Taking my first steps in Canada

13 Feb

Kate Vaughan (my 2x great-aunt) and four of her children sailed to Canada on the 19th September 1919, leaving behind her daughter Minnie to be looked after by my great-grandmother.

Presumably her new (and second) husband Patrick Vaughan had already returned home after serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

I wanted to find out more about Patrick and what became of the family once the had settled in Canada. Given that Kate took four children to Canada it seemed quite likely that I would have some cousins out in Canada (even if she didn’t have any more children with Patrick) that might be able to tell me more about the family.

The problem was that I know almost nothing about family history research in Canada and I knew very little about what became of the family after they arrived.

The passenger list had told me that they were bound for Tabor (or Taber) in Alberta but of course there was no guarantee that they actually ended up there. Of course I also knew that Patrick had been a soldier, and hopefully there would be a record of his service that would give me some more clues.

A good start was finding that Library and Archives Canada have digitised attestation records from the First World War and they are available to search on their website. There is really only one likely record for Patrick Vaughan which provides a few interesting details, but of course it doesn’t mention Kate, his next of kin was his sister Elizabeth.

Although it describes him as a widower, which matches his marriage certificate, the age given is about three years out. Interestingly it states that Patrick was born in Ireland, where his sister still lived.

Unfortunately Patrick’s full service record has not been digitised yet. I could wait patiently for it to be done or I could send the LAC some money to get them to digitise it. I never like parting with my money unless I am 100% certain, and there is just not enough information yet for me to be 100% certain, that this is the right man.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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2 Responses to “Taking my first steps in Canada”

  1. Anonymous February 13, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Hello again from Vancouver, John
    How interesting that your Aunt Kate and her husband were supposedly headed to Tabor, Alberta. My father’s mother’s family, from Guildford and before that Emsworth, were carters in Guildford, and established a transport company in the south of Alberta. Tabor eventually became the home of the transport business! Their business eventually sold, and I don’t think I have any cousins left in Tabor. I do have fond memories of visiting there as a child though. I’ll be watching this story continue to unfold. I’m planning a trip to Alberta next year to revisit the towns in which my English Wilkins homesteaded, including Tabor. Do let me know if I can help with story.

    Gail in Vancouver

  2. miltonlegion February 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I e-mailed you as I did not previously see the Comment Section at the bottom of your blog. Perhaps only because I was signed in on my WordPress account? Here is what I sent by e-mail – more arrived today which I will insert with your new post.


    Your blog (https://wanderinggenealogist.wordpress.com/tag/canadian-expeditionary-force/) posting showed up on my iGoogle this morning as I have it flagged to give me any posts made on the web about the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

    I am in Milton Ontario CANADA and as a retired engineer/scientist I hunt down anything CEF related. It all started in 1986 when I started tracking my grandfathers, Canadians who served in the UK BEF during WWI as officers. You can see them in my signature links.

    So, we need to get you some assistance to find out more about Patrick Vaughan.

    1. From his Service Number (696908) as I agree with you that the other Vaughan is out of the question, we know he attested to the 175th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Medicine Hat Alberta. Like many of the CEF battalions, the 175th never served as a unit in the Great War, rather it was broken up and absorbed by the 21st Reserve Battalion to provide for reinforcement to fighting units in the field. All of the units are listed here on the CEF Matrix (my baby): http://cefresearch.com/matrix/Summary%20Tables/Corps%20Summary/infantry_summary.htm

    2. From one of my MATRIX Utilities (http://cefresearch.com/matrix/Utilities/reserves/) you can see that the Alberta based 21st Reserve Battalion primarily reinforced the 10th, 31st, 49th and 50th Infantry Battalions, all of which served as fighting units in France and Flanders in the Great War.

    3. There are War Diaries for each of these units that are also on-line at Library and Archives Canada (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/02015202_e.html) that can be used to track the movement of Patrick – once you are sure which of the unit. Retrieving the Service Record is the best way to do that – it takes about a month to get it here in Canada, faster if you get the digital version – then we can give you a hand interpreting what it all means. There are a lot of acronyms and abbreviations but for those of us who have reviewed hundreds we can sort it out quite quickly.

    4. We have our own group collection of Service Records on our shared MediaFire site (http://www.mediafire.com/cefsg#488c5mayhda5e) but I checked and nobody else had ordered this file. LAC only posts the digital ones, these are ones our group has recovered in the past as paper copies that have then been scanned and uploaded. I mention this as it is a good way to see what is in the Service Record – to guide you as to whether it is worth going forward.

    5. I checked the 1911 Canadian Census and there is only one Patrick Vaughan in Canada at that time – the one in Nova Scotia (http://www.automatedgenealogy.com/census11/index.jsp) but with that link you can look around for other variations. I tried some of the common misspellings of the name but found no more.

    6. If your Patrick Vaughan is the one from Alberta and he was with the 175th at the time then we can tell you how he got to England (http://cefresearch.com/matrix/Utilities/Troopships/) on another one of our MATRIX Utilities – and there are many more. You will see under the INFANTRY list that the 175th sailed on the Saxonia from Halifax on October 4th 1916 and arrived in Liverpool on October 16th. After that he would have gone to a dispersal area and training camp in the UK for many months before going into active service.

    7. To find out if Patrick was in the 175th when it sailed you have to jump over to my personal MediaFire site (http://www.mediafire.com/rlaughton) where you will see the NOMINAL ROLLS: Bob Richardson Collection. I keep them there as the other MediaFire site is open to many of our members and these files are too valuable to have them accidentally erased. If you open that folder you can find the 175th Battalion under B2 NUMBERED BATTALIONS (http://www.mediafire.com/rlaughton#df7kh6xmwij2f). That is a big file (25 MB) but I can cheat as I have it on my hard drive as well – so I can confirm for you that he is listed on page 16 of 17 in that file. Here is what it says:
    • 696908 Private Vaughan, Patrick
    • Kurnan, Mrs. Elizabeth
    • Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland
    • Medicine Hat June 2, 1916

    8. We have some pretty sharp genealogists here in the CEFSG (Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group) who can also tell you about the ship he returned on and perhaps where he went thereafter. That is out of my league. I can contact them (probably best to post this all to the FORUM at http://cefresearch.com and they will answer). I am a Moderator there, you will see the MATRIX icon. If you want to look at the passenger lists yourself and perhaps find the others, I think they use this site: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/passenger/index-e.html .

    9. I am not a genealogist but I search for a lot and I often use the LDS (Morman) site as it is free. Ancestry charges a lot for information that is normally free elsewhere. The FAMILY SEARCH site if you have not used it is here: https://www.familysearch.org/ . Nothing for Ireland for March 17, 1872 but as you say he used a different birth date. That raises a good point as if I recall correctly the cut-off-age was 40 years of age so in 1916 he would have been 44 years old – they would not have taken him – maybe for home guard, but he was on the ship and went to the UK. He may have another set of Attestation Papers (many did) where he lied about his age to get into the service – but he would have had to use 1876 or something in that era. They usually used the correct date (March 17th) so they did not get tripped up by the Officers.
    That is about all I can add for the moment. I love the hunt but the boss is calling for me – have to go!

    Best Regards from Canada,


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