Arthur Marsden Priestley

British Columbia, Canada

Arthur Marsden “Art” Priestley
b- Sept 2, 1892 Toronto, York, ON
d- Sunday, Dec 4, 1927, Hazelton Hospital, age 35
buried in the family plot in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Edmonton AB

Headstone Inscription (EXT picture link below)
Beloved son of James and Eliza Priestley,
formerly of Onoway, Alberta,
served in CEF 49th Batt 1915 - 1919

He enlisted in Edmonton, Mar 22, 1915, shown single
next of kin, James Priestley, Onoway AB.
Rank of Corporal- Reg #433080

He was wounded in the Battle of the Somme in 1916

He returned to Canada after the War, on the SS Minnedosa, arriving in Canada, Mar 7, 1919

1923 Arthur lived at 10526 105th Ave Edmonton AB.

1924 he lived at 10411 93rd st, Edmonton AB., shown as a CNR Employee

1926 shown as CNR Brakeman, same address as in 1924.

He supposedly lived in Prince Rupert for 2 years prior to the accident, but no sign of him in the Prince Rupert City Directories?
Before that, he was a trainman in Edmonton. He served on the Edmonton-Jasper route. He lived on 94th st in Edmonton, before Prince Rupert.

He was a member of the Edmonton Order of Elks when he died.

He was survived by his wife, Elsie Priestley, and one young son, per obit.

I believe Elsie was:
Elsie D. Morris
b- ca 1897 in England
He married Elsie in England, after the war, just before he returned home, married bet Oct-Dec 1918, Elham Reg dist, Kent, England.
When he returned Mar 7, 1919 on the SS Minnedosa she was shown on the same ship, age 22, born in England.
Shown as living in Toronto for 5 years prior to this trip, shown as a returning Canadian.
She was shown heading to Wainwright AB.
We know Arthur's brother Norman, and his family lived there.

1928 Vancouver BC directory shows an Elsie Priestley, widow living at W h 34, 611, E 7

1930, Elsie D. Priestley was still in Vancouver and Eliza L. Priestley was living there as well. both shown as widows.

1931 both are not listed in Vancouver.

Arthur's son- Harold Edgar Priestley
b- possibly 1920
d- possibly in 1976, possibly in Florida
Harold possibly married a Vera J. Beeby July 4, 1941 in Toronto

Strange thing Arthur and his family don't appear in the 1921 Canada Census? or at least I can't find them there.

Another mystery the Onoway history book states Elsie and Arthur had 2 sons.
Now was Elsie pregnant, when Arthur died?
That could be why she was visiting in Vancouver, at the time of the accident.
both sons are now deceased, per Onoway history book.

This man's death was a complete stroke of fate.
Killed by a large rock falling and breaking through the wall and roof of the baggage car of the Westbound CNR train, in which he was the Baggage Man at the time.

Accident happened about 1 mile East of Terrace BC.

Photo courtesy McRae Collection, Terrace

Priestley was sitting near the stove in the Express Car, (chimney visible in the photo above) where he was reading a magazine,
with him Express Messenger, a Mr. Pound. Pound was thrown to the end of the car. Priestley was pinned in the mass of wreckage.

I can't find any record of Mr. Pound, as a CNR employee, the only eye witness to this freak accident.

father- James Priestley (James Arthur Priestley?)
b- Feb 12, 1859, Barkisland, Yorkshire, England
d- 1917, in Edmonton AB, while all 3 sons were Overseas
buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Edmonton AB
1901 family living in Elland, Yorkshire (West Riding) England, Halifax Registration District., on Catherine St.
shown as a stone carver, age 42
Immigrated to Toronto ON, Mar 9, 1891, on SS Polynesian, with wife Eliza, son Norman, and daughters, Dora and Nellie
Stone Carver in Toronto in 1892
Family lived in Toronto until ca 1898, then moved back to England
Came back to Canada with the family, heading to Edmonton AB, on SS Dominion, arriving May 3,1904 at Montreal, leaving from Liverpool Apr 21, 1904,
On arriving in Edmonton, they stayed at the Queen's Hotel on Jasper Ave., until they bought tents, horses, wagon, and other supplies.
Homesteaded and Lived as a Farmer near Onoway AB
16 Priestley's came over at this time.
5 returned to England but eventually they immigrated back only to the USA at that time. (see Ben below)
He farmed with some brothers there, Uncles to Arthur.
James was President of the U.F.A. in Onaway for 5 years.
Homesteaded NW Section 32- Township 54- Range 2- W5, approx 2 miles west of Onoway AB, NW of Edmonton
1916 he lived on Township 54, Range 2, W5
James and his wife were living in Edmonton
when Arthur died, per obit below.
He was also Justice of the Peace for many years.

Arthur's Mother- Eliza L. Priestley, nee Marsden
b- 1860 in Mirfield, Elland, Yorkshire, England
d- end of Sept, early Oct., 1934 in Edmonton AB
buried Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Edmonton AB
Immigrated the 2nd time, in May 1904
1921 she is living at 9611, 107 Ave, Edmonton AB, with her daughter Clara
Eliza was living in Vancouver when son Arthur died.
1930 Vancouver directory shows she lived near
her widowed daughter-in-law Elsie Priestley in Vancouver.
1930 she was living with her daughter Dora and her family in Tacoma WA
She was Christened May 6, 1860, Halifax, York, England
her family below is a possible connection:
daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Marsden
1871 she was living in Elland Cum Greetland, Yorkshire, England
age 11, occupation- woollen piercer
one of 8 children
her grandmother- Maria Marsden

Arthur's Father and Mother married bet July-Sept 1883, Reg District of Halifax, Yorkshire, England

Arthur's Siblings

brother- Rev. Norman Flaxman Priestley
b- July 19, 1884 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England
d- Oct 4, 1958 in Calgary AB
Educated in England
1901 shown as a Monumental Mason, He created those fancy carvings on old buildings.
Immigrated in May 1904
First occupation- stone carver with his father.
Norman also served in WWI, 202nd Battalion, Corporal, Reg #231330
When his father died in 1917, he was returned from Europe
since he was the oldest son, to look after the farm and family.
After the war he became a Methodist Minister,
Graduated from St. Stephens Theological College.
Wainwright AB- (1918-1922)
1927 he lived and worked in Coaldale AB (1922-1929)
He was a Socialist and helped form the first CCF party.
married to Gertrude Lawton “Gertie” Crowther, in 1912
b- Nov 7, 1884 in Yorkshire, England
d- Jan 1965

Sister- Dora Emmaline Priestley (alt middle name- Emmeline?)
b- bet Jan - Mar 1886, (in Halifax Reg dist), Elland, Yorkshire, England,
d- aft 1940 in Tacoma WA, USA
1901 shown as a soap packer, living with her parents in Yorkshire.
Immigrated 2nd time in May 1904, age 18, to Canada
1916 she was living on Township 54, Range 2, W5, with her family,
near her father, mother and other siblings.
Immigrated in 1918 to USA
First marriage (1) Edward J. “Ed” Ross
b- ca 1880, England (age 36 in 1916 living in Edmonton)
d- ? bef 1926? possibly during the war?
He immigrated in 1902
Shown as a soldier in 1916 census in Edmonton AB.
shown as Major Ross in her sister Nellie's Obit.
In there it said they resided on the Coast.
Dora was 19 when she first married
they had 3 children I know of:
Dora's son- James E. Ross
b- ca 1906 in Alberta, Canada
d- ?
Dora's son- Cecil Norman Ross,
b- 1908 in Alberta Canada
d- Oct 1, 1939, Pierce WA
Dora's daughter- Julia M. Ross
b- ca 1916 in Edmonton Canada (not in 1916 census)
d- ?
all children are deceased
Dora was a widow for her 2nd marriage to
(2) Aldon Walter Butson in 1938?, King County WA (see below)
b- Nov 3, 1893 Sanlack Center, Michigan
d- July 16, 1954, Pierce WA, USA
conflicting information here,
marriage cert- Sept 1, 1926 in Centralia.
shows his name as Aldon B. Orchard on marriage cert
his father- William E. Orchard
and his mother- Annie Butson (note Butson name here?)
he was living in Tacoma WA
it was his 2nd marriage as well

Sister- Nellie Winnifred Priestley
b- bet Apr - June 1888, (in Halifax Reg dist), Elland, Yorkshire, England,
d- Tuesday, May 25, 1920 in Saskatoon SK
buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Edmonton AB, in the family plot.
Immigrated in May 1904, age 15
She was a well known person in Edmonton.
Nellie married Robert “Bob” Oliver,
He was Manager of the Scott Fruit Company in Saskatoon, when she died.
Nellie had one son, name unknown, also now deceased.
Her son, name unknown, was 1 mo old when she died in 1920.

Brother- Edgar Walker Priestley
b- Apr 21, 1896 in Elland, West Riding, Yorkshire, England
b- Oct 8, 1916, during WWI in France, age 20
buried in Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, France
He immigrated in May 1904
Edgar also served in WWI, Reg #467475
Private, Canadian Infantry, 49th Battalion, D Company
Per one article, Arthur's brother, Hector W. Priestley died on the Somme in 1916
This is Edgar obviously, as I can not find anything on a Hector.

Sister- Clara Mary Priestley (alt middle- May?) (alt first name- Claire)
b- May 1902, in Halifax Reg Dist, Yorkshire, England,
d- in USA?
Immigrated in May 1904, age 1 to Edmonton
1921 living with her mother in Edmonton,
she is shown as a sales lady, at a general store
Apr 9, 1919, she lived in Edmonton AB
Aug 13, 1923 her and her mother headed to the US,
to her sister Mrs. E. J. Ross, at 2001 S 8th st. (no city shown?)
Clara was living in Calgary at this time.
Clara married Lars John Kanekeberg, May 23, 1925, Tacoma, Pierce, WA, USA
b- Dec 4, 1896 Home Valley, WA, USA
d- July 3, 1976 Riverside CA USA
they had one daughter who was living in CA.
In 1927 Clara lived with Lars in Prospect Oregon

One article said 2 of his sisters lived in Tacoma WA when Art died in 1927.
per obit below, one in WA, other in Oregon
Mrs. Aldon Butson, Tacoma WA (see Dora above)
Mrs. Lars Kanekeberg of Prospect, Oregon (see Clara above)

Uncle Benjamin Rothwell “Ben” Priestley, age 30, (see below)
and his wife Mary, age 27, and their children:
Winnifred Priestley, age 4, b- Bet Oct-Dec 1899 in Wakefield Reg dist, Yorkshire
Dennison Priestley, age 2, b- Bet Apr-June 1901 in Halifax Reg dist., Yorkshire
Clare Priestley, 5 mo,
They travelled on the same ship as Arthur, May 1904.
also his Grandmother, Betty Priestley, nee ?, age 66, (see below)
and his namesake, Uncle Arthur Priestley, age 37, (see below)
and an Aunt Martha H. Priestley, age 35 (see below)

His Uncle, Benjamin Rothwell Priestley, also served in WWI
b- Apr 4, 1876, Barkisland, Yorkshire, England
Canadian Expeditionary Force, Sergeant, Service #100117
enlisted in Edmonton, June 30, 1915
attestation form says next of kin, his wife is shown as Ada in 1915
She was living at 9538 122nd ave, Edmonton
He was a mechanic when he enlisted
he married bet Apr- June 1900, in Ashton Reg Dist, England
His Uncle Ben and family moved from the farm to Edmonton,
eventually to Montreal, and then back to England.
The family emigrated again, this time to New York State in USA.

His Uncle, Arthur Priestley, died a bachelor in Victoria,
He retired in 1934 at the age of 67.
b- Dec 13, 1866 in Yorkshire, England
d- Jan 24, 1956, in Victoria BC, age 89
buried in Royal Oak Burial Park, Saanich BC per death cert
but I show him buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, in Edmonton

an Aunt “Patti” Priestley came to Canada as well with the family.
I believe this was Martha H. Priestley, (shown above)
b- 1865 in England
d- Apr 1919, in Edmonton, age 35 in 1904
she died of influenza
She was a housekeeper at the Cecil Hotel in 1915.
She was the Executive Housekeeper in “The Macdonald” Hotel
in Edmonton in 1919. known locally as “The Mac”
2015 it is called the “Fairmont Hotel Macdonald”, built July 5, 1915,
So she was one of the early employees there.
The hotel was built by the Grand Trunk Pacific.

Grandfather- Benjamin Priestley
he would have died before 1904 in England

Grandmother- Elizabeth “Betty” Priestley, nee ?
b- 1838 in England
d- ca June 28, 1922, in Onoway AB, age 84
buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Edmonton

Newspaper accounts of the accident and coroner inquiry
(note name spelled wrong in the papers)

Articles below researched by Harry Kruisselbrink, Historian and Author, based in Smithers BC

The Interior News
Wednesday, December 7, 1927
Vol. 20 No. 36

Railwayman Killed by Flying Boulder Dislodged Rock Crashed Roof of Car Fatally Injuring Arthur M. Priestly

By a cruel fate that rolled his baggage-car under a large rock that had become dislodged and catapulted down as Sunday morning’s westbound passenger train was travelling along in the vicinity of Terrace, the life of Arthur M. Priestly, one of the most popular young railwaymen on the division, was snuffed out. The big missile crashed through the roof of the car without warning, striking the unfortunate man on the head and crushing his skull as well as causing other serious injuries.

The accident occurred in a district closer to Prince Rupert, but ahead was a slide that meant uncertain delay, and the victim was taken in the caboose of a freight train and rushed back to Hazelton, where death occurred shortly after his admission.

For about eighteen months the deceased had been working as a baggage man on trains out of Jasper and Smithers, coming to this terminal in May. His parents, wife and one child reside at Edmonton but were visiting in Vancouver at the time of the fatal accident.

Unassuming, friendly and gentlemanly in all his actions, he had built up a list of strong friendships in Smithers, and their regrets at his untimely end are passed along with deep sympathy for those who are left to mourn his loss.

The Interior News
Wednesday, December 21, 1927
Vol. 20 No. 38

Accidental Death is Declaration of Jury

At Hazelton on Thursday, Coroner S. H. Hoskins presided over the adjourned inquest into circumstances surrounding the death of A.M. Priestly, the young baggage man who lost his life when a huge boulder crashed through the roof of the baggage-car on a Canadian National Railway train two weeks ago. After hearing evidence a verdict of accidental death while on duty, due to the fall of a boulder through the roof of his car, was returned. The jury included no recommendation or suggestion of responsibility in giving their finding.

Funeral Friday, Dec 9, 1927 at 2:30
from McDougall United Church in Edmonton AB

Western Land Grants for Family Members

Arthur Priestley (Arthur's Uncle)
SE 28 54 2 W5

James Priestley (his father)
NW 32 54 2 W5

Norman F Priestley (his brother)
SW 32 54 2 W5

Edgar Walker Priestley (his brother)
NW 18 55 2 W5

Benjamin R Priestley (His other Uncle)
SW 2 57 2 W5

Arthur Applied for his own homestead:
Section 32 Township 54 Range 2 W-Meridian 5

Ext Links
Note- Not my pages


Norman Priestley family history in Coaldale AB

Priestley Family History recorded in “The Pathfinders” History book for Onoway area.
Lookups kindly available online for this book.
Sorry, I do not have a copy of this book, but I do now have the Priestley excerpts. 10 pages.


  • Last modified: 2019/10/27 16:56
  • by dlgent