Payne Journeys to North America, 1919-1921 : Final Years in Winnipeg

Fifty Years of Payne Journeys to North America, 1919-1921 : Final Years in Winnipeg

After Lesley Payne's discharge in Winnipeg on 17th February 1919, he returned to work at Eaton's Department store as a grocery clerk.  He had intended to stay with Douglas P. Fergus - a fellow employee at Eaton's Department Store, who he had probably known before the War - at 596 Gertrude Avenue, and left this as a forwarding address upon his demobilization.  However, when his medals were sent to him two weeks later, they were addressed to 289 Spence Street, and the Henderson Directory for 1920 confirms that he was lodging with one Fredk. Ball, a painter, at that address.  Lesley continued drawing pay from the army for six months, as did all demobilized soldiers from the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The Bridal Party :  (L to R) Leslie Payne, Florence King, Laura & Stewart Richardson
Collection of C.B. Payne
Manitoba Free Press, Winnipeg, Tuesday, October 7, 1919: Social and Personal
"The marriage of Miss Laura Richardson to Harold Stewart Morris, both of this city, took place at St. Matthew's church at 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon.  The Rev. Canon McElheran, M.A., officiated. The bride, who was given in marriage by her uncle, Mr. T. B. Evans, wore a brown broadcloth suit, trimmed with seal, and a large brown hat with burnt orange trimmings. Her corsage bouquet was of bridal roses.  The bride was attended by Miss Florence King and the groom by Mr. Leslie Payne. After the ceremony, the bridal party returned to the home of Mrs. T. B. Evans, aunt of the bride, where the wedding breakfast was served."
This newspaper extract was very kindly provided by Lynn Anderson of Winnipeg.

On the afternoon of Saturday 4th October 1919, Lesley was best man at the wedding of his friend and workmate, Stewart Morris.  The photo (above) - inherited from Leslie Payne - is dated on the reverse "Oct 4th 1919".  It shows Leslie (at left) standing with - from left to right, the bridesmaid, bride and bridegroom, in front of a building which appears to have some sort of closed in verandah.  Three of them - obviously all a bit shorter than Lesley - are standing on a wooden boardwalk, raised several inches above the level of the lawn.  There also appears to be a man, wearing a hat, sleeping or reading on the verandah.  All are dressed fairly smartly,  the ladies are carrying corsages, and Leslie is holding a pair of gloves in his right hand.  The shadows are long, and the wedding had obviously already taken place.  It seems likely that the house shown was that of the bride's uncle Mr T.B. Evans, referred to in the newspaper report.  Leslie's friendship with the Morrises continued well after their marriage, as is evidenced by the two photos (shown below) which they sent him after his return to England in June 1921.
The photo on the left is signed on the reverse, "Yours sincerely, Laura & Stewart".  The second (right) has, in the same handwriting, "Mr. & Mrs. Morris, 261 Polson Ave, Winnipeg, Canada."

Little is known of Leslie Payne's other friends from this period, although a series of four photographs in rural settings show several groups of young people who were obviously known to him, as he appears in all four.  There is persuasive evidence that these photographs are all from the period 1919-1921.  Two of them were taken in a tented camp in a well wooded area.  The large, fairly elaborate canvas tents, and benches constructed from saplings, suggest that the camp was semi-permanent, and may well have been a regular weekend retreat.  Drifting smoke in the background of the first suggests that cooking may have been done outdoors on an open fire.  Slightly different clothing worn by common participants suggests that they were taken on two separate occasions.

Leslie Payne & friends at wooded camp, ?Victoria Beach 
(Collection of Brett Payne, Courtesy of Margaret Pugh)
Stewart Morris (Seated second from right), Leslie Payne (seated at right)
Laura Morris (Standing behind Stewart w. hands on his shoulders)
Lesley Payne Wooded Camp - Rustic Bench Photo 
(Collection of C.B. Payne)
Leslie Payne at right

Another two photos are set in a beach environment, at the edge of a large open body of water.  One photo shows a rocky beach, with six people sitting (and possibly singing - they certainly appear pretty jolly) on a large boulder, between three and four metres in diameter (below left).  The second shows two couples on a more sandy beach (below right).  All four of the individuals in the second photo are also in the first, and from the clothes that they are wearing, the shots appear to have been taken on the same day.  All four of these photographs were originally in the possession of Lesley Payne, although the Mandolin photo has only recently been sent to me by Margaret Pugh of Fredericton, New Brunswick.  She recovered it from an album belonging to her uncle Peter MacLaggan - one of Leslie's old Machine-Gun Corps friends.  It is inscribed on the reverse "Yours sincerely, Les", and was obviously sent to Peter by Les at some stage.

Leslie Payne & friends at ?Victoria Beach, Lake Winnipeg
(Collection of C.B. Payne)
Leslie Payne (2nd from left), Laura Morris (3rd from left)
Leslie Payne & friends at ?Victoria Beach, Lake Winnipeg
(Collection of C.B. Payne)
Leslie Payne at left

Between 1915 and 1919, in an area at the southern end of Lake Winnipeg already popular with campers, cottages started to appear around an area known as Victoria Beach.  This was aided by the arrival of the rail line - and a regular rail service - in 1916, and the formation of a municipality in August 1919, which made Victoria Beach a very convenient and popular weekend destination for Winnipeg residents.  (Source: Victoria Beach Home Page)  It seems probable that all four of the above photographs were taken on or close to the shores of Lake Winnipeg.  Contemporary and historical images of Victoria Beach found on the web suggest that area as a possible location for both the camp and beach photos.  However, without first-hand knowledge of the area, it is difficult for me to be sure, and it could just as easily be one of the several other beaches nearby, such as Gimli, Grand, Hillside or Patricia Beaches.  The boulder is a glacial erratic, which pretty much rules out a southern English location for the beach photos.

The fact that two individuals - apart from Leslie Payne - are common to all four photos supports the idea that they were taken at roughly the same period as each other.  Comparison with pre-war photographs of Leslie illustrates that these are definitely post-war, and the presence of the Morrises in one camp and one beach photograph provides a strong link between them all.  It seems likely that Stewart Morris was the photographer on one or more of the occasions.  The identity of the dairk haired couple common to all four photographs is unknown - in the first of those shown above, he is holding the mandolin, while she is sitting at his feet.  Perhaps he was a Machine-Gun Corps buddy? However, he could just as easily have been fellow Eaton's employee.

Another friend from the post-war days in Canada was George Henderson (Bud) Willox, shown in the 1914-15 Campbell's Studio portrait above.  Bud effectively "got his Blighty" a lot earlier than his former Winnipeg mates, Leslie, Bob (Moodie) and Pete (MacLaggan).  Shortly after returning from a short period leave in England, he left the machine-gun unit in France in December 1917 for a commission at the Canadian Machine Gun Corps Depot at Seaford, England.  Despite receiving his commision and being promoted to Lieutenant in April 1918, he spent several months of that year in hospital.  By the time he had recovered and completed his training, the war was over.
Bud Willox returned to Canada in December 1918 aboard the S.S. Olympic and, when demobilized on 3 January 1919, gave his address as "2748, 14th St. West, Calgary, Alberta".  However, a forwarding address shown in his service records for his wife a short time earlier was c/o Home Grain Co., City (Winnipeg).  The 1920 Henderson Directory for Winnipeg also shows him (Geo. H. Willox) living at "20B, 1014 Wolseley, Winnipeg" and employed as a "Dept. Manager for Home Grain". [Source: Winnipeg Library - Courtesy of Lynn Anderson]

This photograph of Leslie Payne (at left) is annotated "Taken Sunday 18.4.20 Outside C.P.R. Depot Winnipeg Manitoba Canada".  The child in his arms is Leslie Willox, son of Bud Willox.  In due course, Leslie would name his own son - my father - Bud.

From contemporary photographs of the Winnipeg Railway Station, it seems likely to me that the building shown in the background is actually the hotel attached to the CPR Depot.  Were Bud Willox and family in the process of moving back to Winnipeg, or were they merely visiting?

(Left) Leslie Payne holding infant Leslie Willox, 
CPR Depot, Winnipeg, 18 April 1920
Collection of C.B. Payne

On the 1st May 1921 Leslie's younger brother Harold Victor Payne, nicknamed "Rab", died at the family home in Derby, England.  A month later, Leslie was travelling alone on the train for Montreal en route for Liverpool and Derby.  He abandoned Timothy Eaton in order to be a comfort for his mother, of whom he was very fond.  The surviving CPR railway ticket (see left), date stamped on the reverse by the purchasing agent, McGuinness (see right), shows his departure from Winnipeg on the 31st May.  He never returned to Canada, although he did see his old friend Bud Willox in Europe on at least two subsequent occasions.

Leslie Payne's CPR Railway Ticket Winnipeg-Montreal
Collection of C.B. Payne

In October 1921 Leslie received a book of verse entitled "The Present Joys" from someone who lived at 43 Fawcett Avenue, Winnipeg, and signed themselves "P", "fulfilling a promise made two years earlier".  It seems likely that Les had known "P" pretty well in Winnipeg prior to his departure, and that "P" was a female.  Henderson's Winnipeg Directory for 1921 shows a James H. Bowman, "pipe ftr CPR", living at this address; the previous year it had been Wm. J. Mooney, employed by Grain Growers. [Source: Winnipeg Library - Courtesy of Lynn Anderson]  Who was "P"?  It would be nice to know what happened to her!

Leslie never returned to Canada.  In September 1926 he married Ethel Brown at St Augustine's, Normanton.  Thus ended the Payne family's attempts to make a new life in America.  Successive generations have emigrated to other continents, but none have tried to settle in Canada or the U.S.A. again.  During World War Two, when it appeared that Hitler was about to invade Britain, a tentative arrangement was made for Leslie's two young children - my father and my aunt Bunnie - to go to Canada, where they would stay with Pete MacLaggan, his old friend from the First World War.  However, this never happened.  The Battle of Britain succeeded in driving off the invading force, and the plan was abandoned.
1912-1914 : Lesley Payne with the CPR in
Saskatchewan & Eatons in Winnipeg

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