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William Francis Mason 1894-1977: Child Immigrant, Canadian Soldier

September 5, 2013

William Francis Mason (Frank)William Francis Mason was born in Middlesex, England. After his mother’s death in 1894 he and several of his brothers and sisters were placed in the National Children’s Home and Orphanage in London.

On March 31, 1908, Frank Mason was one of a group of 62 boys brought to Canada by Rev. Dr. Stephenson on the ship, Dominion, their destination, Hamilton, Ontario. He was sent to the Fricker farm in West Flamborough. Frank left the bustling children’s home and took up residence in a house with aged couple.

Frank enlisted in the army in September 1915 and was assigned to the 86th Machine Gun Battalion. He had maintained contact with a family member back in England, May Mason, and listed her as his next-of-kin.  After taking part in battles at Ypres and Vimy Ridge, Frank was sent to Passchendaele where he suffered severe wounds. He was hospitalized in France, then sent to England and finally to the military hospital in Burlington, Ontario. Recurring infections forced him to have an amputation.

After recovery, Frank returned to the area that had become home to him, Millgrove in West Flamborough Township. In 1926, he married Estelle Mitchell. The couple had three daughters: Ruth, Florence and Sylvia. Ruth writes that her father suffered as a child and teenager but that he was a courageous man who loved Canada and after the war, chose to make his home here. He had a loving family, she says, and “treated his girls like pearls.”

Frank Mason endured loneliness and isolation in a strange land but he courageously fulfilled his duties as child farm labourer and as a Canadian soldier. I’ve said this several times but I’ll say it again – isn’t it incredible that so many immigrant children enlisted and fought for a country that in many instances didn’t provide them with a comfortable and loving home.

Frank died on November 17, 1977 at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington at age 83. He’s buried in Millgrove Cemetery.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Arnold permalink
    September 5, 2013 2:36 pm

    awesome writting , as usual, Rose, I honestly believe these children, including my MOM, were so happy to get away from England and the deplorable conditions they were living in, that no matter how they were treated somehow or other they , loyal little souls , were better off. How anyone of Canadian blood could have treated them so badly, is another issue , …..keep telling their stories, …….hugs…Mary Arnold

    • September 5, 2013 3:21 pm

      Hi Mary – you make a good point. I too think the children held dreams about a new and better life, as children do. Sadly, many were disappointed but as you say, they were “loyal little souls.”

      • kaci-leigh mason permalink
        June 29, 2016 11:32 am

        he was my great great grandfather

  2. kaci-leigh mason permalink
    June 29, 2016 11:32 am

    im so happy to find this website Frances mason was my great great grandfather

    • June 29, 2016 12:10 pm

      Marvellous! It’ always incredibly satisfying for me when descendants of a Home Child drop in. It’s happened many times but it never ceases to thrill me. You can be so proud of Frances . . . and the contribution he made to our country, as a child immigrant, a soldier and an upstanding citizen. Rose McCormick Brandon

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