Genealogy Inspiration – My Ancestor, Ruth White

One of my ancestors who serves as my genealogical inspiration is my great aunt Ruth. Like myself she was a genealogist and wrote a number of personal essays that contain her memories of living at ‘Riverside Farm‘ as well as information she gathered on the Johnston and Basham family. The information she documented has been a great help in my own research and without her essay’s I would have had a much more difficult time. Furthermore, it seems her uncle, George Basham (1878-1954) was also interested in genealogy. He had recorded a number of musings his his diary, which I have yet to locate, he was also a photographer, postal worker, and was the first teacher of Mowat School from 1904-1905.

(1993, Winnipeg)

(1993)

Ruth Elizabeth White was born on 27 Jan 1908 in the Fork River district of Manitoba, Canada. Her parents Thomas White (1880-1909) and Sophia Harriet Basham (1880-1959) were both born in Hackney, London, England and immigrated to Canada on the S.S. Canada arriving at the port of Montréal on 15 May 1904. They most likely chose the community of Fork River as it was the home of Sophia’s parents and siblings who had immigrated to the area in 1903.

Thomas White was a cabinet maker in London who met his bride (most likely) while he boarded with Sophia’s sister, Amy and her husband Joseph Charles, at 23 Ballance Road in Hackney. Thomas opened a lathing, plastering, and brick laying business soon after he arrived to the community of Fork River. On 1 Nov 1905 he bought 160 arces at the North-East portion of 1-29-19-W1 and built a two-room farm house for himself and his bride. Ruth wrote a brief passage on a painting of this farm house in her 1990 essay entitled “Treasures.”

The OLD PAINTING of the house in which Ruth and her half-brother, Ernie, were born…Ruth on January 27, 1908. This oil was done by a friend of Ruth’s father, as a gift for Ruth’s mother Sophie, from her husband Tom, on their second anniversary. The painting shows the house that Tom built in the “wilderness”. It contained two rooms and was made of lumber and painted yellow. It was one of the few pioneer homes which had a brick chimney. It stood on the bank of the Fishing River. At the foot of the bank, a little yellow boat floated at anchor. Beyond the small clearing, trees formed a border. A low fence added to the charm of the scene. The painting served as a bittersweet reminder of the hard work Tom had done to make a pretty home for his bride. Ruth’s half brothers grew up in the little house. Tom had added a third room before he died. The painting hangs in the sunroom, and is willed to Ernie and his descendants.

The Old House
A tragedy that greatly affected my great aunt was the death of her father on 22 Oct 1909 to typhoid fever. Thomas was a member of the “Literary Society” of the district and would play the organ when the society met at Mowat School. He was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Dauphin. A visit to his grave in 2012 could not provide his precise burial location as his headstone was missing. A copy of his death certificate did provide some valuable information including the name of his brother. After Thomas’s premature death, Sophia spent time teaching at a school in Weiden in order to maintain payments on the farm while Ruth lived with her maternal grandparents and uncle George across the Fishing River. Ruth wrote of her mother’s hardships in her 1983 essay entitled “The James Washington Johnston Place.”

Here, we pay great tribute to the “girl from London” who braved the loneliness of her grief and the remote district in which she taught, in order to keep up the payments on the farm, which she and Thomas had so dearly loved. Each weekend saw her walking home ten miles over a trail-like road on the shore of Lake Dauphin, and along the edge of a meadow, where the bull of the Glendenning head came closer to look at her. During her teaching week she slept on the floor of the school. But the kindly Ukrainian and Polish people of the district never once caused her any alarm. Many years later, Jennie Janowski Situlski, who was a pupil in Sophie’s class in the Oak Brae school, wrote her memories of pioneer days. She said that Sophie was the first English speaking person the children had ever seen. She seemed like a doll to them, dressed as she was in her pretty clothes, the like of which they had never seen (Parkland Enterprise, August 1980).

On 26 Mar 1912 Sophia married James Washington Johnston (1876-1967) and would have three sons: James Henderson Johnston (1913-1981), Ernest John Johnston (1915-2001), and William George Washington Johnston (1917-1944). Ruth called James Washington Johnston her “Pa” or “Pop” and he taught her how to dance all of the steps of the day. She never lacked partners at house parties or the “balls” in the Orange Hall, in the Fork River Village. James Washington became the chief engineer of the government fish hatchery on Snake Island on Lake Winnipegosis and the family moved to the island for several seasons before returning to Riverside to farm in earnest.

c.1929

c.1929

Ruth and her half-brothers James, Ernie, and Bill attended Mowat School No. 1232. The school was located fairly close to the homestead and the children would have been able to walk to class each day. Ruth wrote in one of her essays that she had always wanted to be a teacher and since the tuition was only $50 at the Dauphin Normal School she took her chance and borrowed the money from her cousin Fred Storrar Jr. Ruth graduated from Dauphin Normal in Apr 1927 and taught at various schools across Manitoba including (but not exclusive): Glenlyon School (her first school), Roseisle School (1929), Bradwardine School (1934), Mowat School (1943-1944), King Edward School, Lord Selkirk School, and Principal Sparling School (1973). Ruth was the only former student of Mowat to return to teach at the school.

(c. 1928)

(c. 1928)

Ruth married Ellis Blake Galbraith (1912-1976) on 6 Aug 1938 in Dauphin, Manitoba in St. Paul’s Anglican Church. The couple then traveled to visit Ellis’ family in Roseisle before going on their honeymoon.

15 Aug 1938 (Winnipeg Free Press)

15 Aug 1938 (Winnipeg Free Press)

1938 Aug 28 (Winnipeg Free Press)

1938 Aug 28 (Winnipeg Free Press)

They moved to Winnipeg in 1944 allowing Ellis to work in the city CPR yards. Through the years they took various trips together across the USA and Canada. Once her husband had passed away in 1978 Ruth also took a trip to England and Ireland, the homeland of our ancestors. Ruth passed away on 17 Feb 1999 at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

20 Jan 1999 (Winnipeg Free Press)

20 Jan 1999 (Winnipeg Free Press)

Today in the Dauphin Herald – Oct 28 – 1915

1915 Oct 28 – Almost Fatal Shot

Peter Nykolak, a young Ruthenian living at Sifton, had a love affair which he took to heart very much. The young lady of his affections proved fickle and Peter sought consolation by the suicide route on Saturday morning last. He used a large revolver in trying to commit the act, the bullet entering the lower part of his chin and came out near the bridge of his nose. The blood flowed freely from the wound and it looked for a time like the final act in Peter’s career. When Dr. Harrington arrived he found the wound a dangerous one, but not necessarily fatal.
The injured man was brought to the hospital here and is now on a fair way towards recover.

1915 Oct 28 – Fined at Winnipegosis

The Winnipegosis Fox Ranch Co., was fined $35 and costs on Tuesday by Mr. P.M. Whale. The company was charged with buying moose meat for their foxes on the ranch.
Sam Sanderson, a halfbreed was fined $10.00 for selling moose meat. He was also found guilty of having moose meat in his possession. For this charge he was left off on suspended sentence. Game guardian Joyce prosecuted.

1915 Oct 28 – Recruiting to Start at Once

Dauphin has been created by the Militia Dept. headquarters for a detachment area and provincial battalion. Recruiting will start at once with Major Walker as recruiting officer.

1915 Oct 28 – Fork River

Mrs. William Allan, of Grandview, is visiting at her daughter’s, Mrs. T. Dewsberry.
Section Foreman Dewberry has quite a broad smile these days. It’s all owing to the “wee new section foreman.” Nurse Tilt says he’s a bouncer.
Mr. Beatty, traveller for the Mooney Confectionery Co., of Winnipeg, was busy here on Monday taking orders.
The err has commenced in earnest that no more are to be had for grain. The stook threshing is finished and the stacks are fast disappearing. The yield is fair, but prices are low and the grade is poor owning to early frost.
Nat Little is fitting around in his auto. It is running all the better for having a prolonged rest.
Mr. Rowe, of Arden, is busy here buying up a shipment of cattle for his farm.
We had our first fall of snow on Monday, the 25th, which is a gentle reminder to prepare for winter.
Felix Marantz, merchant of Sifton, arrived here this week in his auto and spent a short time with Mr. Shuchett on business.
Mr. and Mrs. Sid Gower arrived home from their honeymoon on Saturday, which was spent at Dauphin. We whish them long life and happiness.
Mr. Woods, post office inspector of Winnipeg, spent sometime here last week going into post office affairs. He found everything O.K.
Mr. Frank Hechter, councilor for ward 4, was a visitor here on business last week. Frank generally wears a smile; he finds it costs no more than a grouch.
Private Alex. Reader, of the 45th battalion, was here renewing acquaintances last week. He has returned to Sewell.
Jack Chipley and family are off on a visit to friends at Metton for a week.

1915 Oct 28 – Sifton

Presentation to Mr. Wm. Walters on his departure from Sifton to join “The Colours,” Oct. 19th, 1915, Canadian Expeditionary Force – Allies vs. Germany, etc.
Mr. Walters – On behalf of a few friends of Sifton, Dublin Bay and the district you have served so faithfully in the past, we have the pleasure in presenting you with this wrist watch as a little token of our esteem and regard for your good fellowship, ready courtesy and obliging manner. We trust, as its hands mark the fleeing hours, the time will bring yourself nearer to a safe and happy return to take up your duties once amongst us.
The boy scouts presented themselves at the early morning train as a guard of honour to wave their last farewell to Mr. Walters, who cordially shook hands with each scout, hoping he would soon come back to them again.
A large number of the friends of Mr. Walters met for a farewell supper at Mr. Ashmore’s to make him a presentation address. Thirty-two sat down to supper and the evening was spent in a convivial manner, whiling away the house with laughter and song to the strains of music some of the best local talent being present.
Football – The Boy Scouts played their return match on Father Sabourin’s grounds with the boys of his school. The whole of he Wycliffe School children were present to see the match. There were also many other spectators who vociferously harangued the scouts. Although the Catholic School team was much heavier than the Scouts, their grounds very cramped, and a high wind blowing, the game resulted in a draw. It was a tough game and the Catholic boys pressed hard for a score towards the finish, but the gallant little fellows responded to the rush and held their own with courage and determination seldom found in boys of tender years.
Trafalgar Day – The Sifton scouts were very busy on Trafalgar Day, responding to the British Appeal through H.R.H., the Duke of Connaught, chief scout of Canada, in collecting for the Red Cross Fund. By their untiring efforts it is expected to forward over $50 from Sifton and district. The scouts would be glad to take this opportunity of thanking most cordially their many patrons for their kindness to them; also Mr. Paul Wood, who lent his team to take the troop out east.
The provincial assistant and organizer, Mr. A.T. Macintosh, will visit the Sifton scouts this week.
Miss Reid and Mrs. (Rev.) Scott, [1 line missing] Presbyterian Mission House here, paid a visit to ??? ??? ??? on the labours to renew acquaintances with their old pupils. They were pleased to visit the Wycliffe Schools, where they were shown round and entertained by pleasing songs from the school children.

1915 Oct 28 – Winnipegosis

The grand masquerade ball in the Rex Hall last Friday was a roaring success, and the costumes were a credit to our northern town. The hall was filled to its utmost capacity and the proceeds, after paying all expenses, amounted to $17.25, which includes a donation of $3.00 from Mr. Sid. Coffey, and goes to the Patriotic Fund. Much credit is due the management for the arrangement, and for such a happy evening. The prize winners were: lady’s best representative costume, 1st., “Britannia,” Miss McMartin; gentlemen’s best representative costume, 1st, “Cavalier,” J.P. Grenon; lady’s second prize, “French Doll,” Mrs. McInnes; gentlemen’s second prize, “Bullfighter,” Mr. Adams, Sifton; third prize, “Turk,” W. Morton; gentlemen’s first prize, comic, “Uncle Sam,” D. Kennedy; lady’s first prize, comic, “Folly,” Miss Bertha Magnasson; gentlemen’s second prize, comic, “Clown,” Harry Grenon; lady’s second prize, comic, “Coaster woman,” Miss C. Bradley. The judges were Miss E. MacArthur, Mrs. Dennett and Dr. Medd, and much praise is due these ladies and the doctor for the able manner in which the judging was done. Miss MacArthur presented the prizes.
W. Morton left on Monday’s train for a two weeks’ vacation to Winnipeg and eastern points.
Mr. F. Partridge is in charge of the station during Mr. Morton’s absence.
Mr. Joyce, game guardian, is again with us on business.
Fred Clarke, the fur traveller, is spending a few days in town and we are always glad to see his merry smile.
D.G. Macaulay left on Monday for Chicago and eastern cities on business.
Mr. Andrews and friends left on Sunday [1 line missing].
We understand quite a few more recruits have enlisted from here and will be leaving us on Wednesday. This town has done well for he size of it. We are proud of our boys.
Mrs. Burrell (grandma) left us on Monday for her old home in Collingwood, Ont., for an extended visit and she will be greatly missed by us all. Mrs. Comf. Burrell accompanied her to Dauphin.