Home / 52 Weeks of Ancestors / 52 Weeks of Ancestors Challenge, Week 21, BHC Edwin Matthew Baker, by son Ron Baker

52 Weeks of Ancestors Challenge, Week 21, BHC Edwin Matthew Baker, by son Ron Baker

For decades, I and my brothers and sister believed that our father Edwin was an American born in Boston, USA, in fact in 1970 I actually wrote letters to the city of Boston archives and to the Boston State House seeking information on my father. They replied that they had no records of him or his mother, Rebecca. I chalked it up to possibly poor record keeping back in 1913.
That all changed on August 15, 2008, when I came across an old torn envelope addressed to my late father at the Gibbs Home in Sherbrooke Que, sent from India. I googled ‘Gibbs Home’ and a couple of emails later, I discovered a whole new chapter of my father’s life that was previously unknown to me and the rest of my family.
Yes, my father was born in Boston, but it was actually the Boston in Lincolnshire , on the east coast of England.
What I discovered was the quintessential story the British home child. At the age of ten his mother, Rebecca, died in a Workhouse, probably of tuberculosis, according to a file sent to me from the Church of England Children’s Society, formerly Waifs and Strays. My father was placed into care by his grandfather Charles, aged 60.
At the age of almost 15, my father was given the choice of coming to Canada or going to Australia. He chose Canada because some of his friends were going there. After farming training at Stoneygate Farm School he was sent to Canada on the SS DORIC along with 32 other boys. He arrived at Quebec City on July 7 1928 and from there went to the Gibbs Home in Sherbrooke, under the watchful eye of Thomas Keeley. He worked at several Quebec farms in Bulwer, Eaton, Ayerscliff ,Bromptonville and Lennoxville.
My father, like many of the Home Children, did everything they could to distance themselves from their past to eliminate the bullying. They disposed of their trunks and their English accents. My father’s trunk was found at the first farm he worked at, the Gallup Farm in Bulwer. The trunk was returned to me by Sarge and Pauline Bampton, original members of Home Children Canada, Quebec Branch.
After marrying and serving in the military, my father worked at a munitions factory in Valleyfield before moving to Deep River to work at the newly established Atomic Energy plant, where he worked in the Chemical Extraction Division.
My father successfully shed his English accent and never spoke of his native country, even in spite of the fact that we had English neighbours in Deep River. It amazes me to this day that there were no slip-ups when speaking with the neighbours.
This discovery doesn’t really change anything about the relationship we had with our father, but it does give us a whole new appreciation for our father’s ability to keep a secret.
I am sure that sometimes, he probably really wanted to tell us his story……….