Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Trans-Atlantic Journey

My genealogical journey begins with my grandmother, an immigrant from England who faced hardship before settling in Canada.

Dorothy Ethel Stride was born in 1905 in Islington, London. Her father was a member of the Metropolitan Police Force, and was a good provider. Unfortunately when World War I broke out her father was called to military service, and he was killed in 1914 shortly after arriving in Europe. Thereafter her home life became difficult and her relationship with her mother deteriorated. Near the end of the war she was visited several times by an elder brother who had moved to Canada prior to the war and joined the Canadian Army. It was these visits that we believe inspired her to come to Canada herself.

In her mid-teen years she was working as a housekeeper for a family in south London, and she secretly made plans to escape. She left England aboard the SS Pittsburgh on July 7th 1923, her passage having been paid for Mrs. Clarence Webster who had hired her to be a servant. She arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 16th 1923 and took a train to the Webster farm in Shediac, New Brunswick, where she worked for a year to pay off her passage. Early in the summer of 1924 she travelled to Toronto Ontario to join her future husband, whom she had met on the ship.

Many of her official documents from this time give her name as Dorothy Barbara Stride. This name doesn't appear on her official birth certificate, but it's possible she chose the name when she was inducted into the Baptist church at age 21 in Toronto.

The Depression years were relatively kind to the family, as her husband had found a job at the Cortaulds chemical plant in Cornwall. She moved to Cornwall in 1930 with her young children, and studied to become a Registered Nurse's Assistant. Later she took a job at the St. Lawrence Sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, where she worked until her retirement in 1982.

For many years Dorothy had denied the existence of her family in England because of the hatred she bore for her mother, whom she would refer to only as 'that woman'. She also covered up the circumstances of her departure. Her story was that at age 14-1/2 her aunt Rose and several other relations conspired to help her leave England in 1920, providing money and alternate addresses for mail. She was registered in a war-orphans program which put young people on ships to other Commonwealth countries, where they had to work for a year to pay for their passage. Children put into this program had to be orphans and over the age of 16 but Dorothy lied about her status and age. She could have ended up in N.Z. or Australia, but the ship to Canada happened to be leaving on a day when her mother and younger siblings were on a holiday.

She never changed this assertion, even though she reluctantly had to admit to her other siblings when her brother tracked her down and visited her home in Cornwall. She made at least two visits back to London only to be rebuffed by her mother, and so she stayed with one of her sisters.

Dorothy lived in Cornwall for the rest of her life, known as a kind-hearted person who donated money and hand-knit clothes to various families and childrens' groups.

*This is a re-post from the original Cinquefoil Heritage blog on Blogster which has been removed by the author.

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