Meet the Bradwins - Glimpses of the Past with Karen Webster
Lured by an advertisement placed by the Canada Company, William and Ann (Gurney) Bradwin left their home in Buckinghamshire, England in 1849 with their eight children, 88 English Pounds and six boxes of worldly possessions. Unfortunately, before reaching Upper Canada, William died in Syracuse, New York, leaving Ann and their children to carry on to Paris in Brant County. It was there that two of the elder sons, Edmund and Joseph, learned the pottery trade to help support their mother and siblings.
Both of the Bradwin brothers eventually went to the Mount Forest area, choosing a site in Normanby Township with suitable clay with which to ply their trade. The manufacture of crocks, jugs, mugs and bowls was essential to the households of that era.
In 1879, Joseph moved to Wingham and set up his pottery business at a location near the intersection of Josephine and Scott Streets, a site chosen for the clay found in the river bank adjacent to his home. After manufacturing pottery for several years, in 1888, Joseph sold his business to Ignatz Bitschy, a Mildmay potter. Joseph then switched careers and became the electrician for the newly-established Wingham Electric Light Company.
It was at this time that the Bradwin family moved to Shuter Street. Joseph held the position of electrician for 25 years up until two weeks before his passing in May of 1915.
Joseph and Bridget Ann Burke had been married in Paris in 1865. Their family of eight children was born in Lynden, Brant County, Wellington County and in Wingham.
A. E. Bradwin, the eldest son, was born in 1866. He was the editor and publisher of the Blyth Standard from 1894 until 1906. He was very active in the Blyth community as the secretary of the fall fair, a village councillor, an overseer of the Ancient Order of United Workmen Lodge 145 as well as being a steamship agent. A. E. edited several other newspapers, such as the Parry Sound North Star and the Goderich Signal. When A. E. left Blyth, he explained that his general printing and publishing house in Toronto required more of his attention. He also assumed the assistant editorship of the Toronto publication, Saturday Night. In addition, he held the post of secretary of the Canadian Press Association. A.E. passed away in Toronto in 1946, leaving to mourn his wife, Selena Emigh, and eight children.
Francis William Bradwin was born in 1869. He married Maude Eastman and they lived in Toronto, where Frank was a buyer for a dry goods store. He passed away in 1945.
There was a daughter was born to Joseph and Ann Bradwin in 1871. Her name was Annie Louisa Alberta Bradwin. Although she is listed in the 1871 census, no other record of her has been found and it is assumed that she died while still a young girl.
Charles Henry Bradwin was the next child, born in 1872. He lived in Harriston with his wife, Charlotte McNally, and a daughter. While working as a commercial travelling salesman, he died suddenly in Vancouver of heart failure in December of 1900.
Joseph Perry Bradwin, who went by his second name, was born in 1874. He was working as a clerk for the T. E. Mara Company in London, Ontario when he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 32.
Edmund William Bradwin, born 1877, began his career by teaching at the Alps School in Culross Township, Bruce County. He undertook to get a university education in intervals, while also working. In 1904, he began working and teaching in bush camps for an institution called Frontier College. Once called Reading Camp Association, Frontier College was a program that placed young men in lumber and mining camps to work by day and to instruct fellow workers by night.
Edmund spent two years as a local instructor then nine as a supervisor locating and supporting other instructors in northern Ontario and Quebec. And while doing the same manual labour as his students, he managed to study extramurally at Queen’s University obtaining a Master’s Degree. His PhD thesis formed the basis of his book The Bunkhouse Man, which was a study of work and pay in the camps of Canada 1903-1914.
He was 44 when he married Minnie Fessant of Teeswater. She was an excellent helpmate in his career, serving in many charitable and social capacities. Edmund was the principal of Frontier College for 50 years. Roy McMurtry, a prominent Ontario politician, who was once a worker/teacher with Frontier College, noted that Principal Bradwin had said “all we can offer you is hard work, low pay, bad food, black flies and a chance to help your fellowman”.
Frontier College relied heavily on university students, especially those in the pre-med program to serve in the work camps. One such medical student was named Benjamin Spock. Yes, that Benjamin Spock.
Fred J. Bradwin (1878-1910) was a fireman in Kamloops, British Columbia. He was well liked, proficient at his work and chose to live in the fire hall. At Christmas of 1910, he was in the fire hall when a call came in. As he was sliding down the fire pole, he lost his footing and fell to the floor below, dying a few minutes later.
Ernest Lorne Bradwin, the youngest of the family, was born in 1880 and also went by his second name. His wife was Madge Tolin of Saskatoon. He worked in department stores in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Spokane, Washington, where he passed away in 1953.
Like some other families in the history of our area, the Bradwins came and stayed for a while, working, going to school and participating in community life, before going on their way to continue their story elsewhere.