#5 My father’s parents

My grandfather was known by my sister and me as ‘George’. Grandmother was always Grandma. George was actually named Walter Corden with no middle name and herewith begins the tale. Around about the the first decade of the 20th century flush toilets were becoming more common and were generally referred to as a Water Closet. The initials ‘WC’ were soon in general usage. Grandpa wasn’t happy to share the same initials and he mentioned, one day, to his very new wife that he was thinking of taking a middle name. “What name did you have in mind?” he was asked. He had not thought that far ahead and began to flip idly through the morning paper. Suddenly his eyes alight on a popular cartoon strip featuring a mischievous mouse. Montague Mouse. And so he became Walter Montague from then on. The initials WMC became official through common usage and are carried on by one of my brothers, Michael, who uses the middle name and Michael’s daughter Melora who is also a WMC.

Grandfather was a theological student and became an Anglican Minister. He visited Australia from England in 1902 and there met my Grandmother. He only stayed in Australia for about two months. They became engaged either then or later. He returned to England and then went to Canada and was one of the foundation students of the Emmanuel College Saskatoon Saskatchewan in 1907. The photos that show native American Indians were taken during that time. They are on glass plates and some are cracked as you can see. He left Canada and came to Australia in 1910 where he married my Grandmother. He returned to Canada to take her for a honeymoon but came back to Australia where he lived the rest of his life.

The photograph of him going through the Suez Canal on board the RMS Ormuz is when he came to Australia the first time in 1902. Grandma can be see resting on board the SS Moana on the way from Sydney to Vancouver in 1910 on their honeymoon. She can also be seen looking over the edge of the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. It was on this bridge, I have been told, that a heavy fog came and she was completely hidden from view and became a little frightened.

All the photographs of the “Plains Indians” were taken by him.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about Grandfather’s Boxing Club.

34 thoughts on “#5 My father’s parents

  1. Your grandfather was very handsome and the old photos are incredibly valuable. My maternal grandfather was educated as a teacher in 1902 and I have the privilege of having the photos. Sometimes I worry about what will become of these treasures after I have left earth.

  2. Incredible!! And if you ever wonder about “multiple views” then sometimes it’s just me going back to read if I have not finished reading or when I go back to read my fellow readers’ comments!! And the Capilno Bridge! I loved it when I went in 2014

  3. I meant to walk the Capilano Bridge when I was in Vancouver a few years back but I think the weather was against us. And I think we were meant to see a bear reserve while we were up there, but perhaps I am conflating two experiences.
    These photos are priceless. Amazing just doesn’t even cover it. I am sooooo envious. And, like others, I was left wondering – why George? – but I see you have since covered it.
    I have two male ancestors who adopted middle names that don’t appear on their birth certificates. In my writing, I am presenting this as being for pretentious reasons, as they were both named John, and added Rutledge and Beresford respectively. All so much easier in the day, to adopt an identity.

    • We often think of this generation as never moving from their home town or village, but the reality was quite different, especially for the middle class in the later part of Victoria’s reign. I have one ancestral family of ten children who were always darting off here and there. One left England for South Africa to mine, enlisted in the Boer War, returned to England several times, then dashed off to Canada and married there in his early fifties, back and forth a few times, popped off to Gibraltar and South Africa (again), and then ultimately struck out to Tasmania in his retirement, where he died in his early nineties from memory.

  4. The Canadians call them “First Nations People”. My grandad told me he saw the Lakota tribe on one occasion somewhere out on the plains. They had given up the chance to be”Native Americans” because of the treatment they got in the USA and very much preferred Canada.

  5. It’s a very nice photo of Grandma and George. I think she was a brave lady considering her background to go off to Canada with her Mountie from Canada!!

  6. Wonderful photos of the Vancouver, B.C. area. I love the color shot of the Native American from the Blackfeet (I believe) Reservation! And the Capilano Bridge is still (or was in the early 60’s) a major attraction in Vancouver.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s