30.8.11

Miss Willby's scrapbook


I think it's so sad to find albums of family photos etc at jumble sales and junk shops. Presumably they arrived there from a house clearance where the owner had died and either they were without relatives, or their kin just didn't care enough about family history. I have a few of these albums, collected during the Golden Age of jumble sales, circa 1970-1985 in the Guildford area. One stands out from all the rest, however: the scrapbook of a Miss G R Willby, who retired as a head teacher in 1953 and went on a sea cruise to Canada, keeping all the ephemera relating to that journey - cuttings, menus, postcards, receipts and a few photos - in a black photograph album.


It wasn't a good start. She was meant to sail on the Canadian Pacific liner RMS Empress of Canada, but she had caught fire in Liverpool docks. The replacement was French-owned SS De Grasse, renamed by Canadian Pacific RMS Empress of Australia.



Miss Willby was head teacher at Westborough County Primary School in Guildford. I'm assuming this is her retirement treat, but I could be wrong. The scrapbook spans 21 July to 29 August 1953, and 7000 miles, sailing to Montreal and back.


This is the impressive breakfast menu on board for the morning they docked in Canada.

On 29 July she stayed at the Montreal YWCA. She also visited Toronto, by rail, staying (or just maybe having lunch) in the Sheraton Brock Hotel, Niagara Falls (where she collected some impressive menus),


and the less impressive Angelo's Motel (owned by a sick man who had to leave his kitchen planning business in Montreal).


She also stopped at Prudhomme's Garden Centre Hotel, Vineland, Ontario, where she kept the Coronation themed place mats (the waitress was Scottish, she noted). She hoarded bingo cards, hairdressers' and florists' receipts too, plus all the cards and telegrams (mostly Coronation year themed) sent by well wishers.


Could this be Miss Willby? There is no record anywhere of her first name!




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