Alexander Hunter WATSON (1895-1934), Helen McNab WATSON (1890-1967), James Muir WATSON (1888-1965), Jane MUIR (1865-1933), Jane Muir WATSON (1899-1988), Janet WALKER (1859-1948), John McConnell Muir WATSON (1903-1994), Mary HUNTER (1827-1907), Samuel ACTON (1857-1927), Sarah May (May) ACTON (1898-1982), Thomas WATSON (1854-1932), Thomas WATSON (1887-1951), William Watson Muir WATSON (1892-1973)
(see ‘Thomas & Jane (MUIR) WATSON Family’ under heading ‘WATSON’)
[this post last edited, new information and/or images added 12 March 2013. Unless otherwise indicated all photos are from the author’s collection]
[For more Watson family photos also check out Donald Slater’s family history Flickr account www.flickr.com/photos/palaeoecogeek]
Alexander (Alex) Hunter WATSON, born 21 June 1895 at Cloncaird Mains in the Parish of Kirkmichael, Scotland was the fifth child and forth son of Thomas and Jane (MUIR) WATSON. He was the first of their chldren born in a place other than Mt. Oliphant Farm. The move to Cloncaird Mains sometime after 1892 marked the beginning of the nomadic life of the Watson family as it moved from tenant farm to tenant farm until immigration to Canada in 1910.
Photo left: Alexander Hunter Watson, 10 June 1914, Rosewood District, Lemberg, Saskatchewan, Canada
Alex was given the middle name ‘Hunter’ after his paternal grandmother Mary HUNTER. His life as a child would have been similar to that of his siblings; farm work and school work, chilly damp accommodation and probably never enough to eat. By 1909 Alex, aged 14, was the oldest boy at home since his brothers Tom, Jim and Bill had left to work. Tom [Thomas WATSON] had already embarked on his chauffering career in Scotland and England, Jim [James Muir WATSON] and Bill [William Watson Muir WATSON] had already moved to Canada. Alex would have had to carry a heavier share of farm work to help his father.
By April 1910, Alex and the rest of the Watson family lived in Saskatchewan. Alex worked as a hired farm hand until he could manage to acquire some land of his own.
When WWI broke out, Alex did not immediately enlist as his did his brother Bill. However, in 1918 the war for the allies was going badly and a call went out for additional soldiers. On 30 April 30 1918, in Regina, Alex joined the RNWMP (Royal Northwest Mounted Police Canadian Expeditionary Force). With this Expeditionary Force he travelled by train to Montreal, where on June 3 he sailed for England on the ship S. S. Bellerophon. The eighteen day sea journey was no doubt memorable because it was lengthy, rough and Alex caught measles which meant that he was in and out of hospitals in military camps in England. Finally almost four months later, on 7 October he was transferred to the Canadian Tank Corp. By 12 November he was back in hospital where he underwent a tonsillectomy operation.
His military records are unclear, but it appears that he spent the remainder of the war at Bovington Camp in England with the Canadian Tank Corp. He returned to Canada in May 1919, left Southhampton on 18 May on the ship Aquitania. After disembarking in Halifax, he travelled to Winnipeg by train where he was demobilized from the army on 30 May 1919.
We know from Alex’s military records that he was a slight man; at enlistment he was 5’ 7” and weighed 130 pounds. He had blue eyes and dark brown hair. When he left the military he weighed 140 pounds. While Alexander’s military career may not have offered the excitement he anticipated, it was much safer than that of his brother Bill, and he benefited from the military health care and nutrition of the active and convalescent hospitals.
On 22 July 1919, Alex, his brother Bill and other fellow soldiers from the Rosewood District of Saskatchewan were honoured by their neighbours. The newspaper The Lemberg Star, Friday, July 25, 1919 reported:
“A social evening was held at the home of Mrs. S. ACTON [Janet WALKER, married to Samuel ACTON] on Tuesday, July 22. The objective was to present each of the following soldiers with gold watches: Pte. W. M. WATSON, Pte. Fred OBLEMAN, Pte. Tobert CLARKE; Gnr [gunner] Neil BONGARD, Gnr. R. A. ACTON, Gnr. H. BANTRUM; Trpe. William BARTON, Trpe. Alex WATSON.
The above are all soldiers of the Rosewood District. Mr. Jamieson said a few words of welcome: also Mrs. Acton exressed her joy at seeing the boys home again. On behalf of his associates Mr. Dick Acton thanked the people of Rosewood for all the kindnesses bestowed upon them while overseas and particularly made mention of the numerous boxes of good things, which were so highly appreciated.
After singing ‘They are jolly good fellows’ the pleasant evening was brought to a close“
After the war, Alex returned to farming his half section of land north of Lemberg. On 1 January 1927 in Lemberg, Saskatchewan, Alex, 32, married 29 year old nurse Sarah May (May) ACTON daughter of Samuel ACTON and his wife Janet WALKER. No doubt Alex had met Mae at the numerous family and community gatherings in the Rosewood neighbourhood.
On page 1 of the 7 January 1927 issue the Lemberg Star [newspaper] reported the wedding:
The home of Mrs and Mrs. S. Acton, Martin Street, Lemberg, was the scene of a pretty wedding on Saturday, January 1 when their daughter Sarah May ACTON, R. N. became the wife of Alexander Hunter WATSON of Lemberg. The bride, wearing a plum coloured satin dress trimmed with georgette and carrying a bouquet of pink and white carnations was given away by her father. The room was pleasingly decorated with white bells and pink and white streamers.
The witnesses were Miss Janet E. ACTON, sister of the bride and John M. WATSON, brother of the groom. The wedding service was read by Rev. W. H. Hughes of Lemberg.
About 35 guests partook of the very dainty lunch served after the ceremony. Those assisting at the tables were: Mrs. W. DANNELS, Miss WATSON [Jane Muir WATSON]and Miss Mary JOHNSTON.
The numerous gifts from a wide circle of friends evidenced the high esteem in whch the young couple are held. The bride is a graduate of the Grey Nun’s Hospital in Regina and a daughter of one of the first pioneer families of the Rosewood District.
The young couple left, amid a shower of confetti and rice, on the evening train for Winnipeg, where they will spend their honeymoon. [They likely would have visitedand perahps stayed with Alex’s brother Tom and his wife Mary who married in 1923.] On their return they will reside on the groom’s farm north of Lemberg. The good wishes of a host of friends will follow them.
Alex and May had three children between 1928 and 1932. Sadly Alex died on the 15 August 1934 leaving May a widow with three young children. Alex’s obituary from the [Regina] Leader Post, Monday, August 20, 1934, Evening Edition, Page 20.
Alexander H. Watson, farming north of Lemberg, died at his home Thursday morning. He had been confined to bed with cancer for several months. He was born in Ayrshire, Scotland and was 39 years of age. He came to Canada in 1910 with his parents, who made their home in the Ellisboro district. During the war he enlisted for active service and was attached to the Tank battalion. On his return he took up farming and on January 1, 1927, was married to Mae Acton, R.N. of Lemberg.
Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon at the house, the remains being taken to Ellisboro for burial. Surviving him are his widow and three children, Janet, Robert and Margaret; two sisters and four brothers, Mrs Jos. Acton [Helen McNab WATSON) of Lemberg, Miss Janet Watson [Jane Muir WATSON] of Regina, Thomas of Winnipeg, James of Ellisboro, William and John of Lemberg. His father predeceased him two years ago and his mother one year ago.
Alex is buried in the Ellisboro Cemetery in the Qu`Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan.