Parchment letter of farewell

Contributed by Chris Keeling

Parchment letter of farewell

This parchment letter was given to my grandfather as a very young man about to sail for Canada and a new life just before the First World War.

It is beautifully written by the Sunday school superintendent and signed by all of the classmates. The sentiment is lovingly sincere and sums up the feelings of young men about to be parted, it seemed, for ever.

The British government was giving land for free in the Dominion of Canada which they feared would otherwise be lost from their Empire. My grandfather went with his siblings to take advantage of this, only to find a much harder life in forbiddingly harsh surroundings. He returned to fight with the Warwickshire regiment in the trenches; keen for the chance to come home to England.

The parchment is our only inheritance from him. It links my family to surviving family in Canada to this day and hints at the emotional upheaval of ordinary young men who were taken in by the propaganda supporting emigration at that time.

Sadly, the year has been added/erased at some point. We don't know why. It raises more questions, of course, about the past and the man I never knew but whose name I was given.

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