The Williamsons of Widnes

A Family of Many Blessings and Gifts



Home Page & Introduction


19th Century Histories


20th Century Histories

- A Nolan's Story Of Widnes
-A Summer in Bella Bella

- Ashley & Eileen Cooper
- Letter to Jimmy O'Donnell
- Leslie and Mary McLellan
- Nelson & Doris Chamberlain

- Monica Hopwood

- Nicholas & Florence Williamson
-Nicholas & Charlotte Williamson

- Phyllis Williamson
- Michael and Ruth Nolan

21st Century Histories


Family Trees


Photo Gallery


Related Families





Ernest Leslie McLellan 1892-1953 and Mary Veronica Williamson 1885-1976

Ernest Leslie (aka Lal) McLellan was born March 15, 1892 at Brandon Manitoba Canada.  He was the 5th of 8 children of John McLellan and Mary Ann Wiggins.  John and Mary Ann moved the family to Okanagan Falls in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia about 1900.  In the early days of this area of British Columbia, the major employer was "the Okanagan Land Company", who prior to the introduction of the fruit orchard industry invested in land and cattle ranching.  "Lal", as Leslie was called, worked for the company as a cowhand during his early adult years.

The southern Okanagan Valley at the turn of the 20th century (ca 1900) was a dry semi-desert area complete with scrub bush, tumbleweed and rattle snakes --- sort of great cattle country you might see in a modern western movie.  Lal McLellan took part in cattle drives eastward over the mountains via Bridesville (a notorious bandit hideout) to deliver beef cattle to the prospering mining communities at Greenwood and Grand Forks, British Columbia.  Also, as there was a poor road north, Lal and Mary would ride horseback overland to Penticton to visit her Dad and Mother. Mary's father John would note it in the Herald newspaper visitors section.
              Leslie (Lal) McLellan - 1916

                                      Leslie (centre) and his cowhand friends - Near Okanagan Falls - 1908

Mary Veronica Williamson was the eldest child of John and Ellen Williamson (nee Farrell) was born March 23, 1885 in Widnes, Lancashire, UK.  Her father John immigrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1910.  Mary taught school in England and also took examinations at the Vancouver Normal Teaching School and was soon teaching after arriving with her family in British Columbia.  As a newspaper journalist and editor in Canada, her father was made editor of the Penticton Herald in 1911. 

Mary moved to Penticton with the family and obtained employment as the school teacher in the local one room school in the small nearby pioneer community of Okanagan Falls.  She found room and board there with the McLellan family.  It was there that she met their son  "Lal".  They became attracted to each other and began a close friendship.  Mary's father ceased his job as editor of the Penticton Herald in March of 1913 and returned to Vancouver.  At the end of the school year Mary returned to Vancouver as well.  As "love" would have it, they did not remain separated for long and Lal moved to Vancouver to be near Mary.  They were married in Vancouver in 1914.  Lal, with his experience with horses, obtained a job for the Vancouver Fire Department, who at that time still used horses to  pull some of the fire wagons.
 Mary Williamson - Widnes 1905

                           Mary Williamson and her students at the one room school at Okanagan Falls - 1912

             St Ann's Boy's School - Dunsmuir St., Vancouver ca 1910-1911 - Mary Williamson was a teacher on staff.

Leslie and Mary were married at St Patrick's Church in Vancouver on July 2, 1914.  Family life began with the birth of their first child Mary Veronica in 1915 followed by John Leslie (Sunny) 1917, Nena Anne 1920, Monica (Mona) Ellen 1923 and James Farrell (Bert) in 1926.  The children entered into a happy home with a father and mother who were, as one of Mary's sisters tells, "a wonderful living example of a couple who so deeply loved each other".  The early years together were rapidly changing times with Leslie's new vocation as a Vancouver Fireman and the beginning of the terrible years of World War I of 1914-1918.

As with many patriotic Canadian men, whose loyalty to King and country ranked high, Leslie chose to defend freedom and joined the Army.  Once again his ability with horses was key and made him a prime candidate for an artillery battalion whose guns, in those days, were transported by horses and gun carriages.  Leslie (Lal) spent several years in the horror of the French and Belgium war torn country side.  As with many war veterans, he would not talk about the action he saw and participated in.  Although one of Mary's siblings recalled learning of one action where Lal was moving some big guns to the front one night and was caught in a German heavy shelling barrage at a key crossroad in France and were some men and horses were killed and wounded.  Fortunately, he was not harmed.  He was returned to Vancouver after the armistice of November 11, 1918.

                    Les McLellan                 Vancouver Fire Hall No.3's First Engine- Les & friends 2nd from far right - 1915

After his discharge from the Canadian Army, "Lal" returned to life with the family and his job as a Vancouver fireman.   His career with the Fire Department was quite successful and rewarding with promotions as a  "District Fire Chief" and latterly, before retiring due to ill health, the "Assistant Fire Chief of Vancouver''.  During these years, Mary, a wonderful mother, was busy caring for the family and influencing the mature growth and education of her children.

Mary and Lal's lives were a growing happiness with the family and the many blessings that came their way.  Lal sold his horses at "the Falls" so they could purchased a small home with added property.    A new home built by Lal himself in the ca 1940's,  became their final abode. The family did live at Quebec Street on several occasions during the 1920's and 1930's to give their children the opportunity of a Catholic education at St Patrick's School and to assist grandma Ellen in her declining years.
                                                                                                                                       Lal- c 1945-downtown Vancouver

Lal was a gifted 'handy man' who could build or repair anything especially around the house.  It did not take long for his sister-in-laws to learn this.  This author can remember times when mother telephoned sister Mary for Lal's help with a plumbing stoppage as my father was not seemingly helpful in these matters.  Our residence at Quebec street, a 3 storey structure, needed a new roof and Lal, while coaching my father as a helper, re-roofed the large areas and levels of cedar shingles over a 3 day weekend.  Lal had my brothers and I store the old scrap wooden shingles as a source of "kindling" to start a fire in our wood and coal stoves (cookers) and house furnace heaters.

Mary was respected as the older sister among the Williamson women.  She had a loving wise heart and a pragmatic business sense which was of benefit to her brothers and sisters .  The great depression of the 1930's were hard times --- money was scarce and some of the men were out of work.  As the growing Williamson families children needed clothes, Mary would offer or re-size her children's clothes for the needs of her sibling's children.  The author wore many re-sized clothes previously belonging to cousin "Bert" as did his sisters with hand-me-downs from the McLellan girls.  The family sewing machines were often very busy!

A Look at the Okanagan Valley McLellan Family

The McLellan family were well known and respected pioneers in the southern Okanagan valley.  The family's presence and history is documented in the Okanagan Historical Society's extensive archives.  A mountain just west of their home at Okanagan Falls was dedicated to the family by the Provincial Government and is called "Mount McLellan".  Many of Lal's seven brothers and sisters married into local families from both "the Falls" and from "Penticton".  Of interest, Lal's sister "Charlie", a very attractive beauty, was selected for a dance with the "Prince of Wales" (Edward VIII) when he visited and attended a reception and ball at Penticton in 1919.  One of Lal's cousin's sons "Kenny McLean" was a world famous champion rodeo bronco rider during the 1950's and 60's.  A memorial statue of Kenny on horse-back was erected in Okanagan Falls Centennial Park in 2010.

               John McLellan---(married Sept 6,1882 in Brandon MB)--- Mary Ann Wiggins

In addition to Ernest Leslie, John and Mary Ann McLellan brought 7 other children in the world as

Margaret (Maggie), March 8, 1884 - married Dick Basset
Hannah (Daisy), March 2, 1886 - Married Gerald Clark
Murdock (Bert), May 1, 1887 - married Edna
Florence (Flo), August 19, 1890 - married Tom Johnson
Harvie, June 1, 1894 - married Angelina
Jessie (Charlie), October 22, 1896 - married Bill Lockhead
James (Tom), September 28, 1898 - married Helen

There are 4 generations following those above, and without available dates and other information for publishing needs further research and development by the current McLellan families.

Here are a few available photos of the McLellan family members!

                          Aunt Maggie and Mary 1920                                        Maggie, Charlie and Daisy

             Leslie, Mary, Mona, Nena and Bert - c 1933                        Extended Families - Seymour Park - 1917

The McLellan Family Children

John Dawson and Vera McLellan and Family

Mary Veronica McLellan was born on August 25, 1915 at Vancouver B.C.  Vera, as she is called, was the first child of Les and Mary McLellan.  John (AKA Johnny) Dawson, as he was called born on July 13, 1911 in Scotland.  They were married October 2, 1937 in Vancouver B.C.  Vera was educated in Vancouver at various schools including St Patrick's High School when the family lived at the Williamson family home at 2905 Quebec Street in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver B.C.  She also worked for and was in-charge of downtown Woolworth's china department for some years.  Vera recently turned 95 years old, and although hospitalized with an ongoing illness, returned to her home and is now enjoying her life to the fullness possible.

Johnny was educated at various schools including a technical school specializing in the "metallurgy  industry", chiefly steel, and was employed both as a worker and senior manager for  Columbia Bolt and Steel company who produced fabricated steel structures and fixtures and welding products.  He remained with the firm most of his working life.  John died in 1985. 

Wedding: L-R-John' Parents - John and Vera - Mary and Lal    Wedding: L-R Johnny and Vera Kissing Aunt Charlie

Unfortunately, Vera and Johnny were unable to have children of their own and adopted two wonderful boys, David and Gregory, whom they loved dearly and raised throughout the 1940 and 50 period.

                            David and Gregory                                                       Nena, Vera and Mona 1928