Friday, April 10, 2009

Smile for the Camera - A Noble Life - William G Iles

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William George Iles, photo above taken during World War I, place and date unknown from the photograph album "Army Pictures" of Harold B. Iles, in the possession of Janet Iles

I haven chosen my paternal grandfather for a portrait of a noble life. I was very fortunate that in the early years of my life, my family lived right across the road from my grandparents.

Born in Naunton, Gloucestershire, England on 1 February 1885, he was the eldest son of George Iles and Emily Pugh. Because of the nature of his father's work as a bone and rag man, hawker and later a grocery carter, the family moved many times as found in the birth registrations of William's siblings and the census records. By 1900, the family was living in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, where William's baby sister Lily was born.

William was employed with the railways in England. In 1903, he married Emily Lily Dudley. He emigrated in 1905 from Birmingham England, with his wife and young daughter, May, his mother and siblings. It is believed that his father had come to Canada the previous year.

In World War I, William served his country with the 58th Canadian Infantry Battalion in France as a bandsman and a stretcher bearer. He left his young family to go overseas.

William was employed as a nickle-plater with the Empire Stove and Furniture company in Owen Sound for 45 years. Last year, I was talking to someone who had worked with my grandfather. My grandfather became a foreman and he was remembered as being a kind person

William began playing cornet as a boy of 14 in England and he soon joined a Salvation Army Band. When he came to Canada, he reorganized the Salvation Army Band in Owen Sound. He was its leader. He also took over leadership of the Legion Band that eventually became the Owen Sound City band. It is through his work with the brass bands in the city, he became best known. He taught many young people how to play a brass instrument.

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