Monday, 4 July 2016

John Matheson, locomotive engineer

My grandfather, John Matheson, was born on July 4, 1884 in Clash Dhu, Rafford, Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland to Frank Matheson and Annie Ross. He was their second son to be named John. Their firstborn John was born in May 1879, but died in August of that year. 

John left school at 14 to work on the Scottish Highland Railway, and by 1901 was a locomotive engineer. But he decided to go to Canada, and so he sailed from Glasgow bound for Montreal on Jun 8, 1907 aboard the Cassandra, reaching Montreal on June 17. He carried with him a letter of introduction from the local Presbyterian kirk minister, who noted in his letter that while John was a regular in the congregation, his father Frank was a respected deacon there. 

In the 1911 census, he is listed in Montreal as a railway labourer. In March 1915, six months after the First World War broke out, John was recruited into the Canadian Railway Construction Corps of the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a sapper. In his attestment paper, he describes himself as a locomotive engineer. He was one of many Canadian Pacific Railway engineers and others with specific railway experience recruited. He was 5'9.5" tall, with grey eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion.

On 21 Aug 1915, on a short leave, he married my grandmother, Dorothy Young in Upper Tooting, London. They had met in Montreal. I'll write about Dorothy separately.

John did not return to Canada until April 1919. He served in France and Belgium, and never spoke of his war time experiences. 

The never ending story continues.....

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