George Percy Watson Osler was born at Brockenhurst, Hampshire, on 31st July 1883, the elder of two children of Frank Watson Osler and his wife, Bessie Hobbs (née Polden). The family was living in Wimborne, Dorset, by the time his sister, Agnes, was born in 1886, and by 1891 were living in Bournemouth. George was educated at Bedales School, Steep, Hampshire, where he was a boarder at the time of the 1901 census.
George became a fruit grower and was living at Wickhamford by 1903 when his name began appearing in the sports pages of The Evesham Standard, playing both tennis and hockey. When he married Winifred May Siddons on 24th October 1907 at St Peter’s, Bayswater, London, the marriage banns gave his address as Wickhamford. A son, Geoffrey Frank (1908-1995), was born at Chiswick and another son, Kenneth Siddons (1911-1944) was born at Bournemouth. When the 1911 census was taken, George and Winifred and their two sons were living at Merridene, Richmond Park Avenue, Bournemouth, George described as a fruit grower.
After marriage, George Osler’s main home was in London and then Bournemouth, with occasional visits to Wickhamford. There is evidence that they were in Worcestershire some of the time. For example, Winifred, a talented singer, sang at a concert held at Field Farm in June 1909 (the Oslers rented a cottage opposite Field Farm). Then, the following year, in September 1910, she sang at the wedding of the Carter sisters of Field Farm. According to the Valuation Survey, George Osler was still renting a cottage on London Hill in December 1911 and market gardening the 14 acre field behind the house.
George Osler, his wife and two young children (Geoffrey, aged 2 and Kenneth, aged 1) emigrated to Canada, aboard the SS Lake Manitoba, leaving from Liverpool for Montreal on 4th November 1912, arriving 17th November. On the ship’s manifest he was recorded as a fruit grower. It is possible that he may have been influenced in deciding to emigrate to Canada after hearing tales from Benjamin Carter, his near neighbour at Field Farm, whose son, Benjamin Atwell Carter, had emigrated in 1891. Two further sons were born in Canada: Philip George (1917-1934) and Thomas Richard (1920-1985).
During the First World War, whilst living at 369 Sunrise Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, George enlisted on 27th September 1918. Full details of George’s service in the army and of his life, particularly in Canada in the 1920s when he and Winifred were managers of The Elk Hotel, Comox, may be found at George Osler, Fruit Grower.
In Canada, George remained friendly with the Idiens family whom he had known when living in Wickhamford. George was a pallbearer at his friend’s funeral in 1939. Many years later, George Osler’s granddaughter, Debby (daughter of his son, Kenneth, who died at the Normandy landings), married the Idiens’ grandson, John Foljambe Idiens. In 2017, Debby and John, together with Debby’s sister, Heather, visited Wickhamford where their respective grandparents had lived before the First World War.
Winifred died at Comox on 24th November 1953 and George on 13th February 1968. The following announcement of death appeared:
OSLER – On February 13 1968, George Percy Osler of Comox, BC, aged 84 years. Survived by 2 sons, Dr Geoffrey Osler of New York and Dr Thomas Osler of Vancouver; 8 grandchildren. Funeral service at Chapel of Sutton Funeral Home, Courtenay, BC on Friday Feb 16 at 1.30 pm. Cremation.