Diamond Harry



by Mary Alice

The family started in Boummouth, England where Dad and Mother were married June 11, 1904 at St. Clement's Church, Boummouth. The first child born was Grace Albertina (Mrs. Merton Fuller), May 13, 1905. The second child, a son, Edward was born July 7, 1906; the third child was another girl named Marjorie Dominica (Mrs. Luton Ketchum) who was born March 1, 1908. The fourth child was another daughter Patricia, born March 3, 1910. These children were all born at Boummouth, England.

During these years, my father worked at various jobs, then training as an electrical engineer, but times were getting hard in England and many men were hiring on freight or cargo boats and coming across to Canada to make a living. So, on June 10, 1910, my father and his brother Maurice hired on a cargo boat and came over. They worked their way up from the east coast that winter arriving in Edmonton in 1911. He was hired as an electrical engineer and saved money until August, 1912 when dad sent home to mother passage fare for the family to come to Canada.

It took mother a while to get boat reservations and it was October before she was able to leave. Meanwhile, she packed all her small household effects and whatever she could pack into crates. Later she was so thankful to have these things as the lean years ahead held little comforts.

On October 5, 1912, mother and the four children set sail for Canada, leaving Bouramouth shores forever, for although many times she longed to return, she was never able to go back.

The boat crossing was rough at that time of the year and for many days they were unable to leave their cabin. The food was poor and the children became sick. The crossing took approximately seventeen days and then they had to make passage arrangements for the train to Edmonton. Again it took six days for the train to come across Canada in the late fall. All the children were still ill and did not have the proper foods to eat on the train. When they arrived in Edmonton, approximately October 30th, mother was sick in bed for a week before she could start making a home out of the shack dad had provided for them.

The house was situated on Columbia Avenue, just boards covered with tar paper and a tent for a roof. They lived in this house until August, 1913.

On July 30, 1913, their fifth child, a daughter, was born, Florence Lillian (Mrs. Raymond McGinnis). She is the only "Diamond" that has lived all her life in Elk Point.


Harry Diamond family in the city before they left to file on the homestead.

BACK ROW, Left to Right Harry holding Florne

FRONT ROW: Ted, Grace Marge Mary holding baby Godfrey, Patsy.

After Florence was born, dad rented a home on Nelson Avenue and 10th Street where they lived for one more year. The sixth child born on June 20, 1914, a son name Godfrey. He passed away August 8, 1914.

The city was full of men out of work. Most of them came to the city to join the war that was starting, but dad decided to look for a homestead as you could file a claim for the price of ten dollars. He got a ride down to Vermilion on a freight train and filed a claim on a homestead without even seeing it. He then returned to Edmonton to see how Godfrey was as he had been a sick baby from birth and was not expected to live very long. Once again dad left to build a home on the homestead. He again caught the freight train back to Vermilion and from there walked approximately sixty miles to a place completely in bush country. All he had was a sack of food on his back. When he arrived, he obtained some help to cut logs and eventually built a small shack house with a sod roof. By this time, he had sent word for mother to come out but because the house was not finished, arrangements were made for mother to live elsewhere.

These are my mother's words from her diary:

Approximately July 20, 1914 -Edmonton- I packed everything I could possibly get into cases and boxes and put the beds, my table and chairs up for sale. Then got train fare to Vermilion. The train was late leaving the city about ten o'clock that night so it was about two-thirty in the morning when we reached here. The manager of the Vermilion Hotel was waiting for someone on the train and saw us all huddled up, me not knowing what to do, and Godfrey crying so hard; it was a bitter night for the other five small children. This kind man came over and asked if we had a place to go to and so I told him my story and he took two of the little ones, someone else carried Florence who was only fourteen months and we all went to the hotel. He gave me a large room with double beds, then sent up warmed milk and something to eat. I fed the children and put them to bed. Then without undressing I sat the rest of that night holding my very sick baby to keep him quiet so the children could sleep. Next morning the housekeeper came and stayed with them while I bathed and went out to buy some food.

At noon the mailman came for us as Harry had made arrangements for us to ride out to Angle Lake Post Office with him in the mail wagon. His name was Mr. Monkman. The manager gave us all dinner when we left the hotel. We started out and soon the baby was crying and fretting as the wagon was so rough on the trail road. Mr. Monkman didn't think the baby would live until we got to his home that evening. As soon as we got there, he asked Mrs. Monkman to give me brandy for the baby. So I bathed him and fed him warmed milk with a little brandy and it helped soothe him to sleep. Mrs. Monkman was a very warm lady and looked after my little ones. We spent the night there and early next morning after a good breakfast, left for Angle Lake. Godfrey took the ride better that day and didn't cry quite as much. Upon arriving, I was so disappointed as Harry wasn't there to meet us again but had his friend Mr. Ramsbottom waiting for us. He was driving a team of oxen and a make-shift wagon. All the cases I had with us along with the six children and myself left in the wagon for Mr. Ramsbottom's sod shack. This time the baby cried pitifully as the oxen were rougher riding. It was suppertime when we got there and he told me to cook whatever I could find to feed the children. I first fed the baby and as Mrs. Monkman had sent the brandy along, gave him some in his warmed milk and he fell asleep. Later that night Harry walked in from the homestead. I was so glad to see him as the baby was so weak, I didn't think he would live long. The other five were very good and after riding so long, played outside until I could make beds for them.

By morning Godfrey was some better so Harry went back to the homestead to clear more logs out and finish the house. For two more weeks I didn't see him but then Godfrey took another sick spell so I sent Mr. Ramsbottom for photos That day, August 7th, at about four o'clock in the morning, my second son passed away, August 8, 1914.

The neighbors were very good to us. They bought gifts of food, vegetable, etc. Mr. McDonald and Mr. Anderson made him a sweet little coffin. Rev. Day had a burial service for him in the Angle Lake Schoolhouse. He was buried on top of a hill on Mr. McDonald's farm with another baby and a man that was killed in a saw-mill accident.

After the funeral, Harry went out working for several farmers to get some money to buy some food for us to take to the homestead for that winter.

The children and I stayed on with Mr. Ramsbottom. I helped Mr. Scott dig up his garden and he gave us ten sacks of potatoes for my work. I also helped some other farmers working in the fields and received some eggs or chickens. Then in November, Harry came back to us. He had a little money saved so I made him a list of what we would need and he got it at the Angle Lake Store. Then he borrowed a team from Mr. Scott and on November 5, 1914, we loaded up all our belongings from Mr. Ram-sbottom's place and set out for the last part of our journey home. It was very cold and snowing but the children were all excited about a new home and land all of our own. I wondered what this home would be like for I had not seen it as yet.

We came onto the land about two-thirty and all you could see was trees and hill tops and on top of one hill right in the middle of the quarter was a sod-roofed shack; our home on Section 4, southeast quarter, District of Geddeon Lake, named after a large lake that bordered our east section line.

Geddeon Lake-November 6, 1914 to 1915-The shack, which in later years I called our home, had one window and one door, a log partition halfway inside for our bedroom. The floor was split logs, an oil drum heater and an old cook stove Harry had got from someone, bunk bed frames he had made for the children nailed to the wall, a hand-made table and benches. We got everything into the house and Mr. Scott left for home as it was blowing up quite a storm. It was a cold winter and we did not leave the homestead until spring broke. Harry shot rabbits to help us eat that winter.

Soon as he could, he went to work for any farmers that needed help and in return brought home any food they could spare for money was not easy for anyone to have. I had some vegetable seeds that the ladies from Angle Lake had given me like dried peas, beans and corn. Also Mrs. Dunkin had given us a sack of little potatoes to plant. So, with Harry's help, we dug a garden patch. Ted and Grace were only nine and ten that spring but they helped pick roots and broke the sod up as we turned it over with shovels.

Our nearest neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Cleve Diehl and Mr. and Mrs. Ed Dunkin.   One spring day, they carne to call on us and brought us some gifts - a hen and mne little chickens and one little pig. Harry wanted to plant some grain for their feed so Mr. Diehl made arrangements to plow the land for us - land that Harry had cleared the summer before, about ten acres, in exchange for two hundred peeled and sharpened fence posts. Because Harry was working for Mr. Turner during the day, he worked at the posts during the night when he got home. Ted helped me peel and sharpen the ends. For payment Mr. Turner gave him seed wheat and oats to plant on our freshly turned sod.

During the summer, Harry's parents sent us some money from England so we bought a cow with calf. Until we got our own milk, Grace and Marge would walk to Dunkin's everyday for a five pound pail of skim milk. We also put up a small sod and log barn for the animals to live in during the coming winter.

That Christmas as on the previous two, there were only toys Harry and I could make the children. We had more vegetables to eat that winter but no money to buy store items with; only enough money for our few basic foods like flour, sugar, tea and lard.

In January of 1916 on the coldest night of that winter, I gave birth to another son, my seventh child, named Robert (Bob). At this time word was being passed that all men needed to go to England to help finish the war. So being of British birth, Harry and William Appleton left home in February, 1916 to go to Vermilion to enlist in the first World War. William Appleton was killed in action and never returned.

I was alone again with my five children and a three and a half week old baby to care for. I thanked God I was to nurse him as there was no milk to be had anywhere near us even for the older children until spring came again and our cow had another calf. Ted, Grace and myself did the best we could that summer until Harry's Army pay started coming. Then I bought Ted his first team of horses - Silver and Nellie. Later on I bought another cow and pig.

Fall came and Christmas passed. Then in February, 1917, Harry came home on leave for a few days and then we didn't see him again until 1918, a year later. He left again and when he returned it was November and armistice was signed. A few days later on November 20, 1918, I had my eighth child, a daughter named Gladys Peace. That winter and summer, Harry stayed home and helped Ted and myself clear more land for sod turning.

Summer - 1919. We started having summer schools for the district children and a small school was built on our farm along the south fence line. Harry gave approximately four acres of land to have the school started. It was called summer school as it was too cold to attend during the winter months. In a few years a new school was built and it was called the Geddeon Lake School.


Harry James Diamond, home on leave, 1917

By now 1920 I was expecting again As I had been quite ill that winter, Harry took me to Vermilion which was our nearest hospital. The doctor told Harry I was tired out and needed a good rest so he made arrangements for me to stay in town as it was not long until my delivery. Our ninth child was born February 13, 1920, Clements William. He enlisted in the second World War at age 21, year 1941. He was killed in action on the beach in Sicily and was buried overseas.


Clements Diamond, home on leave for the last time, 1941.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Phyllis, Clements Mary

I was still weak after I left the hospital and as it was during a cold spell, Harry could not leave the children and come for me. I had made friends with a Mrs. J. H. Payne and she asked me to come with my baby to stay at their home. I enjoyed my rest and about seven days later, Harry came to town for me. I was glad to get back to the children and our home, but I had made up my mind we were going to build a better home for the children. That spring, Harry set about getting new logs and his brotherMaurice came out from Edmonton to help. Many neighbors gave us a hand as it was a big home but the family was large now and we needed a big home. It was a two-story house and had a real lumber and shingled roof. Although it was not finished, we moved in November 5th and lived that winter quite comfortably-at least we had room to move about.

Harry had built up our stock so we were selling a few pigs and cream or milk to neighbors and we had horses to break up our land. We had also put up some new sod roof barns for the animals.

It was 1922 on Christmas Day, December 25th, I gave birth to another daughter, Phyllis Evelyn, now Mrs. Harry Phillips. She was my tenth child and was born at home. During this time, Grace and Marge had left to work for ladies out at Vermilion. Ted also went out to work between periods of helping at home. Now Bob, Florrie and Patsy were doing a lot of farm chores.

1924-That spring I was expecting my eleventh child. I had been to see Doctor Miller in Elk Point and he had a house with a few wards upstairs, so when in April my time came, Harry drove me to town. I stayed with Mrs. Miller a few days and on April 24, 1924 my last baby, a girl, named Mary Alice was born. Nurse Bell named her "Mrs. James Johnson". This is the end of my mother's notes.


Harry and Mary Diamonds silver anniversary, 1929

My father was ailing by the time I started school and he passed away in a hospital at Edmonton. He was buried in the Beechmount Cemetery (soldiers' section) May, 1933.

Mother began ailing; her strength had given out from caring for us all and nursing dad. The following year Patsy passed away in the new Elk Point Hospital and she was buried in the Elk Point Cemetery. By 1936, mother was an invalid in a wheel chair with spinal arthritis.

In 1943, mother was placed in a nursing home in Edmonton and Ted was alone on the farm, living in the same house dad and he had built. The house is still in use today. In 1946, Ted sold the homestead and bought a small home for mother and himself in Edmonton. Mother lived there until she she unable to care for herself. She was then admitted to the Good Samaritan Hospital and remained there until she passed away April 9, 1965