The Barfoots – One of Greenfield Park’s Great Pioneer Families
William Alfred Barfoot came to Canada from Blackpool England in 1903 in search of a better life for his young family. The following year after he had obtained work he sent for his wife Georgina Ann Holt Barfoot and their four children, William, Harry, and the twins Thomas and Hester. They came across on the S.S. Bavarian arriving at Quebec on May 8, 1904. A year later while living in Montreal their fifth child was born, a daughter named Florence.
About 1910 William and Georgina heard about land for sale on the South Shore. They checked it out and decided to buy a lot on the north side of Greenfield Avenue just to the east of what is now called Little Empire. Within a year the little country village where they had settled was growing, and by March 1911 had become incorporated as the town of Greenfield Park.
William and Georgina had a growing family. In 1911 their son William Jr. was thirteen, Harry was eleven, Thomas and Hester (better known as Cissy) were eight and Florie was six. With such a young family William Alfred Barfoot took a particular interest in the community. Within a month of its inception he was appointed a special constable by the municipality (without a salary). Because of his regular job as a coppersmith for the railway, and his work for the school board he resigned the position of special constable in July of 1912. But in December 1913 he was again appointed constable. He held the position for a short time until the town authorities asked him to resign. It’s not exactly clear why, but it may have been because he arrested Mr. Winchcombe who lived on King Edward Avenue. However, this time Mr. Barfoot was paid for his services.
In July of 1911 William Barfoot was instrumental in forming the Greenfield Park school commission. He was so interested in his children’s education that he agreed to hold the first commissioners meeting in the Barfoot home. At the first meeting he was appointed Chairman of the Commissioners, a position he continued to hold until1913.
1912 was a very trying time for the commissioners, as they struggled to get a proper school for the community. Mr. Barfoot was the one who proposed borrowing $12,000. rather than $8,000. so the best possible building could be constructed.
Before a permanent structure was built (Royal George) temporary school houses were used at St. Paul’s Church on Lapiniere Road (now Victoria), at Mr. Herbert Reeves (a good friend of Mr. Barfoot’s) house on King Edward, at Mrs. Esnouf’s house on Lapiniere Road, and at the Baptist Church on Springfield. In June 1913 at the end of the school year, the Commissioners decided that they would not be using Mrs. Esnouf’s house any more, they would be moving to the Baptist Church in the fall. So where were all the desks stored during the summer – at the Barfoot’s of course. A Mr. Brown was paid 40 cents an hour to transport all school property from the Barfoot’s to the Baptist Church. On June 26, 1913 he had the honour of announcing that a site for the new school had be chosen and the land purchased.
Mr. Barfoot ran for commissioner again in July 1914 but was not elected. He did however continue to attend commissioners meetings, and in January 1915 he complained that children were being sent home from school because they were short of pencils.
William Alfred Barfoot remained very active on the municipal scene. In August 1913 he was appointed Executive Officer of the Greenfield Park Board of Health, and in 1914 he submitted a tender for the laying of a sidewalk along Lapiniere Road. His tender was accepted.
In 1914 when World War 1 broke out in Europe, William’s children William Jr. was nearly seventeen and Harry was fourteen. A year later on October 1, 1915 William Jr. signed up to join the Canadian Expeditionary Forces that were being sent to Britain. Harry must have really not wanted his brother to experience the adventure without him, because three weeks later he tried joining up as well. He was only fifteen, but claimed he had been born in 1897 not 1900 which was his actual year of birth. But he hadn’t thought it out well. His brother William had said he was born January 6, 1897, and Harry was claiming he had been born six weeks later February 26, 1897 of the same parents. Someone must have noticed that this wasn’t possible and he was rejected. However
Harry was not to be deterred. He figured he’d have to wait another year or try an even bigger lie. On November 9, 1915 he went to a different recruiting office and claimed he had been born in 1896. The Canadian Army must have really needed new recruits, as this time he was accepted. So Harry followed his brother into the army.
In 1919 William Jr. and Harry returned to Greenfield Park from overseas. They quickly had to find work and readapt to civilian life. On June 23, 1921 William Jr. married Irene Maud Reeves. They had seven children: Irene Hazel, Herbert Thomas, Lois Ida, Bill, Clifford, Frank, Brenda, Francis and Noreen.
Bill, Clifford, Frank and Noreen have lived all their lives in Greenfield Park, and have raised more Barfoots who continue to live in the Park.
William Jr.’s son Bill was a really ambitious guy even as a teenager. In the 1930s the area around the Barfoot home was regularly flooded in the spring, so Bill and his best friend Leonard Hamblin decided to increase their fun by constructing a flat bottomed boat for themselves to paddle up and down the streets and through inundated fields and back yards. Many adults needed to get to Devonshire Rd. to walk to the Southern Counties tracks at the corner of Edward Blvd. Bill and Leonard were able to make some money transporting people in their boat.
Bill’s brother Clifford was a really good athlete who could run like the wind. He starred on many great Park football, hockey and softball teams in the 1940s and early 1950s.
Their sister Noreen was a talented basketball player for Royal George in the late 1950s. She married Norman Toner and still lives in the Park on King St.
Harry married Florence Louisa Ball after the Great War and in March 1922 Florence gave birth to a son named Gordon. Harry often bid for contracts to cut the grass beside the streets of the town during the mid 1920s.
Here are the last three photos that go with everything else on the Barfoots.
400 Photo of the home of William Barfoot on Greenfield Ave. This is where Bill, Cliff, Frank, Noreen and their other brothers and sisters grew up.
460 The flats that were the homes of many Parkers over the years, including I believe the Slaneys. It was destroyed by fire about 11 weeks ago. The photo of Len Hamblin and Bill Barfoot in their boat must have been taken from the upstairs window of this building.