Skip to main content

AGG, Joseph Foster – emigrated 1913

Joseph Foster Agg (1871-1953) was born at Wickhamford on 19th November 1871, the fourth (third surviving) of five sons of Decimus and Mary Agg.  He was baptised in the Church of St John the Baptist, Wickhamford, on 18th February 1872.  Joseph spent his childhood years at Wickhamford, then moved to Sands Lane, Badsey, with his family in the late 1880s.  In 1891, Joseph was living at home with his parents and working as an agricultural labourer.

Joseph married Emma Wilkes at Badsey on 19th July 1898.  Joseph and Emma had three sons and two daughters:  Dorothy Mary (1899-1989), Norman Joseph (1901-1901), Gwendolen May (1902-1970), Lawrence Decimus (1904-1956) and Ronald William (1906-1985).

In 1901, Joseph, Emma and young Dorothy were living at 1 Belmont Terrace, together with Emma’s 15-year-old brother, Thomas Wilkes.  Joseph was now described as a market gardener and shopkeeper.  At the time of Lawrence’s birth in 1904, he was described as Parish Clerk.  By the time that Dorothy enrolled at Badsey School in August 1906, they had moved to one of the new houses across the road at No 12 Cotswold View (56 Willersey Road).  By 1911, they had moved into the slightly larger house next-door, No 11 (54 Willersey Road).  The Valuation Office Survey for 1912 reveals that Joseph occupied 4½ acres of land at Bully Brook and Hurst Way and, along with several others, nearly 29 acres at Murcott Allotments.

Joseph was very involved with St James’ Church, Badsey, and was choirmaster for many years.  An article in the Parish Magazine of November 1905 gives an account of the choir excursion to Stratford-on-Avon, written in verse by Joseph.

On 7th March 1913, Joseph Foster Agg set off for a new life in Canada, in advance of his wife and children who were to join him later.  He sailed from Liverpool on Grampian, a steamship of the Allan Line, and arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 17th March.  He indicated that he had been a Gardener in England for 20 years and intended to be a farmer in Canada, heading for Toronto. The words “British Bonus Allowed” were stamped against his name.  The British Bonus was a commission paid by the Canadian government's Immigration Branch to steamship booking agents for each suitable immigrant who purchased a ticket to sail to Canada. The immigrants themselves did not receive the bonus, although those who settled on western homesteads did receive a separate monetary bonus upon proof of settlement.  The "British Bonus" was a subtle marketing tool used by the Canadian government, serving to encourage steamship booking agents to recruit desirable settlers (farmer, domestics, etc.).

From Halifax, Joseph then boarded the Grand Trunk train for Toronto, which took two days.  This journey was described in a letter back to Badsey, which was published in the July 1913 Parish Magazine.  On arrival in Toronto, Joseph managed to get a job as a motor-man on electric car.  By the time Emma and the children arrived in September, he had taken a house at 640½ Euclid Avenue.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Canada, as a British dominion, was also at war with Germany.  When Joseph enlisted on 27th March 1916 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was living at Palace Road, Whitby, Ontario.  Whitby is a town in Durham region, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, about 35 miles from Toronto.  Details of his WWI service may be found here.

At the end of the war, Joseph sailed back to Canada, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 2nd July 1919, and returned to Whitby.  At the time of the 1921 census, Joseph and family lived at 115 Dundas Street, Whitby.  According to Voters’ lists, Joseph and Emma lived at Centre Street North, Whitby, in 1945 and 1949.

Joseph died at Whitby, Ontario, in 1953, aged 81, pre-deceasing his wife by nearly nine years.