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The Bee Family

In the 1840s, young couple John Bee (Badcock) and his wife, Elizabeth Marrifield, arrived in Canada from Sandford, Devon, England. Along with the Cann and Saunders families, John and Elizabeth settled in Cavan Township. John owned a sawmill and also worked as a cobbler. Soon, their family grew, and they raised five children: Hirman, Alvin, Sidney, Amy, and Enona.


Twenty-odd years later, John bought 301 acres of land in Wesleyville from the Ball and Grant families, and moved his family there. He divided the land between his three sons; Hirman received the northern section, Alvin the eastern section, and Sidney the southern section. John and Elizabeth remained in a house on the easternmost part of the farm with their daughter, Amy. Their other daughter, Enona, did not move with them to Wesleyville.


On July 1st, 1874, Hiram Bee married Harriett Saunders. The two quickly moved west to Parkhill, Ontario, where Hiram found work on the railroad.


Alvin Bee became a prominent farmer in Wesleyville and held the position of roadmaster for the township. He never married, but willed his property to his brother Sidney and Sidney’s wife, Martha. He also willed $500.00 to the Wesleyville Church for its upkeep. After his death, his farm was sold to the Austin family. Alvin is buried in the Wesleyville cemetery with his parents.


Amy Bee married James Cann on February 26, 1890. They soon moved to Idaho, and then again to Washington State.


Sidney Bee fell for Martha Young, a teacher at the Wesleyville Schoolhouse. They married on December 23, 1888 in Campbellford, Ontario. Sidney and Martha’s family grew steadily, and they had six children over the next 18 years.


Vera Marguerite was born on July 4, 1892, Rose Kathleen was born on

December 1, 1894, Loren Sidney was born on November 21, 1897, Wilfred

Henry was born on October 1, 1900, Reginald Clifford was born on June 4,

1904, and Muriel Audrey was born on June 6, 1906.


Both Sidney and Martha became very involved in federal politics during

Wilfrid Laurier’s campaigns for Prime Minister. At one point during a

campaign, Laurier even stayed at their farm in Wesleyville!


Sidney passed away on June 24, 1916. He is buried at the Welcome

Cemetery, just a few kilometers east of Wesleyville.


After her husband’s death, Martha took over the management of their family farm. She had contracts to sell their tomatoes and onions to the Campbell Soup Company, and had a buyer in Montreal for her eggs.


                                                                                          Sidney and Martha’s oldest child, Vera Bee, married a man called                                                                                              Stanley Brooking in June, 1915. They owned a farm on Marsh Road                                                                                            in Port Hope, east of Wesleyville, and welcomed five children.


                                                                                         Their third child, and eldest son, Loren Bee, served in the First                                                                                                  World War. He was relieved of his duties in 1916 when his father                                                                                                 passed away, returning home to help work on the farm. Loren                                                                                                    married a woman named Vera Brown in April of 1907, and they had                                                                                             one child. Loren passed away at the age of 37 on June 21, 1935.


                                                                                         The second-eldest daughter, Rose Bee, married Elmer Standley                                                                                                 Harness on April 16, 1921. They moved into the town of Port Hope                                                                                             and raised four children.


Wilfred Bee, the fourth child, met his future wife, (Muriel) Viola Holdaway while attending school at the Wesleyville Schoolhouse. Wilfred was four years older than Muriel, but as this was a traditional one-room schoolhouse, everyone learned in the same classroom.


Viola, her sisters Nola and Shirley, and her mother, Phoebe Ellen Holdaway (Bowen) had moved to Wesleyville from nearby Clarke Township after her father’s death in 1905, when Viola was one year old. They moved in with her uncle, Ernest Bowen. 


When she came of age, Viola traveled to Connecticut to study nursing, but returned to Wesleyville and married Wilfred on May 3, 1935. They were 35 and 31, respectively. Together, they raised two children.


Wilfred had started working at the Royal Bank at the age of sixteen, but after his

father’s death, he moved back home to help on the farm. Wilfred also worked on

the railroad during the Great Depression, but he always returned to farming.


The family raised cattle and pigs for many years until their barn burned down in

1955. They also grew a field of buckwheat, and had orchards of apples, pears,

cherries, and plums. Every fall, they made a hefty batch of apple cider! Wilfred

also kept bees and produced an annual crop of honey.


Throughout his life, Wilfred was very involved in the church. He led Bible Studies

for young adults, and acted as the superintendent for the Sunday School.


In 1975, Ontario Hydro purchased Wilfred and Viola’s 180 acre farm for $18,000.

The closing date was March 15th. 


Wilfred had said that he would never live anywhere other than his home in Wesleyville, and he was right. Wilfred Bee passed away on March 10, 1975. His wife, Viola, said that he died of a broken heart.

Thank you to David Bee for providing the Bee family history and accompanying photos.

LFC_F_10_13 1904 WesleyvilleSchoolClass_NIF (2019_05_08 18_26_04 UTC).tif

The Wesleyville Schoolhouse Class of 1904


The Bee Siblings, taken in 1960 at the 100th anniversary of Wesleyville Church


The Bee brothers, Wilfred, 24, Loren, 27, and Reg, 20, taken in 1924 at Alvin Bee's funeral.

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