Rachel (my grandmother) and her twin brother, James, were born in Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland, 17 Nov. 1875. One document from Quarriers recorded their birthdate as Nov 7th. That is the date that we have always used. Their mother was Annie Angus, born 12 Nov 1848. She was a domestic servant in Tulliallan, Perthshire, and Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. Their father's name was not known at the time. Their older sisters, Davina Bonar (1865) and Eliza Anne (1868) and the twins were raised by their grandmother, Rachel Martin, a widow, in Alloa.
On 2 March 1882, their grandmother took just the twins to the James Morrison Orphan House, in Glasgow. She had been reported by the neighbours as being very cruel to Rachel and James. On 26 May 1882, they left for Canada on the Hanoverian, at the age of 7, arriving in Quebec on 6 Jun 1882. Marchmont House in Belleville received them along with about 60 other children.
Rachel's first placement was with James Thornton's family in Omemee, Ontario. In August of 1883, Mrs. Thornton reported that Rachel was "improving all the time…. a good child and very affectionate". Unfortunately, that is all that we know of her early life as a British Home Child. Mrs. Thornton did offer to give Rachel music lessons but I never recall Grandma playing the piano. Although, she did like to hear my brother and me play the piano.
Her next placement (1891 Census) was with the Sherman family in North Fredericksburg, Lennox. My Grandfather, Wesley Joyce, his parents and sister, Martha, lived close by and that is where they likely met. On Dec. 27, 1899, they were married in Napanee and lived in Deseronto their whole lives. They had two children. Stella Beatrice (1900) and my father, William Andrew (1902). They were both born and brought up in Deseronto.
My mother's family was related to Wesley; as his sister (Martha) was my mother's grandmother. Aunt Rachel was always part of both families and my mother's sister still refers to her as 'aunt'. Like many other BHC she never shared her early history (if she had been aware of it). Luckily she had this extended family to help make up for her loss.
Sewing and quilting were often family projects, with all the ladies helping. The fabrics used in this Dresden plate pattern were from clothes that both my mother and aunt recognized! It is one of several quilts still in the family. Grandma enjoyed short visits to Toronto or to our cottage but much preferred to be at home. She was not fond of the big city. Visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Deseronto as a child was often the highlight of my summer holidays. My brother, Doug shared the same birthday as Grandma and she enjoyed celebrating with him.
Lovingly remembered by Shirley Joyce and family