William Thorne

William Osborne Thorne

Ten year old William Osborne Thorne arrived in Canada from Bristol England in June 1899. He arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick on board the SS Montrose on July 10, 1899. William was accompanied by 15 other children, one of them his 13-year-old brother, Henry. Their sister, Alice, had been sent to Canada the previous year. They were the children of John and Ethel Thorne. At some point, the family fell on hard times and when Ethel Thorne died in 1897, the father soon afterwards deserted his three children. The Boys were taken into the custody of the Bristol Board of Guardians in 1898 and sent to the Cumberland Road Boys Home, which was run by the Board. The following year, the Barton Regis Union sent William and Henry to Canada. The group of boys were accompanied by Society Agent, Margaret Forster and when they arrived in Saint John, NB she turned then over to Samuel Gardiner, the immigration agent for the port. It was Gardiner who arranged for each of the boys to be sent directly to a farmer in the area. William was placed on a farm in Tennants Cove, NB, owned by the James vanWart family. He remained with the vanWarts until age sixteen years. His bed was in the barn and the only day he ate in the house with the family was on Sundays. William was given a pair of work boots when he arrived; he was still wearing the same boots when he left at age sixteen. As a result, his toes were deformed, a fact that troubled him for the rest of his life. Although there are reports filed that indicate he was well treated by the family, his twisted toes always told a different story. After William left the vanWart farm he worked in a fish plant in Maine for awhile and it was in the US that he first learned the carpentry trade. When he returned to Saint John, and in spite of only a grade two education, he went on to become a master carpenter and ran his own successful building company for many years. William’s brother and sister were also placed with families in New Brunswick. As adults, the three children did reconnect. William’s sister, Alice, married an Orr from Bonney River, NB and his brother Henry, lived in the St. George area for a while before eventually moving to New Jersey, US. William married Myrtle Devine on June 13, 1917 and they raised a family of six children. William passed away on January 26, 1975 at the age of eighty-five years. He is buried in the Cedar Hill Cemetery on Manawagonish Road in Saint John, NB.