Charles W. Parker

1896-1916

Ella Parker

1894-1936

Francis Henry Parker

1899 - 1955

 

George Estill Parker

1906 - 1939

 

John Edward Parker

1901-1976

 

Julia Rebecca Parker

1908-1979

 

Fred Parker

1909-1975

 

Lot 2 - John W. and Sarah A. Parker
Salvation Army Coombs Colonists

During the summer of 1909, General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army had embarked on a motor campaign throughout England touting his dream of taking families from slums and poverty and transferring them to land colonies so they could improve their lot in life for themselves and their families. It is believed this is where John William Parker and his wife, Sarah Ann Estill Parker got their idea to become a part of the "Overseas Colony" that was to be established in Canada.

John, a farmer, Sarah, and their 7 children, Ella born 1894, Charles William “Will” born 1896, Francis Henry “Frank” born 1899, John Edward “Ted” born 1901, George Estill born 1906, Julia Rebecca “Dolly” born 1908 and Fred born 1909 were at that time living in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. At the same time, living in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire England were James Foster, a bricklayer, his wife Agnes Bowker Foster and their 4 children ages 11 to just shy of 2. The families had never met until they found themselves in steerage together on the SS Laurentic (a passenger ship built in 1909) heading to Canada.

John and Sarah Parker

50th Anniversary

As indicated by the ship manifest for the SS Laurentic both families’ way was paid by the Salvation Army at a cost of $215 for the Parkers and $220 for the Fosters. They traveled in steerage leaving Liverpool June 25, 2010 and arrived in Quebec July 2, 1910. They then travelled by CPR train across Canada to Vancouver, by ferry to Nanaimo then again by train arriving at McBride Station in Parksville, BC on July 10, 1910.

A horse & buggy would then take them along a rutted dirt trail through the woods to their final destination, thus becoming part of The Coombs Colonists.

John and Sarah had Lot #2 and James and Agnes Lot #1 in the Coombs Colony, (where Demexx is as of this writing.)These two couples would remain life-long friends and 58 years after arriving in the colony they would be linked forever as one of John and Sarah’s great-granddaughters would marry one of James and Agnes’ grandsons.

The Parker Family

on Parker Road 1914

About 1909, under orders from Thomas Bales Coombs, Canadian Commander of The Salvation Army one of their members, Ensign Ariel Crego had been assigned to work with Mr. John West and his brother-in-law Mr. Ford and oversee the preparation of the Coombs Colony. Mr. West and Mr. Ford along with 50 helpers, (who were working in the coal mines of Cumberland and happy to leave there to live in tents across the street from the Ford Store), set about clearing land in preparation for these settlers and more soon to follow.

The Parker family received about 22 acres. 2 1/2 acres was cleared with a modest dwelling, well, outhouse & fruit trees on it, 2 1/2 acres partially cleared and the remainder in forest. The land was actually held by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The settlers paid $100 down for their property and $10 whenever they could! Once the total $2100 was paid off the CPR would give the settlers the deed to the land.

Julia, Fred and George Parker

John Parker's Hopf Violin

Parker Mantle Clock

Family lore has it that Sarah burst into tears when she climbed down from the buggy July 10, 1910 to discover she would have to fit her family of 9 into a tiny house consisting of one large room and 2 small bedrooms.

They Parkers brought everything they owned with them, including a Hopf Violin that John played (badly according to his grandchildren!), a highchair for the youngest child, an album of photos of their family members left back in England and a marble mantle clock that weighed a lot more than baby Fred! So far our family has only been able to find one photo of the family when they lived in Coombs. It is a lovely photo of their 3 youngest children on the porch of their home in Coombs.

Schooling started out for the Colonist children in an old log hut that was donated behind Lots 5 & 6. Miss Mabel West had 14 students, two being Ted and George Parker. When the new French Creek School opened in 1912, Miss Zeena Wilson as teacher with 23 students, Ted and George included.

The three eldest children did not attend school when they arrived in the colony in 1910. Ella helped her mother with the little ones and they walked miles picking wild fruit and berries. Will and Frank immediately went to work alongside their father trying to tame their land and farming for other Colonists as well. They also hunted and fished to help feed the family.

Upon arrival in the Coombs Colony John had begun working for Walter Ford, who was also now developing a logging business. They logged in the area of the present Coombs cut-off road and shipped the logs by the newly opened E&N railway line to the mill situated on Nanoose Bay, where the village of Red Gap was later developed - today's Nanoose rest stop. Work on the rail line to Cameron Lake was also to be had. He also worked on and off for Straits Lumber Co. from 1912-1942 in the Hilliers-Coombs-Qualicum areas as a spool winder then as a scaler.

John found it difficult to find the money to make the low repayments the CPR required. After about 1 1/2 years on the property in Coombs, he could not see steady employment for himself or his older children. A golf course and hotel were being planned for Qualicum Beach and move to there seemed a good choice. In 1912 John Parker bought 40 acres from the E&N Railway, located on present day Parker Road. This original home burned down August 4, 1914 - the day the Great War started. The family lived in 3 tents provided by Frank and Cora Jones of Arrowsmith Farms while their log house was being rebuilt.

The only known photo of all the Parker Family together would have been taken some time after the house burnt and before Will left to go overseas in February 1915. John and Sarah shared with the Foster and Jones families the pain of losing a son in World War I when their eldest son Charles William Parker was killed in action in one of the Battles of the Somme in 1916.

Frank and Cora Jones had 11 children and the 7 Parker children were fast friends with them. As with the Foster family the Parkers and Jones lives were linked when one of their sons married one of the Jones’ daughters.

John and Sarah’s eldest daughter, Ella married Bert Gallagher, ad they lived mainly in Powell River and Vancouver, She died at the age of 40.

Their son Frank was also overseas in WWI, working in various transport depots in Britain. He would later marry Henrietta May Jones and operate CW Logging in and around Cameron Lake and Coombs areas. He also initiated the St John Ambulance Society in Qualicum and act as president for Qualicum Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and Legion and serve 2 terms as mayor. He was on the QB Airport Committee but sadly passed away in 1955 before its completion.

Parker Homestead (ca. 1913)

Parker Family Album

Son Ted first worked with his younger brother Fred in the original Parker Bros hauling gravel, coal and wood. Later he was on the Qualicum School Board and an alderman for the Village. He passed away in 1976.

George married Rena Little and was a logger all his life, mainly around the Horne Lake area. Tragically he was killed in a logging accident in Northwest Bay in 1939.

Julia Rebecca, named “Dolly” by her sister at a young age married John “Jack” Smyth from Dashwood. She remained active in the Qualicum Anglican Church all her life and was the postmistress in Qualicum for many years, passing away in 1979.

Fred, the youngest of John and Sarah’s children married Ann Watson. Fred lost his leg in a logging accident but that never stopped him from hard work. After Ted retired from Parker Bros. Fred contracted to build and maintain roads for McMillan Bloedel in central Vancouver Island. Many a young lad from Parksville, Qualicum, Coombs and Errington got their start driving truck for Parker Bros. Fred died in 1975.

 The Qualicum Legion was responsible for the purchase of land in 1932 for the Qualicum Cemetery and it was John and Sarah’s sons who helped clear and develop the land. John passed away in 1949 and Sarah in 1956. They are together in Qualicum Cemetery as are 5 of their 7 children and other family members.

 John and Sarah got to see their children raise 19 children, some marrying into Coombs family names such as Foster, Braithwaite, Burgoyne, Adams, Bailey and Ware. A legacy of 3 more generations of Parkers would follow after that, most of whom still live on Vancouver Island and the rest throughout the province.

Submitted by Kerry Parker - John and Sarah’s great-granddaughter

2019 - site created by Coombs History Project