Family of John Haddow and Elizabeth Langhorn
John Haddow was born September 22, 1884 on the family farm just outside of the hamlet of Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, England.
The son of Joseph Haddow and Margaret Elizabeth Dobson, he had two brothers; Arthur born in 1879 and Thomas in 1896. He also had two sisters Lillian and Isabel. We don't know much about the sisters unfortunately. We know that Lillian married James Henry Hamer in Ramsbottom, England in 1896 and that Isabel married David Morrison in 1901 in Salford, Lancashire.
As a young man my grandfather traveled around England for a time, but soon found himself back in Cumbria where he landed a job in the shipyards at Barrow-in-Furness working as an ironworker. In 1903 he married my grandmother Elizabeth Agnes Langhorn and in March 1904 their first son Thomas was born. In June 1906, a second child Arthur arrived.
With thousands of people coming into the smelter town looking for work, housing was in short supply, and rents began taking increasingly larger chunks of the weekly pay. Overcrowding led to poor health conditions, illness especially for the poor was common. Lack of medical care, poor working conditions in the factories and shipyards, soon found my grandparents, now with a family, thinking about immigrating to Canada to begin a new life in a new land.
In late March of 1908, John Haddow just 23 years old, and his brother Thomas, set foot on Canadian soil when they temporarily disembraked at the Immigration Inspection Station at Grosse Ile.
Two years later my Grandmother Elizabeth Haddow followed him,leaving Liverpool on April 6, 1910 aboard the SS Laurentic, bound for Montreal, Canada with her two boys Thomas age 6 and Arthur 3. Also on board was her brother-in-law Arthur Haddow, his wife Isabel and their two sons James and Bert. The cost of the fares for each family was seventy-five dollars.
My Grandfather John Haddow, who was at the time working in the gold mines in Virginiatown, in the District of Temiskaming, had sent money for the travel expenses from the savings that he had managed to squirrel away from his 65 cent an hour miners pay. From the $39 a week pay cheque, the company would deduct his room and board and even with the most frugal lifestyle, save for a pouch of tobacco and some soap, it would take him almost a year to save the $400 that he managed to send home.
In her 85th year, my Grandmother would talk about their trip to Canada. The 3000 mile trip was an adventure, to say the least.The rough seas caused long bouts of sea sickness. But there was plenty of food – if you had the appetite. After days on the rolling Atlantic, the rocks of Newfoundland– although not yet a part of Canada- was a sign that the ocean trip at least was coming to an end.
The immigrant ship steamed past Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and entered to St. Lawrence River. Before their trip ended at the Port of Montreal there was one stop to make at the Grosse Ile Quarantine Station operated by Canadian Immigration. The Island was located in the St. Lawrence about 30 miles before Quebec City.
Just before the stop the passengers and crew scrambled around getting themselves and the ship cleaned up. Everyone on board knew that their journey could be delayed or even terminated if disease or sickness was suspected or discovered. The doctors checked the passengers for any sign of typhus, cholera, beriberi, smallpox or bubonic plague. That particular year, almost 98,000 passed through the Inspection with 727 ending up being hospitalized and 14 buried in the simple cemetery at the other end of the island.
During my Grandmother’s stop over on the island she may have very well seen the huge celtic cross that had been erected the previous year in memory of the tragedy of 1847 when thousands died at the Island when typhoid swept through the immigrant ships.
Finally on April 14, 1910, the party disembarked at Montreal. From there it was a 450 mile trip by train that would take them through Ottawa, North Bay and New Liskeard, finally stopping at the small village of Dane, the closest railhead to Virginiatown.
The trip was uncomfortable and dirty. When the windows were opened for fresh air, the steam and soot from the engine would blow in. As the train made it’s various stops for coal and water, vendors would board the train selling refreshments. These stops gave the passengers the chance to stretch their legs, but no one dared go too far away for fear of getting lost and being left behind in this vast new land.
Once they reached Dane (now a ghost town) there was the horse drawn coach that would take them the 12 miles to the gold camp and the long awaited reunion of the family.
John Haddow worked at the Kerr Mine in Virginiatown from 1909 to 1912. In that last year my uncle Gordon was born, the first of John and Elizabeth’s children to be born in Canada.
That same year also saw the closing of the gold mines. The decline in population was dramatic. By early 1907 over 4000 claims had been staked in the area and nearly 2500 men lived in the camps. But the gold proved to be elusive and by 1911 the gold rush was over and the population of the area quickly dropped to about 400 people.
A year later when my grandparents left Virginatown it had become a virtual ghost town with less than 100 residents.
His brother Arthur also left the area and headed south to North Bay where his wife Isabel and their children were staying. While there he worked in the bush camps and on March 23, 1916 Arthur enlisted in the Canadian army and served in Europe. Soon after the war the family would be back in the Temiskaming area and would start farming not far from my grandparent’s place.
In 1922 a horrible fire swept through Temiskaming district taking the lives of 43 people and destroying over 1500 homes. To the south, the town of Haileybury was 90 percent destroyed in what would become one of the 10 worst disasters in Canadian history.
Arthur lost everything and his wife was taken to the New Liskeard hospital with injuries. They would keep struggling until late March 1928 when they packed everything up and returned to North Bay where they remained until Arthur’s death in February 1957. Isabel followed him in 1961.
My grandfather was able to get some free land near the small community of Milberta, in Kerns Township, about 10 miles north of New Liskeard, through a government settlement act. Eventually they would use some of their own meager savings to acquire more.
The land had no buildings on it when they first arrived, so my grandfather arranged to buy a small vacant house on a neighboring property and dragged it over with teams of horses and rollers. Later as the family expanded, more sections would be added to the farm house.
And additions to the family were not long in coming. My father Wilfred was born in September 1914. He was followed by Roy in 1917, Lillian in 1920 and then Vernon.
In those early years my grandfather would bring home some much needed extra cash by working the winter in one of the nearby logging camps.
The settlement of Milberta was founded 15 years before my grandparents arrived and was situated on a hill that gave a view of the surrounding farms. As settlers began pushing further into Temiskaming’s ‘Little Clay Belt’, the community grew. A post office had opened in 1901, and shortly afterwards a one room school. Other businesses included a mercantile store, black smith’s shop, S. Eplett’s store and the T. Newton Hotel. In 1903 a Baptist church followed by a Presbyterian church. Just after my grandparents arrival in the area a small telephone company was formed.
Throughout the war years John Haddow’s farm grew with large acreage of wheat and livestock that not only included cattle, hogs and chickens, but a very large flock of sheep. As a boy I can remember that shearing time was a big affair at the Haddow farm. I can remember fall wheat harvest time.
All my uncles would drive to Milberta from their respective towns to help their father with the harvest and thrashing. My father would drive in from Cobalt, uncle Gordon, his wife Muriel and their family would come in from Sundridge , south of North Bay, where he ran a gas station and restaurant, my uncle Roy and wife Jean and kids would drive up from New Liskeard, aunt Lillian and her husband Peter Hansen would come up from Toronto where he owned a Sewer and Watermain construction company, my uncle Arthur would usually be there with his wife Marjorie and my uncle Vernon, who worked at Iron Ore of Canada in Schefferville would be there with his wife Mabel and their children, having set aside some of his vacation time to to be there for the fall harvest. My aunts would be helping my grandmother Elizabeth in the kitchen and the yard would be full of cousins.
For an 8 year old boy it was great experience. Being too short to fork the straw up into the wagon, I would be placed on top of the load distributing it around. When we had a load, one of my uncles would climb up on top of the wagon, take the reins and off we'd go to the barn. In the evening my father and uncles would be sitting on the front veranda having a beer and catching up on the news. Looking back I can see that this time was important to them. For the rest of the year they had little contact.
Life on the farm was not all drudgery and hard work. On saturdays during the summer, a wagon or truck would be going into New Liskeard, and there'd be dances at the beach. The churches in Milberta would hold socials, and of course there'd be visits, all duely reported by the local correspondent for the New Liskeard Speaker. During the summer of 1929 the local Kiwanis Club and the Department of Agriculture sponsored 'The Boys' Potato Club'. Local farm lads were given some seed potatos with the task of developing a small plot of spuds. In the fall the produce would be judged, and the participants would be brought into New Liskeard for a special awards night and dinner. According to newspaper accounts of the event the Haddow boys represented themselves well.
There was no a lot of money to spare, so the boys would hire themselves out for the day, splitting wood or cleaning stalls for neighbouring farmers. They would even venture into New Liskeard if the job and pay were right. On March 15, 1915, my grandfather John took on a job cutting wood for a townsman. He was promised 27 dollars for his efforts. When the job was done, my grandfather found the man drunk and unwilling to pay his bill. John contacted the local police and the man was promptly jailed until he sobered up and payed my grandfather. All this was reported in the New Liskeard Speaker.
In 1925 tragedy struck the family when the oldest son Tom, just 3 months short of his twenty-second birthday, died of a ruptured appendix. In September of that year Tom had been working as a miner at one of the recently re-opened gold mines in Virginiatown. While in the camp he began to develop stomach pains and as the condition worsened he decided to leave the mine site and head home to Milberta.
The return trip must have been brutal, with the last few miles covered on foot. He arrived home on September 17 and unaware that her son was dying of appendicitis, my grandmother Elizabeth tried a number of home remedies including plasters. When it became apparent that Tom’s condition was getting worse he was loaded onto a wagon and taken the 8 miles into New Liskeard where there was a small hospital.
It was here six days after he had staggered home, that he died. For many years after there was some bitterness in the family, with some who felt that if Tom had of been taken directly to the hospital, instead of being 'home doctored', he might have survived. He was buried in the Milberta Cemetery not far from the family farm and would one day be joined by his brother Roy and my father Wilfred Haddow.
(I will follow this up with the various marriages of the children of John and Elizabeth Haddow)