Watsons Leave for Canada

Joy McLennan sent this interesting message, “Thomas Watson (Tam) and Agnes Thompson (her ma was Isabella MacLean) along with sons Robert, Jock, Tom, Bill, Alexander and daughters Agnes, Jean, Ann and Mary left for Canada around 1914. They were bound for Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

I’m Curious to know where they lived in Blantyre? (A Farm?) The father Tam was a foreman, all the rest were young miners. The 2 older older boys went to Canada to Cape Breton first, hated it and returned home. They wished to return so rather than break up the family they all emigrated to be together to BC, Canada. From what I was told the father wanted to send the boys to University, but they wanted to emigrate.”

First thing that struck me was the date of 1914. Atlantic passage to Canada just before war in Europe broke out sounds fortunate (and lucky), especially if those Blantyre boys were of age to go off and fight. Let’s go back a little and explore the life of this family before WW1.

Thomas Watson and Anne Thomson were actually Bellshill residents. Thomas (Tam) a coalminer in 1882 was 24 years old and lived at North Road. He fell in love with neighbour Agnes Thomson who was 22 years old. On the 9th September 1882, the couple married at Brownlea, Blantyre. This house is still there today, the oldest on Glasgow Road. You can read about Brownlea here https://blantyreproject.com/2018/07/whitefield-family-brownlea-cottages/

This may have been used simply as a wedding venue. Both the fathers of the couple were deceased at the time they married.

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Marriage of Thomas Watson and Anne Thomson , 1882

The couple settled down in Barnhill, a small hamlet to the west of Blantyre. They moved into  former tenement on Broompark Road and by 1891, they had 4 sons with them along with a boarder, a miner John Stevenson. Thomas Watson worked as a coalminer and the proximity to Dixons Pit 4 at Larkfield is noted, meaning he may have been employed by Dixon’s Coalmasters.

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Now, here’s where it’s a little complicated and something needs corrected. There IS a Thomas and Anne living at Broompark Farm in 1911 with sons Thomas and John, but this isn’t Tam Watson’s family for I believe they travelled to Canada and away from Blantyre BEFORE 1914.

In Springtime 1906, Tam Watson left Glasgow by Ship via Moville, Ireland and travelled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada arriving on the ship “Mongolian” on 4th April 1906. He is noted in the Canadian Census in 1911 as living in Nanaimo, Canada. In 1921, he was still there in New castle, South Five Acres working as a rancher, aged 64. With him that year was wife Agnes (61), son Alex (30) and daughters Agnes (20), Mary (18) and Elma (17). I’ll leave the Canadian story there…..hope this ties up and is of interest.

Brownlea , the place they got married is pictured.




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