Archive | March, 2017

Life on the Frontier…Prince George, British Columbia……1902’s

16 Mar

Prince George, BC …..1921


Canada Arrivals Form 1921…Agnes MacMillan

She arrived in Canada June 13, 1921 at Quebec City aboard the Empress of France after a 6 day Transatlantic Crossing.  The family was then routed across the country on the Canadian Pacific /Grand Trunk Railway to Prince George, BC. This would likely have taken a week or more of train travel from the east to west coast of the country…a distance of 5500 km. Agnes MacMillan was only 12 years old and was on her third continent in as many years.

Growth of Prince George…

“The Nechako and Fraser rivers were the main transportation routes through the early 1900s. Sternwheelers paddled the rivers, transporting people and goods from place to place. Fort George and the newly developing town of South Fort George boomed in 1909 as forestry became the main industry and sawmills were built.

When the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway arrived in 1913, the Nechako and Fraser River junction became the new town center and was named Prince George. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company chose the name, though it is unclear why Prince George was selected. Three reasons have been suggested: that it was named after King George III; that it would distinguish it from other similarly named nearby towns of Fort George and South Fort George; or that it was actually named for Prince George, the youngest brother of King George VI.

With the onset of the World War I in 1914, the local economy was devastated as many local men enlisted and the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was halted, creating a massive drop in population, a problem that was exacerbated by the ensuing Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Prince George persevered through the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s and did not experience any significant growth until World War II when an army camp was built at the foot of Cranbrook Hill, bringing new life to the struggling businesses and service industries.”   From Prince George Wikipedia

Agnes was likely registered in the local school upon arrival in Prince George. In the online newspaper collection for the Prince George Citizen…I found my mom listed in the school grades which were posted in the paper.

Prince George Citizen Building Prince George 1921

In the December 1921 edition my mom was in Division 2 and had an average of 57%.  This would have been her first year of school in PG. Looks like the school would have additional classrooms for the new term in January 1922. By June she was still at the bottom of the class but had been promoted. 

Certificate of Proficiency …June 1923

By 1923 she was on the Roll of Honor. Her teacher was Olga Shields.

My mom must have had a job as a Mother’s Helper because there are a number of pictures of her with a family. One photo says “From Bayley” and is of the youngest child. Thesed pictures taken over several years show my mom at different ages.





Mom and her charges..possibly the McInnes Family ( a name on the back of a picture)

1921 directory

1923 Directory

I also checked the BC Directories and found that in 1921 Stephen Presence was listed. This was the friend the Bates family listed on the Port of Entry form. He was working for the CNR as a station fireman, the same thing Fred Bates would do when he arrived later in 1921.

My mom had several boyfriends according to pictures in her album. Looks like she had her coat draped over her arm in the first picture……couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Then I saw the next picture..1489593546385-39c99f8c-f21c-484d-b417-ec8faf0ce713

Is that a coat on her arm?

Mr. WHO?


1489593744856-ddd60aa5-74e3-470d-95f5-e67579e4ae2c (1)

Her Friends?


Bathing Beauty


Main Street

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What was the occasion for the Roses?

She seemed to have had a carefree life in Prince George as a teenager. ….Interesting I could find no pictures of her with Fred and Daisy. She was also in Edmonton by 1928  when she would have been just 20…possibly even earlier as I think she may have gone to Westmount School for awhile. Why no family pictures…..?

 Chilean Lassie…..The Early Years!…Coquimbo, Chile

10 Mar

One determined young lady…Agnes Irvine MacMillan

She was playing in the garden and her mother told her not to stick her fingers in the parrot’s cage…which, of course, is precisely what she did…..and, of course, she was bitten. This is one of the few stories I can recall my Mom telling me when I asked her about her life in Coquimbo. I had no idea where this place was, but I knew it was a long ways away.

Like many others before me, I now regret not asking her more questions….but realistically, how many of us do this in a timely fashion. When we finally take an interest in our ancestors, it is too late. Those who had the answers are gone and we are left to piece the individual’s story together from whatever bits and pieces we can cobble together.

Knowing that my Mom had been born in Coquimbo, Chile ….I was fascinated with her EXOTIC ORIGIN. Her Father, Thomas MacMillan, was a Scot who had left Glasgow and somehow ended up in South America. Her Mother, I thought her name was Juana Rojas,  was supposedly a Spanish woman. I never saw a picture of her as most of the family pictures were destroyed in a fire at some point in time, or so the story goes.

Thomas MacMillan..his portrait hangs in my living room

I knew that Thomas MacMillan had died in Coquimbo and the family ended up in Kent, England where my mom went to school in Maidstone/Chatham. Her brother David had gone there to fight in WW1 and was now responsible for the  family. Sometime later she came to Canada  with her sister and Canadian brother-in-law and wound up in Prince George, BC.  Several years later she came to Edmonton and went to school at Westmount. She also worked as a Nannie for the Tommy Dykes Family. In 1928, as a 20 year old young woman, she enrolled in the Nursing School at the Misericordia Hospital. It was here in 1938 that she met my Dad and the rest is history.

These are the simple facts that  tell how my mom made her journey from Chile to to England to Canada, met my Dad and had her children. Seemed to me there was more of a story to be told to fill in all the aspects of the life of this amazing woman…Agnes Irvine MacMillan Perkins. And so…I began to dig in the old steamer truck and unearthed the pictures.

Inastroza siste I’mrs

Postcard from The Inastroza Sisters to my Aunt Daisy 1929

I found a photo of 2 ladies and a post card sent to Daisy, my Mom’s sister. I remembered her talking about the Inastroza Family and the 2 daughters. I checked Family Search and found a number of Baptisms at the Cathedral in La Serena for a number of Inastroza babies in the 1890’s….obviously a local family. The postcard dated 1929 was sent when Daisy would have been living in Prince George. The picture was of the Plaza de Armas in Coquimbo.

Then there was a baby picture of my mom…she would only be a few months old. (1908) Because she was an afterthought….her siblings were 18 (Daisy) and 23 (David)….they were just more adults in the household. What was it like growing up in that adult world? This also raises a question….could she have beeen the illegitimate daughter of her sister Daisy? My grandmother would have been around 53 when my mom was born and not impossible…. but…… I will never know.


Agnes as a baby….4 months (1908)


Coquimbo as it looked when my Mom was born…was her house up there on the hill…somewhere?

I would imagine that around age 6, Mom went off to school. Was this a British School? I do remember that she said she spoke Spanish, but as an adult she had lost most of it.


“After the Port of Valparaíso opened to free trade in 1811, the English began to congregate in Valparaíso. The first to arrive brought with them tools, articles of china, wool and cotton, with instructions to return with copper and hemp. This was the first exchange of what would become a deep-rooted commercial relationship between Great Britain and Chile. In Valparaíso the English established their largest and most important settlement, creating neighborhoods characterized by British schools, social and sports clubs, business organizations, and periodicals. Even today British influence is apparent in such institutions as banks and the national navy, as well as in certain social activities, such as football (soccer), horse racing, and the widespread consumption of tea.” Wilkpedia

This was a skipping song she taught me...
"Arroz con leche quiero
casarme con esta niña mi casa yo" and meant
 "Rice with milk I want to get married
 with this little house and me" 
Funny what sticks from all those years ago.


Coquimbo….Location of Pampilla today


Chile’s Independence Day in September….Pampilla


Mom is the middle of the three girls bottom left


Agnes…..age 10….before leaving for England

Thomas MacMillan had died, and when WW1 was over, the family joined her brother David who had gone to England to fight in the war.

They sailed aboard the Oriana (Pacific Steam Navigation Co.) from





Valpariso, through the Panama Canal and arrived in Liverpool, England 27 May 1919.

Found the Passenger lists on Ancestry…

Notice Juana, my Grandmother , is now Jane.

Bedford Place at Rocky Hill, Maidstone as it is today.

I know very little of her time in Maidstone and Chatham. I visited there in 1979 on my first trip to England. Didn’t have much time and there was little to see on a day trip from London. Upon arrival they gave Bedford Place, Rocky Hill, Maidstone as their address. I would assume that was where her brother David was living with his wife Miriam.

Marriage Certificate for David and Miriam..Their father’s Thomas MacMillan and George Thomas Evernden were deceased. Witnesses..GT Evernden and William C Cormwell…?  Daivid was living at The Barrack’s Maidstone..Miriam at 1 Bedford Place.

I discovered pictures of her brother David and sister Daisy, her father Thomas..but none of her mother.

David Taylor MacMillan

David married Miriam Emily Everden at St. Peter’s Church in Maidstone on September 14, 1918.

St. Peter’s Maidstone, Kent

David Taylor MacMillan circa 1917…Maidstone Kent, England

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1 Bedford Place Maidstone Kent

My grandmother, Juana/Jean MacMillan died in 1920 age 65 making her birthdate c. 1855. She died in Chatham at 37 Church Street, age 65, of Heart failure. Her daughter Daisy MacMillan was in attendance. Listed as widow of Thomas MacMillan, Marine Engineer.

Daisy MacMillan married Frederick Charles Bates on April 17, 1921 at St. John the Divine in Chatham. Georgina Bates was a witness….mother of Fred and a widow.


Cooking Class in Maidstone School

White door is #27 Rochester Street Chatham, Kent, UK

This early chapter in my mother’s life ended on June 8, 1921 when she sailed from Liverpool aboard the Empress of France to her new life in Canada. Her Father had died in Chile in 1917, her mother had died in England in 1920 and so, she was accompanying her sister Daisy and Daisy’s new husband, Fred Bates to Canada.

What was she thinking as she stood on the deck watching the coastline of Liverpool, England fade away. This was the second time in only 2 years that she had watched the Place she called Home disappear on the horizon. She was only 12 years of age! an ocean away….another county, another place to call HOME!


Stay tuned for Chapter 2….Life on the Canadian Frontier!

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