Cards from Dad and Ma

In April 1914, my great-grandparents William and Polly Monks said goodbye to their son Harold as he left Earlestown Lancashire for a new life in Clayoquot Sound. In this pre-telephone, pre-internet era, they stayed in contact with their son by mail. Harold kept many of the birthday cards and postcards sent by his “Dad and Ma” from Earlestown to the “West Coast BC”. These cards showcase many seaside resorts in interwar Britain and make a nice memento of a close family relationship.

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A 1932 birthday card from Dad and Ma in Earlestown Lancashire to son Harold Monks in “Tofino, West Coast, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada”

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William and Polly Monks in 1914, when Harold left England

Harold Monks on board his fishboat in Clayoquot Sound in the 1920s

Harold kept birthday cards sent from his parents – always signed “Dad and Ma” but written by his Dad. This is a nice one from 1932.

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William Monks was an active correspondent over these years. Harold kept all of his Dad’s postcards. The postcards give a nice overview of Mr. and Mrs. Monks’ holidays and the almost “quaint” addresses of Harold Monks — “The Cannery” or “Tofino, West Coast Vancouver Island, Canada.”

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A postcard from Pwhelli Wales to the Cannery Kennfalls West Coast Tofino BC Canada

William Monks was a machinist in the Earlestown “Waggon Works” of the London and North Western Railway. He was reportedly involved in union business. He sent Harold a postcard from an annual meeting in Birkenhead.

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July 1933 postcard from William Monks in Birkenhead to Harold Monks in Tofino

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Another time, business and pleasure (“which he enjoyed immense”) took him to Exeter. He noted “some people from Ontario have been staying at this place” — presumably he thought Ontario and Tofino were a few short hours away!

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A postcard from William Monks in Exeter to Harold Monks in Tofino, 1928

Mr. and Mrs. Monks went on several holidays in the 1920s and 1930s to the north Wales resorts of Rhyl, Llandudno, Pwllheli. In 1927, they were in the Isle of Man – sending a postcard that asked “Perhaps you will recognize this place?” since Harold had spent his childhood summers on the island.

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A 1928 postcard from Mr and Mrs Monks to Harold Monks in Canada that recalls happy summer childhood holidays on I.O.M.

The Monks family always had a studio portrait taken in Douglas Isle of Man. Contrast Polly Monks’ early 1900s get up with that of 1927!

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Harold, his “Ma” Polly, brother Willie, and grandma on the Isle of Man, circa 1902

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Mr and Mrs Monks on I.O.M. in 1927

Most often Mr. and Mrs. Monks went to nearby Southport, Lancashire. Messages on the postcards included: “Just here for the day. Bad morning but at 5 o’clock beautiful sunshine. Received your welcome letter just when leaving Earlestown.” (July 15 1933) and “Here with the old folks from Newton and Earlestown. Having a rare good time” (July 20 1933)

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From Southport Bridge to Tofino – a postcard sent in 1933

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In 1936, Mr and Mrs Monks made their most exotic trip yet — all the way to “Tofino, Vancouver Island BC Canada”!

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William and Polly Monks set sail for Canada, 1936

On April 17 1936, William Polly Monks sailed from Liverpool. By May 3 1936, they were in Tofino, where they spent the next several months. Their grandson Harold Frank Monks was born on January 31 1937.

Polly Monks with baby Harold Frank Monks on the steps of the Tofino house

At the end of April 1937, Mr. and Mrs. Monks left Tofino. A few days later, they sailed from New Westminster on SS Pacific Pioneer, a small cargo steamer with first class accommodation. Mr. and Mrs. Monks had shore leave in San Francisco and travelled through the Panama Canal. They arrived in Manchester in July 1937.

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William and Polly Monks – Golden Wedding Anniversary, 1939

William and Polly Monks celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on April 18 1939. Harold’s “Ma” died a few months later. William Monks died in 1952.