Friday, 8 June 2018

On this day in 1907: John Matheson left Scotland for Canada

June 8th in 1907 Glasgow was perhaps a day like today.

It was the day that my maternal grandfather, John Matheson (1884-1964), sailed for Canada, three months shy of his 23rd birthday when he left Scotland alone  109 years ago today.

He was a third class passenger on the SS Cassandra, a ship built in Scotland and launched in 1906 as part of the Donaldson Line fleet. It originally had berths for 200 second class passengers and 1,000 third class passengers before it was retrofitted as troop ship after the outbreak of the First World War. My grandfather's name on the manifest prepared in Glasgow is the last one in that section. I know this because the passenger tally for that section of the manifest was added after his name: "376 souls".

SS Cassandra departure manifest, Glasgow, 7 Jun 1907
My grandfather began work on the Scottish Highland Railway as a boy of 14. Perhaps he listed his occupation as mechanic to widen his employment search once he reached Canada. But when he reached Quebec City on 17 Jun, the manifest prepared for arrival reports his occupation as fireman. In this case, a fireman was the man who shoveled coal into the train engine's furnace. Maybe he talked with other ship passengers and got some job tips.

SS Cassandra arrival manifest, Quebec City, 18 Jun 1907
He quickly found work with Grand Trunk Railway in Montreal, beginning his Canadian work life that apart from the interruption of his four years in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, lasted until his retirement in the early 1950s.

The never ending story continues....




© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

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