Cousin E.W. Jarvis Had a Dramatic Life of Accomplishments and Adventure in the Canadian Frontier

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By Sam McBride

Edward Worrell Jarvis (1846-1894) was a nephew of Col. John Hamilton Gray, a first cousin of Bertha Gray Peters and her sisters, and a first cousin, once removed, of Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters.   My relation to him is first cousin, three times removed.

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Edward Worrell Jarvis, son of Elizabeth Gray and PEI Chief Justice Edward James Jarvis.  (Detail of family photograph in Peters Family Papers)

His remarkable career included railway surveying and engineering in England and Canada (including an extremely challenging Canadian Pacific Railway winter survey through the Rocky Mountains in northern B.C. and Alberta), running a successful lumber business in Winnipeg, serving as a Major in command of the Winnipeg Field Battery in the Riel Rebellion of 1885, designing three bridges in Winnipeg (including the Broadway Bridge which opened in 1882 as the first bridge to cross the Red River), being the first registrar at the University of Manitoba, a founding member of the Manitoba Historical Society, alderman in the early years of Winnipeg, and superintendent with the Northwest Mounted Police (forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the position he held at the time of his death in 1894 at age 48.   When he applied to join the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in 1874, the ICE members sponsoring his application included the distinguished engineers Sir Sandford Fleming and Marcus Smith of CPR fame.   For whatever reason, details of his career were missed in Gray family letters and memorabilia, likely because he was far away and out of touch with his relations in the Maritimes, who he would not have known well as he spent much of his boyhood at private school and later university in England after he became an orphan a six years of age.  There is no mention of him in the Canadian Dictionary of Biographies.

INTRODUCTION

One of my favourite images in the family collection that I have inherited is the photograph by G.P. Tanton of Charlottetown dated 1868 of a gentleman and two ladies.   The print is 2.25 inches wide and 3.75 inches high, on heavy paper backing.   The image has excellent black and white contrast in a brown, sepia tone colour.  In most studio photos from this era the subjects look serious and uncomfortable  (not surprising as they had to stay still for many seconds for the camera exposure), but with this photo Margaret Gray, at least, looks relaxed and has a trace of a smile.  The back of the chair she is sitting on is similar to chairs that exist today as family heirlooms.

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Edward Worrell Jarvis with his cousins Margaret Pennefather Stukeley Gray (sitting) and Florence Hope Gibson Gray in Charlottetown in 1868. Photo from Peters Family Papers.

On the back of the print, the people in the photo are identified as Margaret Gray, Florence Gray and Edward Jarvis.  We know from other photographs that Margaret Pennefather Stukeley Gray (1845-1941), who would have been 23 at the time the photo was taken, is seated and her sister Florence Hope Gibson Gray (1848-1921), 20, is standing behind her.

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back of photo print (Peters Family Papers)

The father of the young ladies, Col. John Hamilton Gray, was retired from politics and in charge of the Prince Edward Island militia when the photo was taken.  Four years earlier, Col. Gray was premier of PEI and host of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 which set the stage for Canada being established as a self-governing nation in 1867.  Gray`s wife Susan Ellen Bartley Pennefather, who died in 1866, was in failing health at the time of the Charlottetown Conference, so daughters Margaret and Florence served as hostesses when their father invited his fellow Fathers of Confederation to his estate known as Inkerman House for an after-dinner party on Sept. 3, 1864.

Margaret married Charlottetown shipbuilder Artemus Lord in 1869 and resided in Charlottetown for the rest of her life.  Florence married mining engineer Henry Skeffington Poole and they settled in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, and after about 1900 resided in England.

Until recently, all I knew about the young man in the photo was that he was Edward Jarvis, son of Edward James Jarvis (1788-1852 and Elizabeth Gray (1803-1847), sister of Col. Gray.   As chief justice of Prince Edward Island, Edward James Jarvis was prominent in the community.   The only thing mentioned about young Edward Jarvis in Florence Gray`s notes about the Gray family was that he “died unmarried“.   The Canadian Dictionary of Biographies has a full entry about Edward James Jarvis, but no mention of his son Edward.  When I learned from PEI baptismal records that the son`s full name was Edward Worrell Jarvis, this led to details from various sources of his remarkable life in Western Canada as an engineer, surveyor, businessman, soldier, policeman and civic leader.

 

EDWARD WORRELL JARVIS

Edward Worrell Jarvis was born in Charlottetown on January 26, 1846, and baptized August 22, 1846 at St. Paul`s Anglican Church in Charlottetown.   He was the first child of his father Edward James Jarvis and Elizabeth Gray, but his father had eight children in his first marriage to Anna Maria Boyd (1795-1841).  Nineteen months after Edward`s birth his mother Elizabeth died in childbirth on Sept. 6, 1847.  Edward`s father died in 1852 when he was six.  Though an orphan, he had a large extended family of step-brothers, step-sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts.  He and his Gray cousins were all grandchildren of Robert Gray, a United Empire Loyalist in Virginia who helped organize a regiment in support of the King, and was in the thick of the fighting in the Carolinas against rebel forces in the American Revolutionary War.  Edward’s paternal grandfather Munson Jarvis of Connecticut was also a United Empire Loyalist, settling in New Brunswick after eviction by American rebels.

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This excellent book about the Jarvis-Hanington winter survey expedition for the CPR came out in early 2016.

According to his obituary in a Manitoba newspaper published after his death in 1894, Edward Worrell Jarvis went to school in England and graduated from Cambridge University.   According to the British Institute of Civil Engineers, he worked as an engineer under the tutelage of Walter M. Brydone, chief engineer for the British Great Northern Railway.   Jarvis worked on the Spalding to March railway in England, east of Birmingham, between 1864 and 1867 before returning to Canada in 1868 when he was employed as an assistant engineer by the Government of Canada, under renowned engineer and surveyor Sir Sandford Fleming, on the Intercolonial Railway in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, including responsibility for construction of a 15-mile section and a 12-mile section of the track.

 

 

 

From 1871 to 1873 E.W. Jarvis was in charge of 50 men exploring and surveying 360 miles of the CPR rail line, and then in 1873-74 was in charge of an additional 180 miles through the Rocky Mountains.

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Details of the bone-chilling survey of the Smoky River Pass led by E.W. Jarvis in the winter of 1875 are in Sandford Fleming’s 1877 report of CPR route surveys.

In January 1875 Jarvis led a survey team in a horrific winter expedition to survey the Smoky River Pass north of the Yellowhead Pass as a possible route for the CPR line.   Following instructions from Sandford Fleming (who at that time had decided on the Yellowhead Pass for the CPR, but wanted the Smoky River Pass checked out to see if it could be considered a possible route), Jarvis set off from Fort George (near current site of Prince George, B.C.) with his assistant, C.F. Hanington, Alex Macdonald in charge of dog trains, six Indians and 20 dogs.   The plan was to go through the pass, conduct the required work, and arrive at Edmonton.

In “The National Dream“, Pierre Berton devoted two full pages to the harrowing expedition led by E.W. Jarvis.  “The party travelled light with only two blankets per man and a single piece of light cotton sheeting for a tent,“ Berton said.  “They moved through a land that had never been mapped.  A good deal of the time they had no idea where they were.  They camped out in temperatures that dropped to 53 below zero.  They fell through thin ice and had to clamber out, soaked to the skin, their snowshoes still fastened to their feet.“

ntional deram 001By March 1875 the dogs used for the Jarvis Expedition were dying daily.  Berton notes that “even the Indians were in a mournful state of despair, declaring that they …would never see their homes again, and weeping bitterly.“  Somehow the group managed to make it to Edmonton, where Jarvis found his weight had dropped to a starving 125 pounds.  After a brief break they set off again across blizzard-swept prairie for Fort Garry, south of modern-day Winnipeg, Manitoba.  In total, the expedition spent 116 days on the trail, travelling 1,887 miles – 932 of those miles on snowshoes and 332 of them with all their goods on their backs, as the dogs had died.

Berton posed the question: Why did they do it.  Not for money or adventure, he concludes.  Rather , “each man did it for glory, spurred on by the slender but ever-present hope that someday his name would be enshrined on a mountain peak… or, glory of glories, would go into the history books as the one who had bested all others and located the route for the great railway.“

Later in 1875 Jarvis began working as a lumber merchant in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  According to Berton, he was “doing a roaring business in lumber and starving no more.“  He was later a partner in the lumber business of W. J. Macaulay and Company.  Between 1880 and 1883 Jarvis designed three bridges in Winnipeg:  the Louise and Broadway Bridges over the Red River and the Main Street Bridge over the Assiniboine River.

In the Riel Rebellion of 1885 he was a Major in command of the Winnipeg Field Battery of the Canadian artillery, and was mentioned in despatches.

Among other distinctions, Jarvis was the first registrar of the University of Manitoba, a founder of the Manitoba Historical Society, an early alderman on the Winnipeg City Council, and an officer in the Northwest Mounted Police.

Manitoba_Free_Press_Wed__Jan_18__1882_jarvis lumber ad

lumber ad in Jan. 18, 1882 Manitoba Free Presss

 

Jarvis Edward Worrallgrave

Text of tombstone: “Erected by the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of E. Division N.W.M. Police in memory of their commanding officer Supt. E.W. Jarvis who died in Calgary November 26th 1894 Aged 49 years.“  Photo courtesy of the Alberta Family History Society.

 

 

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obituary from Winnipeg Tribune Dec. 4, 1894

Jarvis joined the NWMP in 1886 when the federal government decided to double the size of the force from 500 to 1,000 when they realized that additional policing resources were needed in the wake of the Riel Rebellion.   Jarvis was among 29 new officers appointed in this expansion of the force.  His military service was a factor in his selection as an officer, as was the fact that he was born in Prince Edward Island, because the government wanted the various regions of the country to be represented in the group of new officers.   Superintendent Jarvis was one of five of the new NWMP officers to have served in the Riel Rebellion.   Jarvis` experience with the NWMP is described in the book “Red Coats on the Prairies“ by William Beahen and Stan Horrall.  In addition to his command duties, Jarvis was tasked with reviewing NWMP regulations, and testing new ammunition proposed for the NWMP manufactured by the Dominion Cartridge Co. of Montreal.   He concluded that is was “impossible to shoot well with bullets supplied by the Dominion Cartridge Company“.   When telephone service was introduced for the NWMP between Moose Jaw and Wood River in 1887, Jarvis designed and produced two receivers to be used with the new communication system.   It was Jarvis who put forward the idea of a musical band for NWMP headquarters as a worthwhile form of recreation for the men in the NWMP, who otherwise often turned to drinking and associated misbehaviour when they were off duty.   The men would not be paid extra for being in the band, but they would be excused from tedious duties.   According to Beahen and Horrall, Jarvis was surprised when the NWMP commissioner approved his suggestion of a band.  As it turned out, Inspector W.G. Matthews, who was appointed conductor of the band, was largely responsible for the first Mounted Police Musical Rides, which became an institution with the force that continues to the present day.  The authors note that C.W. Dwight, an NWMP constable from a well-to-do family in Toronto, said in a letter that his Commanding Officer in “A“ Division (Supt. Jarvis) was “a thorough gentleman and his treatment of men at all times considerate and impartial.“

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As an idea-oriented engineer with wide-ranging knowledge and capabilities, Jarvis was asked to make recommendations for improving the NWMP facilities and operations.  In his first annual report submitted November 30, 1886 he expressed a vision for practical improvements to the uniform which are largely in line with how the NWMP and later the RCMP uniforms later developed. “The Police uniform fits too well for a man actively engaged in rough prairie work, and is soon spoiled by duties required a camp fire,“ Jarvis wrote, adding  “I would suggest the issue of a `prairie dress` which would consist of dark brown cord or velveteen britches, long boots and spurs, a heavy blue flannel shirt (over which the stable jacket could be worn when required) and a broad-brimmed hat of soft felt to complete the outfit.  By adopting this, personal comfort and a uniform appearance would be gained, while the regular uniform would be saved for parade and duty in settled districts.  The forage cap is no use at all on the prairie.“

Tragically, Superintendent Jarvis died in Calgary on November 24, 1894 of cellulitis, a type of skin infection that can be fatal.   Because of his popularity, NWMP men from other divisions were allowed time to come to his funeral.   This ended badly, as many of the men gathered for the funeral got drunk and made a public exhibition of themselves, according to Beahen and Horrall.   One officer was found to be completely drunk in uniform in the lobby of the hotel the next morning at 9 am.

Jarvis is buried in the St. Mary`s Pioneer Cemetery in Calgary.  Jarvis Avenue in Winnipeg is named after him, as are Jarvis Creek in Alberta, Jarvis Creek in B.C., Jarvis Lake in Alberta, Jarvis Lake in B.C., Mount Jarvis in B.C., Jarvis Pass in B.C and Jarvis Street in Hinton, Alberta.  A collection of his journals are held by the Archives of Manitoba.

 

CLUES FROM MIDDLE NAMES IN GRAY FAMILY

dally sister harriet gray

Harriett Worrell Gray, eldest daughter of John Hamilton Gray, in 1864.

Worrell (or alternate spelling Worrall) was also the middle name of his cousin Harriett Worrell Gray (first child of John Hamilton Gray and Susan Bartley-Pennefather), who was born three years earlier than Edward, in 1843.   We know from Loyalist Robert Gray`s autobiographical notes that he named his youngest son John Hamilton Gray as a tribute to the Hamilton family in Scotland who trained and employed him in their tobacco trading business in Colonial America.  One might assume that Robert Gray`s children John Hamilton Gray and Elizabeth Gray Jarvis also named children with middle names in appreciation for some special assistance or support for them at some time by the Worrell family.   A possible link would be the Worrell Estates near St. Peters Bay on the north coast of Prince Edward Island, in the vicinity of land granted to original proprietor George Burns, who was maternal grandfather of John Hamilton Gray and Elizabeth Gray.   See bio of Charles Worrell at  http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/worrell_charles_8E.html

Hamilton Edward Jarvis Gray (1880-c.1889) was the last child of Col. John Hamilton Gray and his third wife Sarah Caroline Cambridge (1842-1906).   Col. Gray was 69 when his youngest son Hammy was born.  Hammy is listed as a beneficiary in his father`s will dated January 1887, and is not listed on the 1891 British census, though his mother and brother Arthur are on the census, indicating that Hammy likely died sometime between 1887 in Prince Edward Island and 1891 in England, where his mother had moved with her son Arthur.  The fact that Col. Gray would have Edward Jarvis as middle names for his son is perhaps a reflection of his admiration for the father E.J. Jarvis, his son E.W. Jarvis, or both.

 

THE TWO LADIES IN THE PHOTO

Margaret Gray Lord was the only one of Col. Gray`s five daughters to continue residing in Prince Edward Island through her lifetime.   In October 1864 she accompanied her father to the Quebec Conference where proposals for confederation were thoroughly discussed and carried forward.  By the 1930s, she was the last surviving partipant of the historic Quebec Conference.  She was presented to the King and Queen when the Royal Tour came to Charlottetown in 1939.   Through most of her adult life she kept a personal diary, which was the basis for the book “One Woman`s Charlottetown: the 1863, 1876 and 1890 Diaries of Margaret Gray Lord“ published in 1987.  Margaret was active in the Womens Temperance Movement in the early 1900s, perhaps recalling with disdain the inebriation of many of the Fathers of Confederation when her father brought them home for an after-dinner party that followed a late afternoon feast and libations in Charlottetown Harbour.  Margaret enjoyed excellent health until her death in Charlottetown at age 96 on December 31, 1941.

Florence Gray with her grandmother, Lady Pennefather (Margaret Carr Bartley)

Florence Gray with her maternal grandmother, Lady Pennefather (Margaret Carr Bartley), who lived in Aldershot, England and came to PEI to visit her daughter Susan and her family every couple of years.  Circa 1868.  Peters Family Papers photo.

Florence Gray Poole was keen on family history, and conducted substantial research and associated correspondence regarding the ancestry of both her parents.   Tragically, her son Eric Skeffington Poole, a second lieutenant with the British Army, was court martialled for desertion in the fall of 1916 after he was found to have wandered away in a daze from his assigned position in a front line trench.   Despite testimony from medical staff that he was experiencing the lingering effects of shell shock from the Battle of the Somme a couple of months earlier, Eric was convicted and shot at dawn in Poperinghe, Belgium on Dec. 16, 1916.  At the time, Florence`s husband Henry Skeffington Poole was very ill, and she worried that hearing of Eric`s fate would kill him.  She reached an agreement with authorities that she would not contest the execution and they would not publicize it.  Ironically, one of her other sons, Henry Raynaulde Poole, won a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) medal for valour in the Great War, and was an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the French Legion of Honour.  Florence died at age 75 in 1923 in Guildford, England, six years after the death of her husband Henry.

 

SOURCES

Link to Memorable Manitobans web site http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/jarvis_ew.shtml

link to an article in Manitoba History that focused on the families of Edward James Jarvis and Alexander Ross as examples of Victorians families of their era. http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/13/victorianfamily.shtml

RCMP memorial web site

http://www.rcmpgraves.com/database/depotdynasty.html

British Engineering Society publication

http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Edward_Worrell_Jarvis#cite_note-1

Link to Edward James Jarvis, chief justice, PEI in Canadian Dictionary of Biographies

http://ww.w.biographi.ca/en/bio/jarvis_edward_james_8E.html

Link to Charles Worrell in Canadian Dictionary of Biographies.

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/worrell_charles_8E.html

A Tale of Two Identical Fathers of Confederation

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by Sam McBride

One of the great coincidences of Canadian history is that there were two unrelated Fathers of Confederation named John Hamilton Gray  — one in Prince Edward Island (born in Charlottetown in 1811 and died in Charlottetown in 1887) and the other in New Brunswick (born in Bermuda in 1814 and died in Victoria, B.C. in 1889).

The P.E.I. Gray was Fritz Peters` grandfather and my great-great-grandfather.  He had the more prominent role among the J.H. Gray`s at the Charlottetown Conference of September 1864 because, as head of the P.E.I. government at the time, he was the official host of the conference and was elected by delegates to be chairman of the conference.   Both J.H. Grays were fervent supporters of Confederation at a time when many of the men also known as Fathers of Confederation were lukewarm or actively opposing it.   The two men were also alike in qualifying for the title of Colonel Gray — the P.E.I. Gray as a career officer in the British cavalry, and the New Brunswick Gray as an Lieutenant-Colonel in his colony`s militia.

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ABOVE: Col. John Hamilton Gray of Prince Edward Island shown about the time of the Charlottetown Conference he hosted in 1864. BELOW: The P.E.I. Gray in later years.

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col gray high school

The high school in Charlottetown is named after John Hamilton Gray of P.E.I.

In 2014, as part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial) of the Charlottetown Conference, a sculpture has been commissioned which will depict the two John Hamilton Grays interacting at the 1864 conference.   The artist doing the bronze work is Nathan Scott from Vancouver Island.   See the recent CBC report on the project http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/fathers-of-confederation-statue-to-be-unveiled-this-fall-1.2519721 and information on the artist http://www.sculpturebynathanscott.com/1/post/2013/11/canadian-artist-nathan-scotts-latest-public-commission-the-two-john-hamilton-grays.html

The fact that the artist is from Vancouver Island is interesting because Victoria, B.C. is part of the story of the two John Hamilton Grays and their descendants­.    In 1872 the New Brunswick Gray moved to Victoria to serve as a judge on the Supreme Court of B.C.   He died in Victoria in 1889 and was buried in Victoria`s historic Ross Bay Cemetery, which has the graves of most of the famous B.C. names of the 19th century.   The people who lead tours of the Ross Bay cemetery point out that this Gray was the only Father of Confederation buried west of Ontario.

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ABOVE: The New Brunswick John Hamilton Gray shown around the time of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference. BELOW: The New Brunswick John Hamilton Gray is later years when he was a judge in British Columbia.

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I think it is ironic that the burial site and tombstone of the New Brunswick Gray in Ross Bay is in the Anglican section of the cemetery just a few yards from the grave and tombstone of former P.E.I. premier Frederick Peters, who was a son-in-law of the P.E.I. Gray.   The person who organized Frederick Peters` funeral and burial at Ross Bay in August 1919 was his son Lt. Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters, DSO, DSC, RN, who took leave from Royal Navy service to travel to Victoria to look after arrangements on behalf of his widowed mother Bertha Gray Peters.  It is quite possible that Fritz — who later received the Victoria Cross and the U.S. Distinguished Service Cross for valour in the invasion of North Africa in 1942 — chose the gravesite because of its proximity to the “other“ Father of Confederation John Hamilton Gray.  While they were not related, there was a bond between Fritz`s grandfather and the other John Hamilton Gray as builders of Canada.

Last October while in Charlottetown for a book tour I visited the gravesite of my great-great-grandfather J.H. Gray at Sherwood Cemetery for the first time.   I had visited the Ross Bay Cemetery on the other coast of Canada several times in recent years, but I paid closer attention to the Gray tombstone when I visited a couple of weeks ago while in Victoria.   The Gray tombstone at Sherwood is much bigger than the one at Ross Bay, but is quite faded from the effects of weather and time, while the Ross Bay one is in good shape.  Something they have in common is a small accompanying plaque installed years ago by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for deceased Fathers of Confederation.   As can be seen on the accompanying images, the wording on the federal plaques is exactly the same, as both men attended the Confederation gatherings at Charlottetown and Quebec City, but not the one in London: “A delegate to the Intercolonial Conferences of 1864 (Charlottetown and Quebec) at which the basis was laid for the federal union of the British North America provinces in a new nation.  This grave is marked by the Government of Canada.“

The PEI Gray was long-retired and died of a lingering illness in bed at his home Inkerman House on August 13, 1887.  It must have been a difficult time for his daughter Bertha, who was about to give birth to her first child, Helen (my maternal grandmother), who was born August 31, 1887.   At age 75, the New Brunswick Gray was still serving as a judge in B.C. when he collapsed on June 6, 1889 while walking down a street in Victoria, according to a report the following day in the Colonist newspaper.   He was looking forward to a visit from his old friend (and fellow New Brunswick Father of Confederation) Samuel Leonard Tilley, who held the post of Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick at the time.  Tilley arrived to find that Gray had died while he was en route.   Tilley served as a pallbearer at Gray`s funeral, along with several Victoria judges, including the most famous of B.C.`s pioneer judges, Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, also known as “The Hanging Judge“, who would die five years later on June 11, 1894 and be buried at Ross Bay Cemetery just a few yards from the New Brunswick John Hamilton Gray.   Interestingly, Frederick Peters` father James Horsfield Peters was also an actively-serving judge when he died in Charlottetown on June 20, 1891 — in fact, at 80 years of age he had the distinction of being the oldest serving judge in Canada in the year he died.  http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/peters_james_horsfield_12E.html

Ancestry-wise, no one has ever established a family connection between the two John Hamilton Grays.  The New Brunswick Gray had roots in England, while the PEI Gray was the son of Robert Gray, a United Empire Loyalist from Virginia who was born near Glasgow, Scotland.  The PEI Gray`s mother, Mary Burns, was a descendant of the Burns family in Scotland, and the Stukeley and Browne families in England.   Robert Gray was a penniless young man with no prospects in Scotland when he was hired as an agent in Colonial America by the Hamilton family of tobacco traders.  He expressed his appreciation to his benefactors by naming his youngest son John Hamilton Gray. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gray_robert_1828_6E.html  I do not have equivalent information regarding the naming of the New Brunswick John Hamilton Gray.

SHERWOOD PARK CEMETERY, CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI

The P.E.I. Gray tombstone at Sherwood in Charlottetown reads “John Hamilton Gray entered into rest Aug. 13, 1887.  Erected as a loving trbute to his most beloved memory by his wife and children.  Looking unto Jesus the auther (sic) and finisher of our faith.“  The wife who decided on the tombstone inscription was his third wife, Sarah Caroline Cambridge.   His first wife, Fanny Sewell Chamier, died in her first childbirth.   The second wife, Susan Ellen Bartley Pennefather, was mother to five daughters: Harriet Gray Stokes, Margaret Gray Lord, Florence Gray Poole, Mary Gray Abbott and Bertha Hamilton Gray Peters.  Sarah Cambridge Gray was mother to daughter Rosie Gray, son Arthur Cavendish Bentinck Hamilton Gray and son Hamilton Edward Jarvis Gray (born in 1880 when his father was age 69).   Of Sarah`s children, only Arthur survived to adulthood.

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The author Sam McBride beside the tombstone of his great-great-grandfather John Hamilton Gray of P.E.I. in October 2013

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Father of Confederation plaque beside the J.H. Gray tombstone in Sherwood Cemetery in Charlottetown.

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close-up of text on Gray tombstone at Sherwood

rosie gray stone

Buried next to the P.E.I. Gray at Sherwood Cemetery in Charlottetown is his daughter Rosie Gray, who died at age three in 1874.

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gray_john_hamilton_1811_87_11E.html

ROSS BAY CEMETERY, VICTORIA, B.C.

The tombstone of the New Brunswick Father of Confederation Gray says “John Hamilton Gray, D.C.L.  17 years a Judge of the Supreme Court of B.C.  Eldest son of Wm Gray H.M. Vice Consul for Virginia U.S.A.  Died June 5, 1889.   Also, Eliza, his wife, daughter of Lt. Col. Ormondo H.M. 30th Regt Died Dec. 3, 1895.  Aged 75.“

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the tombstone and Father of Confederation plaque for J.H. Gray of New Brunswick at Ross Bay cemetery in Victoria, B.C.  One of the crosses behind the tombstone is for former P.E.I. premier Frederick Peters, son-in-law of the “other“ Father of Confederation named John Hamilton Gray.

close up of stone for the nb jh gray

Close-up of text on the Ross Bay tombstone.  The D.C.L. refers to the law degree Gray earned in New Brunswick.

father of confred plaque

Father of Confederation plaque at Ross Bay

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gray_john_hamilton_1814_89_11E.html

fred peters grave with jh gray in back

The grave of Frederick Peters at Ross Bay, with the tombstone of John Hamilton Gray near the trees behind it.

ross bay cemetery map 001

The number 26 at top side of the map is the location at Ross Bay Cemetery of the grave of John Hamilton Gray of New Brunswick. The X beside it on the right is the location of the Frederick Peters grave.

fred peters at about age 40

Frederick Peters, born in 1852 in Charlottetown, married Bertha Gray in 1886, died 1919 in Prince Rupert, B.C., buried in Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria B.C., served as premier of P.E.I. 1891-1897. He was a lawyer with the Tupper and Peters firm in Victoria and later was city solicitor and city clerk in Prince Rupert. His son F.T. “Fritz“ Peters won the Victoria Cross.

side stone for gerald

Text on a side of the base of the Frederick Peters tombstone in honour of his son Gerald who died in WW1.   The other side of the stone has a tribute to son Jack Peters who also died in action in WW1.  Both boys were among the dead at Ypres with no graves and no identified remains.

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Photo of the Frederick Peters gravesite and memorials soon after they were put in place at Ross Bay Cemetery after his funeral in August 1919. The small flat cross stone was in memory of daughter Violet who died at age 6 in 1905 due to a fireplace accident. Today that cross stone has disappeared — it either sank into the soft ground over time, or was stolen.

edgar tombstone

The other Gray/Peters family connection at Ross Bay Cemetery is the burial site of the Hon. Edgar Dewdney (1835-1916), senior Western Canada minister in Sir John. A. Macdonald governments and Lieut. Governor of B.C. in the 1890s. Dewdney was uncle and legal guardian of Edgar Edwin Lawrence “Ted“ Dewdney, who married Helen Peters (daughter of Frederick Peters and Bertha Gray) in Victoria in 1912.   As a widow, Bertha came to live full-time in the West Kootenay region of southeastern B.C. with her daughter Helen`s family, which grew to include son Peter Dewdney and daughters Eve Fingland and Dee Dee McBride.  The Edgar Dewdney grave is near the Frederick Peters grave in the Anglican section of the Ross Bay cemetery.

close up of edgar plaque

Sculpture of Two Col. John Hamilton Grays Will Commemorate 150th Anniversary of Historic Charlottetown Conference

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by Sam McBride

Very pleased to hear that a bronze sculpture of Capt. Frederic Thornton Peters` grandfather Col. John Hamilton Gray will be erected on Great George Street in downtown Charlottetown as part of the celebrations in Prince Edward Island of the 150th  anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 which set the stage for the birth of Canada three years later.

The contract for the sculpture has been awarded to Vancouver Island artist Nathan Scott, who did two Terry Fox sculptures in B.C., among other projects.

The sculpture will depict interaction between two Fathers of Confederation named John Hamilton Gray at the time of the Charlottetown Conference in September 1864.  By great coincidence, there were two non-related men of the same name. – one in New Brunswick and my ancestor in Prince Edward Island.   By further coincidence, both men were known as “Colonel Gray“ — the P.E.I. Gray because he was a retired British Army officer, and the N.B. Gray because he held the rank of Lt. Colonel with the New Brunswick militia.   The two men were also direct descendants of United Empire Loyalists – the P.E.I. Gray from Virginia and the N.B. Gray from Massachusetts.

The P.E.I. Gray was host and chairman of the historic conference, while the other Gray was one of the delegates from the neighboring colony New Brunswick.  Both Grays were strong supporters of Confederation at a time when most of the politicians in their colony were against it.   The N.B. Father of Confederation J.H. Gray later went to parliament as an MP, but the P.E.I. Father of Confederation J.H. Gray resigned as leader of the government when his colleagues changed their minds and opposed Confederation.   P.E.I. later joined Canada in 1873 to overcome a financial crisis associated with railway debt, but the former Premier Gray`s attempts to re-enter provincial politics were unsuccessful.

The lifespans of the two Grays were quite similar.  The N.B. Gray was born in 1814 and died in 1889, while the P.E.I. Gray was born in 1811 and died in 1887, a couple of weeks before his granddaughter Helen Peters Dewdney was born, and two years before the birth of grandson Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters, who would become one of Canada`s greatest war heroes, and the subject of my book “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars“.   Though Fritz never knew his famous grandfather, the stories he heard of him from his mother and aunts were strong factors in Fritz choosing a military career and considering going into politics.

Col. john Hamilton Gray, c. 1864

Col. John Hamilton Gray of Prince Edward Island, c. 1864

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Col. John Hamilton Gray of New Brunswick

The P.E.I. Gray never ventured West, but the N.B. Gray moved to Victoria, B.C. in 1872 to serve as a judge on the B.C. Supreme Court.   He is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, not far from the gravesite of the P.E.I. Gray`s son-in-law Frederick Peters and granddaughter Violet Peters.   Established in 1873, the Victorian-style Ross Bay Cemetery has the graves of numerous frontier B.C. politicians and celebrities.  The P.E.I. Gray rests in Sherwood Cemetery, which today is very close to Charlottetown Airport, about three miles north of the city.

The new sculpture is in keeping with P.E.I.`s program to develop its history-oriented tourism industry.   Tourism in P.E.I. has increased substantially in recent years, largely due to the island province becoming a popular stop for cruise ships.

For further details of the statue project, view the links below.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-08-21/article-3358604/John-Hamilton-Gray-to-live-again-on-Great-George-Street/1

http://www.timescolonist.com/island-artist-nathan-scott-lends-talent-to-project-on-p-e-i-1.705881

http://www.sculpturebynathanscott.com/blog.html

 

 

 

Memorable Images from Maritimes Book Tour

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Magnificent Cape Breton coast

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Enchanting covered bridge in New Brunswick

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The author signing books at Indigo East Point in Saint John (photo taken by Kathy Wilson of the New Brunswick Historical Society, who came by to chat and bought copies of the book as gifts)

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With help from the PEI Genealogical Society, we were able to find the tombstone of Fritz`s grandfather, the Father of Confederation Col. John Hamilton Gray, at Sherwood Cemetery near Charlottetown Airport.

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Next to the Col. Gray tombstone was one for his daughter Rosie, who died at age 4 in 1874.

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Spectacular pumpkin farm between Fredericton and Alma, NB.

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Legislature at Province House in Charlottetown, where Fritz`s father Frederick Peters and uncle Arthur Peters served as premier and attorney general

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Meeting room in Province House where Col. Gray and other Fathers of Confederation met in September 1864 during historic Charlottetown Conference.

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Views of the extensive collection of models and memorabilia of Fritz`s great-grandfather Sir Samuel Cunard at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

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McBride doing a slide presentation on the Fritz Peters story at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

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Author McBride doing interview with CBC radio reporter while signing books at the Chapters Fredericton

Maritimes Book Tour Generates Surge of Interest in the Story of War Hero Fritz Peters

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by Sam McBride

My two-week book tour through the three Canadian Maritime provinces was a wonderful experience, and exceeded all expectations in publicizing “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars“ throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, as well as Prince Edward Island, where Fritz was born and his story is best known.

It was a thrill to meet so many people who came by my book signing sessions and either bought copies of the book or expressed interest in Fritz and the book.  These included several current members of the Canadian military, as well as relatives who told me about the heroes of their own family.

I particularly enjoyed meeting several third cousins for the first time, as well as leaders of the PEI Genealogical Society, the New Brunswick Historical Society and the Cunard Steamship Society who I have corresponded with extensively in the past, but not met in person.   Extremely pleased that my enthusiastic supporter in St. John`s, Newfoundland, Dr. David Peters,  came to my presentation at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and we had a good chat afterwards.

Several people I talked to noted that next year, 2014, will be present opportunities to raise awareness of the Fritz Peters story across Canada. These are 1) the 150th anniversary of the historic Charlottetown Conference, in which Fritz`s family had a central role; 2) the centennial of the start of World War One, where Fritz Peters earned three major honours for valour; and 3) the 75th anniversary of the start of World War Two, where Fritz again received three awards for valour, including the Victoria Cross and the highest medal of the United States.

I have attached scans of a sample of print publicity from the book tour, and the links below have some, but not all, of the TV, radio and social media coverage.  I did about 10 interviews by phone before i travelled, and then about another dozen while in the Maritimes between September 24th and October 5th, 2013.

 

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1013315&binId=1.1145463&playlistPageNum=1

http://thechronicleherald.ca/book/event/1154374-the-bravest-canadian-fritz-peters-the-making-of-a-hero-of-two-world-wars-by-sam-m

https://www.facebook.com/myWaterfront

http://www.armyrats.com/posts/tag/battalion/

http://www.news957.com/category/listen/rick-howe-show/page/2/

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Maritimes/ID/2408922242/

https://twitter.com/ns_mma

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front page of Moncton newspaper, with long story on inside pages

 

 

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from PEI events BUZZ

 

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one of many newspaper listings publicizing the book tour events

 

Book Signings Going Well in PEI, NB and NS

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Our book tour for “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars” has generated a flood of publicity in the newspapers and broadcast media, including several stations of CTV and CBC in the three provinces.  Most of the people who bought books at the book signing sessions said they saw or heard about Fritz Peters in a recent media story.

The tour is winding down, but I am looking forward to returning to Prince Edward Island for a booksigning at the Indigo Charlottetown on Oct. 5 from 11 am until noon, and also meeting with representatives of the PEI Genealogical Society.  With the 150th anniversary of the historic Charlottetown Conference coming up in 2014, there is a great amount of interest in Fritz’s grandfather (and my great-great-grandfather) Col. John Hamilton Gray, who was head of the PEI government in 1864 and served as host and chairman of the conference.  On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 3, 1864 Gray invited the Fathers of Confederation home to his residence known as Inkerman House (named after his father-in-law’s famous victory in the Crimean War) for an after-dinner party, where much liquor was consumed and the conference delegates got to know each other on a social basis.  As they arrived, they were introduced to Gray’s family, including two-year-old Bertha, Fritz’s mother.  Later in life, Bertha introduced herself to new acquaintances as “a Daughter of Confederation.”

My presentation at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic was well-received by about 20 interested attendees who came out for the event despite heavy rain in Halifax.  I had not been to the museum since 1992, and was greatly impressed with his improvements, including a wonderful section on Fritz’s grandfather Sir Samuel Cunard.

 

 

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Maritimes Book Tour of “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC“ Begins Wednesday, Sept. 25th in Charlottetown

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Here is the updated schedule of the upcoming 10-day book tour.

 

Prince Edward Island (pop. 140,204)

Wednesday, Sept. 25, 12-1pm – Charlottetown Bookmark store, book signings; 172 Queen St., Confederation Court Mall, Charlottetown, PE  C1A 4B5.  (902) 566-4888

Saturday, October 5, 11am-noon – Charlottetown Indigo, book signings; 465 University Ave., Charlottetown, PE  C1A 4N8  (902) 569-9213

 

New Brunswick (pop. 751,171)

Friday September 27, 3-4:30pm – Chapters Fredericton. book signings; Regent Mall, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton, NB E3C 1A2.  (506) 459-2616,

Saturday September 28, 12-2pm – Chapters Moncton, book signings; Crystal Palace, 499 Paul St., Dieppe, NB  E1A 6S5

Sunday September 29, 12-2pm – Indigo Saint John, book signings; East Point Centre, 41 Fashion Drive, Saint John, NB E2J 0A7. (506) 693-6987

 

Nova Scotia (pop. 921,727)

Tuesday October 1, 12-1:30pm – Chapters Bayers Lake, Halifax, book signings; 188 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax, NS  B3S 1C5.  (902) 450-1023

Tuesday October 1, 2:30-4pm – Chapters Mic Mac Mall, Dartmouth, book signings; 41 Mic Mac Boulevard, Dartmouth, NS B3A 4Y8.  (902) 466-1640

Tuesday, October 1, 7:30pm – presentation, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; 1675 Lower Water Street, Halifax, NS  B3J 1S3.  (902) 424-7490

Wednesday October 2, 12-1:30pm – Coles Truro Mall, book signings; 245 Robie St., Truro, NS B2N 5N6. (902) 895-4929 

Wednesday October 2, 3:30-5pm – Coles Highland Square Mall, New Glasgow, book signings;   689 Westville Rd., New Glasgow, NS  B2H 2J6