Brickstacks, Alfie Ewings, and the First World War

Uncle Alf – or Alfie, as he was known to his family, served with the Canadians in the First World War.

This is an excerpt from the family book: Devon Violets by Lana Rodlie. The book follows the lives of my ancestors, Mary Clayden and Albert Ewings, and their children (my cousins). I have made some changes to the text in order to protect the privacy of anyone still living. This section is about my Uncle Alf Ewings who lived in Tacoma, Washington. He served in the First World War and this is his story.

From the book:

     The second of Mary and Albert’s children was Alfred, born June 3, 1894, in England.  Although Alfie, or Uncle Alf, as we knew him, passed away in 1975, he passed down stories about his life to his son Bert, a retired teacher, who lives in Seattle, Washington. Bert is an incredible person who adapted his father’s story into a monologue which he performed at community events and for family members. He would don his father’s pith helmet and talk about his dad’s adventures in first person. On a trip to Seattle in 2006, he “performed” for us and I recorded it. (If I can figure out how to put a voice recording on this site, I will.)

      I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing it and adding it to other bits of information I had, mostly from Bert in the first place.

     Bert said his dad talked a lot about his relatives in England, as Alfie could remember them all, having grown up with them as a child, and then visiting them at the end of the war, before returning home to Canada. (Some of his comments were added to the story about the Claydens.) Continue reading

Witness to the 1907 Fernie Fire


Catherine (Ewings) Doiron married Francois (Frank) Olivier Doiron on July 17, 1916. She was born about 1898. They had 11 children.

The following story came from Lynn Desandoli who got it from a relative in England. It was written by my aunt, Kate Doiron about the fire that destroyed her town in 1907 when she was about 10 years old.    

It was in March 1907, that Dad, Mother, and six of us children arrived at a tiny station in Manitoba called Gunton.  Although Gunton is only a few miles north of Winnipeg, it seemed like the traditional “jumping off place” to us.  Just why that particular spot on the map should have a name, I do not know, for there was only a shed-like building, and a platform ; but there was the sign – “Gunton”.

    We had recently left our home in London, England, and here we were, standing on a little platform about 8′ X 8′, with the snow six feet deep all around it, and not a house in sight; nothing but snow as far as we could see – snow and cold, and silence. Continue reading