Monday, April 12, 2010

A brief stop in Canada

It is hard to say where John Platts was at the time of his mother's death. He could have been living nearby in Holloway, Derbyshire, England. Or he may have already sailed to Canada. Since I have not found the his name on a ships' list yet, it is hard to determine.
     What is known is that he and his family were listed on the 1871 English Census, then he and Sarah appear in the Wellington, Ontario, Canada Birth Registry with the 16 June 1873 birth of Albert (previous blog, 1/20/07). Four more children follow quickly: Thomas on 23 March 1875, Mary Ellen on 9 Dec 1876, Clara on 10 July 1878 and Alfred on 29 Sept 1879. So within 12 years of marrying, Sarah had given birth to 8 children that we know of.
     There is no census or other records that I have found showing what they did or where they went during their stay in Canada, nor their reason for immigration. My best guess is that they were following where the work was, and that there had been some kind of depression or loss of work in Derbyshire.
     Upstate and Western New York, as well as parts of Ontario, Canada were evidently well known in parts of Derbyshire and Yorkshire. I met a University of Buffalo professor who was studying the connection of quarrymen between these parts of the globe. Evidently, good quarrymen were hard to come by and once they found places to quarry in New York and Ontario (like when they were building the Erie Canal), many were recruited from England. A lot of Yorkshire and parts of its neighboring county, Derbyshire had lots of quarries in which men were trained and recruited from. As we saw in previous census, Lea/Holloway was one of the Derbyshire area that had quarrying nearby. Many of these men would work in New York during the warm months, then winter in England where they could work in better temperatures. Kind of an 19th century snowbirds!
     With stone masons in the family and living around them, John and Sarah probably knew or heard about New York and Ontario from these men. And when times got tough, they probably followed them or at least heard about greener pastures from them.
     I will post more in future blogs about the economic conditions of the times in both Derbyshire and Ontario as I find out about them.

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