Destination: Canada

18 November 2014, Chriss Coleman

William Christopher Chappell had served with the Royal Navy his entire adult life, having joined up on his 18th birthday, 29 November 1887. Although he had originally signed on for 12 years, he continued his service by re-enlisting in November of 1898.

William served on many ships and sailed to many far-off lands, details of which I plan to write about in the future, and over the years he climbed the ranks (or ratings, as per the Navy) from a B2C – Boy 2nd Class – in the year and a half prior to his Navy enlistment to Chief Petty Officer in 1906.

I’m not sure what the impetus to leave the navy was, though I do have my theories based on family stories. Throughout his career he’d always received a VG – Very Good – conduct rating. However, the navy was hard work and kept him away from his family.

William Christopher Chappell and family, Devonport
William C Chappell, with his wife Emma and daughter Rosemary. Photo taken in Devonport, Devon, England.

His last voyage with the Navy was aboard the Defiance, a boat he had served aboard several times previously, as a Chief Petty Officer. This voyage lasted from 2 June 1909 until 23 November 1909. He was shore pensioned on the 23 of October 1909,1 though I have a feeling that this date was supposed to read 23/11/09 to correspond to his return to shore. In another document, his daughter recorded William’s pension date as 24 November 1909.2 I hope that further research will help firm up the exact date, but you can see the dates written on his service record in the following image:

William C Chappell Navy Service Excerpt
Clipping from the Navy service record of William C. Chappell. The dates show start and end dates aboard the Defiance, followed by date he was shore pensioned.

After being shore pensioned he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve on 28 November 1909, receiving a full discharge on the 27 April 1910.

One month later, William, along with his wife Elizabeth Emma (née Farthing) and their daughter Rosemary, set sail for Canada on 27 May 1910, boarding the “Virginian” that departed Liverpool for Quebec, Canada and arrived in Canada on 3 Jun 1910.3

The Virginian
The Virginian, an Allan Line steamship that carried William and his family to their new country. Image courtesty of Norway Hertiage,

Passenger List for William Chappell and family
Clipping from the passenger list for the Virginian, departing Liverpool 27 May 1910, arriving 3 Jun 1910 in Quebec, Canada, entry for William C Chappell and family. Image from

The passenger list shows William Chappell as age 40, married. Eliz Chappell was listed as 39, married. Their daughter Rosemary is listed as 8 years old.

What caught my attention was that William also stated as having previously been to Canada. The final column in the clipping shows that he declared he’d previously been in Canada in 1903, in Esquimalt, for 3 years. William was still serving in the Royal Navy at this time, and a little bit of research showed that Esquimalt, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, was used by the British Royal Navy as the headquarters of their Pacific Fleet during this period.4 Since William had previously been in Canada, he was marked as a returned Canadian.

Their destination listed on the passenger list is marked as Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Whilst my research has been unable to uncover a census entry for William and his family in the 1911 Canadian Census, the family does show up on the 1921 Census for Niagara Falls, Ontario.

1921 Canada Census, Niagara Falls, Ontario, entry for William C Chappell
1921 Census of Canada for Niagara Falls, Ontario. Clipping of entry for William Chappell and family. Image from

William is listed William Chappell, head of house, 51 years old, born in Somerset, England, with both parents born in Somerset. He is listed as being occupied as a Lineman for Ontario Hydro.

Emma is listed as E. Emma Chappell, wife, 49 [still fibbing about her age], born in Wiltshire, England, father born in Zeals, England, mother born in Wiltshire, England. She was occupied at home.

Their daughter Rosemary is listed as Rose Chappell, born in Devon, England, father born in Somerset, and mother born in Wiltshire. She is employed as a clerk.

The family was enumerated as living at 29 Gladstone Avenue in Niagara Falls, Ontario, having immigrated in 1910.5

William found employment with Niagara Hydro soon after arriving in Canada, and he held a position with the company until he was pensioned in 1938 due to failing health.6

William at work at Niagara Hydro
William Christopher Chappell, at work in Power Station #1 (below the falls) for Niagara Hydro in 1937.

  1. William Chappell, Official Royal Navy service record, service number 137471, discharged 1909; National Archives, London, England, reference ADM/188/189, image reference 453; digital image, National Archives, ( : accessed 23 May 2014). 

  2. Rosemary Walsh, “William Christopher Chappell”, unpublished work detailing stories of her father’s Royal Navy career. Copy held by C.Coleman. 

  3. “Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935”, the Virginian, Liverpool, England to Quebec, Canada, arriving 3 Jun 1910, ticket 81977, family of William Chappell; digital image, Ancestry, ( : accessed 11 Mar 2014); citing LAC microfilm “Passenger Lists, 1865-1935”, RG76-C, roll T-4767. 

  4. “Equimalt”, Wikepedia: the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 Nov 2014; website, Wikipedia, ( : accessed 17 Nov 2014) 

  5. “1921 Census of Canada”, Welland, Ontario, Niagara Falls (city), district 138, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 38, p22 (penned), dwelling 212, family 236, household of William Chappell; digital image, Ancestry, ( : accessed 11 Mar 2014); citing LAC microfilm “Sixth Census of Canada, 1921”, RG31, Folder 96. 

  6. Elizabeth Chappell and Rosemary Walsh, “Chappell and Walsh Family Log”, unpublished journal, 1923-1940 [vol. 1], p.88. Diary held by Deb [name withheld for privacy, address for private use], Muskoka, Ontario, digital copy transmitted to Chriss Coleman, 11 Mar 2014.