Series MS-2183 - Claxton family papers

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Claxton family papers

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  • textual record
  • graphic material

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  • 1890-1972 (Creation)
    Claxton (family)

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Physical description

Originals, 1.2 m

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Biographical history

The Claxton family emigrated from England. Cecil Claxton, a merchant marine, became Superintendent of Pilots, B.C. Pilotage District. He married Helen MacGregor in 1927. They had one child, Peter, who obtained a B.Sc. in agriculture in 1962.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Cecil Claxton was born in Hampstead, England in 1886. He joined the Merchant Marine and the Royal Naval Reserve, and both before and after the First World War, served in the Canadian Pacific's Trans-Pacific fleet, attaining the rank of Staff Captain. In 1936 he became Superintendent of Pilots, British Columbia Pilotage district, and held that position until his retirement in 1953. While Captain Claxton was in the Pilot Service, the Claxtons lived in West Vancouver and Vancouver. After his retirement, he and Mrs. Claxton moved to Pender Island. In 1927, Cecil Claxton married Helen Violet MacGregor who was born in Kuling, China in 1898. Her father, Roderick MacGregor was with the Imperial Maritime Customs. Her mother, Annie Say, went to China in 1886 after receiving nursing and social service training in England. The MacGregors had four daughters; Mrs. A.L. Buckley (Nan), widowed during the First World War, who lived in England; Mrs. H.A. Cornaby (Jay or Jessie) also widowed during the First World War, who returned to China from England, was interned there during the Second World War, and then moved to British Columbia; Flora, who taught at the Shanghai Municipal Council Public School for Girls and also moved to British Columbia after the Second World War, and Helen. Peter, the Claxton's son, was born in 1929, and as a very young child lost his sight. He was educated at the West Vancouver Nursery School, operated by his mother, St. George's School (Vancouver), the National Institute for the Blind School of Physiotherapy, in London, England, and the University of British Columbia, from which he received a B.SC. in Agriculture in 1962. The collection contains two major series from Captain Claxton to his wife; letters, 1924-1932, written from various Canadian Pacific ships, mainly the Empress of Asia, largely domestic and personal, but containing references to incidents on voyages and at ports of call; and letters 1942-1943, written while Mrs. Claxton and Peter were living near Vernon for Peter's health which may contain some references to the Pilot service but seem to be almost entirely domestic. A third series of letters from Captain Claxton concerns arrangements to send Peter to the National Institute for the Blind School of Physiotherapy and consists of letters, 1946-1952, to the school and to his relatives in England. The letters from Mrs. Claxton to Captain Claxton, 1942-1943, are written from the Okanagan, mainly Vernon. They are largely concerned with domestic matters and Peter's development, but are also full of descriptions of their friends and activities in the Okanagan. Peter Claxton's letters consist mainly of ones written to his parents from England, 1949-1954, and from the University of British Columbia, 1958-1962. Amongst other correspondence and manuscripts written by him, the collection contains a long account of a trip made with a friend to the Cariboo ca. 1961. Letters from Mrs. MacGregor and from Flora, written from China, while they are mainly personal, form an interesting example of the life led by one segment of the British in China in the late 1920s and 1930s.

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Presented by Mr. Peter Claxton, Armstrong,1985.


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General note

Photographs transferred to Visual Records accessions 198606-2 and 198005-1.

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Accession number(s): 85-007

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Physical storage

  • Box: 913433-0188
  • Box: MS2183-0001
  • Box: MS2183-0002
  • Box: MS2183-0003
  • Box: MS2183-0004
  • Box: MS2183-0005
  • Box: MS2183-0006
  • Box: MS2183-0007
  • Box: MS2183-0008
  • Box: MS2183-0009