Although Ronald Chamberlain lived in Canada since he was sent here by Barnardo’s at the age of ten, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War, married and had children in Canada, it wasn’t discovered until much later in his life that he wasn’t a Canadian Citizen. He had to apply for and finally received his Citizenship in 1976.
Ronald’s father and his mother, Maud’s fiancée Jack Bradshaw, was a British soldier who was killed in action during the First World War. Maud, who already had another child and was not receiving child support ordered by the court from the father, was forced to live with her parents. They lived in abject poverty – the only means of support was her 73 year old father’s old age pension. Maud was only able to get occasional odd work.
Maud applied to Barnardo’s for admission of Ronald, so that she could seek work as a domestic. And although Martha, Maud’s sister, who was married and had family of her own, was willing to raise the boys along with her sons, she was denied.
Ronald had good and bad experiences on Canadian farms. Before finally ending up in a place where he was considered to be like family, he was treated like a farm hand, at best. On one farm in particular, he was not given socks which caused him to have trouble with his feet his whole life.
Ronald served in the Second World War as a Wireless Operator and Gunner in the RCAF and was shot down over Germany in April, 1944. He parachuted out of the plane, landing on railroad tracks injuring his hips and back. He remained a Prisoner of War until his liberation in May, 1945.
Ronald’s brother Reginald was sent to Australia and they never met again. They missed seeing each other during the war when they both visited the home of their aunt Martha, apparently within five minutes of each other.
Ronald and his wife, Beatrice had six children and seventeen grandchildren. They were married for over fifty years.
Doreen Young, Ronald’s daughter, had loaned many of her treasured keepsakes of her father to the BHCRA Display. She entrusted these items to Lori Oschefski shortly before she passed away of Cancer in 2014. After scanning the items, the images were passed to Dawn Heuston who created this beautiful image for our Memory Quilt. In September of 2014, Doreen was given a copy of this image and told that there would be a quilt done in the future and that this would be her “square”. Doreen passed away 2 weeks after receiving the picture. We have kept the image on the quilt exactly as she had seen it.