James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Frank's war service

Although he was a member of a volunteer rifle unit, on the outbreak of the Great War he was rejected for military service on medical grounds. By then he had married Amy Mary Morrison. They had met while Frank was boarding at the old Cherry Bank Hotel, Victoria, and they married at the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto on New Year’s Day 1914. Frank was then 35 and Amy 34; she had been born on 6 August 1873 at Erindale, Ontario, where she had been baptised at St. Peter’s Church on 22 February 1874. Her parents, Adam Morrison, a teacher, and Mary McLeod, were both of United Empire Loyalist stock. Mary was from Glengarry County in eastern Upper Canada, now Ontario, Adam from Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and he had qualified at McGill Normal School in Montreal. In about 1875 they had moved their family to Toronto where Adam was principal of Borden Street School for 26 years. In Toronto, Amy attended Harbord Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1892, after which she became one of the first women to attend the University of Toronto, graduating BA. She had been fortunate to travel on a teachers' tour to Europe and Egypt prior to her marriage - she always loved travelling. She and Frank began married life in Bamfield on Vancouver Island.

Frank’s war service was spent as a cipher clerk with the Pacific Cable Board at the Bamfield Cable Station. Bamfield is on the south east shore of Barclay Sound, along the west coat of Vancouver Island about 85 miles from Victoria. Frank would row across the inlet - killer whales were then a frequent sight in those waters - to go on watch duty. He and Amy lived in a barely waterproof shack and Frank told of the wind lifting the carpet as it blew between the floorboards. By the time their son Gwynnedd Morrison Owen was born on 18 January, 1917, they had moved back to Victoria. I am told it was a very difficult birth, so there were no more children. A few weeks later, in the winter of 1917, they moved to Toronto where Frank worked for the military selection board at Maple, a small community just north of Toronto.

Click here to see photos Frank sent to his sister, Mary Tyson.