Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bellamy family in Edmonton

The clipping on the left is from the Edmonton Journal. My grandmother, Vinetta Tremaine Butchart, a quiet, modest woman, was born in Mildmay, Bruce County, Ontario. Her mother was from a Mennonite family and her father's family originated in Scotland and arrived in Ontario in a very poor state in 1827. The Butcharts managed to become prominent citizens in Bruce County before coming to Edmonton about 1905. By the time my grandparents were married, my great-grandfather, Edward Neil Butchart, and his brothers owned large tracts of land in Edmonton and were principals in the real estate company Great West Land Company. My mother recalled that the Butchart family had their own pew in McDougall United Church in Edmonton.

The wedding announcement tells me that Edward Neil Butchart was a pretentious snob. I can't imagine putting "The many handsome gifts included a substantial cheque from the bride's father" in a wedding announcement. Perhaps Jack Bellamy started the story of coming from a wealthy family in Toronto because it would put him on an equal footing with his inlaws. My grandmother never met Grandpa's parents and my Mom was given the feeling that the Bellamys were "above" the Butcharts.

The wedding announcement stated that the bride and groom left on the midnight train for Vancouver where they would reside, but they were back in Alberta by February, 1913. Uncle Bill was born in Calgary in February 1913 and Aunt Vivian was also born in Calgary in 1914. While in Calgary Grandpa was working as a clerk for Wood, Vallance, and Adams, a company later taken over by Marshall Wells Hardware.

The family moved back to Edmonton about 1916 and resided for a time with Vinetta's parents until they found a home of their own. Jack worked for Revillon Wholesale as a clerk and then as a buyer and their address from 1922 until 1943 was at 11437 - 95th Street. Three more children were born in Edmonton: Margaret in 1916, Ruth in 1919, and James Roy in 1920. The Bellamy children are pictured on the left, with Vivian and Bill in the back row, Margaret in the middle, James Roy and Ruth in the front.

On March 8, 1926 a tragic event took the life of young James Roy Bellamy. He died from his injuries after being struck by a streetcar in front of their home on 95th Street. Things were never the same for the Bellamy family after that. My grandmother became withdrawn and my grandfather took to drink. Granny was a very talented pianist and she used the piano as an outlet for her feelings. My Mom could recall the music becoming louder and louder when Grandpa was late coming home. It was after the death of Jimmy that my grandfather went against religion and would not go to church, even for my mother's wedding.

The 1930s brought the Great Depression to Canada and the prairie provinces were hit especially hard. Revillon Wholesale ceased business and sold their hardware division to Ashdowns. There was no room at Ashdowns for Jack in Edmonton and he was asked to move to Winnipeg. He did not like it in Winnipeg and finally got a job at Northern Hardware, where he worked as a clerk from 1933 to 1937. The job did not pay well and my grandmother managed to scrimp to make ends meet.

Grandpa was not employed from 1938 to 1941. My mother, Ruth, married Bert Davies on December 31, 1938 and they lived with Granny and Grandpa. My Dad explained that Grandpa did not work at that time because he had suffered a breakdown. Mom and Dad moved to Victoria in 1941 and my grandparents stayed in Edmonton for two more years, Grandpa worked for W W Arcade as a clerk in 1942 and 1943. This was a time of change for the Bellamy family. War had broken out in 1939, Aunt Vivian joined the Air Force, Aunt Marg married Ab Walker, and Uncle Bill, after riding the rails to Toronto to unsuccessfully find work, returned to Edmonton and married Ona Innes.

Vinetta and Jack Bellamy left Edmonton in 1943 and moved to a cottage in Saanich at 751 Middleton Street. Grandpa may have been in poor health when he moved to Victoria because he started seeing Dr. Scott in January 1944. Dr. Scott reported that he treated my grandfather for cancer of the rectum for three years before he died of that disease on May 15, 1947. He was only sixty-two years old.

I heard a family story that one of grandpa's sisters, I think it was Edith, heard that he was terminally ill and came out from Ontario so see him before he died. After traveling all the way to the coast she decided she wanted to remember him as a healthy young man and returned home without seeing him.

Grandpa was buried at Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria on May 17, 1947 and my grandmother was laid to rest beside him thirty-five years later in 1982.

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