This is a brief outline for my relatives, curious of our ancestry and how we were a part of history, or more properly how we missed history.
Our earliest know ATKINSONs sailed from England five (5) years before an eighteen-year-old Victoria was crowned Queen of England!
It was February 1833, when they left England for Upper Canada, but what else was happening in the World?
British parliament had passed “The Factory Act” to regulate the labour of children as young as nine (9) years of age, in mills and factories.
The United States of America was being guided by the experienced hand of her seventh president, a veteran of their Revolution, a general named Andrew “Stonewall” JACKSON.
There was no Canada, as we know it, and, of course, no Prime Minister.
- FACT: The Dominion of Canada began in 1867. Before that, it was called Canada West starting in 1840. Prior to that, our country’s humble beginnings were Upper Canada (later Ontario) and Lower Canada (later Quebec) starting in 1791.
- FACT: First PM didn’t take office until 1867, when John Alexander Macdonald, a Scottish barrister from a fledgling Ontario Street practice in Kingston, Ontario reluctantly took the position that “nobunny” wanted.
When they got off the boat in New York City, that familiar & welcoming maternal figure of so many immigrants, Lady Liberty, was not there with her torch aloft!
- FACT: This endearing lady did not take up residence on Bedloe’s Island and greet “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” until 1886, when President Grover Cleveland accepted her from President Jules Grévy of France.
DID YOU KNOW: Lady Liberty looks out over the Atlantic Ocean for a reason? She has a little sister looking back at her from Paris, France!
And Ellis Island was just that, an island. Nothing more than empty real estate!
- FACT: It was designated as a federal immigration center in 1890; and it was another two years before a bustling trickle of 22 MILLION immigrants were directed through it!
- FACT: Prior to Ellis Island, newcomers went through Castle Garden, a pioneering collaboration of New York State and New York City. Ten MILLION arrivals came through this first official immigration center from 1855 to 1890. Both of these locations are now museums with respective websites.
- FACT: Before Castle Garden, colonizers were channeled through Battery Park, because prior to 1855 there was not an official immigration-processing center. Shipping companies presented passenger lists to the Collector of Customs, and travellers made whatever declarations were necessary before going on their merry way.
But, our family members were not processed here either, because British Consul, James Buchanan had written a letter excusing them, their luggage and personal effects.
- FACT: Mr. Buchanan was British Consul in New York from 1816 until 1843.
So, all this amazing history, and we missed it due to no sense of of timing.
Hoping it isn’t hereditary.