Alice Kate Wheatley was born July 26, 1878 in Wheathampstead, England, one of ten children born to George Wheatley (1850 – 1925) and Mary Ann Wheeler (1851 – 1938). She was known as either “Kate” or, as a young child, “Katie”.
Following her history through census returns provides information not only on Alice Kate Wheatley but also on her parents and siblings. You will notice that in each census there is a different spelling or nickname for not only Kate, but also other family members (it isn’t always easy following census returns!).
The 1881 census of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, England shows the following family members:
- George Wheatley, Age 30, Platelayer, G.N. Railway
- Ann Wheatley, Wife, Age 29
- Emily Wheatley, Age 7, Daughter
- Katie Wheatley, Age 2, Daughter
- Lillian Wheatley, Age 1 month
In the 1891 Census the family is still living in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, England:
- George Wheatley, Head, Age 41, Platelayer, G.W. Railway
- Mary A. Wheatley, Wife, Age 39,
- Alice K. Wheatley, Daughter, Age 12
- Lily Wheatley, Daught6er, Age 10
- Lizzie Wheatley, Daughter, Age 7
- Ada Wheatley, Daughter, Age 5
- Nellie Wheatley, Daughter, Age 3
- Laura L. Wheatley, Daughter, Age 4 months
In the 1901 Census Kate is living with her husband, Sydney Montague Pope, at 24 Gainsborough Road, Willesden, England. (Willesden is now part of Greater London.)
The 1911 Canadian census shows Sydney and Kate Priske with six of their children living on Scotia Street, Schreiber, Ontario:
- Sydney M. Priske, Age 30, Foreman, Railway
- Alice Kate Priske, Age 31, wife
- Alice Kate Priske, Age 9, daughter
- Frederick Priske, Age 8, son
- George M. Priske, Age 7, son
- Edward Priske, Age 5, son
- Nellie Priske, Age 3, daughter,
- Ivy Louise Priske, Age 1, daughter
Sydney and Kate’s first seven children were born in England. Their firstborn, Sydney George Harry Pope*, born January 1, 1900, died at nine months of age from zymotic diarrhea and convulsions. He was interred on October 15, 1900 at the Willesden New Cemetery. As you can imagine, this was a devastating blow to his parents.
*Note: He was born before his father changed his name to “Priske”. (See Who was Sydney Montague Priske post)
Looking for new opportunities, Sydney Montague Priske immigrated to Canada in 1909, travelling to Schreiber, Ontario for work with the C.P.R. Railway.
Kate followed a year later, departing from Liverpool England on the Lake Champlain, arriving in Montreal, Quebec on July 2, 1910, She was 31 years of age and six of their children travelled with her, Alice, Fred, George Ted, Nellie and Ivy, ranging in age from 8 years to nine months of age. Apparently she kept the older children tied together with a rope whenever they went on deck. From the ship she travelled via train to Schreiber, Ontario.
Six more children were born in Schreiber, Ontario:
- Jessie Emily (Jay) Priske – 1912
- John William (Jack) Priske – 1914
- Margaret Elizabeth Priske – 1916
- Harry Leonard Priske – 1917
- Sydney Robert – 1919
- Kenneth Wheatley -1923.
There is a record of a trip she took to England in 1924, destination Wheathampstead. It would be assumed from the date of death of her father, George Wheatley, that this would be a visit to see her father before his death in 1925.
Sydney Montague Priske died on May 19 1938 as a result of a C.P.R. train derailment. At his funeral at St. John’s Anglican Church, which was across from the Continuation School, the children were watching the arrival of people at the church and one child tells the story of how “Mrs. Priske fainted as they were taking her into the church”.
Life changed for Kate after her husband’s death. She left Schreiber shortly after his death, moving to Port Arthur, Ontario with her youngest son, Kenneth. After Kenneth joined the Air Force, she spent a period of time living with various children.
Eventually, in 1940, she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, living with her son John W. (Jack) Priske and his family at 927 East 50th Avenue.
Her final home was 941 East 50th Avenue, Vancouver, living there with her daughter, Alice Ansell.
The house was next door to her son Jack’s house and immediately upon moving there, at her request, he installed a gate in the fence for easier access between the two houses. Her Will stated that upon her death the house was to be bequeathed to her daughter, Alice Ansell.
Kate died on March 31, 1952 from cancer of the cervix. Her obituary from the Vancouver Sun Newspaper dated April 1, 1952 read:
“Priske – March 31, 1952. Alice Kate Priske, 941 East 50th Ave., in her 74th year, survived by sons Frederick and Edward Port Arthur; Harry, Victoria; Monty, Bourlamaque, Quebec; Jack, Vancouver; 5 daughters, Alice, Vancouver; Margaret, Victoria; Nellie, Schreiber, Ont.; Ivy, Toronto; Jessie, Whitney, Ont.; and 3 sisters and 1 brother; 28 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren. Funeral service was held in the Mt. Pleasant Chapel, Kingsway at 11th Avenue, April 1, at 4:30 p.m. Canon H. A. Williams and Rev. Donald McQueen officiating. Remains being forwarded to Schreiber, Ont. For internment.”
Her coffined remains were sent to Schreiber, Ontario on a C.P.R. train, to be buried with her husband, Sydney Montague Priske, a fitting end for a life that was, at times, ruled by the life of a railway worker.