The Pearces of Baynes Lake


Well, I found Len, then I found William.

I found Leonard Pearce’s death certificate — he died, unmarried, on August 31, 1993, in Victoria, British Columbia. (He was also cremated, hence no hits!) But his death certificate provided his birthdate and birthplace: 8 August 1911 in Baynes Lake, B.C., about 40km from Fernie, where the family was in 1921, and about 70km from Michel, where their entry documents from Quebec in 1910 suggested they were headed.

Then, because I knew the family was in Baynes Lake in 1911, I knew I’d seen William’s death certificate, too: William Pearce died on Christmas Eve 1911 at the age of 44. The death certificate for the married, English-born engineer does not list his family members, so until the Baynes Lake connection, I couldn’t be sure, but it records his death as a result of acute alcohol poisoning — the result of a 30-hour bender, from the looks of things. His baby son was less than six months old at the time.

So it would seem that in 1921, William was 10 years gone — but where was Edith that year? And what about Marjorie? I suspect Marjorie’s age may provide a clue: In 1921, Marjorie would have been about 21 years old, and she may have married. Her younger sister Phyllis had already wed, and if Marjorie was back in England, it would have been logical for Edith to go attend to her, leaving the other children with Phyllis and her husband for a time.

If that is the case, which it may not be, I should conceivably be able to find records of three things: first, Edith Pearce departing Canada for England in 1920 or 1921, Marjorie Pearce marrying in England in 1920 or probably 1921, and Edith Pearce returning to Canada from England in 1921. A variation on this would see Marjorie marrying earlier and Edith coming to attend to the birth of a child, but pinning down documentation that would link Marjorie to a child will be considerably more difficult without her husband’s name.

I’ve reached out to my aunt, looking for further direction. If my father remembered Len, it’s possible his older sister remembers more.

My tasks at the end of the last post were such:

  1. Find the marriage of William Pearce and Edith Collins around 1897, give or take two years,
  2. Find William and Edith Pearce in the 1901 Census of England with their 1-year-old daughter Marjorie,
  3. Find Edith Collins Pearce (and hopefully William Pearce) in 1921, and
  4. Find Stephen Joseph McNally’s immigration to Canada, in 1910 or otherwise.
  5. (and catch up on bibliographic citations — good lord I’m behind again!)

The other interesting wrinkle here is that Edith was also, I’m assuming previously, married to a may named “Grey” or “Gray” and apparently produced a child named Leslie. I am inclined to think this happened prior to her marriage to William Pearce, as she was already 30 at the time of Marjorie’s birth. In that respect, I may be looking for a household in 1901 that includes William, Edith, 1-year-old Marjorie, and a child named Leslie who would presumably be under the age of 10. I’m hoping to hear more on this from my aunt.

Since #1 and #2 were still proving vexing (though I’d settled the smaller half of #3), I decided to go back on the hunt for Stephen Joseph McNally.

Chasing #4 sent me back to the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, where I found an entry for one Joseph McNally, age 19, arriving on 20 August 1913 in Quebec, Canada, from Liverpool, England, on the Victorian. If this is our boy, he’s recorded as a year too young, but that’s not beyond the bounds of reasonable mistakes. He was on his way to work at a foundry and professed to be Church of England. The two other documents that identify a religious preference for our Stephen Joseph McNally disagree: his 1914 enlistment papers mark him Roman Catholic while his 1919 marriage to Phyllis marks him CofE. A switch from Roman Catholic to CofE, especially for a wife, could be logical — or, for that matter, CofE to Roman Catholic to CofE could be a typo or a matter of convenience in the moment. Or this could be not our guy.

Interestingly, there’s no clearly matching 1910 record for Stephen Joseph McNally, suggesting the 1910 date may indeed have seeped over onto him from the Pearces, which isn’t that significant of a stretch to imagine given the other problems with the 1921 Census of Canada entry. Or it may be that records that once existed now don’t or are now unreachable to me. I will of course keep after it.

But now I must really tackle #5 and fill in some bibliography!



One thought on “The Pearces of Baynes Lake

  1. 1921 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2013. Original data: Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, 2013. Series RG31. Statistics Canada Fonds. Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: Passenger Lists, 1865–1935. Microfilm Publications T-479 to T-520, T-4689 to T-4874, T-14700 to T-14939, C-4511 to C-4542. Library and Archives Canada, n.d. RG 76-C. Department of Employment and Immigration fonds. Library and Archives Canada Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Find A Grave, Find A Grave.

    Royal British Columbia Museum, Death Registrations, British Columbia Archives, Genealogy Collection [database on-line]. Victoria, BC, Canada: Royal British Columbia Museum. Original Data: British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency. British Columbia, Canada. British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency: P.O. Box 9657, Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC V8W 9P3.


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