Home / 52 Weeks of Ancestors / 52 Weeks of Ancestors Challenge – Week 12 – by Stewart Gilbert

52 Weeks of Ancestors Challenge – Week 12 – by Stewart Gilbert

I too am a descendant of a home child. My grandfather and his sister came to Canada in 1903 arriving in Saint John. He was 10 and she was 12.


His sister, Lilly, used a pen and tattooed his initial’s, SG, on his right forearm. He told me this was because they were going to be separated and if they ever met she knew it would be him. His WW1 enlistment papers state, “tattoo right forearm SG”.


They were indeed separated, and as so many, she was to become a domestic servant. He went to a farm. She revolted and I have the documents that were written about her behaviour. Good for her.


When I was 2 days old, in 1952, my mother left the hospital and deserted me and also my brother who was 1 and my sister who was 2. Gone. My grandparents took us in and raised us. At the time my grandmother was 55 and papa was 60. This is how I knew so much about my grandfather.


I was about 10 years old and it was Remembrance Day and papa never ever went to the parades or wore his medals. I asked him why he never went and he simply said he would rather stay home. I asked him if he hated the Germans. Honest to God, I remember this like it was yesterday. He called me son.” Son, I don’t hate anybody- I only hate mud.”


I loved him with all my heart. He died in 1973 while I was away playing in a baseball tournament. I didn’t hear about it until Monday because I didn’t leave any contact number. I never thought anything would happen. I got home with my trophy and 20 minutes later the cars rolled into the driveway. Papa was gone.


My grandfather also had a little brother Grantley and he arrived in 1904, landing in Quebec City Imagine foreign land and foreign tongue. I think he was 9 at the time.

WWI broke out and all able-bodied (or not so able-bodied) men were enlisted. Grantley died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was just 19 years old.


My Grandparents marred in 1920 and their first born arrived in 1921. They named him Grantley. In 1939, 18 years after his birth, Grantley enlisted in the navy. He served with honour in the North Atlantic and was discharged at the end of the hostilities.


Grantley got a job with the railroad and, sadly, while crossing the yard was struck and hit by a train. He died instantly. That was 1946. I have his bible, medals and discharge papers. I have donated some of his other things to the HMCS Brunswicker here in Saint John.


Grandparents only daughter, Jean named her new baby Grantley in memory of her big brother. He was born in 1947.


My Uncle Doug joined the Air Force in WW2. He took his training in London Ont. where he met and married a girl named Ruby. When Doug retired, he and Ruby moved to Digby, Nova Scotia. During a visit to the HMCS Cornwallis museum, he found a cardboard poster of a WW2 navy man in full uniform. It was a picture of his big brother Grantley!