Emigration to Canada – Strange Experience of Denaby Miners – Wheeliker’s Story

October 1908

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – Friday 09 October 1908

Emigration to Canada.
Strange Experience of Denaby Miners.
Wheeliker’s Story

On inquiry yesterday at Denaby Main, one of our representatives learnt that the Wheeliker family had all returned, and are doing their best, in a small way to a start in life again. They have lost everything, and are now considerably in debt. Their case has naturally excited a good deal of sympathy, and the wife was very much touched day or ago when friend called and handed her £5, subscribed in small sums by neighbours and others. When the family went out, their home was sold for “a mere song” all told, the furniture did not make more than £2O. It was purchased in bulk by a dealer, who, however, did not dispose of all, so that a few the old things are now back again the new house.

Mrs. Wheeliker, seen by our representative, corroborated the story told in the above letter in all essential particulars. Her husband, who (as she put it) was “no scholar,” went to Liverpool especially to see the emigration officials about the boy Job, and was assured that there would be no difficulty with regard to him at the Canadian port; and was given a form of bond to fill up, guaranteeing that should be charge to the Dominion in any event. Without this understanding, of course, the family would never have left these shores. Two sons were already settled in Glace Bay as colliers (one had been there for two years), and the idea that, not only the father and mother, but all the children and their children, too, should settle down in Canada together. Mr. and Mrs. Wheeliker, therefore, took their three small children and the lad Job, and were also accompanied by their married son Robert, who took his wife and one child. Only one son-—Richard—with his wife and four children were left behind in Denaby Main, and they were have followed in a short time.

It was, therefore, a merry party that set sail July last, and all went well until they reached Quebec. Then their troubles began. The officials would not pass the boy Job, and kept the party waiting in a room from six o’clock in the morning until well dinner-time. An official then thought he could get them through altogether, but afterwards Mrs. Wheeliker was told to go on to Glace Bay, and to get the guarantee form for Job filled there and sent back. “It all done a great hurry,” said Mrs. Wheeliker, “and with the understanding that my husband would follow in day two, left him and Job. I had only 20 cents in my pockets. My husband had more, but I hadn’t time to go back for it.

We set out for Glace Bay about 5.50 p.m. on a Friday, and were travelling until Saturday midnight, when reached Sydney. We had had only one bit of bread and cheese all the way, and were nearly starving when reached Sydney. If my sister’s son hadn’t met us at Sydney I don’t know what we should have done. My sister got, us lodgings at a cost of five dollars, and next morning we went on to Glace Bay, arriving there the same day.”

At Glace Bay she lived with her sister a week, and then removed into a house of her own, with her two grown-up sons. She got little furniture together, and expecting her husband would join her every day. She secured several signatures to the bond for Job including that of the local magistrate, and forwarded it to Quebec. There her husband saw it, and understood that it was forwarded to the Government.

However, after some days Mrs Wheeliker beard that Job was going to be sent back, and the emigration authorities asked that a boy in the family, aged  9 years, should be sent down  to go back with him. This was a preposterous notion, and Mrs Wheeliker at once wired her husband: “If Job goes back, you go too.”

That was on a Thursday; the following Tuesday,an September 8, she got a telegram saying that the two add set sail home again. They had been kept in Quebec three weeks altogether. She and all children packed up shortly afterwards and arrived in Denaby Main a fortnight ego.

The Dominion Coal Company acted with great consideration throughout, and paid half the fares on the return journey. The husband, with Job, got home before the rest of the family, and had managed to get few fragments of the old home together again.

What became of the guarantee form that was duly filled out, Mrs. Wheeliker does not know. She and her husband are thoroughly broken in spirits, and he says that £100 would not cover all the expense that this fruitless venture has put them to.