Harry Hambley

HARRY HAMBLEY 1882-1971 Harry was just seven years old, small for his age, and suffering from scabies, when his mother brought him to Barnardo's in London in July of 1889. The picture taken of him that day clearly shows his resentment at being there. One could easily imagine the conversation at home as his mother tried to explain that Barnardo's could provide proper meals, clothing and a warm bed for them, something she was unable to do. Since their father died earlier that year, in April, she had been trying to feed herself and three children on 2 loaves of bread a week. That was all the local parish would supply. There was no other source of relief for the poor, other than the workhouse, and no one wanted to go there, if there was any way to avoid it. Harry and his brother, Charles, spent a year in London before being sent to Teighmore, on the Channel Island of Jersey. This was Barnardo's Home for boys in delicate health. The Channel Islands, just off the coast of France, have the mildest climate in England. The records for this facility were destroyed in WWII, so few details are available of their life there. However, when Harry and Charles returned to England after five years, they were photographed again and these pictures showed marked improvement in the health of both boys. A day or so after the pictures were taken, Harry and Charles sailed for Canada on the Parisian, of the Allen Lines, arriving in Halifax in April of 1895. From there, they would have travelled by train to Toronto, where their placement was decided. Harry was sent to Holyrood, near Goderich, to the home of Thomas Roach and his mother. Charles was placed on a farm 10 km away at Purple Grove, close enough to visit on Sundays, weather permitting. Harry was said to have given his best effort on the farm, in spite of his small size, and appears to have been treated reasonably well. It was noted that he spent much of his "spare time" reading. However, it is apparent from the answers he gave later, on the 1940 census, that he did not like farm work. When his six years was up, Harry requested part of his $100 to buy a bicycle, and a hat and shoes to wear on Sunday. He then went to Toledo to work, but returned after a short time due to an eye infection. Having only enough money to get to Windsor, he went to the Police Station and requested a loan of $5 to pay his train fare to Toronto, and buy a meal on the way. Barnardo's reimbursed the Police with $5 from Harry's account. Harry was in hospital for 20 days and when cured, was hired to work there. Around this time, Charles met with an accident and Harry left the hospital to go to see his brother, but was unable to locate him. Harry spent the rest of his life looking for Charles, without success. Harry married Augusta Norris, who came from Oxford, England, with her parents when she was five years old. They had ten children and 33 grandchildren. Harry worked at factory jobs and was a volunteer fireman for the Fairbanks Fire Dept in the Toronto area. There is a photo of him with the trophies he won while competing in athletic events. He enlisted for WWI, as soon as the height restriction was lowered, and the 216th battalion was formed, nicknamed "The Bantams". He was sent to London, where he was able to visit his mother and his half sister and three half brothers. He was hoping to see his full brother, Fred, but sadly, Fred had already been sent to France and had died at Pas de Calais. When WWII broke out, Harry tried, unsuccessfully, to enlist again, giving his age as 40, although he was really 59. At age 70, he suffered a serious infection in both kidneys. One had to be removed and the other treated with massive doses of sulpha, which cured him, but left him totally deaf for the rest of his life. Harry made the best of it, and learned sign language and lip reading. He had great spirit and is still missed today by many grandchildren and a daughter who is now 93.