Thursday, 8 November 2012

A broken family

Our great grandfather, Robert Joseph McALLISTER was born in Belfast in 1902. He married Christina BURTON on New Year's Eve 1923. They had two sons, Robert (b 1924) and Andrew (b 1925).

On 13 November 1926, Robert Joseph McALLISTER set sail for Canada on the SS Regina. The family would never be together again.

Christina's version of events is contained in a statutory declaration made in March 1928 to support her application to enter Australia with the children.

My husband the said Robert Joseph McAllister deserted me and emigrated to Canada in the month of November 1926 ...

Robert's view of the separation can be seen in the passenger list of the Regina where he responded to following instruction

by entering
Mrs C McAllister (wife 24 yrs),
Robert J. 27/12 Andrew B. 11/12,
32 Toronto Street Belfast

Which version is true? In the Queensland Immigration files there is an copy of a letter dated 14th March 1927 noting that "... nomination of Christina McAllister and family has been cancelled, as they are proceeding to Canada".

None of this was ever the subject of conversation within the family. The ramifications of the breach were such that Robert (the son) never spoke a word to his own children about either of his parents or his brother. A line had been drawn under an unhappy past that was not to be revisited.

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