Vernon & District Family History Society

SHARING GENEALOGY KNOWLEDGE SINCE 1982

My Paternal Grandparents William Edward Bazell and Laura Annie Clarke by Vivian Elgie

My paternal grandparents were William Edward Bazell and Laura Annie Clarke. Grandpa was born on October 2, 1882 in Southampton, Hampshire, England. He was the seventh child born to John William and Sarah, nee Jacks, Bazell. Great Grandpa and Grandma had eight children in all. Their only other son was born and passed away in 1873. The cause of his death could not be found. Great Grandpa’s occupation was noted as a ships painter in the 1881 Census.

Image - William Edward Bazell

William Edward Bazell

The 1901 Census of the United Kingdom indicates that Grandpa was an apprentice shipwright. By 1905 he appears to have given up on this career as he left aboard the Lake Champlain, headed for St. John Newfoundland on March 21, 1905, age 22 and he stated his trade as a farmer. It is unclear if Grandpa stayed in the Maritimes for any length of time or not. It is also unclear as to what brought him west. Grandpa does not show up in the 1911 Canadian Census but by the 1913 he was residing in the Coldstream Hotel in Vernon, British Columbia and his occupation is listed as a painter.

On August 23, 1915 at Camp Vernon Grandpa enlisted with the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. On his attestation papers he does list his occupation as a shipwright. He also states he was with BC Horse for about a month previous to enlistment. His next of kin is noted as Ada Eva Hayter, a married sister of his, living in Salisbury, England.

Grandpa spent most of his military career in the Canadian Medical Corps in France. He was wounded on more than one occasion, gassed with mustard gas; as well he got the German measles while in the service. On November 4, 1916 his military records state he was “deprived of two days pay for conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline in that he created a disturbance in the hospital kitchen”. I am not sure what this was all about. On September 13, 1918 Grandpa was granted permission to marry. Fifteen days later, on September 28, 1918 he married Laura Annie Clarke at Calverton, Buckinghamshire, England.

|Image - Marriage of William Edward Bazell and Laura Annie Clarke

Marriage of William Edward Bazell and Laura Annie Clarke

Grandma, Laura Annie Clarke was the second child born to Henry and Annie, nee Foley, Clarke. She was born on October 4, 1898 in Calverton. Great Grandpa and Grandma had six children. He worked for London North West Railway Works in Wolverton.

In her memoirs Grandma states that most children only went to school to the age of 12 and then they went out to work. Most of the girls found domestic employment and the boys would go to work in the railway works. Her first job was at Cowley Bakery and Flour Dealer in Stony Stratford, a few miles away. Her pay was 35 cents a day. Grandma did other domestic work also. When the Great War broke out she got a job in a munitions factory in Coventry. It is unclear just where and when she met Grandpa.

Image - Laura Annie Clarke

Laura Annie Clarke

On April 20, 1919 Grandma arrived in St. John New Brunswick aboard the steamship Grampian. She had no idea what lay in store for her. Grandpa was honorably discharged from the army in St. John, on April 28, 1919. He would have returned to Canada on a troop ship but to this date I have not been able to locate which ship.

Grandpa brought his new bride to Vernon where they rented a house on Lorne Street, now 41st Avenue where they started raising their family. The 1921 Census shows Grandpa, Grandma and one daughter residing there and Grandpa’s occupation at that time was a laborer. Over the next four years they had an additional three children, two boys then another girl.

Image - The young Bazell family prior to the birth of their last child

The young Bazell family prior to the birth of their last child

Image - Laura Annie Bazell on her way back to England in 1962

Laura Annie Bazell on her way back to England in 1962

On February 15, 1927 Grandpa got up from the dinner table and as the Vernon News stated, he dropped dead, presumably from the affects of the mustard gas in France but nothing was ever proven. An autopsy would have shown this but Grandma would not have her man cut up so there was never an autopsy and consequently she never received an army pension. At the time of his death Grandpa was employed by the Vernon Fruit Union. He was laid to rest in Pleasant Valley Cemetery. As money was very scarce there was no marker placed on his grave until years later when a thoughtful granddaughter canvassed the family and had a marker placed for him.

Being a young widow, with four young children and no source of a steady income was very hard on Grandma. She did housekeeping and babysitting to have enough money to raise her children and somehow she managed to purchase a small home on Mara Avenue, now 27th street, where she lived out her days.

Grandma always looked forward to family time, whether it be going for a drive, taking care of her grandchildren or receiving a letter from relations, she cherished every minute of it. In 1962 Grandma had the opportunity to return to England for a visit through the Royal Canadian Legion. It was a special trip they had organized in honor of the English War Brides. Grandma never mentioned the pending trip as she knew she could not afford it. Through a conversation with Grandma’s friend Mrs. Newell Dad found out about this once in a lifetime opportunity for her and he along with her other three children they convinced her to go. She still had two sisters living in England whom she had not seen for 43 years and nieces and nephews she had never met. What a vacation she had. Grandma was so glad she went and probably saw more of the United Kingdom on that trip than she did in all the time she was growing up there.

Sadly Grandma passed away on October 16, 1980 in the Vernon Jubilee Hospital. She was laid to rest in Pleasant Valley Cemetery.