John Haddow was born September 22, 1884 on the family farm just outside of the hamlet of Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, England.
The son of Joseph Haddow and Margaret Elizabeth Dobson, he had two brothers; Arthur born in 1879 and Thomas in 1896. He also had two sisters Lillian and Isabel. We don't know much about the sisters unfortunately. We know that Lillian married James Henry Hamer in Ramsbottom, England in 1896 and that Isabel married David Morrison in 1901 in Salford, Lancashire.
Dalton-in-Furness is located in that northern part of Lancashire on a peninsula that juts out into the Irish Sea. It is north of the main part of Lancashire and because of it’s remote location; in those earlier days the only access to the area was across the dangerous sands of Morecambe Bay, the area was commonly called, “over the sands”.
The remote farming and fishing region had been home to Haddows since the time of William the Conqueror. Because it was at the very north-western corner of his English kingdom, ownership of the area was much disputed over by both Scotland and England.
As the border was pushed northwards the area became more peaceful. In the middle ages the governing group of the area was the monks of Furness Abbey. They owned most of the land and built a number of castles. In the 1530’s the authority of the abbeys began to decline, due in part to the slow dissolution of the monasteries. Up until the time my grandfather was born, farming and fishing were the areas mainstays.
But farming was especially affected by the economic trends of the times. In the early 1870’s declining cereal prices forced farmers away from grain production. Since this had historically provided more work than livestock rising, many laborers found themselves out of a job.
Oceanic steamship trade brought cheaper commodities into the country (sound familiar?) that competed against local goods. During the 1880’s much of the beef consumed in the country was imported. At the same time laws were enacted that changed ownership of much of the farmland forcing laborers and small farmers to seek employment elsewhere.
A large number of these displaced people went in search for work in the larger towns and the cities. Large coal deposits of coal were discovered in the Cumbria area and began development. What may have been seen by some as a possible development, for the farmers it was the death knell. The second largest coal deposits in the United Kingdom were discovered not far from Dalton.
Waste from the coal works were spread throughout the area, making agricultural land almost unworkable. My grandfather’s parents saw their livelihood slip away. If my grandfather had entertained any thoughts of taking over the family farm they would certainly have vanished.
As a teenager, my grandfather traveled around England for a time, but soon found himself back in Cumbria where he landed a job in the shipyards at Barrow-in-Furness working as an ironworker. In 1903 he married my grandmother Elizabeth Agnes Langhorn and in March 1904 their first son Thomas was born. In June 1906, a second child Arthur arrived.
With thousands of people coming into the smelter town looking for work, housing was in short supply, and rents began taking increasingly larger chunks of the weekly pay. Overcrowding led to poor health conditions, illness especially for the poor was common. Lack of medical care, poor working conditions in the factories and shipyards, soon found my grandparents, now with a family, thinking about immigrating to Canada to begin a new life in a new land.
In late March of 1908, John Haddow just 23 years old, and his brother Thomas, set foot on Canadian soil when they temporarily disembraked at the Immigration Inspection Station at Grosse Ile.
He would now have to find a job, save money and arrange to get his small family to Canada. They would not be reunited for another two years