Marriage, family & farming
Bill's service record describes the extent of his horrific injuries and the progress of his long and painful recovery; he was to suffer headaches and mood changes all his life that were attributed to the injury and to the metal plate used to repair his skull.
He was eventually invalided out of the army and returned to Canada. He and Elsie continued to correspond and it was by letter that he proposed to her. She and her mother sailed from Liverpool on 22 October aboard SS Melita, arriving in Quebec on 31 October 1920; the records indicate this was to visit Mary’s brother, Frank. Elsie and Bill were married in Toronto Cathedral on 1 March 1921. After a honeymoon in Algonquin Park, northern Ontario, they returned to England aboard SS Melita on 10 July 1921, initially living in Rickmansworth, very near where Mary’s brother Reginald and family lived at that time. On the passenger list, as on their marriage certificate, Bill’s occupation was entered as ‘advertising executive’. Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Duthie (Betty), was born on 12 February 1922 at her grandmother Mary’s house in St. Petersberg Place, Bayswater. In 1923 the family moved to ‘Greylands’ which they rented from Mary who lived in the adjacent ‘Glyn’ and five years later their son was born.
Greylands (right), like Glyn, had wonderful grounds with a large vegetable garden and huge greenhouses (a tomato house, a cucumber house, etc.), beside which was a summerhouse called ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’. The scrupulously catalogued pictures in Betty’s family photo album, illustrate a very close-knit family and a very comfortable rural life. Many include family pets, mainly dogs, as well as their farm animals. In 1918, Elsie had had experience as a gardener/ poultry girl at a hotel at Brightwell so she ran the small farm (a small herd of Jersey cattle and about 1200 chickens) and the market garden (main crops chrysanthemums and tomatoes) at Glyn until about 1932. Her head gardener, Wales, was a stalwart aid. In 1939, Elsie was living with her mother at "Glyn" and doing "Voluntary land work"; there were other occupants at "Greylands". Subsequently she and Bill rented out the market garden but Wales remained to tend the gardens of Greylands.