Sunday, September 4, 2011

Child Migration to Canada :
British Home Children

In 1903, 13 year-old John Shaw was sent from Sheffield, England to work as a farm labourer in Canada. Shaw was one of approximately 100,000 poor children who were shipped to Canada from the United Kingdom by religious and philanthropic organizations from 1869 until the late 1940s under the United Kingdom’s Child Migration Scheme. When they arrived overseas, many of the home children were exploited as cheap agricultural labour and were denied proper shelter and education and were often not allowed to socialize with native children.

Dr. Barnardo's Homes was the most prominent organization that shipped children out of Britain to Canada and Australia. The organization sent about 30,000 children to Canada between 1882 and 1939. After his initial stay at a receiving home in Ontario, John Shaw was sent to Dr. Barnardo's Industrial Farm for older boys near Russell, Manitoba. The boys lived in a large house on fourteen square miles of land. There was a dormitory that could sleep 200 boys in bunk beds along with a small jail for boys who broke the rules. The boys were taught the basics of farming before being sent to farms in western Canada to work as indentured labourers until the age of 18.

A "Barnardo" boy learning to plow
at the Manitoba Industrial Farm
(c. 1900)

Barnardo, Manitoba

The Barnardo post office was open from November 12, 1896 to August 31, 1906.

Registered letter from Barnardo, Manitoba to Wilmslow, England, December 11, 1902
5 cents registration + 2 cent letter rate
[The 2 cent stamp fell off]

Barnardo split ring date stamp
December 11, 1902

John Shaw : A British Home Child

In July, 1903, John Shaw was sent to Kaposvar, District of Assinaboia (now Saskatchewan) to work at Fred Willey's farm. The patriotic post card shown below was pre-addressed to the "Manager, Dr. Barnardo's Industrial Farm" and used by Mr. Willey to report John Shaw's arrival at his farm.

(The card was post marked by Riversdale, Assa., post office. The Russell, Manitoba post office receiver cancellation was dated August 4, 1903.)

Fred Willey's Report to Dr. Barnardo's Industrial Farm

July 31, 1903

John Shaw arrived here this evening.
had expected from what I stated to the Sec'y a more
experienced one.
However I will do my best for him +
report in a month as requested.

Fred Willey
John Shaw eventually returned to England.  I contacted Barnardo's and received the following information from Mrs. Valerie Smith, Archive and Administrative Officer:

I have checked the records held here and can confirm that John Shaw was admitted to Barnardo's and emigrated to Canada in March 1903. However, as you are not a descendant you are not entitled to apply for a copy of his records.
I can tell you that John was born in 1885 and was in the employ of Fred Willey. He stayed in touch with us until 1970 when he was living back in the UK.

Recognition of the Hardships faced by the British Home Children

In 1987, an investigation was carried out in the United Kingdom which led to the exposure of the child migration scheme and the establishment of the Child Migrants Trust.
In 2010, the Australian governments issued an official apology for the child resettlement programme. In February 2010, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed the House of Commons to offer the British government's apology to former child migrants and their families:

I say today we are truly sorry. They were let down. We are sorry that they were allowed to be sent away at the time when they were most vulnerable. We are sorry that, instead of caring for them, this country turned its back. We are sorry that the voices of these children were not always heard, their cries for help not always heeded. And we are sorry that it has taken so long for this important day to come and for the full and unconditional apology that is justly deserved.
2010 The Year of the British Home Child

Although the Canadian Government chose not to apologize for abuse and exploitation suffered by the Home Children, the Government of Canada designated 2010 as The Year of the British Home Child to "recognize the hardships suffered by British Home Children and their perseverance and courage in overcoming those hardships".
On September 1, 2019, Canada Post issued a 57 cent stamp in honour of the British Home Children:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Norwegian Brigade in Scotland

German forces invaded Norway in April 1940. Norway surrendered after a two month struggle. The Royal family, the Government and some of the heads of the Ministry of Defence and the civil administration left for Great Britain, along with the withdrawing Allied troops. During the war the Norwegian government conducted its activities in exile.

The government-in-exile formed the Norwegian Army Brigade which was stationed in Scotland and deployed as part of defence forces. From 1940 until the end of the war, seven thousand Norwegian men and women served in the Norwegian Brigade in Scotland.

Norwegian Army Post Office

The above cover, mailed from a Norwegian Army Post Office, was addressed to Tignabruauch, Scotland.

Norwegian Army Post Office oval postmark
July 17, 1942

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

WWII Malta : Green Labels

This post looks at the conveyance of mail to Malta from Great Britain during the 1940-1943 period when Malta was under siege.

Malta was a British Colony in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. Malta was of strategic importance to the Allies, both as the only British-held harbour between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt, and as a base for air and submarine operations against Axis convoys supplying North Africa.

The Siege (1940- 1943)

Italy and Germany lay siege to the island by blockade, starving its military and civilian population of essential supplies, and mounting a relentless bombing campaign which began in June 1940 and continued until 1943. In March and April, 1942 alone, more bombs were dropped on Malta than fell on London during the entire Blitz.

Mail during the Siege

Mails were handled by the civil Post Office and incoming and outgoing correspondence was shipped by any available means, convoy, aircraft, or submarine.

"Green Labels" : Priority Conveyance to Malta

During the siege small adhesive labels, the size of an air mail etiquette, bearing a green diagonal cross were distributed to military personnel and civilians in Malta.

Priority Mail to Malta label

The labels were to be enclosed in letters to their correspondents in Great Britain. Replies carrying this label were given priority conveyance, either by submarine or aircraft at surface rates.

Kingston-on-Thames to Malta, May 27, 1942
Green Cross label tied by machine cancellation
Received June 20, 1942 (pencil notation on back of envelope)

George Cross

The George Cross was awarded to the island of Malta  by King George VI in  a letter dated 15 April 1942 to the island's Governor Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie,  so as to "bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people" during the great siege it underwent in the early parts of World War II.

Truro to Malta G.C. (George Cross), May 27, 1943
Green cross label for priority conveyance

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Canadian Royal Wedding Stamps
Part 2 : Royal Wedding Day and Royal Tour

On June 22, 2011, Canada Post issued its third stamp commemorating the wedding of Prince William and Ms. Kate Middleton. The first release was the subject of an earlier post.

The June 22 release consisted of the following stamps and souvenir sheets:
  • Royal Wedding Day stamps (Booklet format) "P" denomination
  • Royal Wedding Day souvenir sheet
  • Royal Tour souvenir sheet ( featuring the Royal Wedding Day stamps)

Royal Wedding Day Stamp

Royal Wedding Day
Booklet of 10 stamps

Royal Wedding Day Souvenir Sheet

June 28, 2011 : Actual First Day of Issue

The Canada Post "Official" first day cancellation  is dated June 22, 2011. The stamps could not be purchased at post offices on that date because Canada Post had shut out its employees in response to a legal strike. The government legislated an end to the dispute and post offices were re-opened on June 28. The covers shown below were cancelled on the first day this writer was able to obtain the stamps.

Brampton, Ontario, June 28, 2011

Royal Tour

A souvenir sheet was issued to celebrate the Royal Tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Canada, June 30 to July 8, 2011. 

Gold embossed maple leaf

First Day Cover

Brampton, Ontario, June 28, 2011

The author thanks the Canada Post employees for their courteous assistance.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Canada Post's Royal Wedding Postmark

On April 29, 2011, Prince William, the great-grandson of George VI, was married. Canada Post made available a Royal Wedding postmark featuring Westminster Abbey at over 140 Post Offices so that collectors could have their "collectibles stamped with a special postmark in honour of the Royal Couple's big day." Canada Post announced that the postmark would be available in participating Post Offices between April 29 and July 8.

The Brampton cancellation is shown below:

Royal Wedding First Day Cover : Brampton, Ontario

Se-tenant stamps are from the souvenir sheet.
Auxiliary Territorial Service

(Post 62)

The Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) was the women's branch of the British Army during WWII. It was formed on September 9 1938, initially as a women's voluntary service. The ATS served in most theatres of war, as well as in locations such as Washington and the Caribbean. The variety of work also became much greater – as well as domestic and clerical trades, more technical work became available, and many women served with Anti-Aircraft Command. At its peak in June 1943, 210,308 officers and auxiliaries were serving with the ATS. The ATS existed until 1 February 1949, when it was merged into the Women's Royal Army Corps.

Princess Elizabeth in the ATS

In early 1945 the Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth was made a Subaltern in the ATS.

By the end of the war she had reached the rank of Junior Commander, having completed her course at No. 1 Mechanical Training Centre of the ATS and passed out as a fully qualified driver.

Recruiting Poster

Mail from an ATS member

A letter written by Private Dorothy Gower stationed at Aldershot, dated March 1, 1945, to a Canadian soldier with the British Liberation Army in Europe.

Aldershot to Canadian Army Overseas, B.L.A., March 6, 1945
1 1/2d. military concession rate

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tonga : Niauaf'ou Island Tin Can Mail 

(Post 61)

Tonga is an  archipelago in in the South Pacific Ocean comprising 176 islands,  Since the tiny volcanic island of Niauaf'ou lacked a beach and a harbour, mail was originally transferred from passing ships via tin cans to swimmers who brought the mail ashore. In the 1930s, a swimmer was killed by a shark and the mail was then collected by outrigger canoe. Walter Quesnell of Tonga arranged to provide "Tin Can Mail" covers to passing ships and philatelists world-wide. It is reported that over one-half million letters were mailed during Quesnell's 27 years on Niuafo'ou. A volcanic eruption brought Quesnell's enterprise to an end in 1947. The island was completely evacuated and only re-populated in 1957.

Newport to Niuafo'ou, Tonga, March 8, 1944
2 1/2d. Imperial surface letter rate

Walter Quesnell applied several cachets to incoming mail

The writer of the enclosed letter requested price lists for philatelic items as well as novelties, shells, etc.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Censorship Memoranda
(Post No. 60)

As a result of war conditions, correspondence to foreign destinations was subject to the conditions laid down by the Censorship authorities. Items which did not comply with censorship regulations were returned to the senders with enclosed memoranda explaining why the item had not been despatched.
A few such censorship memoranda are shown in this post.

Memorandum P.C. 2 : Letters to be Short and Clearly Written
Memorandum P.C. 8 : Letters to Foreign Destinations to be Brief and Legible

Two memoranda were enclosed in the cover below mailed to Italy on September 29, 1939 and returned to the sender. The memoranda indicate that the letter, written in French, was too lengthy and not clearly written.

Southampton to Novara, Italy, September 29, 1932

Enclosed Memoranda

P.C. 2 (English and French text)

Letters are more likely to pass the Censor expeditiously if they are short and clearly written. La brievete et la lisibilite des lettres permetront a la Censure d'en assurer le controle minimum de retard.

P.C. 8

This letter is returned to the sender in accordance with the notice published in the Press that letters to foreign countries mus be brief and legible.

Memorandum P.C. 9 : Despatch of Picture Postcards

The despatch of illustrated items to certain countries was prohibited.

Enclosed Memorandum

P.C. 9

The despatch of snapshots, drawings and picture postcards, to certain countries is prohibited. The term 'picture postcards' includes cards bearing illustrations of localities or works, card photographs of persons or places, illustrated Christmas cards, and every kind of card which bears a pictorial illustration.

Memorandum P.C. 12 : Missing Enclosure

The first day cover below only contained a cardboard stuffer.

London to New York, March 9, 1942
First day cover, 2s. 6d. stamp
Cardboard stuffer was the only enclosure

The cover was examined by a censor who only found a plain piece of cardboard inside the envelope. In order to avoid charges of pilfering, memorandum P.C. 12 was enclosed in the envelope advising the addressee of the lack of contents. Additional instructions were provided such as contacting the sender to determine if the article had been enclosed.

P.C. 12

Enclosure mentioned...................................was missing when the letter was opened. Before making enquiries of the Post Office, please ascertain definitely from the sender of the letter whether the article in question was actually enclosed. If so, the sender should make enquiry at the Postal Administration of the country in which the letter was posted, mentioning that the enclosure was missing when the letter reached the British Censor. The cover of the letter, and if possible, such of its contents as were received, should accompany any communication to the Postal Administration. No compensation is given for the loss of the contents for or from a foreign country, unless the letter was insured (not merely registered) with the Post Office.

Memorandum P.C. 82 : Dispatch of Printed Matter and Postage Stamps by Private Individuals

Printed matter and postage stamps to certain countries could be dispatched only by those possessing the necessary Permit.

Cheltenham to Cove, Ireland, January 22, 1941
Returned because a permit was required to dispatch the letter

Enclosed Memorandum:

P.C. 82 (Original Version)

Postage by individuals of Christmas Cards, Greeting Cards of all kinds, Calendars, printed matter, literature for the blind, used or unused Postage Stamps addressed to certain Neutral countries is forbidden.
Such articles may be dispatched only by newsagents, stationers, dealers or booksellers possessing the necessary Permit. Individuals wishing to dispatch any of the above should therefore place their order with their newsagent, stationer, dealer or bookseller, together with a list of the names and addresses of those to whom the articles are to be sent.
Note: The censor struck out 'Neutral'

Memorandum P.C. 110 : Despatch of Adapted Re-Used Envelope

Re-used envelopes could not be used for despatch to certain countries.

Woodford to Kennebunk, U.S.A., August 5, 1942
Returned from Liverpool, August 8, 1942

Enclosed Memorandum

P.C. 110

This letter is returned to sender because no envelope which has already been used may be adapted for re-use for the despatch of a postal packet destined for the country to which this letter is addressed.

The censor may have objected to the use of the 'Officially Secure' tape to reinforce the re-used envelope.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WWII : Masonic Covers

(Post 59)

Two masonic covers mailed during World War II are the subject of this post.

1. Mourning Cover

The cover below was mailed on September 18, 1942 from the United Grand Lodge of England, London to the Grand Secretary of the Masonic Temple in Boston. The black border is characteristic of mourning covers, either announcing a death or offering condolences.

The stamp has the perforated initials U G / L for United Grand Lodge :

U G /L

2. The Masonic Service Association of U.S.A.

The Masonic Services Center opened in London, October 11, 1943. The center was a "home away from home" to build morale and perform special services for Masons and their families.

The cover below was mailed on March 7, 1945  from The Masonic Service Association of U.S.A. to the Grand Secretary of the Concord, New Hampshire Masonic lodge.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Royal Route

(Post 58)

In August 1847, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert holidayed in the West Highlands of Scotland. On their way to the Highlands, the Royal couple sailed on a barge from Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne to Crinan on Loch Linnhe via the 9 mile long Crinan Canal.

Loch Fyne

The Royal Barge Sunbeam towed on the Crinan Canal

Queen Victory was greeted at Ardrishaig pier with a floral arch with the words "Queen of Highland Hearts Welcome". The Royal party was taken through the village and boarded the Royal Barge Sunbeam for the two hour passage. At Crinan, the Queen boarded the Royal Yacht Victoria.

The Argyllshire Advertiser reported: "It was a beautiful morning when the Royal party came through-regular Queen's weather. When the Royal barge turned the first corner a throng of thousands saw it towed by six gaily caparisoned horses. Their riders, proud men ever after, were conspicuous in velvet caps, scarlet coats and white corduroy breeches, a dress in which they were allowed to disport themselves all season."

David MacBrayne Ltd. " The Royal Route"

David MacBrayne Ltd. , a Scottish steamer company formed in 1851, called its main service from Glasgow to Inverness " The Royal Route", following Queen Vicotria's patronage, because it included passage through the Crinan Canal which had been traversed by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1847.

The service was still called "The Royal Route" in 1937 when the cover below was mailed.

Glasgow & Highland Steamers David MacBrayne Ltd. corner card
Inverness to Washington, September 8, 1937