad wanted to go to that circus just as much as he did. (This grandchild was almost full-grown before she realized that the Hall children’s affectionate name for their father was not, as she had supposed, an ecclesiastical title for a minister who was also a parent, but rather a lingering family Irishism!)
To Thomas, a promise once made was always kept – an anecdote of their Clinton days had the family just sitting down to their Christmas dinner when he remembered that at the morning service he had promised to visit an elderly couple, so back into the oven went the family dinner while The Dad harnessed the horse and jingled off in the cutter through the snow to pay his call!
If Thomas found his fulfillment in Clinton, young Jim found there a small boy’s demi-paradise. At night as he lay in bed he could hear the klonk of the bells on the freight oxen grazing over the valley slopes, and see in the distance the small-gleaming campfires of the freighters, while the scent of sage, sun-warmed and dew-cooled, crept into the room to permeate his dreams. Each day brought a myriad adventures [sic]; the thundering arrival of the stagecoach, swishing small boys into half-fearful, wholly worshipful clusters around legendary drivers, and hours of sheer bliss fishing in the creek and scrambling among the pines of the bench lands in largely futile chase of rabbits and squirrels. The smithy was an unfailing entertainment, especially when the struggling bawling oxen were hoisted up in canvas slings preparatory to affixing their two-piece shoes. The campground offered a variety of delights: the profane confusion of hitching-up time, the pancake dripping with blackstrap tossed by a camp cook, and the exotic mystery of the itinerant Chinese hunkered over their tiny cooking fires of dry grass and pine cones. There were many Chinese in the Cariboo at this time; some 8,000 had been brought from China by Andrew Onderdonk for construction of the C.P.R. roadbed at a wage of $1 per day; on completion of the railway, there were summarily left to make a living on their own. Some set up the hand-laundries and cafes which were to become their monopoly [sic] for two generations; other groups trudged to abandoned goldfields where they painstakingly worked the tailings and recovered fair amounts of gold. Clinton was a natural stopping-place on the way to Barkerville, and the campground was seldom without pigtailed groups chittering in their shrill singsong. Jim sometimes shared their meal of fish and rice, and in his adult life insisted that rice served in his own home be cooked in the Chinese manner; when polished rice became universal, he would scour the Chinese quarter to find his favoured rough variety.
The social season at Clinton was the period between Christmas and New Year, when sleigh loads of ranching families from the district descended upon the town for a week of festivities, and the pent-up gaiety of hard-working months exploded in nightly dances which lasted until dawn. The Reverend and his wife always received cards, and although the rules of their church forbade their attendance, they prized the invitations as symbols of the good-will of their fellow citizens.
In 1885 Mary Jane gave birth to their seventh child, another son, Albert Clinton on September 1st. And in 1887 Thomas was transferred to Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley.
This was not the widespread orderly patchwork of prosperous farms of later years, for no dikes had yet been built to restrain the Fraser’s spring freshets and farming was confined to high ground along the river margins, leaving the back areas to the dense pristine bush. Even so, it was not uncommon for a farmer to have to use a boat or canoe to get around his flooded acres in the high-water season.
The Methodist faith was already well established here, and the first church of any denomination in the lower Fraser Valley had been built by them in Chilliwack in 1869.
The village itself consisted of a couple of stores and a very few houses, mostly Indian, clustered around the boat landing, from which there were daily paddlewheel steamers to Yale and New Westminster. A good many white families, though, lived in the outlying areas and already as least two of the well-known dairy farms of later years had made a beginning: James and Chester Chadsey had started their dairy herd in 1862, and A. C. Wells in 1867 laid the foundations for his “Edenbank” herd.
Sometime during their last two years in Chilliwack Jim, now a sturdy ten-to-twelve years, found himself a job as chore-boy at Edenbank Farm; no sinecure this, for he had to get up every morning at 4:30 to help clean the barns and care for the 60 milking cows in the herd before walking to school. Such a regime would seem harsh to us today but it was not uncommon for young boys of the time, and he, like the others, still found opportunities for fun – Dave Chadsey and Jim Marshall, sons of pioneers in the district, became lifelong friends and the three spent many hours fishing, hunting and playing ball with the Indian boys of the village. By a process of osmosis they gained some knowledge of the Salish Indian tongue, and many years later Jim was to mystify his grandchildren with hymns trolled lustily in this gutteral [sic] idiom.
In 1890 the family moved to Kamloops, where two years earlier a Methodist church had been built with the Rev. Charles Ladner as its first minister; Thomas succeeded Mr. Ladner, and served in this community for three years. Here Mary Jane had her first experience of that mainstay of the church, the Ladies’ Aid, an organization which on occasion caused her some trepidation. In those times, with frequent transfers of ministers, it was impractical for each to carry his household goods with him, so an established church would supply a parsonage which was completely furnished through the efforts of the Ladies’ Aid. The ladies were naturally anxious that the furnishing for which they had worked so hard should be properly cared for and left in good condition for the next incumbent, and so, all too often, the monthly gatherings of the L. A. over the tea cups at the parsonage turned into actual barracks inspections, with the minister’s wife suffering agonies lest her housekeeping be found wanting.
Mary Jane at this time was far from well. Like many women of the day, her health had been undermined by too-frequent pregnancies and miscarriages; now, at the age of 43, she was again pregnant and so seriously ill that she was bed-ridden for some months. Little Harry Eccles, who was born in Kamloops on July 2, 1891, was a frail child and his care added to the problems of a house already sheltering five robust children. A general maid, not always too competent, took over the housework and Jessie, now a young miss of fifteen, lent a hand, but even so Mary Jane found her slight store of strength exhausted by each sundown.
There were also frequent and lingering guests. By virtue of its clear dry air and sunshine, Kamloops had earned a reputation for the healing of “lung fever,” and it was not uncommon for Methodist families in other parts of the province to send ailing relatives to visit the Kamloops parsonage for months in quest of health.
Thomas unwittingly relieved them of one onerous household chore when in 1891 he preformed the marriage ceremony for Ah Mee and Miss Cherry Jip Ti Li, the first Christian Chinese to be married in the church. As his fee the groom, who owned a small wash-house, undertook to do the family’s laundry for a year free of charge! Since a minister in those days was expected to wear a fresh starched white shirt every day of his life, no inconsiderable load was thus lifted by these generous Oriental hands.
In this more sophisticated community, Thomas found that his work had expanded to include many more church activities – the choir, the Ladies’ Aid, the Epworth League, the Sunday School, the W.C.T.U. and their attendant bazaars all laid claim to his time. Ordinarily, Mary Jane would have been expected to take over some of these duties, but her precarious health did not allow of this and accordingly their young daughter Jessie stepped into the breach. Unlike her tall brothers, she was a tiny, birdlike girl; of boundless energy and enthusiasm and totally dedicated to her father and his work, she became a very real factor in all his churches from this time on.
In 1893 the Halls moved to New Westminster and for the first time since they left Ontario they met kinfolk. Thomas’s brother, Robert, had come west some years after him and was principal of a school here; his daughters, Marjorie and Arvilla, were delighted at the advent of their lively cousins. New Westminster, still the Queen City of the province, offered advantages which were not available in the hinterlands: Thomas had access to libraries and the companionship of leaders in the religious field, Jess and Jim attended college, and the younger children were initiated into grade schools. The parsonage here was a very large old house, its only heating the fireplaces in every high-ceilinged room; in after years, Jim’s recollections of New Westminster were dominated by the big iron scuttle into which it was his daily chore to shovel the ashes from all fourteen of those fireplaces.
Sorrow, too, met them here: the baby Harry, whose three short years had been a constant struggle for life, died on June 14, 1894.
In 1896 they moved to the Wallace Street Methodist Church in Nanaimo; there was no college here, so Jim took a job clerking in a store and early in 1899, when he was 21, went to Kamloops and took up railroading.
1900 saw the Halls back in Chilliwack where friends of thirteen years ago welcomed them to a greatly changed community: the village had become more urban, truck gardens and dairy farms were numerous through the valley, and rich bottomland was being reclaimed by dyking from the Fraser’s floods. The parsonage became a centre for the young people of the congregation, and evening sing-songs around its piano enlivened the more serious church activities. Their enthusiasm for good works cannot be questioned, but it does seem likely that the presence in the parsonage of four personable young men did nothing to discourage feminine attendance at such functions. Fred was in his early twenties, Ernie and Ab in their late teens, and Jim, also in his twenties, often came down from Kamloops to visit his family. Since it was unthinkable that a young lady should walk home unescorted from the parsonage of an evening, any fair (or not so fair) guest who lacked a cavalier could be sure of one, drafted from the manpower pool so fortunately available.
Music was always an integral part of the fabric of parsonage life; they all, especially Fred, had good voices and they sang not only on conventional occasions, but as a natural part of hour-to-hour living. Even today “Nazareth” recalls her father to Fred’s daughter, and it need only the opening chords of “The Old Rugged Cross” to bring to Jim’s children a throat-tightening recollection of their father, gun over shoulder, trolling lustily as he stroke through the vivid autumn bush or, very early on a summer morning, humming like a lusty Moodie and Sankey bee as he worked in his garden.
It must be admitted that Jim’s visits to Chilliwack were more frequent in the fall, when plump pheasants and partridges fattening on the valley crops lured him into the hunting field, but equally satisfying to him was the reverent routine of the Sabbath in his father’s house and the pleasant nostalgia of listening once more to The Dad’s sermons and joining full-voiced in the familiar hymns. (Note 9)
The Chilliwack tenure proved to be a time of mating – on Christmas Day of 1902 Thomas performed the marriage ceremony for Ernie and Grace Read; on June 1, 1904, a like service united Jessie and Albert Knight; and on June 21, 1904, Jim married Janet McLean of Kamloops and proudly brought his bride to show her off to his family.
With these three established in their own homes and Ab working on the ‘Chilliwack Progress,’ only Fred went with his family when Thomas was transferred in the summer of 1904 to Eburne on the north arm of the Fraser River across from present-day Marpole. After the lively and close-knit family life of Chilliwack, the days must have seemed almost too placid, but Jess and her brother Ab were frequent visitors and during the latter part of the Eburne tenure the third generation put in an appearance when Grace, Jessie and Janet on various occasions brought their baby daughters to visit their grandparents.
Thomas was in great demand to conduct revival meetings throughout the whole valley; for some years, too, he had played an increasingly important part in the B.C. Conference of the Methodist Church, which governed the operation and policies of the church in the province. He held various offices in the organization and eventually was given the honour of being elected president of the Conference.
In 1907 he was transferred to Revelstoke, a railroad town in the Selkirk Mountains. The posting was a diplomatic manoeuvre by the Board; the previous incumbent having indiscreetly shown himself to be only too human, it was hoped that Thomas’s obvious integrity would burnish the slightly tarnished Methodist image.
Family news from the Valley was not altogether happy – Fred was working in Eburne and Ab was still with the Chilliwack newspaper and gaily courting his Barbara, but Ernie and his wife, to his parents’ horror, had decided to divorce. And Jess and her husband were having a hard time of it financially. Thomas didn’t succeed in reconciling the young people, but he did find a job in Revelstoke for Albert Knight, and that couple came to live for some time with the Halls in the mountain town, where Jessie once again slipped happily into her role as her father’s assistant in church activities.
In 1910 they went back to the Lower Fraser Valley; the Methodists of Sardis, a few miles from Chilliwack, who had formerly worshipped in that town, had now built their own Carman Church and had asked that Thomas be its first minister. Mary Jane had found the severe mountain winters very trying and Thomas had experienced an occasional malaise which he attributed to the altitude but which was later diagnosed in the parlance of the day as “a weak heart’ – so they were delighted to return to the soft climate of the well-loved Valley and the welcome from friends of bygone years.
Sardis had another advantage: Jess and Albert Knight now owned a dairy farm there, so not only would the Halls have family close at hand but Jess, as a member of Carman Church, could pilot her father through the cross-currents of personalities inevitably encountered in a newly-established congregation.
Carman had no parsonage, but Thomas planned on retiring here when his tenure was through, so he bought a modest house on the outskirts of the village and for the first time in thirty-eight years they could settle down under their very own roof to live out their lives without further uprootings (sic).
(Forty years later Jim, driving down the highway from Kamloops to visit Jess in Sardis, would take the quiet by-road to Carman Church and slip into its mid-week emptiness to spend a nostalgic hour playing the organ and singing the old, old hymns so familiar to him and to the parents lying close by in Carman’s grassy graveyard.) (Note 10)
They had little more than a year in Sardis – late on the night of November 17th, 1911, Mary Jane was awakened from sleep by the stertorous breathing of her husband and even as she reached out to him the sudden silence told her that he had gone beyond her help. Death was no stranger to her; she had closed the eyes of three of her children and had washed the bodies of many pioneer neighbors, but this was the man who had been the core of their family life; one can hardly conceive the utter desolation of those endless moments and the blank despair in which she finally fumbled on some clothing and stumbled through the dark and the rain to get help from a neighbor.
Thomas was buried in Carman graveyard. Eulogies appeared in coastal and Interior newspapers, and friends came from all parts of the province to attend the service. Some time later, a tall and handsome granite memorial was placed over his grave by members of his B.C.. parishes in honour of the man who had so truly lived his life by the precepts of his Master.
Mary Jane was taken into her daughter’s home; suffering the indignity of early senility and the lost and lonely existence of those whose clouded minds no longer know reality, she died on December 25th, 1915.
Mary Jane Hall died before her grandchildren were old enough to really know her, and I felt I must learn more about the woman who bore eight children and reared them under generally straitened financial conditions; made sixteen homes in widely-varying locations from one side of Canada to the other (Note11); and every few years faced the painful necessity of tearing up roots and making new friends in a different environment.
The only way I could develop her personality was by talking to those few people now living who had known her a t different times in her life. An elderly lady who had been a very young woman in Clinton when the Halls lived there said, “She wasn’t the striking personality that the Reverend was, but we soon found that she was always there quietly to help everyone and anyone.” Jim’s wife appreciated particularly her mother-in-law’s dry humour and her immense commonsense, both of which Janet felt made more human the somewhat rarefied air of parsonage life. A Chilliwack oldster said, “She was a practical Christian; church doings meant less to her than helping people.” But we can perhaps know Mary Jane best from the words of her daughter-in-law Grace, Ernie’s former wife, who wrote, “Mrs. Hall was one of the kindest persons I’ve ever known; always doing something for someone.” No mean memorial to lay gently on Mary Jane’s resting place in Carman.
Thomas Wellington Hall, b. Cavan County, Ontario 28 May 1847; d. Sardis, B.C. 17 Nov. 1911 (age 64) married Mary Jane Cole b. Manchester, England 11 Dec. 1848; d. Sardis, B.C. 25 Dec. 1915 (age 67).
2. Jessie Jane Hall b. Huntsville, Ontario, 6 Mar. 1876; d. Chilliwack, B.C., 13 Jan 1961 (age 85) married Albert Shelton Knight b. Artemisia, Ontario, 24 Sept. 1873; d. Chilliwack, B.C. 6 Apr. 1964 (age 91)
5. Frederick Milford Hall b. Millford, Man. 18 Dec. 1880; d. Terrace, B.C. 25 May 1950 (age 70) married Cassie May Bailey b. Chilliwack, B.C. 7 Mar. 1897; d. Terrace, B.C. 1 Dec. 1958 (age 61)
6. Ernest Wilbur Hall b. Souris, Man. 11 Oct 1882; d. somewhere in Canada 1919 (age 37) married Grace Alice Frances Read b. Chilliwack, B.C. 10 Apr 1885
7. Albert Clinton Hall b. Clinton, B.C. 1 Sept. 1885; d. Sardis, B.C. 8 Apr 1937 (age 52) married Minnie Barbara McKenzie, b. Chilliwack, B.C.
8. Harry Eccles Hall b. Kamloops, B.C. 2 July 1891; d. New Westminster, B.C. 14 June 1894 (age 3)
Jessie Jane Hall
From her teens until his death in 1912, devotion to her father and dedication to his church made Jess his whole-hearted assistant; her administrative ability had full play in organizing church affairs and her genuine interest in people, together with an easy and never-failing flow of small-talk, made even the shyest parishioner feel at ease.
She continued her church work until late in life, when ill-health forced her retirement. The countless hours teaching in Sunday school, the innumerable meetings of the W.C.T.U., the Ladies’ Aid and the Missionary Society, the myriad bazaars, bake sales and other fun-raising enterprises, the melodious labour of love in the choir and the cantatas – all gave her a wealth of experience for which Carman ministers were truly thankful.
In later years, their adolescent sophistication might lead visiting nieces to chafe under the restrictions imposed by their aunt’s strict adherence to the rules of her church, but maturity brought to them a belated admiration for the staunch soul who could maintain her principles whether or not they were in fashion.
On June 1, 1904, Jessie married Albert Shelton Knight, son of a pioneer family which had come from Ontario to Sardis circa 1881. In contrast to his small dynamo of a wife, he was a quiet, slow-speaking man, a vagrant twinkle and a sudden shy humour lightening his apparent stolidity.
Jessie and Albert spent most of their married life in Sardis, where they owned a dairy farm; they had two daughters and an adopted son. In later years they lived in retirement in Chilliwack, and it was here on January 13th, 1961 that Jessie died, with Albert following her on April 6th, 1964.
Jess was always important in the lives of her brothers: in childhood a deputy mother, and in their adult years the link between them her chatty letters the clearing house for all family news, and their visits to her home a nostalgic renewal of the ways of their youth still maintained by the sister for whom they all felt such affection and admiration.
Jessie Jane Hall married Albert Shelton Knight. Children:
1. Edna Beatrice Knight married Basil Owen Morgan
(i) James Albert Owen Morgan married (1) Doreen Anne Credon, New Westminster; children: James Daniel, Jack Owen, & Roselyn Anne
James married (2) Yvonne DeGuerre; children: Robert Darren
(ii) Barbara Jean Morgan married Ronald John Finnigan, Coquitlam; children: Lisa Yvonne, Andrew and Michael John
(iii) Roselyn Joan Morgan married Melville Edwin Fleming, Sardis; children: Sherilyn Ann & Murray Jason
2. Kathleen Manetta Knight married William Dyble; children:
(i) Louise Dyble married Harry Alvin Cochrane, Sardis; children: Robert Cochrane and Linda Cochrane
(ii) Marie Dyble married Eugene Edgar Ward, Sardis; children: Kay Ward, Lyn Ward, & Ray Ward
(iii) June Dyble married Ronald Clarence Hendrickson, Valcartier, P.Q.; children: Brenda Hendrickson & Bryan Hendrickson
(iv) Leslie Dyble married Laurelli Erickson, Sardis; children: Stefanne
(v) Doreen Dyble married Claude Pauze, Sardis; children: Rochelle Pauze & Jeffrey Pauze
3. Gilbert Wellington Knight married Muriel Stubbs; children:
(i) Richard Knight married Dianne Ecleston; children: April Knight, Lisa Knight, & Mark Knight
(ii) Kenneth Knight married Linda Cook
James Wesley Hall
It is difficult to be objective about a man whose laughter, even after thirteen years of absence, still sounds in our lives, whose songs still linger in our gardens, lakes and woods, and whose favourite anecdotes and expressions still crop up in our own conversations.
An extrovert who thoroughly enjoyed people and crowds, yet he found a deep satisfaction in hunting and fishing; quite apart from the sporting aspect, he seemed to have a need for solitary communion with the elemental to put him in balance with life. Nor did weather or age change this rapport – rain, snow and shine were as one to him, and even in his late sixties he could out-walk and outlast his younger companions in the field.
A teetotaller [sic] – yet he had as longtime friends two unregenerate alcoholics who gladly suffered his mandatory doses of brimstone for the sake of the relaxed companionship which followed the lecture. Obstinate, opinionated and occasionally prejudiced – how did that Orange bias survive so strongly after 300 years? Warm, outgoing, a friend to every man – he never met a stranger, for such was his empathy that inevitably five minutes casual talk made that man an interesting and interested acquaintance. And certainly his most unforgettable characteristic was his absolute integrity – like a rock it buttressed his whole life even in the smallest details, and of him it could be said truthfully that his word WAS his bond.
Jim was twelve years old when the family moved to Kamloops in 1890, and from the first day he thrilled to the huge steam engines growling into the railway yards, the siren song of their eerie whistles holding him spellbound beside the cinder tracks. In 1899, when he was 21, he left the family home in Nanaimo and came to Kamloops to realize the boyhood dream. Fortunately for him, engine crews were in demand, so he spent only two years at the backbreaking job of fireman before becoming an engineer.
In 1904 Jim married Janet Winnifred McLean of Kamloops, and they moved into a small cement-washed house in the 300 block of Lansdowne Street directly across from the C.P.R. station and next door to the identical home of his former Chilliwack crony, Jim Marshall, and his wife Kate. (At this time Marshall operated the café at the C.P.R. station.)
In 1912 Jim left the railroad and for the next six years he and T. J. Wilcox operated a hardware store midway down the north side of the 300 block of Victoria Street. The hours were even worse than those on the railroad – they opened the store at 8 a.m. and continued until 9 p.m. six days a week – but the gregarious Jim thoroughly enjoyed the social contacts of merchandising life. He came to know every farmer within a radius of fifty miles, and spent leisurely hours palavering in his limited Salish with the local Indians who came to the store.
In 1918 the business failed; it was taken over by Marshall-Wells and operated for many years under the same trade name of Wilcox-Hall. Jim went back to railroading, this time with the P. G. E. working out of Squamish. Early in 1919 he returned to Kamloops and for the next 11 years he worked as night foreman of the C. N. R. shops here, a 12-hour-per-night, 6-night-per-week job which drained life of much of its colour and fun.
In 1930 he once more quit railroading, this time to start a career which offered full scope for his sociable nature: he and William Pruden opened a real estate office. There were the inevitable lean periods incumbent upon the “Dirty Thirties.” But the young business managed to survive. When Bill Pruden took employment with the Department of Indian Affairs, Peter Wing joined the firm and, with Janet acting as secretary, the business went on to achieve a modest prosperity. In 1959, at a surprisingly active 81, Jim finally retired from the wage-earning world.
The next four years were full ones – he and Janet enjoyed car trips around the province to renew acquaintance with old friends and places known in bygone years; they had all the fun and frolic of four young grandchildren living within a few blocks of them; although he could no longer hunt, he and Janet spent leisurely hours fly-fishing nearby lakes, and continued their partisan and vocal attendance at baseball games; Jim became unofficial doyen of those organizations interested in the history of early Kamloops; and the winter days were brightened by televisioned [sic] hockey and wrestling and the ongoing cribbage contest with Janet.
In 1963, however, Jim developed a circulatory condition which necessitated surgery and a long confinement to bed at home, where Janet nursed him until his death in November 1965.
Janet in earlier years had been very active in community affairs, but advancing age and the isolation of the two years spent nursing Jim had taken from her the inclination and the energy for this work; she was far from ready for complete retirement, though, and for ten years after Jim’s death she centred [sic] around her apartment a busy and happy life involving family, friends and church. Increasing emphysema, however, sapped her strength until in March, 1975 she went into Mount Paul Private Hospital were she remained, still feisty, still intensely interested in life, until pneumonia brought about her death in January, 1978.
James Wesley Hall married Janet Winnifred McLean and had children:
1. Margaret Jean Hall married William Herbert North (Kamloops)
2. Merlin Governor (Mike) Hall married (1) Mary Catherine Rankins; children:
(i) William James Michael Hall (Kamloops)
(ii) Peter Stanley Hall married (1) Heather-Anne Campbell
(2) Charlotte Hjelm (Vancouver)
Merlin Hall married (2) Dorothy May Steen (Kamloops)
3. Anna Kathleen Chisholm Hall married George Mingay Killen (Kamloops) & had children:
(i) Janis Lenore Killen married Mark Laverne Ottem (Kamloops) & had children: Derek Peter Ottem & Kelly Margaret Ottem
(ii) Susan Jean Killen married Larry Podhora (UBC, Vancouver)
Frederick Milford Hall
The Irish fairies who clustered around his cradle gifted Fred richly, but their perverse humour also endowed him with a philosophy of life which, while natural in a leprechaun, was less acceptable in a human. Good looking, sunny tempered, with a gift for spinning tales and a golden singing voice, he would have made a superb midaeval [sic] troubadour, wandering without care as fancy led, but while his gifts were appreciated in his own times, his irresponsible approach to the whole mundane business of making a living made him a misfit in a modern society.
This niece talked with two elderly ladies who in their youth had often attended the gatherings around the parsonage piano in Chilliwack. Even now their eyes brightened at the remembrance of those charmed evenings and said one, “I don’t expect even the angels will sing as beautifully as Fred.” And a man who had known him in Terrace told me, “He couldn’t keep tuppence [sic] in his pockets, but if I had the choice of anyone to spend a day on the lake fishing and talking, I’d take Fred – and feel that a king couldn’t have better company.”
As a young man he drifted into and out of various jobs, each soon abandoned in the shining belief that something better lay just over the horizon; in the interregnums, he paid extended visits to various members of his family. He served overseas in the First World War as a sergeant in the Medical Corps, was repatriated in 1919, and in 1920 he took him a wife. Cassie May Bailey, a Chilliwack school teacher, at 23 was seventeen years younger than he, but she possessed a loving appreciation of her husband’s gifts, the forbearance to overlook his failings, and the practicality and humour to deal with the ups-and-downs of life with this erratic provider.
After their marriage the couple went north, ending up at Terrace, where they lived out the span of their lives. A lover of the outdoors, it was Fred’s good fortune that he could get work in the booming timber industry – jobs which allowed him to enjoy the freedom of the woods while earning a living. As a timber cruiser he ranged the bush as far west as the Queen Charlotte Islands; as a log scaler and as a fisheries patrolman the magic link was still maintained. Even so, his work pattern remained sporadic.
Three daughters were born to Cassie and Fred. While financial crises were common all their young lives, their growing years were made bright by Cassie’s humour and practical approach to the problems which beset them, and by the insubstantial thread of their father’s unquenchable optimism.
Cassie quietly made her own contribution to the community. Always keenly interested in education, she served on the Terrace School Board from 1943 –57 and today the “Cassie Hall Elementary School” in Terrace bears permanent testimony to the value placed on her work by her fellow citizens.
Fred Hall charmed even Death into giving him the exit he would have wished – always active, trim and healthy, he was still enjoying life in his seventieth year when on May 25th, 1950 a mercifully swift stroke stilled forever the voice of the feckless troubadour.
Cassie outlived her husband, but the courage with which she had faced life was sorely tested by the manner of her death – cancer held her in its cruel grip for a year before her release on December 1st, 1958.
Children of Frederick Milford Hall and Cassie May Bailey:
1. Freda Claire Hall married Robert Roy Mallory (Prince Rupert)
(i) Rosemary Catherine Mallory (Smithers)
2. Violet Marie Hall married (1) Jack Macdonald; children:
(i) James Stephen Macdonald married Catherine Bennett (Terrace)
(ii) David Gordon
(i) Heather Marie
(ii) Grant Douglas
Violet Marie Hall married (2) Francis Homer (Jim) Piffer and above children David, Heather & Grant have taken the surname of their stepfather, Jim Piffer. All live in Terrace.
3. Frances Mary Hall married Cyril Olsen ( dec.) (Terrace); children:
(i) Wanda Olsen (Terrace)
(ii) Diane Olsen (Terrace)
Ernest Wilbur Hall
A sister-in-law was to say of Ernie, “He was a happy person, full of fun and the Old Nick – but a nice Old Nick. He would tease and play jokes, but he never did anything small or mean.’
In Chilliwack on Christmas Day, 1902, the Reverend T. W. Hall joined in marriage his son Ernie and Grace Alice Frances Read of that town; after the service he presented the couple with a family bible in which he had recorded the event. (Note 11). It is safe to assume that the pair could well use the words of wisdom in both the Book and Thomas’s exhortation, for they were very, very young – Ernie had worn the dignity of his twentieth birthday for only two months and Grace was not yet eighteen. Two years later their daughter was born, the first grandchild in the family, but even her coming could not reconcile the differences developing between her young parents, differences which culminated in divorce in November 1909.
For the next few years Ernie worked in real estate in Vancouver; on the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the Canadian forces and served overseas as gunner with the 1st Mounted Battery, 3rd Division of the Canadian Artillery. The unit was in Britain by January 1915, manning anti-aircraft batteries in London. Ernie’s letters to his brother Jim described graphically the eerie shadows of the blacked-out capital, the startling tableau of ten “Zeps” caught simultaneously in the searchlights’ beams, and, somewhat wryly, the impossibility of “doing the town” on the $5 per month allotted him from his pay. Finally, in March 1916 the battery was alerted for France – but before they left a refractory black wheeler named Satan bucked Ernie off so decisively that his kneecap was shattered, necessitating two operations and six months hospitalization. At long last in the fall of 1916 he joined his unit in France and reported gleefully to Jim that he had met his former Vancouver boss “crawling around in the mud just like the rest of us.” A snapshot sent t o Jim at this time showed him perched on a mess-table sharing with three buddies the tedium of a punitive spell of K .P. – and two outsize bottles of wine. But the picture sent to sister Jess was of a sedate and soldierly brother in the bulky khaki of the time, puttees neatly rolled and cap at the correct angle.
In the winter of 1918-19, at the conclusion of hostilities, Ernie and thousands of other citizen-soldiers returned to Canada. In troop-trains crawling across the broad face of their native land, they skylarked and joked in the joyous certainty that they had survived the war to see once again that one spot of earth which meant home. But they soon discovered that a long-familiar adversary rode with them: Death, whom they thought to have left in Flanders, now threatened then with the third sword, plague. All around the world people of all nations were dying in their thousands of a virulent influenza, and the universal tragedy was now re-enacted in microcosm in the troop-trains. When men grew too sick for the rough and ready care of their comrades, they were left at wayside towns to be taken into overcrowded improvised hospitals; in the general confusion few records were kept, so that soldiers died and were buried by townsmen who did not know even the names of those they committed to the snow-covered earth.
One of these unknown dead was Ernie. It was many months before his family could learn what had happened, but the Army made exhaustive enquiries and the conclusion was inescapable: his pack, his paybook and his personal possessions were still on the train, and members of his unit recalled that he had been unloaded with other terminal cases at an unremembered town.
Only one person refused to accept the verdict – his sister, Jessie; she was convinced that Ernie, suffering from amnesia, had somehow gotten to California and made a new life there. For years afterward she advertised in American periodicals (many of these pathetic appeals from relatives of missing soldiers appeared in magazines of the time) and so strong was her belief that when her brother Albert died in 1937 she listed among his surviving relatives “Ernest Hall of California.”
Children of Ernest Wilbur Hall and Grace Alice Frances Read:
1. Esther Berniece Hall married Lyle Francis Knight (Crescent Beach)
(i) Glenn Douglas Knight married (1) Joan Hall and had children: Sharon Knight, Gregory Knight & Noreen Knight. [These children and their mother, Joan, now live in New Zealand.]
Glenn Knight married (2) Sylvia Pearson (San Jose, California)
(ii) William Dene Knight married Lorraine O’Rourke (Prince George) and had children: Lynn Knight who md. Alan Box; Douglas Knight, Robert Knight & Lyle Knight, all of Prince George.
(iii) Irene Elizabeth Knight married Lloyd Ongman (Prince George) and had children: Kerry Ongman, Brent Ongman & Kristine Ongman, all of Prince George.
(iv) Geraldine Berniece Knight married Robert Kazakoff (Toronto, Ont.) and had children: Andrea Kazakoff and Robert Kazakoff
Albert Clinton Hall
After finishing school, Ab worked for some years in the printing office of the “Chilliwack Progress.” He married Minnie Barbara McKenzie, whose parents owned a quiet family hotel in Chilliwack, and around 1911 they moved to Vancouver, where he and his brother Ernie engaged in real estate. In 1918 the Ab Halls went to Seattle, Washington where Ab worked for some eleven years with the Hardaman Hat Company; in 1929 he returned to his first trade and was employed by the “Seattle Times” newspaper until his death.
Ab and Barbara were a well-matched pair – laughter-loving, warm-hearted and social, they created a pleasant and lively life style of many friends and activities, but they kept in touch with their families and the less sophisticated world of their adolescence by regular visits to sister Jess in Sardis.
The younger Kamloops niece, visiting Aunt Jessie on one of these occasions, can recall being posted by Barbara as lookout on the broad staircase leading upstairs in Jessie’s home while Barbara, longing for her customary cigarette, puffed guiltily in the bathroom carefully flapping the telltale smoke out the open window. A memory laced with Barbara’s laughter and the bright face of this gay young aunt.
It was on such a visit “home” on April 8th, 1937 that Ab suffered a fatal heart seizure; he was buried in Sardis.
After his death, Barbara moved to Vancouver and some years later married Gordon Grassette. Jim and Janet, Jessie and Albert all had a great fondness for this lively sister-in-law and maintained the friendship until Barbara’s death in 1946.
Ab and Barbara had one child, a son Jack, who remained in the United States and in his adult years had no contact with his Canadian kinfolk; his attendance at his mother’s funeral in Vancouver was the last time any of them saw him.
Notes – The Halls – Thomas and Mary Jane
Note 5 - The Hall family bible is a large leather-bound one, with the usual section in the centre for the recording of marriages, births and deaths.
Oddly, it is an American edition, published in 1870 by William W. Harding of Philadelphia; the foreword deletes as “unnecessary and improper in an American edition” the usual dedication to King James I of England. Various features lead to the belief that this bible was bought in Ohio in 1871 by George Cole, who had emigrated [sic] to the United States prior to that date. According to the presentation note on the flyleaf, he gave it to his sister, Mary Jane, on her marriage in 1872 to Thomas Wellington Hall.
The young husband, Thomas, opened their family record by entering the details of his own birth and that of his wife; also at this time he made the entry concerning their marriage. Over the years which followed, he recorded the births of their seven sons and one daughter, as well as the deaths in childhood of three of their sons.
After the deaths of Thomas and Mary Jane Hall, the bible passed to their daughter, Jessie (Hall) Knight; at her death in 1961 it was given to her brother, James W. Hall, who shortly before his death in 1965 gave it to his granddaughter, Janis L. (Killen) Ottem, the present owner of the book.
Note 6 – This “fur” coat was actually of buffalo hide and a type very common in the west at this time. With the thick coarse hair on the outside and a lining of heavy flannel, it protected the wearer against both wind and below-zero temperatures. This coat gave yeoman service to Thomas, who wore it for many winters on the prairies, in the Cariboo and at Kamloops, until the increasing baldness of old age forced its retirement.
Note 7 - In September 1974, we visited the Millford cairn and the cemetery, set in an isolated area where hill and grasslands stretched empty around it. I had known, of course, that neither stick nor stone remained of the village, but what surprised me was the number of graves in the cemetery. Considering the short life of the settlement I had expected only a lonely handful, but there were well over fifty, bearing dates from 1883 up to 1970; what I had not realized, of course, was that some settlers and their descendants in the surrounding area had chosen to be buried here. Indeed, on one little hillock, dignified by a recent wrought-iron fence and tall memorial stone, were the graves of John Mooney and his wife, the parents of Nellie McClung.
This was the most peaceful and pleasant of resting places on the benchland overlooking the thickly-wooded little valley through which Oak Creek ambled its way to the Souris, its tousled charm innocent of the closely groomed uniformity of urban cemeteries. Guarded by a windbreak of tall somber spruce, the consecrated acre was a medley of small sunlit grassy clearings, tangles of waist-high brush and scattered clumps of poplar, maple and oak vibrant in their autumn colours. Nor were the graves in regimented rows: narrow paths ran from clearing to tall oak to hillside scrub and at random intervals along them were graves – here a family group, there a lonely mound.
The old-time practice of “tombstones at head and feet” prevailed: the headstones on two small companion graves bore the names of a young brother and sister while each footstone carried the single heartbroken word “Darling.” One very tall white marble column glimmered ghostly, the wild rose haws bright as blood droplets against its graceful height, but most stones were low ones of grey granite, and many nameless mounds bore only rough field stones at head and foot. And among these anonymous graves, I knew, was that of my small kinsman laid to rest here under is blanket of blue well-nigh a hundred years agone.
Note 8 – “Walkerville” no longer appears on the map; it has been absorbed into the city of Windsor, Ontario. As the home office of the Walker, Gooderham & Worts liquor firm, however, that name still appears on their letterhead.
Note 9 – Jessie Hall observed the rules of her church throughout her whole life; changing times softened some regulations but essentially she remained staunch in the rigorous traditions of her forebears. Jim was a church-goer for some years after his marriage and even when his physical attendance became sporadic he continued to support the church financially until his death. Fred, Ernie and Ab, like schoolboys released, during their adult lives appeared in church only when forced by circumstances so to do. It is interesting, though, that both Jim and Fred, perhaps wishing for them the same un-questioning faith which had made their own childhood secure, saw to it that their children went regularly to church and Sunday School.
There was one point on which all four brothers were united – after leaving their father’s house not one of them ever again went to Wednesday night prayer-meeting!
Note 10 – This, the original Carman Church with its own graveyard, was on Higginson Road in Sardis.
Note 11 – Following are the postings in which the Reverend T. W. Hall served:
1871-72 Owen Sound, Ontario 1883-87 Clinton, B C.
1872-73 Aurora, Ontario 1887-90 Chilliwack, B.C.
1873-74 Chatsworth, Ontario 1890-93 Kamloops, B.C.
1874-75 Huntsville, Ontario 1893-96 New Westminster, B.C.
1875-79 Spence, Ontario 1896-1900 Nanaimo, B.C.
1879-80 Birtle, N. W. T. (Man.) 1900-04 Chilliwack, B.C.
1880-82 Millford, N. W. T. (Man.) 1904-07 Eburne (Lulu Island) B.C.
1882-83 Souris, N. W. T. (Man.) 1907-10 Revelstoke, B.C.
1910-11 Sardis, B.C.
Note 12 – Thomas gave a family Bible to each of his children when they married, and all five books are still in the various families with the exception of Janet’s, who gave her copy to the Kamloops branch of the Eastern Star when she was Worthy Matron of that order. It is still in use in their ceremo