Monday, December 24, 2012

William Sanderson--The Early Years

Alice Saunders, William and Bert Sanderson
about 1926 in Vancouver

Since it is Christmas Eve, I am profiling someone who is part of my own Christmas memories, my maternal grandfather, William Sanderson. Today, I am just going to talk mostly about his early life in England, before he came to Canada with his whole family in 1922. Although I know more now about his life during this time, there are still some mysteries which I hope to solve. William, known as “Bill”, was born on January 16, 1903 in the town of March in Cambridgeshire, the son of Herbert Sanderson and Phoebe Green. He was the eldest of five children, the others being Tom, Bert, Olive and Leonard.

He used to say that his family was fairly poor growing up, despite his father having worked for the railroad. He shared that he and his siblings got oranges for Christmas which were kind of dried up. I also seem to recall him saying that the family typically ate goose and Christmas pudding at Christmas. The family pet was a springer spaniel. By the time William was eight in 1911, the family had moved to the coastal town of South Lynn, Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Their address was “7 Victoria Street”. (Interestingly, Captain George Vancouver was from King’s Lynn, and William and his family were to settle in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1926). The South Lynn Railway Station was located here, where William’s father, Herbert, likely worked. By his own report, William was a good student, but left school around the age of fourteen to go to work. He said that boys of that age would go from “short pants” to “long pants”, marking the shift from childhood to the working world and more adult expectations of them. He said that his first job was working in a “munitions factory”, as this would have been in 1917 during World War One. I have yet to identify which munitions factory this was. (If you, gentle reader, could help me out with this, I would be most grateful).

Before the family left for Canada in 1922, they were all living together at “2 Station Cottages, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire”. William’s father Herbert likely worked at the Broxbourne Railway Station nearby at the time. The nineteen-year-old William was working as a “chauffeur”. My best candidate so far for the estate where he worked is the Old Manor House at Wormley, Broxbourne, also known as the “Manor Farm”, which would not have been a long distance from the Broxbourne Railway Station. My grandfather told me that he worked in different capacities on the estate, which included working with the dogs and the gardens. I remember him as having a knack for dogs and gardening his whole life. I would like to isolate the estate where he worked and possibly see it someday.

William, his parents, siblings, and cousin George, came to Canada in 1922. George`s destination was farming in Saskatchewan, which is where the rest of the Sandersons may have also gone at first. All I know is that they worked their way across Canada, spending some time in the interior of British Columbia, before moving to Vancouver permanently. (George returned to England early on).

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