A Blantyre Project reader who lives in Canada kindly sent over this photo of Millicent Bolton (nee Capaldi) after noticing she was born in Blantyre, Scotland.
Always keen on knowing more about Blantyre born people, I was able to add a little detail about Millicent’s early life and adding the words from her obituary, formed a more complete picture.
Millicent Capadli was born in Blantyre in 1922 to parents John Capaldi and Millie Campbell. Although I was unable to find the date of her parents marriage, I know from valuation rolls and census that John and Millie came to Blantyre sometime in the second half of 1920 or first half of 1921. Millicent was not the eldest child and its known she had an older brother at the time of her birth.
Her father, John Capaldi was a hairdresser and like many Italians of the time may have taken a simpler, Scottish first name. Other Capaldis were already in Blantyre from as early as WW1 and when John arrived, he took up residence at 246 Glasgow Road, the double storey tenement building at the corner of Station Road and Glasgow Road junction. His neighbours were the Lombardis. The view from the doorway of his hairdresser shop is pictured at this time. He would have been quite used to trams going by his rented shop.
John worked in the shop downstairs and their home was above it. The 1920’s were difficult times for many people in Blantyre. Even before the Great Depression hit in Winter 1929, general strikes and housing shortages caused problems for lots of families. The purse strings were tightened further and may have affected his business.
Little Millicent would have gone to school across the road and further down the hill a little at Stonefield Parish School. It would have been a short, relatively safe walk for her which would only take a couple of minutes. I’m sure she would have enjoyed an ice cream or fish tea from nearby ice cream parlours and shops owned by fellow Italian families. Just down the street from her, it would have been big news in 1929 as the David Livingstone Museum opened, somewhere as a child, and being so nearby she must surely have visited. Glasgow Road was then a bustling, busy area for retail and commerce and the back gardens of the tenement would have offered a place to play.
Blantyre went through many changes in the early 1930s and with the laying out of public park, the end of the trams and widening of the Glasgow Road for vehicles, there was an air of transition and change in 1930.
A population decline had already occurred and local newspapers told of opportunities in Canada and USA, often painting over realistic expectations, one even suggesting Canada’s streets were literally paved in gold. A new start for the family was clearly attractive and so on 12th June 1930, the Capaldi family left Scotland from the port of Greenock, travelling by a ship named “Melita”, belonging to the Canadian Pacific Line. The crossing would have taken around a week.
The destination was Montreal – Quebec in Canada a journey often made and just 2 years before the ship retired as a passenger service. In 1932 Melita made her final transatlantic crossing, which was from Liverpool, Belfast and Greenock to Halifax, Nova Scotia and St John. She had crossed the North Atlantic 146 times. She became a troop ship and was scuttled in 1941.
Upon arrival, John and Millie took their young family, Jack, Millicent (8) and Rita to Hamilton. Millicent married Cliff Bolton in 1944 and moved to Toronto to start a family and build a business. She later, for 45 years lived in Oakville as an active volunteer of the community.
Millicent (Millie) passed away in her 100th year on 9th November 2021 in Oakville, Ontario. Her local obituary said, “Millie was smart, beautiful, patient and kind. Through the ups and downs of life, she provided safe harbour and love for her family. She cared deeply about people and loved to entertain family and friends with gourmet cooking and parties. Her openness drew others to her, whether long term friends of passers by.”
Sympathies go to her family, Rest in Peace Millicent.