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2014

 

 Lignite Coal Mines
 Saskatchewan
Canada
 
Alex C. M. Wilson Biography

 

Alexander Craig McMiken Wilson
aka: Alex Wilson, Alec Wilson, Happy Wilson,
 A. C. Wilson, Alex C. Wilson


Photo May 24, 1941, courtesy Margaret Cuddington

Alexander Craig McMiken Wilson

Birth Certificate- Alexander Craig Wilson
Marriage Certificate- Alexander Wilson
Family Bible- Alexander Craig McMiken Wilson

b- Dec 1, 1878, In Moat House Farm, Gorsey Lane,
near the Village of Bold,
in Prescott Parish, St. Helens, Lancashire, England
Christened Mar 2, 1879 in Burtonwood, Lancashire.
Burtonwood is a village between St Helens and Warrington.
d- June 25, 1971, in Winnipeg MB.

His wife Jane "Ellen" Wilson, nee Woods
b- Feb 20, 1879 at Havannah, on Newton Rd, Parr,
now St. Helens, Lancashire, England
d- Nov 2, 1957 in St. Joseph Hospital, Estevan SK, age 78

Jane "Ellen" Wilson, nee Woods, Obituary

Both buried in Estevan City Cemetery

Alec Wilson and his Wife's Grave and Headstone
Estevan City Cemetery
Section 9, Plot 31, Lot 2
(4th row from the Main entrance rd.)
taken Aug 2009

They were married Dec 25, 1901 in St. Peter's Church, Parr, St. Helens,
in Prescott Registration District, Lancashire, England.
Her parents were Edward and Mary Woods
and they lived at Parr, St. Helens, Lancashire. 

Alexander and Ellen had 2 daughters and a son
1. Hildred Wilson
 b- Jan 4, 1903 in St. Helens, Lancashire, England.
d- Apr 4, 1980 in Regina SK,
living in Fort Qu'Appelle at the time.
married Thomas "Tom" Richard Cuddington, Dec 5, 1922 in Estevan
b- Oct 19, 1893, in Brighton, Sussex, England
d- ca Aug 1950,  age 68
see my
Cuddington Family page in the Bienfait Section

2. Ida Madeline Wilson (picture above)
b- July 11, 1909 in Pinto, SK.
d- June 15, 2000 in Sandringham Hospital in Victoria BC
She married June 8, 1957, Wilfrid Jamieson Lewis,
in St Paul's United Church in Estevan SK
and lived in Winnipeg MB.


Alex, and daughter Ida Lewis
taken at Alex's 90th birthday

3. They also had a son
b- Nov 27, 1914 at Taylorton SK
d- Nov 27, 1914 at Taylorton SK
a Baby Boy that died the same day


50th Wedding Anniversary, Dec 25, 1951
Back Row- Howard Cuddington, Ivy Cuddington, Gordon Cuddington,
Douglas "Doug" Cuddington, Margaret "Marg" Cuddington,
Thomas "Tom" Richard Cuddington
Front Row- Ida Lewis, nee Wilson, Bonnie Cuddington, Alex Wilson , Jane "Ellen" Woods,
Dianne Cuddington, Hildred Cuddington, nee Wilson 

 
2 newspaper articles re: their 50th Wedding Anniversary
Dec 25, 1951

Alex came to Canada in Dec. 1904,
stayed in Canada until Nov 1905,
then returned to England.
Came back to Canada in May 1906.
with his wife Ellen and daughter Hildred.

In 1906 they were boarding with
 James and Elizabeth Molyneux at Coalfields.
(see manifest pics below)
They appear in the 1906 census, on page 14,
Assiniboia East, sub dist #7,
location of Coalfields, Sec 3, Tsp 2, Rge 6, W2.
Census was taken July 18, 1906.

1908 he was actually President of the U.M.W.A.
at the only mine working at the time.
By June 17, 1939 he was giving evidence
as General Superintendent of
Western Dominion Collieries,
before a Federal Board of Conciliation.
Quoted as saying " I don't run a Union, I run a Coal Mine"



In 1911 census Alex is shown as Anglican Religion,
and as a Coal Miner for his occupation.
English nationality. age 31, b- Dec 1880 in England
wife- Ellen, age 31, Feb 1881
Hildred Wilson, age 8
Ida Wilson, age 2

They are living in Roche Percee, Block 2, Lot 10 & 11,
shown on Page 5, Line 29, family #38.
Township 1, Assiniboia, Dist 207, Sub dist 6.

Alex's father- William Wilson (Sr.),
b- ca 1825 in Scotland.
(56 in 1881 census)
d- after 1881, ?
Shown as a farm labourer in 1881 census.
also on Alex's Birth Certificate

His mother was Annie (nee ?)
b- ca 1851 Warrington, Lancashire, England.
(age 30 in 1881 census)
d- After 1881, ?
Alec's Birth Certificate says Mother- Annie

They had 6 children I know of.

Alex's siblings:
1. William Wilson (Jr.)
b- ca 1871, in Bold, Lancashire, England
3 Williams registered, unknown which is correct one.

2. Sarah Wilson
b- bet. Jan-Mar, 1873,  in Bold, Lancashire, England
Her birth registered in Prescott Registration District

3. Jessie Wilson
b- bet. Apr-June, 1874,  in Bold, Lancashire, England
Her birth registered in Prescott Registration District

4. James Wilson
b- ca1876,  in Bold, Lancashire, England
3 James registered, unknown which is correct one.
is this James Henry Wilson that married Mildred Kenyon above?

5. Frances Wilson
b- bet. Jan-Mar, 1877,  in Bold, Lancashire, England
Her birth registered in Prescott Registration District

Last born that I know of,
6. Alexander C. M. Wilson

In 1881 the family was living at #6 Derby Rd.
In Widnes, Lancashire, England.


Dec 24, 1904, SS Ionian manifest
Liverpool England to Halifax NS and St John, NB
Alexander (Alex) Wilson was travelling to Roche Percee, NWT, in Steerage.
age 26, born in Lancashire, England, occupation miner.
travelling with James Molyneux, age 39, and his daughter
Sarah E. Molyneux


June 1, 1906, SS Virginia manifest
from Liverpool England to Montreal Quebec,
Alexander Wilson, age 27, travelling to Canada
with his wife, age 27, shown just as Mrs. Wilson,
and their daughter Hildred, age 3, all born in Lancashire.
all 3 destined for Bienfait Assiniboia

The family moved to Estevan in 1938


His nickname was "Happy Wilson",
not because he was known to be "happy" either.
Most history books record him as
A. C. Wilson or Alex C. Wilson.
Interesting enough, the middle name McMiken appears only
in the Cemetery records in Estevan,
and in the Family Bible as noted above.
and the letter M. in some 1931 Riot articles.
It does not show up in his registered name in England.

I would love to know if he was in the Masons,
or some other fraternity in the Estevan area.

Unlike some of the other big owners,
he was more hands on, and seen at the mines.
Everyone knew him, and everyone would have seen him.
He was NOT a "shadowy figure" like some of the others.
Unlike most of the other big mine owners,
he also lived in the area.
We know from his 1965 life story
he lived at Creighton Lodge at that time.
In 1967 era, he lived in Winnipeg, with his daughter Ida,
after he retired. 

received an email Mar 2011 from Sherry Black McNair
who clarified Alex's family tree for me, with Thanks!
Here is what she wrote, edited down a wee bit,
with some additions by myself.

  "Elizabeth Wood, older sister to Jane Ellen, married James Molyneux.  You will note in the passenger lists that Alex was with Elizabeth and her children when she first came over.  One of those children was my grandma, Florence Molyneux.  Sadly, Elizabeth died Sept 23, 1908 and is buried in the old Taylorton cemetery along with her young daughter, Jessie (d- Oct 5, 1905, 14 months) (the tall reddish granite grave marker.)  And you have already noted that the families were residing together.  James Molyneux stayed in Bienfait with his two oldest children, Mary (Polly) Molyneux married Joe Bembridge, and Isaac Molyneux; and he sent the youngest two, Florence Molyneux, and baby James Edward Molyneux (b- May 31, 1908 in Taylorton), back to England where they were raised by James and Elizabeth's sisters.  In 1913 Florence Molyneux returned to Canada to live with Joe and Polly Bembridge, who were working at the mines in Lethbridge, and from there took out homestead land near Lucky Strike.  There Florence Molyneux met and married Bill Black, a neighbour and a coalminer from County Durham, England and there they stayed.   Right after Elizabeth died,  Alex and Jane Ellen looked after Aunty Polly.  Uncle Ike went to stay with Thomas and Jane Bastian in Estevan, as Jane was a sister to James Molyneux.  Uncle Ike joined up for WWI and stayed in England after the war, living in Parr, St. Helens and raising a family there.  James Edward Molyneux, the baby... he joined up for WWII.   Joe Bembridge signed up for WWI the same day he filed for his homestead at Lucky Strike, Alberta. I don't know how Aunty Polly did it, alone, pregnant with 3 small children, but she proved up that homestead.  After the war, about 1924 Joe took his family back to Bienfait where Uncle Alex (Wilson) offered him a job in the mine and a house next door to theirs.  Just an aside- James Molyneux's brother was Aaron Molyneux, also a miner/farmer at Bienfait.  In fact, nearly all of James siblings came:    Thomas Harrison was the son of James's oldest sister Elizabeth and her husband Henry Harrison.  Most of those folks are over by Midale.  Jane Molyneux married Thomas Bastian (both buried in Estevan), and their son Josiah Bastian and his family moved to Kelowna, BC.  Alfred Molyneux worked at Shand brickyard and had a large family, which he removed to Drumheller to work in the mines there.  William Molyneux moved to Edmonton where he raised a family."

Isaac (Ike) Molyneux, enlisted in WWI,  Jan 3, 1916 in Estevan,
b- Sept 18, 1897 in St. Helens, Lancashire, England.
occupation shown as Coal Miner, single, Methodist
Reg # 925176
son of James Molyneux, living at 203 Parr Stocks Rd,
Parr, St. Helens, Lanc, England.

I already had a web page for the Bastian family in my Estevan pages


His Working Career in Canada

Alex Wilson was Mine Manager and Owner,
 of many Lignite Coal Mines,
In SE. Saskatchewan.


L/R- Unknown man, with Alex Wilson
taken at a mine site
May 24, 1941
do you know the other man?  or the mine?

For a man that only had a grade 4 formal English education
he did very well for himself and his family.

In 1910 he purchased a course in Mining Engineering
from the International Correspondence School (ICS)
in Scranton, Lackawanna Co., PA. USA,
and received his Certificate in Mine Engineering.
while he still worked in the mines,
He earned his Mine Managers Certificate, in 1913.
(ICS was established in 1890 and still in operation)

Mines he Managed or Owned (years):
Bienfait Commercial Coal Co. (1)
Crescent Collieries Ltd.   (7) manager 1919-1926
Manitoba & Saskatchewan Coal Company Ltd.  (12) (Manager 1926-38)
Bienfait Mines Ltd.  (2) (Owned 1938-39) (this was Wilson Mine #1)
Western Dominion Collieries. (4)
Eastern Collieries of Bienfait Ltd. (Wilson Mine #2) (Owned 1936-38)
Havanah Coal Mine Ltd. (1943- 12 years) (see note a)
Bienfait No2 Mine (Owned)

(note a)- there was a Havannah Colliery,
near Parr, in Lancashire,
also a Havannah Lane,
and Havannah is shown as a place name
 on Newton Rd, Parr,
where Alex's wife Ellen was born and probably raised.
Somehow Alex dropped the one "n" is all.
 and this would have been where the name came from
Parr is now part of St. Helens

Owned M&S Mar 2,1936 when the Loader building
at the end of the tipple, burnt down at 6pm.
The loader machine in the building was valued at $5,000.00
It was used to load the larger lumps of coal.

Over 60 years involved in the Coal Mine business
in SE. Saskatchewan.


Mr. and Mrs. Alex Wilson, of the Crescent Mines,
visited Riverside Farms per Mar 13, 1924 article
sorry quality is very poor but dates are important

Alex was one of the organizers
of the visit to the area by Governor General Lord Byng in1925.


Most of the above was info I tracked down from various sources
But all below is info from Margaret "Marg" Cuddington,
all in Adobe .pdf format

June 15, 1965 Alex wrote a brief story of his life
to a Mr. J. W. McCaig, Esq (see note b below)
Chairman
Saskatchewan Jubilee Centennial Corporation, Regina
1965 Letter, Page 1.pdf
1965 Letter, Page 2.pdf

(note b) Mr. Jack McCaig, was Committee Chairman,
of the Saskatchewan Diamond Jubilee Committee.
In 1961 he was an Alderman in Moose Jaw.
Started out as a small trucking operator in 1946,
and became the Founder and Owner of Trimac Ltd.
he retired from Trimac in 1962,
and died in Calgary, Apr 9, 1981
Father- John McCaig was born in Scotland,
John died Nov 20, 1959 in Moose Jaw, age 80
John came to Canada in 1919, settling in Ogema District.
brother to Jack- Bill McCaig in Regina
sister to Jack- Mrs. J. D. Smith of Vancouver


Then also in 1965 Alex wrote
a more Complete Story of his life
He was 86 at the time.

8 pages in Adobe .pdf format

Page 1
His early life, arrival in Canada, Taylorton and Tabor AB

Page 2
His working experience, work with boilers, and his education

Page 3
Prospecting and Searching for Coal and Water in Estevan, Bienfait area

Page 4
He operated the First Mining and Cutting Machine in 1908,
 at Western Dominion Coal Co. Ltd.
Page 5
Mine fires in Underground Mines
Page 6
Memories and Experiences of 75 years,
 re: Labour, Unions, and Strikes
Page 7
You don't read many items from a Manager/Business man
that describes Unions, Groups and Organizations in every walk of life,
not just the workers.  I find most managers never see that point of view.
My experience is most hate unions,
failing to realize they belong to one themselves!
Page 8
Problems with water in the "First" Crescent Collieries

Original of this 8 page document is in the SK Provincial Archives,
 per notation on page 1
thanks to Margaret Cuddington for this information and pictures.


My Original Opening on this page
Tracing Alex like the other owners and managers of mines
 in SE. Saskatchewan, is no easy task. 
 They are noted in the history books, Alex, more than most,
 but still only brief information on their past.  Their family etc. 
 With a little internet searching I have compiled the following information. 
 Note, I am an Amateur Genealogist, and as such,
do not proclaim this info below to be 100% accurate. 
 It is as best as I can get, without spending money
 on ordering certificates of birth and marriage in England.
Spent a few hours looking at microfilm in the Estevan Library,
but couldn't find his obituary, which I find strange,
since him and his wife are buried there.

I wrote the above in 2009, and then tonight
Apr 1, 2011, a big surprise, and not even an April Fool's joke!
Tonight an email from Margaret Cuddington,
the wife of Douglas Cuddington,
the Grandson of Alex Wilson.
With the email, wonderful pictures, Life Story,
and Family Tree for Alex Wilson.
It just doesn't get better than that,
for information to add to this page.
By the time you read his life story,
you will get a feel for the man,
and a taste of his early life, as well as his Mine Manager life.
Reading what he went thru, you have to respect him.
I hope you enjoy the information as much as I did.

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2012

Page created by Doug Gent 2012
Created Apr. 3, 2009
Revised Apr 25, 2012

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