Tag Archives: Tertius Bernard Perkins

100 Years since they left the Old Country…Leicester, England to Edmonton, Canada

4 Jul
The Empress of Britain

The Empress of Britain

This July 4th will mark the 100th Anniversary of the arrival of my Perkins family in Canada….and believe it or not, my Grandmother, Sarah Jane Perkins, did not travel lightly….her Piano, Parlor Sofa and Chair, Grandfather Clock, pictures, china, Sideboard and China Cabinet, as well as  family clothing and bedding in a number of steamer trunks, arrived with her.

They sailed from Liverpool, England aboard the Empress of Britain on June 27, 1913 and arrived in Montreal on July 4, 1913. There they boarded a train for Edmonton, Alberta. The next phase of their journey likely took 7 or 8 days as they crossed the great country of Canada by CPR train.

John Thomas Perkins, his wife Sarah Jane and son Tertius Bernard at house in Ritchie. c. 1930

John Thomas Perkins, his wife Sarah Jane and son Tertius Bernard at house in Ritchie. c. 1930

What circumstances existed in Britain that caused a 50 year old man to move his family, lock stock and barrel to a new country, I will never know. They certainly must not have been good, for him to make that decision at such a late stage in life. Perhaps he felt that it would be the only thing he could do for his son who was 9 at the time. His brother-in-law Jack Sleath, had moved his family to Canada in 1906 and was intending to homestead. Unfortunately only 2 years after his arrival, his wife Clara died of Tuberculosis, leaving him with 2 small girls to raise. This would not be done on a homestead and he stayed on in Red Deer.

Correspondence, that came into my hands several years ago, that Jack had written to his wife’s brother back in England, gave an indication that the Perkins family might have been intending the same thing, but with changed circumstances they altered their plans and didn’t arrive until 7 years later. They bypassed Red Deer to settle in Edmonton.

New Home in Canada!

New Home in Canada!

Edmonton in 1913 was a bustling place. The new Strathcona Library was opened as was Holy Trinity Anglican Church. Both were to play important roles in my life. My grandfather got a job at Ribchester’s as a Blacksmith. Later on he joined the Hudson Bay Store in their Hardware Department as a clerk. My dad started school at the newly opened Ritchie School.

Tertius Perkins and his class at Ritchie School 1914.

Tertius Perkins and his class at Ritchie School 1914.

100 years later, I still live in the house my grandfather purchased in 1920. When they first arrived they rented a house on 97 Street and 76 Avenue. After the war, they purchased the house across from the school from Emma Richardson. I doubt my grandfather knew how  fortunate it was for him to have made this decision to emigrate and that many years later, his descendant would be so grateful to him for doing so.

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Like Father……Like Daughter!

6 Mar
Showing off his new car to his parents outside the house in Ritchie!

Showing off his new car to his parents outside the house in Ritchie!

“Like Father…..Like Daughter”……. I had never realized how true this saying was until I caught myself telling a friend about “my cave” in the basement of my house. We have had a very long winter which began in late October and is still ongoing. The message on my phone says something about “not being available as I have gone into my cave until spring”. Well it isn’t really a cave, it is the cellar in my house. It has a cement floor and walls and you can barely stand up without banging your noggan on the floor beams, but it does have a furnace and is very warm and cozy in the winter. I  have spent considerable time down there the past few months. I have all my Genealogy Research Material, books, maps, stacks of notes  and binders spread out over many surfaces. I never have to put anything away. No one else except the cat ventures down there.  I  take my laptop down with me and turn on the TV for additional stimulation. I can lose myself for hours doing my research.

The connection with my dad goes way back. On those long winter nights, after he got home from work, he would go down to the cellar to listen to his ham radio and police scanner. I would go down to play with my toys and listen in to his conversations. My friends would also come over and we would play 78’s on an old RCA Record Player. Great entertainment in the 50’s and 60’s before all the other types of entertainment developed. I remember being excited when the mailman would bring cards confirming a contact he had made. His call letters were VE6 IR and he too would send these card to those he had connected with on his ham radio.

I often think how little I knew of my Dad. I was 33 years old when he died and to that point I guess I wasn’t all that interested in him as a person. He was just My Dad!

Tertius Bernard and his Dad, the Claybrooke Village Blacksmith (1906)

Tertius Bernard and his Dad, the Claybrooke Village Blacksmith (1906)

He was born in 1904 in Claybrooke Magna, a small village in the midlands of England just outside the city of Leicester. This city has made headlines in the past few months due to the discovery of the bones of Richard III under a car park in the city centre. On the site once stood the Grey Friars Priory. Something like this would really have raised his interest. I watched a CBC documentary last evening titled “The King in the CarPark” which told the story of finding the skeleton and thought, if he were alive, he too would have been watching. I do know that my Dad loved to read and learn new things. He loved doing math problems just for the sheer enjoyment of solving them. He tutored many of my friends for their Grade 12 Departmental Exams. I would often go with him to the Library to get books for myself. When I had read all the books in the Children’s’ Library,  I would use his card to get books in the Adult Library. In those days, I think you had to be 12 to borrow books from there, but you could use an adult’s card if you had their permission.

My Dad was 9 when he emigrated to Canada with his parents, John Thomas and Sarah Jane Perkins. They settled in the Ritchie area and he was one of the first students to go to Ritchie School when it opened in 1913. By age 16, he was delivering Telegrams for the Canadian Pacific Railway, a company that he was to work for his entire life. He wasn’t very athletic, but we did go for bicycle rides out to the country and at one time, I remember him going to wrestling matches when Gene Kiniski was fighting. He had a stamp collection, but was not very organized and the stamps were mostly loose in a box. I must have inherited this trait as my Genealogy Research is mostly loose papers in piles. Someday I will get organized……just not sure when! We were also at the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium in 1960, a first for Western Canada, and oddly enough, I now volunteer at the Telus World of Science just across the park from the Planetarium which has long been closed. It has the Margaret Zeidlar Star Theatre which offers a full dome immersive video experience. The Telus World of Science Edmonton was the first planetarium and science centre in Canada to showcase this new technology for domed theatres. (2008)

Dad retired in 1968 and by the next fall he had enrolled at NAIT, the local Technical Institute to take the Radio and TV Service Program. Guess he figured he would fix TV’s in his spare time or maybe he just wanted a chance to go to school to get a Diploma, something that he hadn’t been able to do as a young person. He probably knew more than all the instructors put together, but he had a great 2 years, socializing with the other students and likely doing some tutoring on the side.

Dad died in 1980 at age 76, way too young by today’s standards. I know he would have loved computers and the internet and would have been one of the first to embrace any new technology. For an Old Ham Radio Operator…… texting and tweeting would have been second nature.

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