CANADA: Alberta

TITANIC survivors:

17 year old  VERA GILLESPIE a Canadian from Calgary, with her new husband, Albert Dick, had just toured Europe on  their honeymoon. They were returning to Canada as 1st class passengers on the Titanic when it sank in the Atlantic April 1912. They were rescued in one of the boats. (They are not listed in Calgary on 1911 census, so must have been abroad even then).

Albert Adrian “Bert” Dick, 31, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, July 29, 1880, but was raised in Alberta. He and his brother started a sawmill in Ponoka, and by 1904 were so successful they began selling real estate and commercial properties in Calgary.  By the time Bert was 24, the Dick brothers had built the Hotel Alexandra on 9th Avenue. He married Vera Gillespie May 31, 1911, but because she was socially gauche teenager, Bert took her on  a belated trip to the Holy Land to educate her.

After the rescue, the Dicks were socially austrasized because he didn’t go down with the ship. They also suffered financially. They built a magnificant staircase in their home that folk said was reminicent of the one on the Titanic.

1916 census lists this family as: Albert A Dick 35 yrs b 1881 Manitoba; Vera T Dick, 25 yrs born Ontario; G Vera Dick, 10 months, daughter, born Alberta (b 1915) living in Alexander Hotel, 34 Calgary East, Calgary, Alberta. His ethnicity was Scotch. Hers was Irish.


Alberta Births       Marriages      Deaths

Alberta Newspaper Obituaries

 Census Records

1901 census    

1911 census


Alberta Dominion Land Grants W4 – 1870-1930 (east)

Alberta Dominion Land Grants W5 & W6 – 1870-1930 (west towards the mountains)

These were the first titles to land in the Prairies by  homesteaders, who received free land of 160 acres for fulfilling settlement duties. Sections were divided into four quarters, or into 16 legal sub divisions, numbered 1 to 37. Townships were numbered from south to north, starting at the US Border, but in a zig zag pattern. They are numbered 1 to 129, and 141. Ranges are numbered from east to west for each meridian, except for BC. and numbered 1 to 34.

Individual Gillespie homesteads can be easily seen across the full sweep of the Prairies by putting all of these Dominion Land charts together, and following the arrows upward from the range in each Province to locate each farm.  Several people often shared the same section, only different parts within that large area.


Personal Note from my family history:

My Dad, Samuel Gillespie and his 2nd wife, Amy (Hydman) parted by about 1910. Amy Gillespie, age 24, appeared in Calgary in the 1911 census, claiming to be a widow, with a six year old granddaughter, (actually her daughter ) Eileen, born in Quebec in 1905. Amy and Eileen were living in a boarding house with nine men.

1916 Census 

Note: My own half -sister is listed incorrectly in this census in Calgary.  When my father, Sam Gillespie and Amy Gillespie (nee Hydman ) parted in Eastern Canada, she took their daughter, Eileen, and moved to the West by 1911.  Her family appeared later on this census. Amy’s mother, Jane, lived with her daughter Amy in Calgary, while nearby a relative Jack claimed that Eileen, age 11,  was his daughter.  Eileen’s second name was Amaryllis, not Emangllis, born in Quebec in 1905.  So never trust records fully, as they depend upon the person providing the information, who had their own reasons for hiding the truth.  Perhaps they were hiding from Sam.

The family made a second move some years later, to the Vancouver area of British Columbia where Eileen  died in her 20s from tuberculosis.

My father married two more times before his death in 1954. None of us in his last family  knew of this relative, except in rumours, until this year. My thanks to another researcher who uncovered her path.