The Milne/Smeed Connection

Family Stories Past and Present

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January 1946

The following is another excerpt from my Mum’s story of our first winter in Canada.

A Lovely Surprise

In mid-January we were invited to a social evening in the village hall. It turned out to be a surprise Welcome Home party for Charlie, Jane and me. After a delicious supper we were called to the front and were presented with a number of gifts. We got a roasting pan – white enamel with red trim, three matching saucepans, kitchen utensils such as an egg lifter, potato masher, long-handled spoon and a long-handled slotted spoon. There was also a lovely pair of flannelette sheets – cream with blue trim. Jane was presented with a rocking chair which she immediately took to the middle of the hall where she sat down and started rocking. I don’t think that the people of Trowbridge could have given her a better gift. It was hard to convince Jane to move her chair to the side of the room to enable the grownups to dance. After the presentation Muriel Hamilton read a welcome speech/poem that she had written. We had a lovely evening meeting people from the village and surrounding farms.


Editor’s Note:

These pages of the booklet were followed by several more pages signed by our new neighbours.


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William Milne 1850 – 1932

William Milne, who died on this day in 1932, was the seventh child of Charles Milne and Elspet Ross. He was born at Dundas, Ontario on March 6, 1850. He was always called Billy by family and friends and was said to be extremely stubborn.

Billy married Catherine Johnson at Black’s Tavern, Flamborough West Township, Wentworth County on October 3, 1871.

In the late 1870’s, William and Catherine moved first to Grey Township, Huron County and then to Elma Township, Perth County where they purchased land at West 1/2 Lot 1, Concession 7.

Only two of Billy and Catherine’s four children lived to adulthood. Mary Rebecca and William Johnston (Willie) died in childhood.  Robert James, the eldest of Billy and Catherine’s children, lived most of his adult life in Grey Township, Huron County and at the family farm in Elma. In the early 1920’s, Charles Alexander moved his family to Texas.

Catherine died on October 31, 1911 after a series of strokes. Billy died on May 30, 1932. Both are buried with their son, Willie, in Elma Centre Cemetery a short distance from their farm.

William (Billy) Milne

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Ida Muriel Milne Cross

Ida Muriel Milne was born on 26 July 1922 in Elma Township, Perth County. She was the daughter of Robert Milne and Jane Crowe Milne.

On 28 February 1946, Ida married Alastair Cross at Christ Church, Anglican in Listowel. Ontario. Al and Ida had two children, Noreen and Douglas.

Ida died on 19 November 2000 in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Ida Milne Cross

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A Mystery

Henfryn Brickworks Brick – Charles Alexander Milne

William Milne and his wife, Catherine Johnson Milne, moved from Wentworth County to W1/2, Lot 1, Concession 7, Elma Township, Perth County in the 1880s. They were accompanied by their sons, Robert James, Charles Alexander and William, Jr.

The closest village to their farm was Henfryn which was just across the boundary line in Grey Township, Huron County. As a child, I remember spending an afternoon with my parents and other relatives visiting an old friend of theirs who lived at what remained of an old tileworks. In earlier days it had produced the yellow brick which is quite prevalent in that part of Ontario.

We children amused ourselves playing around the old kilns while the adults reminisced. Today nothing is left of the old yard.

In July, Elizabeth and I visited our cousin, Kathy Milne Duncan and her husband, Barry. They showed us the brick pictured below which had been found by a friend of theirs who was working on a house addition which was making use of reclaimed brick to blend with an original structure.  The friend knew that Kathy would want to have this particular brick since it had been signed before being fired. The inscription reads:

June 23, 1902

Henfryn     Charles Milne

This was William and Catherine’s son, Charles Alexander, who at the time was about 27 years old. He would marry in 1905 and move back to the Wentworth area before moving to Texas where he spent the rest of his life.

What was special to him about that date that caused him to autograph that particular brick? What twist of fate caused it to be found over a hundred years later and returned to a family member?

Oenfryn Brick

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Family Mementos

Green Glass Salt and Pepper Shakers – Catherine Johnson Milne

The salt and pepper shakers pictured here belonged to Catherine Johnson Milne (1846 – 1911). It is not known when or where Catherine obtained these items. It may have been when she and her husband William lived in West Flamborough, Wentworth County or after they moved to Elma Township, Perth County in the 1880s.

After Catherine’s death, the shakers remained in the family and were eventually passed to their current owner Katherine Milne Duncan who is a great granddaughter of Catherine.



Back to Western Ontario

Western Ontario 2016

This past week Elizabeth and I headed back to Western Ontario for some family visiting. Our journey started with a slower route to Stratford that took us through the tiny village of Washington where our great great-grandmother, Jean Anderson Collins, is buried and then through the village of Plattsville where our great great-grandparents, George Hewitt and Mary Clements Hewitt, are buried.

In Stratford we had a delightful time reminiscing with cousins Joan, Barb and our hosts Marg and Earl. As well, we had some time for some research at the Perth County Archives.  The following morning we met Joan again for some touring around Stratford which included dropping in to see Joan’s son, Jeff and his wife, Donna before we left town.

On to Atwood to visit cousin Kathy and her husband, Barry. Over coffee and homemade muffins Kathy showed us some interesting family memorabilia (stories and photos to follow in later posts). We also met their lovely grandchildren.

Next stop was Elma Centre Cemetery where a number of our Milne, Hewitt and Johnson ancestors are buried.

We spent Tuesday night in Listowel at the Hardwood Haven B&B, a lovely home we had always admired. Our driving and walking tours of Listowel took us to all corners of our childhood hometown. Most important was Fairview Cemetery to visit Mum and Dad.

Before leaving for home on Wednesday morning we met cousins Velma and Frances for coffee and more catching up and reminiscing.

On our drive back to Belleville  we stopped at Crown Cemetery in Puslinch where another great great-grandmother is buried. Last stop, Millgrove where more of our Milnes are buried, followed by a driveby of the location of the land owned by our great great-grandparents, Charles Milne and Elspet Ross.