20 January 2008

Nearly a home child

It sounds like a home child story. The father dies in Britain when the boy is age 11, and soon after he's found on a ship's passenger list travelling without any family to Canada.

Eric Aldwinckle didn't quite suffer that fate. When his father, George Herbert Aldwinckle died in 1920, Eric first moved with his mother, and likely his sisters, to Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales. He was fortunate, his father's sister, Amy Smail, who lived on Wineva Ave in Toronto, paid for his passage and took him in at age 13.

Two years later, in 1924, his mother and her two daughters followed, the whole family giving Edith's sister-in-law's address as their destination.

All the voyages can be found in the FindMyPast.com database of Passenger Lists Leaving UK, 1890-1960, and Library and Archives Canada's collection of Form 30A of arrivals, available only on 16mm microfilm.

Eric, who had already shown artistic talent in Britain, prospered in the arts in Canada. He served as a war artist from 1943, and one of his oils "Mustang over Airfield" was singled out in The Times when exhibited in a London exhibition in 1944. The painting above is from the collection on the Canadian War Museum. A biographic summary is here.

One of his most unusual achievements was designing The Great Seal of Canada, a powerful symbol of Canada's Anglo-Celtic connection. It is used on all state documents. The seal shows Queen Elizabeth II, in her robes, holding the orb and sceptre, and sitting on the coronation chair.

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