Laura Crewe – Reminiscences

Laura Crewe born Methley 25th September, 1887

Laura was one of five siblings  who  emigrated from Methley to Canada after their parents Samuel and Hannah Crewe had resettled in Methley from the West Country to work in the mines. (see family history) The eldest (Beatrice) and youngest (Francis) remained in Methley with their parents.

Samuel worked at Methley Junction Colliery and his wife Hannah was the proprietor of a millinery which is now the post office in Mickletown.

Notes for LAURA CREWE: The following came from Lauramary Cook, grandaughter of Harold Davey and Laura Crewe.   I’ve been looking through the old album and recalling what my Mother (Irene Crewe Davey) and Grandmother Laura (Crewe) Davey told me as they many times recounted stories of the pictures they were showing me.

Remember, I was much an invalid as a child, and Grandma spent a lot of time by my bedside telling me stories and playing games with me.   She taught me how to knit, how to crochet, and how to do hand sewing as well.  She did all of these things quite well, as proper English girls all did. She retained her nice English accent until she died. She had a very soft voice….but if she wanted something, she would loudly call for my mother “I-RE-EENE!” She could be quite a difficult woman, but was my closest playmate all those years.    My Mother was devoted to her and nearly ruined her health looking after her.

Laura was born on Sept. 25, 1887. Her father gave her a collection of coins from that year as a keepsake. I looked at them many times. It was Victoria’s Jubilee year, I believe. (They were among the several things that went missing after Grandma’s funeral. It was a point of contention with my Mother for years after. She had a whole list of things that “disappeared”) Laura was registered “Laura Crew” on her birth certificate, and while the place of birth is not noted, it was registered at Pontefract.   I don’t know if they lived in Pontefract, or what. She always told me that her family had a “hotel” in Methley, near Leeds, Yorkshire. When I talked with Uncle Ken, the “hotel” was a pub. I wondered if this was a little gilding of the lily on her part. But in talking with older friends who grew up in the North of England, they explained that it was normal for pubs to have several rooms to rent and were usually called “hotels”.

Once when Laura and her sisters were home on a Sunday morning, and the parents at church (Church of England), she and her sisters sneaked downstairs and tried alcohol. They normally were not allowed down there because that was where “men” hung out. But no one was there on Sunday morning, all was closed. They all got soused, and the parents were very angry when they got home. She went to an all-girls’ school. When they were decorating the church for fall, Laura took the notion to climb the 365 ? steps up to the tower. There she proceeded to trip across the battlements in full view of her teacher who was very irate. Sounds to me she was very mischievious. She told me that “gypsies” were often in their neighborhood and the girls were severely warned not to go near them or they would be kidnapped. She used to sing me a little rhyme in connection with it “My Mother said/ I never should/Play with the gypsies/In the wood/If I did/She would say/Naughty girl/ To run away.

As I understand it, Laura was sent out from England to look for her brother, Sam, who had somehow not been in contact with the family. Trevor told me this, and it makes sense. Perhaps Sam was the adventurer in the family. He was in the police force in Canada.   At any rate Grandma’s other sister, Olive was already here in Winnipeg, she was married to Frank Davey.     It was through them that Laura met Peter Harold Davey. He was working in the Post Office at the time and I think Frank Davey was as well. I have pictures of them both with their uniforms on. Harold seemed to have a fascination with Post Offices, and there are pictures throughout the album of Post Offices wherever they travelled.

Laura and Harold were married in 1909, and Irene and Arnold, fraternal twins were born March 14, 1911. Arnold was born first, and the boys always teased Irene that she was just “an afterthought”. Peter H. must have bought the house on 295 Bannerman Avenue in Winnipeg right around the time the children were born, because I have pictures of the young couple holding the twins as small infants on the front porch of that tiny house.   Laura told me she was glad she had had twins to start off with, they were able to entertain each other. (I was glad it was her and not me!)

In 1913, Laura decided to take the two-year old Arnold and Irene, back home to England to see the grandparents. While they were there the Crewe grandparents took them to Coalport and had a demitasse cup and saucer made for each of them. I still have Irene’s, although the saucer is damaged, the cup is intact. Each piece is signed. There is no pattern name on it as you would see today. I also have Laura’s breakfast set of Coalport China, so delicate you can almost see through it. It also does not have a pattern, and most of the pieces are signed and dated.

She had been planning to stay a year in England, but with the sinking of the Lusitania, she decided she better come back to Canada…war was imminent. They came back on the Mauritania, and Laura recounted to me how they had see flotsam and jetsam from the sunken sister ship in the water as they sailed past the sight of the sinking. (Deck chairs and such)

Gradually the family increased, with the addition of Kenneth and Victor. I don’t know at what time Harold got the job with the police department, but I think Trevor told me he got it through the “missing” brother, Sam Crewe

Since the family did not have a lot of money, they made their back yard into a garden. All the children worked in it. Harold was an avid gardener, Laura less so. I don’t think her upbringing in England was such that she was required to do much work. There are pictures of them all in the garden. Harold and Laura made their children sell much of the produce from door to door. The children hated that. They had a little wagon and they took it around.

Irene told me stories of the ‘flu epidemic. At that time they were quarantined….a practice that could well be revisited today…all the family got it, except her. So she had to nurse them all. The doctor came and attended to them…when Laura became exhausted from looking after everyone, she too got it. Irene had a bag of camphor tied around her neck and tended to the family. The flu epidemic was in 1919…that would have made her 8 years old. Quite a responsibility for a child that age. She was quite the caregiver (all her life, in fact) and her brothers have all told me she practically raised them. Their favorite thing for her to make for them was suet pudding, and when she visited Arnold not long before he died (1984 or 5) it was the first thing he asked her to make for him.
Pictures above are Beatrice and her family and brother Francis who remained in Methley.

Laura Crewe by Lauramary Cook and Myra Davey

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