M I T C H E L S O N
The following notes present everything we know about the Mitchelson family, apart from most of our information on living persons.
We are grateful to Joan (Mitchelson) Poitras of Winnipeg, Manitoba, for information on this line.
We are also grateful to those who contributed to an earlier version of this page, created when it was still believed that Richard Harry Mitchelson Jr. was his parents’ natural son.
Richard Harry Mitchelson, Jr., of Winnipeg, Manitoba, my natural mother’s father, whom I came to know slightly in the years before his death and whom I interviewed on the subject of his parentage, never expressed any doubt that he was the natural child of the parents who raised him. However, after his death in 1998, reservations concerning this assumption gradually emerged on several grounds:
- Richard Harry Mitchelson, Jr. believed that he was born at Winnipeg on 31 December 1914, but a search found no birth registration for anyone of that name anywhere in Manitoba in a ten-year period centered on that date.
- His parents, Richard Harry Mitchelson and Kathleen McBride, were not married until 13 August 1920, when Richard Jr. was nearly six years old.
- His father enlisted for military duty on 17 December 1914, expressly declaring himself to be an unmarried man, 14 days before Richard was born on 31 December 1914. No evidence has been found that his parents had even met one another at the time of his birth, or even that his mother was in Canada prior to 1920, and they certainly could not have cohabited until after his father’s return to Canada from military service on 7 August 1918.
- Despite the fact that I have taken DNA test at every major company, no predicted matches have been found with Mitchelson, McBride, or associated surnames in their ancestry. In fact, the only match belonging to the purported line of Richard Harry Mitchelson, Jr., is another direct descendant of Richard Harry Mitchelson, Jr. himself.
- A very large number of otherwise unaccounted-for predicted matches were found that proved unquivocally that the natural mother of Richard Harry Mitchelson, Jr., was one of the daughters of Henry Pittock and Sarah McIntosh, of Burnley, Lancashire. This evidence is complex, and will be treated in a separate, forthcoming page.
A this point, several important questions remain unanswered, including the precise identity of the Pittock woman who was natural mother to Richard Harry Mitchelson, Jr., the name of the father, and the circumstances that led to his being adopted by the Mitchelsons. Below, we give some account of his adoptive parents, but do not attempt to trace their ancestral lines.
The adoptive parents of Richard Harry Mitchelson Jr.
Richard Harry Mitchelson, son of Richard Newton Mitchelson and Lydia Maria Bell, was born 22 April 1887 at Shepherd’s Bush, Hammersmith, Fulham, Middlesex (now in Greater London), died (apparently intestate) 25 May 1973 at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, aged over 86 years, and buried with his wife in Ocean-view Cemetery, Vancouver. Richard H. Mitchelson is found in his parents’ household as a 13-year-old in 1901. As “Richard Henry Mitchelson,” carpenter, aged 23, of English nationality, belonging to the Church of England, he came to Canada in 1910, sailing on the Royal George from Bristol on 21 July and arriving at Montréal, Québec, on 28 July; on his arrival he declared his intended destination as Winnipeg, Manitoba. However, he has not been found there (or anywhere else) in the 1911 census. We have not found any obvious match in immigration records for his future wife. When as “Harry Mitchelson,” occupation waiter, he enlisted at Winnipeg for military service on 17 December 1914 in the 44th (subsequently renumbered 8th) battalion of the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, he distinctly stated that he was unmarried at the time. There is a second attestation paper for him dated 16 July 1915, in which he calls himself a chauffeur, serving in the Winnipeg Grenadiers, and again states that he is unmarried. He received a medical discharge on 7 August 1918, and was disembarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, his address being stated as 561 Sargent Avenue, Winnipeg.
Signature of (Richard) Harry Mitchelson, from his 1914 attestation paper
(click for larger detail)
Harry Mitchelson married by licence 13 August 1920 at no. 353 St. Mary Avenue, Winnipeg (i.e. the home of the witnesses, Frank Casew and John Ryan), by Roman Catholic rites, Kathleen McBride, born 4 November 1884 at Killen in Newtownstewart, co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, died (apparently intestate) 1 October 1968 at Vancouver, aged 84 years, daughter of James McBride, farmer, of co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, by the latter’s wife Mary Sharkey. In the 1921 census she declares a year of immigration of 1900 which is obviously fictitious, considering her absence from the 1901, 1906, 1911, and 1916 censuses. If her death record is correct in stating the length of her residence in the country as 60 years, she arrived in Canada in 1907 or 1908, but in fact there is no solid evidence of her presence in the country before her marriage in 1920.
At the time of his marriage in 1920 Harry Mitchelson was an electrician, living at 561 Sargent Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, his religious denomination being given as Church of England and his marital status as bachelor, while his wife is said to have been a maid, living at 348 Colony Street, Winnipeg, her religious denomination being given as Roman Catholic and her marital status as spinster. (In the 1921 census and the 1922 city directory, 348 Colony Street is listed as inhabited by a Jane Jamieson.)
“R. Mitchelson” of 561 Sargent Avenue appears in the city directories of Winnipeg in 1920 and 1921, but has not been found in that of 1922. In the 1921 census Richard Mitchelson, “electrician [in] plant,” is found at 561 Furby Street [an error for Sargent Avenue], and a seriously inaccurate date of 1906 is given as his year of immigration. He is the only person of his surname in the household, and his wife Kathleen and their six-year-old son Richard are found at Portage la Prairie, where she was working as a [seasonal] farm laborer; she declares an obviously fictitious year of immigration of 1900. Richard Mitchelson next appears in the city directories in 1923, when he was living at 627 Cathedral Street. By 1929 he was an employee of Winnipeg Electric, and remained with that firm as a terminal operator until his departure from Winnipeg ca. 1953. In 1940 he and his wife moved to the “Jessie Apartments” at 626 Jessie Street, apartment no. 14, and were still there in 1953, after which year he no longer appears in the city directories. They must have removed immediately afterward to Vancouver (where they spent the rest of their lives), as Kathleen’s death certificate states she had lived there for 15 years prior to her death.
- (almost certainly an illegitimate child of Kathleen McBride) Elizabeth Lily McBride, born 9 June 1909 at Stoneyfalls in the parish of Newtownstewart, co. Tyrone, to Cassie McBride, domestic servent, and an unknown father, still alive in 1911 when she is found under the name Lily as a granddaughter in the household of Kathleen’s mother, the widow Mary (Sharkey) McBride.
- +(adopted) Richard Harry Mitchelson, Jr., supposedly born 31 December 1914 at Winnipeg.
- William (“Bill”) A____ Mitchelson, apparently born around 1923-25, alive in 1998. He was possibly the natural child of both of his parents. Two items in the social pages of a local newspaper in 1941 supply some details of his war service: “Wireless operator W.A. Mitchelson, R.C.N.V.R. [Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve], arrived Monday to spend his furlough with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. Mitchelson, 14 Jessie apartments.” “William Mitchelson, now a leading telegrapher with the R.C.N.V.R. … returned home Monday to spend a few days’ leave with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. Mitchelson, 14 Jessie apartments. He has been in the navy for more than a year.” He is mentioned as of Toronto in the 1998 obituary of his brother Richard.
Richard Harry Mitchelson Jr.
Richard “Dick” Harry Mitchelson, Jr., was born 31 December 1914 (according to his own statement, supported by his age of 6 years in the 1921 census), supposedly at Winnipeg, died 13 February 1998 at Vancouver, British Columbia (during a visit to a daughter), aged over 83 years, and was buried in St. Vital Cemetery. He married 15 August 1937, Jean Margaret Kennedy, born 13 June 1917, died 4 January 2000 at Winnipeg, aged over 82 years, only child of John Kennedy (V), of Melita, Manitoba, by the latter’s wife Susanna Samantha Helena Young.
Richard Mitchelson served in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and in the Second World War on both the HMCS Prince Henry and the HMCS Prince Robert, serving throughout the entire war, from 1939 to 1945. Afterwards he became a locomotive engineer with the Canadian National Railway (CNR) by 1946, retiring in 1979. Richard and Margaret Mitchelson were living at 228 Balmoral Street, Winnipeg, in 1946-47, and at 426 Robertson from 1948 to 1972. About the end of 1972 they moved to 22 Greenwood Avenue, where they lived until their deaths. They have five children, all still living.
1. ||Birth certificate; military record.
|2. ||Ships’ manifests, National Archives, London, BT 27/643/13/3, p. 3; Library and Archives Canada, Passenger Lists, 1865-1922, RG 76, available online at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/passenger/001045-119.01-e.php?sisn_id_nbr=5404.
|3. ||In an earlier version of these notes, we unfortunately stated that she was the Kate Mitchelson, “housewife,” aged 24 years, who came to Canada with her infant son Edward, sailing on the Royal Edward from Bristol on 19 October 1911 and arriving at Montréal (Ships’ manifests, National Archives, London, BT 27/693/17/2. p. 7). However, not only would this be a poor match in age for the wife of Richard Mitchelson, but a more detailed list of the passengers made on their arrival shows even more serious disagreements, showing her as a returning Canadian, apparently native-born, who lived at Lachine, Quebec (Library and Archives Canada, Passenger Lists, 1865-1922, R.G. 76, available online at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/passenger/001045-119.01-e.php?sisn_id_nbr=5824).
|4. ||Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force Attestation Papers, available online at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/cef/index-e.html.
|5. ||Public Archives of Canada, papers of the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, Regimental no. 422493, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 6267 - 49.
|6. ||Manitoba Marriage registrations, no. 1920-042176.
|7. ||Civil registration of birth. The date of her birth is incorrectly given as 7 December 1883 her death record, which states the place only as “Ireland.”
|8. ||British Columbia death registrations, no. 68-09-012873.
|9. ||1921 Census of Canada, Manitoba, district 31 (Winnipeg Centre), subdistrict 18 (part of Winnipeg Ward 2), p. 16.
|10. ||1921 Census of Canada, Manitoba, district 33 (Portalge la Prairie), subdistrict 13 (township 13, range 7, meridian 1 West), section 21, p. 4.
|11. ||The registration of this birth was in Strabane, the same district as that in which James McBride and Mary Sharkey were married.
|12. ||Winnipeg Free Press, 29 August 1941, p. 8, col. 5.
|13. ||Winnipeg Free Press, 23 December 1941, p. 2, col. 7.
|14. ||Death notice, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 February 1998, p. B9, col. 4.
|15. ||Death notice, Winnipeg Free Press, 6 January 2000.
|16. ||Cecelia & Roland Botting, Descendants of John Kennedy of Sussex County, New Jersey [3rd ed.] (privately printed, 1989), p. 22.