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The Immigration story of Charles Edwin Davies (British Immigrant)

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Charles Edwin Davies (Ted) 2142

Charles Edwin Davies emigrated to Canada in July 1929 from England. He sailed on the Andania.

“When I decided at fourteen to immigrate to Canada, there were great big notices at the unemployment exchanges in Newcastle-on-Tyne ‘Go west young man’. I got some papers and signed up. I went into a hostel and trained to come out to Canada. I had about three months training and then a bunch of us young boys were shipped off. We were trained to farm; to milk cows with rubber udders. This training was at a hospital in Walker. There were quite a number of us. Many were home boys from Dr. Bernardos. In fact, I was the only boy among them who had a home. All the rest were from different orphanages.

We set away from Central Station at Newcastel-on-Tyne. This was in July of 1929. We came on the Andania. I had a great big suitcase which was bigger than I was myself. We had big labels on us. “This is Charles Edwin Davies’. The Andania was full of immigrants. They were all Poles, Ukrainians and different nationalities. There were just a few British boys.

We landed at Montreal where a fellow met us. We stayed for two days at a place called Oswald Street at the foot of Mount Royal. Then we were posted off to the different places where farmers had applied for help from British boys. I was sent to Caledon East.
I got on the train to Toronto. The conductor came along. I was just a little fellow. He asked, “Where is your ticket?” I gave him my ticket and he said “well, where’s your parents?” I said, “Well,l they’re in England”. He said, “What are you doing out here?” I said, “Well, I’m on my own, I’m immigrating”. He said, “You’re what? You come back to the caboose with me”. So I sat in the caboose with him. He was very nice to me. We came into Union Station. There was a fellow there who met us and put me on the train to Caledon East. I sat with the conductor on the next train. He said, “This little fellow is going out to Caledon East. Look after him”.

When I got to Caledon East, it was just like being out in the wilds of Kentucky. The conductor helped me off with my bag and introduced me to the Station Master. He said, “Now this young fellow, where the hell is he going?” The Station Master said “Well, he’s got a letter here addressed to a local farmer.” The conductor asked, “Well what kind of fellow is this farmer?” The Station Master replied, “He’s a nice guy.” “Well you tell him that if he doesn’t look after this young fellow, he’ll have me to deal with.

I stayed at the station with the Station Master for about an hour. Then this horse and buggy drove up and here is this fellow with about a half a week’s growth of beard and chewing tobacco. I looked at him and I thought, “Oh my God, he’s a wild man.” He put my luggage on to the buggy and introduced himself.

We drove by horse and buggy up the third line to his farm. The third line then was just a one track gravel road with the trees meeting overhead. It was real wild country. When we got out at the farm, the farmer’s wife met us at the door and threw her arms around me right away. She just took a motherly attitude toward me. Everything was so wild. It was just like a tale out of the Wild West. I didn’t see the village at the time. It was a 250 acre farm.

I was never treated as a hired hand. The family just treated me like one of the family. I used to attend all the functions with the family. In fact, I was treated as family. I worked hard, did a man’s work.

The above is in my father’s own words. He worked on two farms in the Caledon East area. Both farm families treated him well. When he was eighteen or nineteen he returned to England. He joined the British Army and was posted to Egypt. On leaves from the army he met and married my mother Mary. He was badly wounded in the Middle East and was sent back to England on a hospital ship. He was in hospital for many months. My mother travelled to the south of England with their three year old daughter Patricia to visit him in hospital. It was the first time he had seen his child.

In the late 40’s my father contacted one of the farmers he had worked for in Caledon East to inquire about employment and housing. He returned to Caledon East in 1949 and secured employment at Av Roe Aircraft. My mother Mary, my sister Patricia and myself, Kathleen, followed on the ship the Aquitania in March of 1949. It was the Aquitania’s last voyage. My father’s friends welcomed him and us back to Caledon East. He had always kept in touch with the families he had lived with and worked for.

Dad passed away in 1997. He was laid to rest in Caledon East.

Kathleen Mary Davies