Vernon & District Family History Society

SHARING GENEALOGY KNOWLEDGE SINCE 1982

A Brickwell Family History by Marilyn Buhler

My maternal grandfather was James Richard Brickwell (1876-1924), born 20 February 1876 in Dorking, Surrey, England. At the death of his parents, Thomas (b. abt. 1847) and Mary Ann (b. abt. 1850) Brickwell, in the British 'flu epidemic, James was adopted by the family physician, Dr. H. J. Benham. James, and his brother George, had both attended school, possibly on the Isle of Man or the Isle of Wight, so they had some education.

James immigrated to Canada in 1894. There is one James R. Brickwell shown as a passenger on the Noordland out of Antwerp, arriving in Ellis Island, New York on 2 April 1894.

He is known to have attended the Guelph Agricultural College in Ontario when he arrived in Canada. After completing agricultural college he entered into a partnership in a small dairy business in Ontario but, due both to strong competition from larger concerns and lack of capital, they were forced out of business after a short period of operation.

In 1903, he moved west and obtained entry for a homestead consisting of quarter section of unbroken land in southern Saskatchewan in the vicinity of Caron, NE 33-19-29-W2 (this later became ‘Chick Farm’). This was all virgin land at that time and the years from 1903 to 1906 would appear to have been busy ones for him. During that period of time he erected a house, stable, granary and dug a well for water. In addition he had broken 65 acres and had cropped 60. It was interesting to note that his livestock on the homestead at that time consisted of three horses, one hog and some chickens. At that time he was locally known as "The DUDE" because he always sported a bowler hat.

Having met all the requirements under the Dominion Lands Act, James was granted a Homestead Patent and Certificate of Title in 1907. He spent the period from 1907 to 1913 in breaking and cropping additional acres as well as obtaining more land. It was during this period that he met and married (in April 1913), Ellen Elizabeth McCarthy (1885-1958), whose family farmed near Tuxford, Saskatchewan. Ellen, with her parents and siblings, had immigrated from Liverpool, England via Portland, Maine in 1902 aboard a ship called the Irishman. They initially settled in Lachine, Quebec but later moved to near Saskatchewan.

In 1914, their eldest daughter, Margaret was born. She was followed by Eileen in 1915, George in 1916 and Violet in 1921. There was much rejoicing when the third child was a son. In an article written by George Brickwell in his later years he stated that, “Our mother said that Dad's friends even raised the flag at the post office to mark the occasion.”

With the exception of Violet, the youngest daughter, the other three children attended the Wilson one-room school, which was approximately three miles south of the Brickwell farm. They travelled to school by horse and cart. Margaret, being the oldest, was the driver.

The 1916 Canadian Census for Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan showed: James Richard Brickwell (40), Baptist, came to Canada 1892 [date questionable]; Ellen [his wife] (30), Anglican, came to Canada 1902; Margaret Eva (2), daughter, born Saskatchewan; Eileen (1), daughter, born Saskatchewan. Their son George must have been born just after the 1916 Census had been taken.

In the fall of 1923 the family went to Vancouver to visit Ellen’s parents, Thomas Albert (1858-1933) and Sarah Elizabeth (abt. 1861-1925) [nee Curtis] McCarthy, and also to enable James Brickwell to obtain medical attention. He underwent surgery in the spring of 1924 but, unfortunately, did not recover from the operation. Ellen with her four children, along with her father Thomas McCarthy, returned to the farm that spring and she and her father operated it for the remainder of the year. It was then decided to rent the farm to a Mr. Ben Chick [hence the name ‘Chick Farm’]. Ellen continued to rent out the farm for a number of years but, due to drought and the depression in the 1930's, she finally disposed of the property.

With her children Ellen moved to Vancouver where the four siblings grew up. Ellen continued to live in Vancouver until her death in 1958.

James Richard Brickwell was buried at Ocean View Cemetery, Vancouver. His wife, Ellen Elizabeth (McCarthy) Brickwell, is buried with her parents, also in Ocean View Cemetery.