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Wilf goes to Canada

Wilf Hardy, aged 15 years, at The Mine Office of Mssr's Pease & Partners at Upleatham Mine - 1904.
Wilf Hardy, aged 15 years, at The Mine Office of Mssr’s Pease & Partners at Upleatham Mine – 1904.

theserpentLong before I saw the ruts near Independence Rock and Fort Laramie in Wyoming during September 1998 I was a great fan of pioneers. Those ruts, indelibly carved into the ground rock, had been made by a constant stream of wagons as those pioneers made their way west with all their worldly goods on the Oregon Trail. It is said that from 1840-1870 at least half a million folk from many different cultures and countries walked across America alongside those wagons and engraved that journey on their souls. I’m always excited, but never surprised, when I discover another ancestor that was almost a pioneer, Wilfred Hardy. So he was a bit later but no less the pioneer when he journeyed west to British Columbia in Canada from Marske-by-the-Sea with his wife and two young children in 1925. We have a mounting number of Wilf Hardys in this family… this Wilf Hardy is a newly discovered ancestor and when I first saw the photograph of him as a young man, besides having the Hardy characteristics, I thought he had the sort of swaggering stance of a go-getter.

This Wilfred Hardy was born in June 1889 at Marske-by-the-Sea, in an area historically known as Cleveland, situated on the north edge of The North Yorkshire Moors in Yorkshire. Marske-by-the-Sea also features in the story of the Marleys; all these families are inextricably entangled in small communities, as we have discussed many times before. Wilf’s parents were John Craven Hardy and Mary Annie (née Bailey). He had a brother, 3 years older, called Herbert Charles Hardy and two sisters. Ethel, the oldest child was 9 years Wilfred’s senior and will feature later in this tale; finally was the youngest Marjorie who was born in 1899.

The important thing with family history is finding the links and painstakingly proving them through research; records, records and more records eh!  Wilfred Hardy’s paternal grandfather was George Hardy and on the 1881 Census George is shown as the Post Master at The Post Office situated at No.8 Gurney Street, New Marske, whilst his son John Craven Hardy is next door at No.9. George Hardy was born in February 1827 at Sutton-upon-Derwent and he was one of the 8 children of Easingwold farmer John Hardy and his wife Hannah (née Kirkby). A younger brother of George’s was William Hardy, my great great Grandfather.  William and another brother Jonathan Hardy were both Policemen in the Sunderland Constabulary. So roughly speaking, this Wilfred Hardy is my 3rd cousin once removed… a cousin to all William’s descendants. As ever, I can’t believe how ‘Yorkshire’ we all are!

The fact that Wilf’s father and his grandfather, George Hardy, and his great uncles, William and Jonathan, were all of above average literacy and numeracy speaks highly of these ancestors of ours.  And, if to reinforce this supposition, Wilf’s uncle, another William Hardy only a year younger than his brother John Craven Hardy, is shown on the 1881 Census as being born at Normanby in 1858, unmarried, single and a certified teacher.

That swaggering adolescent Wilf Hardy, as pictured in 1904 when he was aged just 15 years, is just one of the clerks in the Mine Office of Pease & Partners at The Upleatham Mine. It is likely that Wilf would have been an engineering apprentice of some sort and would have served his time, as they say. Pictured (from left-right) are Darkie Reed, Wilf Hardy, Harry Bowers, Ralf Clark, and William Bailey. William Bailey was actually Wilf’s uncle, being one of his mother’s younger brothers. Many of the deputies lived on Gurney Street in New Marske, along with the overmen and back overmen – supervisors and under managers qualified in mine safety and the ‘back’ indicating shifts in the afternoon, and back end of the day. The Gurney Street houses were more spacious for the management compared to the ‘two up two down’ street houses where the general workers lived, like those in Dale Street where there were over a hundred terraced houses. Although small, they were modelled on the best designs of workingmen’s cottages for the time with good sanitation, an allotment for vegetables and a pig sty.  This was largely due to the investment of the Mine Owners Pease & Partners, great Quaker Industrialists of the 19th Century, who built New Marske to house the workforce, providing sufficient housing, schools, reading rooms and places of worship.

The Mine Managers of The Upleatham Mine, New Marske in 1904
The Mine Managers of The Upleatham Mine, New Marske in 1904

Wilfred’s father John Craven Hardy was a clerk in the Ironstone Mine Offices of Pease & Partners and later in the 1901 Census he was shown as a cashier at the Ironstone Mines and Cooperative Society. It was somewhat inevitable that the young Wilf Hardy, a name he seems to go by, was bound for the offices of the mines rather than the rock face of the underground ironstone seams. The photograph features the managers and deputies who were responsible for the daily running of the mine including Blacksmiths, Joiners, Fitters, Winding House, Railtrack, Horse Handling and Office Clerks. Wilf Hardy is pictured second from the right on the top row (see Notes).

The next time I can find Wilf Hardy is in the 1911 Census when he is a 22 year old single man and boarder in the household of Amos Newton a farmer of White House Farm, Great Ayton a short distance away. Wilf is described as a fitter in the Ironstone Mines of Pease Partners. Amos’ eldest of six children, the 27 year old Frederick, is a lowly labourer at the same mine. But interestingly, Amos has some daughters, particularly Daisy Newton who is 21 year old, a single girl working at home. My suspicions were founded, as they quite often are, when records show that Wilf Hardy married Daisy Newton in the June quarter of 1913 in Stokesley (June Q 1913 Stokesley 9d/1163). A daughter Grace Hardy was born to them in the December quarter of 1915 (Dec Q 1915 Stokesley 9d/1084) and a son John Newton Hardy in the June quarter of 1919 (June Q 1919 Stokesley 9d/921).

I wondered what Wilf Hardy may have done during The First World War 1914-1918 because he was of prime age. I wondered whether his mining background may have saved him from the trenches. As such there weren’t reserved occupations during WW1; nobody was exempt from military service. It was a matter for the powers that be to decide whether a man or woman was more useful to the war effort in their civilian job on an individual basis. The closest thing to a reserved occupation during WW1 was the miner because they couldn’t get anyone to replace him. In fact it was said that going off to the trenches was preferable to working in the mines. We may find the answer to Wilf’s WW1 life sometime soon.

The SS Montroyal plied between Liverpool and Quebec
The SS Montroyal plied between Liverpool and Quebec

And now we come to Wilfred Hardy – the pioneer.  Setting sail from Liverpool on The Steam Ship Montroyal on 6 April 1925 was Wilf aged 36, his wife Daisy aged 34, their daughter Grace aged 9 and son John aged 6. They travelled 3rd class on the six day Atlantic crossing and were bound for St Johns New Brunswick Canada and onward across the continent by train, a further distance of 3500 miles (5750 kilometres) to Vancouver in British Columbia. They were travelling on a joint Canadian-British Government-sanctioned assisted passage scheme as immigrants for the purpose of farming which was encouraged in the period between the First World War and the Great Depression (1929-1935). On the passenger list Wilf gives his trade/profession as engineer and declares the he has £70 in his possession which was considerably more than the £10-£20 that most other third class passengers had declared for this voyage. They were bound for The Land Settlement Office, Northwest Building, Vancouver and they listed their nearest relative in England as Mrs Sotheran of Brae Cottage, Kirkleatham Lane, Redcar. This was Wilf’s Sister Ethel; she had married Alfred Alexander Sotheran in the March quarter of 1906 (March Q 1906 Guisbro 9d/671) – Alfred was a Letter Press Compositor who later founded A. A. Sotheran Ltd. of Marske, a publishing company that includes several books on the local history of Marske within its catologue.

As with so many family history tales there is often unexpected sadness. In this story the death of Wilf’s wife Daisy, farmer Amos Newton’s daughter, aged only 35 years on 4 January 1927 at Sandwick, a suburb of Vancouver, less than two years after their arrival in Vancouver must surely be that tragedy. Both the whys and the wherefores of what happened to Wilf and his young children Grace & John thereafter remain to be discovered; a death record for our Wilfred Hardy on 28 March 1948 at Courtenay, the only city on the east coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia and in the area commonly known as the Comox Valley. The records show that he was a 59 year old widower living at Courtenay Auro Court, Sandwick, Courtenay and had been a logger for the previous 10 years. He was buried at The Sandwick Anglican Cemetery. Another tragic event.

I am firmly of the belief that pioneers are a brave breed but in reality Wilf wasn’t a true pioneer, more he was someone with an adventurous spirit lured by promises of a better life in a land of opportunity, a foreign British speaking territory. Maybe his experience in mining provided better opportunities than farming, although the allure of The Fraser River Gold Rush was confined to history by the time he settled in British Columbia. Maybe someone can help me finish his story. I do know that when we publish something about our family history we always find someone who can add more.


Upleatham Mine Office Clerks 1904
Upleatham Mine Office Clerks 1904

The Mine Office Clerks as employed by Messer’s Pease & Partners at Upleatham Mine.Year of photo 1904. Pictured from left to right are Darkie Reed, Wilf Hardy, Harry Bowers, Ralf Clark, William Bailey.  This photo courtesy of  Ena Holloway and Alan Hughes and is from their book entitled ‘New Marske Looking Back ‘. Their second published photo of the Mine Managers and Deputies features (back row left to right) B.Robinson, J.(Darkie)Reed, Ralph Clark, Dan Bailey, Harry Bowes, Wilf Hardy, Henry Goldfinch. Middle Row L-R Pev Thompson, William Douthwaite, Walter Durance, J.Hood, William ‘Wood’ Sigsworth, ‘Tiny’ Thirkettle & (front row left to right)  William Hall, Joe Beaumont, William Howes, Christopher ‘Kit’  Heslop, William Durance, William Jones, John Bevan.

The Empress of Britain was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding in Govan near Glasgow, Scotland. She was launched on 11 November 1905. In 1924, the ship was renamed the SS Montroyal. Her accommodations were altered to carry 600 cabin passengers and 800 third-class passengers. On 19 April 1924, she was returned to service sailing on the Liverpool-Quebec route. The SS Montroyal commenced her final voyage from Antwerp on 7 September 1929. Including this last voyage, she had completed 190 round-trip crossings of the North Atlantic.

The men and their professions at the Upleatham Mines
The men and their professions at the Upleatham Mines

This photo courtesy of Hilary Moore, features her grandfather Fred Hall and her great grandfather William Hall. On the back of the original photo and in her grandfather’s hand writing is written the year 1903, and also all the names of the men and their professions at The Upleatham Mines. Also featured is Wilfred’s older brother Herbert  Charles Hardy.

They Are, Back Row L-R Sid Crossman, Sid Thompson, Ned Thompson, Bob Wise, J.W.Douthwaite, Herbert Hardy (fitter).
Middle Row L-R W.Lamb (gear shaping), George Thirkell (time keeper), Oscar Kettner, J.Burdett, Jeff Bailey, Albert Alexander, James Cartwright (blacksmith).
Front Row L-R Fred Hall, J.Barker, Tom Thompson (blacksmith), William Alexander (fitter), William Hall (mining engineer), J.Downes (fitter), J.Slater (fitter), Tom Dent (joiner), J.Atkinson (blacksmith).