William Cheesman


























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Two years following his parents death, William Cheesman, was homeless and trying to earn his keep in the streets. He was arrested for trespassing. The authorities “seeing good in this boy” and with hopes that he could be helped, he was handed over to the Dr. Barnardo's Home as an alternative to jail.

On March 29, 1894, William boarded the S.S. Sarnia and sailed to a new life in Canada. He was taken to Barnardo's training farm in Russell, Manitoba, Canada. Shortly after William’s arrival, he was placed for work with Ed Short, at a rate of $55 per year. This was not to last, however, and on January 12, 1896 William wrote to Barnardo's to informing them he had left his situation with Mr. Short and that he was having problems obtaining his wages.

Ensuing correspondence shows Mr. Short complaining about William's conduct and William complaining of Mr. Short's treatment of him. In March of 1896 William was placed at a work situation with Mr. Ferguson. In a letter dated March 23, 1896 to Barnardo's, Mr. Ferguson states

"Wm Cheeseman is about house - he is well and is a splendid boy, a credit to the Home (Barnardo's) of which he speaks so highly". However , this situation also did not last. William absconded from care on July 20, 1896. In his letter to Barnardo's informing them of the situation, Mr. Ferguson writes, that "William is a good worker although very rough with the stock". He also expressed his opinion that another fella by the name of Wainwright had been bad influence over William.

In 1905 William became a farmer in his own right. He had obtained a Homestead in Rosetown, Saskatchewan. Women were scarce in the Prairies of Canada and William applied to an organization for a wife. On March 27, 1912, twenty six year old Annie Reta Marion Prince boarded the ship “Grampian” in Liverpool along with a large group of other single women, whose occupations were listed as "spinsters". Annie's intended occupation was listed as "wife" and her reason for immigration was "to be married". Her destination was the village of Zealandia, which lays 17.9 km north east of Rosetown.

Annie and William were married on April 11, 1912 in Rosetown, a mere week after she arrived in Canada. Nine months later, their first child was born. By 1919 they had a budding family of five children, but were under considerable financial strain to keep the farm going. The farm was sold and they moved to a rental farm close by. It is believed by my family, that there was a fire on that farm in 1919. This prompted William to bring Annie and the children back to her family in England and when the family boarded the ship "Metagama", the reason given for the trip was a holiday. Four months after the family arrived in the UK, on March 19, 1920, William to returned to Rosetown alone, to rebuild the farm . Leaving his family in England was never meant to be permanent and in the fall of 1921, William returned to take them back to Canada.

In April of that following year, his plan had changed again and William, alone again, travelled back to Canada. Annie later told her family that Williams plan was to return to Canada, sell the family's belongings and return to his family in England.

After he left; Annie, close to seven months pregnant with their sixth child, remained at Brook Cottage with the children awaiting the birth and the return of her husband. In June 27, 1922 she gave birth to my Mother, Olive June alone (Muriel). William never returned. For reasons we will never know or understand, when he boarded that ship for Canada he sailed out of his family's life forever.

Annie, probably out of embarrassment, told her family a fabricated story of how William had sold the property, and had been traveling to Moose Jaw on horseback with two men who robbed him and murdered him. In the fall of 1922, Annie and the children were forced to take refuge in the Kington Union Workhouse and from there, William's children were emigrated to Canada as British Home Children, just as he had been himself.