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Sydney Job Pocock and George Pocock
The June 1882 discovery, is the
story of the two Pocock brothers,
who came to the Souris (aka Mouse, aka St. Pierre) River
to shoot non-existent buffalo.
Coming from England,
they were told buffalo were everywhere on the plains.
During their "hunt", they encountered some of the main coal seams.
that is one rendition of their trip from various history books.
According to Sydney's book, the reason for his trip was
searching for minerals,
and good farming land as an investment,
as well as to see as much of the wilds as possible.
The Pocock brothers were 2 of 14 children. (see list below)
Sir Sydney (Sid) Job Pocock,
b- Sept 13, 1854 at Broome Manor Farm, Swindon, England.
Birth registered in the Highworth District, Wiltshire, England
birth registered as Sydney, not Sidney with an i.
d- Apr 28, 1931
Abraham and Lydia Pocock.
It appears his nickname was Sid,
so imagine this was changed to i over the years. He moved to London in
He, with his
family partners, owned a wholesale dairy business, under the name of Freeth & Pocock,
based in the Kensington district of London England.
In 1881 he lived at 167, Goldbourne Rd. Notting Hill,
His funeral and family info, is in the book Without a Shilling.
It is noted he made many trips to Canada,
and owned considerable land around Winnipeg during his lifetime.
On April 3,
1881 census, he was a visitor at Louisa
167 Golborne Rd, London England, shown
as Sidney here.
One source says Sidney married in 1880,
but 1881 census says he was single.
So many discrepancies in dates here.
He did officially marry bet Apr-June 1891, an Annie Cozens,
Marriage registered in the Greenwich district of London.
They had 6 children.
He was quite an honoured man, as he was visiting
Magistrate for Brixton Prison and in 1917 was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the County of Middlesex where he took his seat
on the bench of the Spelthorne Petty Session.
He was also visiting Magistrate of Pentonville and became chairman of the Visiting Committee in 1929.
This explains the book he wrote- The Prisoner
and the Prison. By Sir Sydney J. Pocock, J.
143 pp. Alston Rivers, London, 1930. He went from a Dairyman to a Judge!
He was supposed to have visited Canada quite often.
I did find a S. J. Pocock, left Liverpool in 1908 for the Montreal port, so
looks like he made one more trip at least, and I am sure many more. I
think he was a very wealthy man, and since half of his family was in Canada, he
would visit often.
His will went to Probate, June 23, 1931, in London
shown as Sir Sidney Job Pocock, Knight of Surbiton Hall, Kingston-on Thames,
to Harold Francis Freeth, Maurice Stuart Pocock, and Edwin Freeth, Gentlemen,
effects 15,897 pounds 3s, resworn 19,913 pounds, 14s, 10d.
Father- Abraham Pocock
b- 1809 in Melksham, Wiltshire,
Mother- Lydia Keevil
b- abt. 1818 in North Bradley, Wiltshire, England,
d- Dec 30,1892. Buried in 1891 in Baptist Churchyard, Melksham, Wiltshire,
Grandfather- Harry Pocock
b- 1770 in Broughton Gifford, Wiltshire, England
Grandmother- Hester Watson-
d- June 1836 in Melksham, Wiltshire, England
Great-Grandfather- John Pocock
b- Abt. 1730
d- Jan 1791 in Whitley, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
Great-Grandmother- Sarah Butler
b- Abt. 1744
d- July 1826 in Whitley, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
His brother George Pocock,
son of Abraham and Lydia Pocock, near the end of May 1880, was in
Emerson MB, Canada,
but his wife and children were still in Chirton, Wiltshire, England.
George was born Aug 30, 1850 at
Forest Farm, Melksham, Wiltshire, England.
He died in 1946 in Emerson MB.
His wife was Eliza Jane, nee Weeks.
He came alone to Emerson,
leaving Liverpool on May 6, 1880
aboard the Circassian.
After a slow passage, he arrived at Point Levis, Canada,
spent all day in customs, then 2 days on the train to Collingwood ON.
He then took a boat to Duluth, Minnesota.
Then 2 more days by train to Emerson MB.
Not an easy trip in those days.
In Apr 4, 1881 Canadian census he is 31 years old, born in 1850,
occupation= Ingenieur, married, English Nationality, Baptist.
Census place Morris, Provencher, Manitoba,
with his wife, 2 sons, & 2 daughters.
He appears in the 1901,1906 and 1911 census as well.
He built and operated a mill in the Emerson area,
as well as buying a mill from the Hudson's Bay co. at West Lynne, across the
river from Emerson.
He was a Miller in England.
Today the only stone house in Emerson MB., is called the Pocock House, ca
Built as a replica of Mrs. George Pocock`s family home in England.
Mar 29th, 1901- He was declared as a shareholder in the The Manitoba Central
Railway Company, when it was incorporated. He actually declared bankruptcy
once in 1907.
George Pocock Family in 1891, page 26, Manitoba, Dist- 8,
Provencher, Sub Dist- C. Emerson
They were not the only members
of the Pocock family to leave England,
but George Pocock was the first I think.
Their brother- Albert Avery Pocock
b- Nov 24, 1856- in Stanford Park Farm, Faringdon, Berkshire,
d- Feb 24, 1944 in Nipawin SK.
His Homestead was at SW Sec 20, Tsp 10, Rge 7, W2nd
b- Nov 24, 1847, in Broom Farm, Swindon, Wiltshire, England,
d- Mar 28, 1918 in Humboldt, SK,
Emigrated in spring of 1906 with his wife, Emily Selina (nee Cox)
and their 12 children, to
the Hillsley district, SK
He left Liverpool England, and destination port was Montreal Canada.
They homesteaded NE of Plunkett., with a family of 12.
Homestead at NE Sec 10, Tsp 36, Rge 24, W2. Joshua's son Edward was already a homesteader in the Hillsley
district. A niece,
daughter of their brother Joshua Pocock,
Alice Selina Campbell (nee Pocock) died Nov 21, 1958 in Weekes, SK.
She came to Canada in 1906.
Alice's brother, Arthur Sydney Pocock 13 Dec 13,
1928 in Humboldt, SK
He also came to Canada in 1906.
So lots of Pocock family members are probably living still
in the Saskatchewan, Manitoba area, and can be proud of these 2 men.
siblings of Sydney:
1. Amelia Pocock-
b- Feb 17, 1839 in Queenfield Farm, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
2. Francis Pocock-
b- Apr 24, 1840 in Queenfield Farm, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
3. Peter Pocock-
b- Apr 23, 1842 in Queenfield Farm, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
d- Apr 19, 1879 in Seend, Wiltshire, England
4. Henry John Pocock-
b- Dec 13, 1843 in Melksham, Wiltshire, England.
d- June 26, 1909 in Half-Way Farm Beanacre, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
5. Ellen Keevil Pocock-
b- Dec 9, 1845 in in Queenfield Farm, Melksham, Wiltshire, England
d- 1918 in East Tytherton, Chippenham, Wiltshire, England
6. Joshua Pocock (see above)
7. Sidney Pocock
b- May 17, 1849 in Melksham, Wiltshire, England
d- Bef 1854 when his brother Sidney Job Pocock was born
8. George Pocock
9. Richard Pocock-
b- Dec 7, 1851 in Broome Manor Farm, England
10. Catherine Pocock-
b- May 29, 1853 in Broome Manor Farm, England
11. Sidney Job Pocock
12. Albert Avery Pocock (see above)
13. Lydia Pocock-
b- May 21, 1858 in Stanford Park Farm, Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire, England
14. Louisa Pocock
b- Dec 23, 1859 in Stanford Park Famr, Berkshire, England
d- Oct 27, 1942
Sydney (Sid) Job Pocock, came to Canada
to visit George,
with investment assets, from his Dairy business,
he was very
interested in farm land and minerals.
He booked his trip, leaving England on board the Allan
Line, SS Parisian,
in May, leaving Liverpool May 18, 1882,
arriving in Quebec City, May 28, 1882.
He then travelled for 5 days and 4 nights by train
arriving at West Lynne Manitoba, home of his brother George.
George and Sydney left Emerson on June 2, 1882
They bought 2 mustang ponies for $200, a buckboard wagon,
a tent, compass, good map, and provisions for a month.
A Winchester rifle, pair of revolvers, and a breechloader,
Candles, matches, mosquito nets, coveralls, and a warm blanket each.
throw in some cooking equipment, and they were set.
they arrived at
the Souris River site of the Coal Deposits, June 12th, 1882
I originally thought this was his first trip,
but unless there was a different
S. Pocock around,
he left a trunk behind on one of his earlier trips, July 11, 1878
Most history books say 1880 when the Pocock brothers, came to Roche Percee,
some 1881, but these are wrong.
If George came to Canada by himself,
and left England on May 6th 1880,
and had such a long trip just to get to Emerson,
How in less than 2 weeks did he get Sydney there,
get a horse and wagon,
and everything else he needed for the trip?
That eliminates 1880 in my mind.
Now word on the diary that Sydney wrote
was written on his travels in summer of 1882.
This is why I am now recording 1882,
as the year they came to the Souris Valley.
It still could be 1881, but the diary should be right.
I'll be searching the ship records for the exact year, before I am done.
Sydney kept a diary and this was made into a book entitled,
Prairie Lands of Manitoba and the Canadian North-West
Publisher: London : E. & S.
Hebert, 1984, cn.d.
Filmed from a copy of the original publication
held by the
Metropolitan Toronto Library,
Canadian History Department. Ottawa:
Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions,1984
Now the book says a Wiltshire
man's travels in the summer of 1882
Read it for yourself here online now
clearly summer of
1882 is the date.
They left West Lynne MB,
home of George Pocock, his brother, on June 2, 1882
They covered about 25 miles per day.
Approx 254 miles, one way to Roche Percee.
Imagine the trip from England, this was worse it seems.
They were joined by a homesteader, named Christopher
south of the Moose Mountains (49°47’ 102°35’)
An English settlement, Cannington Manor was in this area.
Possibly they were going through there.
There would only be a few wagon trails in those days.
Access to the diary will clarify this possibly.
Chris Troy sadly is glossed over in the history books.
Being more local to the area, he might have had a better
on how to get to the Souris Valley, than the 2 Englishmen.
He deserves the same credit for finding the coal,
maybe not in developing it.
Unfortunately I can't locate any personal info on him, as of yet.
doesn't appear in any census or homestead records.
Possibly they got his
From the book he is described as an old California Miner,
who his brother George had met in Emerson MB once.
He had set up 19 homesteads at the time.
No wonder I have had trouble finding him.
My guess for the right guy,
I have found a Christian (Chris) Troyer,
who was a homesteader, and JP,
in the Alameda District,
b- 1841 in Ontario
He was reported to be the 2nd settler in this area,
homesteading on the river flat
SE, SW and NW, Sec 22, Tsp 3, Rge 2, W2
His other occupation other than farmer, was prospecting.
Even going as far as BC for Gold and Copper.
Now did the Troyer turn to Troy in the history books? I'm thinking
His wife Priscilla Jane Humberstone, English nationality,
b- 1843 in ON,
d- Apr 11, 1888,
and was the first person buried in the Oxbow Cemetery.
children- Roderick Troyer, b-1866 in ON
Albert Troyer, b- 1871 in ON
Edgar Troyer, b-1874 in ON
The Troyer family living in Mountain, Marquette, MB in 1881
Chris went to Moosomin after his wife died,
and ran a small hotel for a few years.
returning to Oxbow, becoming Postmaster 1895-1897, finally ending up in BC
He actually picked the name Alameda for the name of the Post Office, ca 1883,
after returning from a visit there just prior to that.
The Groups destination was the the Souris River
(Also known as the Mouse, or St. Pierre River)
near Roche Percée or “Pierced Rock”,
also known as La Roche Percee, to the Metis,
which was at the junction of a small tributary, named Short Creek.
The Souris River runs nearly 400 miles,
with it's start at Wood Mountain in Canada,
it winds down into North Dakota, and back into Canada,
and empties into the Assiniboine river.
Almost the first ravine they entered,
on the Souris River,
near Roche Percee, on June 12, 1882, looking for minerals,
they discovered a small 18ìn thick seam of coal.
They then concentrated on looking just for Coal.
They checked out more ravines, and found even bigger seams.
They loaded 2 large chunks of the coal in their wagon,
and headed back to Winnipeg,
where it was received with great excitement..
The Pocock Coal sample was shipped across the Atlantic by George Pocock,
and entered in the British Empire Exposition at London.
For this exhibit, Pocock received a medal from the Prince of Wales.
George returned to Canada and spent the rest of his life at Emerson.
Sydney was knighted in 1912 and became
(Sidney?) of Surbiton Hall,
Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, England.
What is written
above is what the history books have said up to now.
Using old newspaper articles I have found this story needs a few additions.
Below are my new findings.
Number one, I am very certain the year was 1882 now
that they travelled to the Souris Coal fields..
Sept 1, 1882 article
Here we find out Mr. George Pocock
was the one that brought the wagon of coal to Winnipeg.
travelling via Emerson MB, where he lived.
In the test in Engine #101, they burned 850 pounds,
and it lasted for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Another question in dates arises,
when he says he came to this country last spring,
now I read that spring of 1882. But as I show above,
George came as early as 1880 to Emerson.
I'm not sure if the reporter messed up, or what there.
Here we now see the first mention of the name
The Souris Coal Mining Company
The owners, Pocock, Freeth, and Pocock.
Remember Freeth name above?
We have a rough location as well,
Township 1, Range 6, W2
but no mention of section number!
The City of the future was to be called Excelsior!
coalfields and Roche Percee won out on that one.
He travelled 400 miles to Emerson, then to Winnipeg.
Arriving in Winnipeg Aug 31, 1882.
He had to cross 6 streams, one he had to unload the wagon,
and use a boat to carry it across the water.
He was persistent if nothing else.
Depth of the seam, 9-10 feet,
138 feet from the surface,
20 miles N-S and 18 miles E-W
The coal he brought was from the hillside, 15ft from the surface,
and most blocks were over 100 pounds.
Article below is in 2 parts
Sept 22, 1882
Next day the coal was a hit.
Nov 13, 1882
Reason I explained all the hazards, and work he had to do above,
to bring the coal in, then some Customs guy shows up,
and confiscates his mule team, and sells them.
Only good news someone in Emerson bought them,
and lets hope they were a friend.
He must have bought the mules in the states
is all I can figure.
Mr. F. T. Bradley was obviously a tough officer.
At the time over 33% duty had to be paid
on mules etc.
Mar 13, 1883
Letters from England shows they were still interested,
May 4, 1883
Now a Mr. Hardman enters the picture,
a practical Mining Engineer.
Here we see written proof the coal was taken to South Wales at least.
Mr. Hardman's company did the testing even.
July 5, 1883
Mr. Hardman now going to the coalfields
Sept 13, 1883
Now Mr. Hardman is setting up an office in Winnipeg.
Now the mine is called The Beaver Coal Mines
Jan 31, 1884
winner, now we get section 26.
It was bought from the Hudson Bay Company
Now we read, the coal was taken to London,
to Mr. William Hardman,
a leading Mining engineer.
He then sent his son,
Mr. J. Harman to examine the mine.
At the end of the article the shares
in the new Company are discussed.
Article below is in 2 parts
this 1927 map below
shows Section 27, Township 1, Range 6, w2
My guess they were in the NE quarter,
where the letters Pin from Pinto are,
which was very near where Pinto ended up.
Mar 11, 1884
Article below is from a long story written to help settlers pick land
in the Moose Mountain and Souris Valley area
Here they mention the Pocock Mining company was waiting for
the extension of the Manitoba Southwestern Railroad.
Logs were being floated down Moose Mountain Creek
to this area for building homes.
Dec 9, 1887
Mr. George Pocock elected Councillor
of Ward 3, West Lynne MB
June 19, 1908
Sidney J. Pocock returns after 26 years
He is living at Charlton Court, Middlesex, England
In 1882 he bought Section 8, Tsp 2, Rge 6,
from the Hudson's Bay Company
Located 2 miles south of Bienfait.
Looks like now he is interested in starting up a coal mine here.
Aug 6, 1913
Mrs. George Pocock dies in England