Tag Archives: Woolgar

12 Months, 12 Ancestors – Ada Elizabeth Woolgar (Hill)

Note: this is the fourth installment in my own version of #52ancestors where geneabloggers have been asked to write about a different ancestor every week for a year. To understand the concept, read my blog entry from January 19, 2014.

My April Ancestor as part of my 12 Months, 12 Ancestors project is Ada Elizabeth Woolgar.

Great-Uncle Ed shares a chat with my great Grandmother Ada Elizabeth Woolgar
Great-Uncle Ed shares a chat with my great Grandmother Ada Elizabeth Woolgar


What kind of bad ass name is that?

My great grandmother Ada Elizabeth Woolgar came from England. In England, the name goes back to the Doomsday Books, or so it says here:

WOOLGAR, or rather the original spellings of Wulfgar, Wlgar and Vlgar, is a Saxon name meaning ‘wolf-spear’. According to “A Dictionary of English Surnames” by P. H. Reaney & R. M. Wilson (Pub Routledge 1991 ISBN 041505737X), the earliest references to WOOLGAR are:

  • Domesday 1086 in Sussex and Hampshire
  • Wlfgarus de Cokesale 1252 in Colchester, Essex (Cartularium Monasterii S. Joh. Bapt. de Colecestria)
  • Brixi Wulgar 1188 (Pipe Rolls, Norfolk)
  • Teobald Wolgar 1250 Cambridge (Cartularium Monasterii Rameseia)

How amazingly awesome is that?

From tales I have been told, my great grandmother Ada was a strong woman. She was tall, well at least taller than her husband Charles. She was born in April 6, 1884 in the hamlet of Hersham, in Chertsey County, Surrey, England. She was the youngest child to Richard Woolgar and Esther Cannon and by the age of 8 had received a bible from her uncle. She kept this bible for her entire life and used it to record major milestones in her life from her marriage, to coming to Canada and the birth of all 13 of her children and even some of her grandchildren.

According to her bible, Ada Woolgar married Charles Edmond Hill on September 1st, 1900 in Pyrford, village also in Surrey. She was 16 years old at the time of their marriage. Young for our time, but not back then. By 1901, Ada and Charles were living in Long Ditton, Surrey, England in little place called “Moon’s Cottage.” Something about this place draws me in every time. I want to go there and find Moon’s Cottage. I want to see where it was Charles and Ada lived when first married, and where they started their family.

Kate, Ada and Amy, Taken July 1954
Kate, Ada and Amy, Taken in Ontario July 1954

In 1908, with Kate, Albert, little Charlie and baby Lily in tow, Charles and Ada packed it in and made their way to Canada. On the ships manifest she is listed as “wife” and no other occupation has been listed for her in any of the census records I’ve been able to uncover. However, family lore has indicated she was a midwife. I have been told they were allowed to come to Canada despite my great-grandfather having a hump on his back because of her much needed skill. However, I haven’t been able to substantiate this. As British citizens, they should have been able to travel anywhere in the dominion without any issue.

My great-grandparents Charles and Ada Hill with my great-uncle Ed
My great-grandparents Charles and Ada Hill with my great-uncle Ed

The Hill family settled in the Eramosa township area of Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. They rented a farm and had horses and chickens and grew their own food. From what I have been told, Ada was the backbone of the family and worked as hard or harder than anyone else . She doted on her children, in particular her youngest “Eddie” whom became one of my favourite great-uncles even though he lived in Manitoba and we would only see him once a year.

Ada died in 1962 and was buried in Johnston Cemetery, Eramosa Township, Wellington, County, Ontario, Canada. With incredible luck, I found her funeral card while visiting my Great-Aunt Margaret. The font is pure 60’s and the card was in fantastic shape. Here is a breakdown of the details:

In Memory of Mrs. Charles E. Hill
Passed Away
At the Palmerston Hospital on Wednesday October 17, 1962
Ada Elizabeth Woolgar
Widow of the late Charles Edmund Hill in her 81st year.
The Funeral
Resting at the Hardy Funeral Home, Harriston, on Thursday, then to McIntyre and Wilkie Funeral Home, Guelph on Friday where funeral service will be held on Saturday, October 20, at 2:00 pm. Internment in the Johnston Cemetery, Eramosa

The funeral card for Ada Elizabeth Woolgar, wife of the late Charles Edmund Hill
The funeral card for Ada Elizabeth Woolgar, wife of the late Charles Edmund Hill

Ada Elizabeth Woogar Hill is to me someone who I would like to have gotten to know. She could be tough when needed, but also had a good sense of humour and supported her own. I’ve been told my sister Heather resembles her in height, looks and attitude. I think this is a fantastic compliment.

Passion for my Past and Where it all Began

From a very young age I was curious. I wanted to know everything I could about everyone around me and who they are and just what their connection to me was. My family would have large reunions on both sides and I never could wrap my head around the fact that every person there was in some way connected to me.

My grandmother Betty, my mom Marlene and my grandmother Margaret
My grandmother Betty, my mom Marlene and my grandmother Margaret

It’s amazing to look back and realize just how close I was to my family tree and I hadn’t even realized it. When I was born, I had three grandparents living. Both of my mother’s parents, Elizabeth Betty Lovejoy and Henry Harold “Harry” Hyde, were alive and my father’s mother, Margaret Porter. Thinking about them now, I wish I was able to ask them questions, record their answers and be able to record them for my descendants.

Two years ago, I lost my mother to cancer and it wasn’t until I wasn’t able to ask more questions, that I found myself filled with them. Where were we from? How long had we been in Canada? Who were my great-grandparents? Just what made my grandparents who they were and are there any common traits that I have, that they had? You can imagine how emotional it is to wake up knowing that all the people you need to ask questions of aren’t here to answer them.

Two weeks after my mother’s funeral, my husband and I headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia for a wedding. Before we left, my father asked me to go to Pier 21 and look for his dad’s arrival to Canada back in 1908. His understanding was that Halifax was their landing point and he hoped to find the ships manifest. This was where the seed was born. I went online looking through all the ships that had landed in 1908. Or at least I tried. I ended up only getting through half of the letter B, which was probably 100 ships. It was overwhelming, and although I promised to get back to it, I never did.

Some of the kids lining up to do Kick the Shoe during the 2005 Hill Reunion
Some of the kids lining up to do Kick the Shoe during the 2005 Hill Reunion

Every year since 1950, the descendants of my great grandparents, Charles Hill and Ada Woolgar, gather in Rockwood, Ontario for a family reunion. Last summer I was sitting in the room with all of these relatives on my dad’s side and realized that I wanted to know, to really know, how we were all connected. I remembered my dad’s enthusiasm about finding what ship his dad had taken and it really turned a switch. I needed some help.

It all started with a 14 day free trial for ancestry.ca. That was when the curiosity became an addiction. They start off asking you to key in what you know. I keyed in my immediate family and my grandparents with as much information as I could remember. Before I knew it I was having shaking leaves all over the place.

It took some time, and overcoming a transcription error where my great-grandfather was listed as “Charles Hix”, but I finally found the manifest. My great grandfather Charles Hill was 28 years old and had $20 to his name. Born in Surrey, England and his destination is “Gault.”

My great-grandfather's last name was originally transcribed as "Hix"
On the ships manifest, Charles Hill’s last name was originally transcribed as “Hix”

They came on the Lake Manitoba and didn’t land in Halifax, but in St. John, New Brunswick. In all, there were 6 in the Hill family travelling from Liverpool on March 25, 1908 until their arrival April 8, 1908. Ada Hill, formerly Woolgar, was 28 years old and she appeared on a different page of the manifest from her husband. Listed with her are Kate, aged 7, Charlie aged 3, Lily aged 9 months and my grandfather Albert, aged 5. All were born in Surrey. Charles, Ada and Kate could read and write, but Charlie, Lily and Albert could not.

Lake Manitoba Manifest 1908
Ada, Kate, Charles, Lily and Albert on the ship manifest for the Lake Manitoba

It is documents like these that keep my passion for my family history burning. It’s amazing to see what you can learn from the past and where you came from and I look forward to sharing more of them with you.