David Leveridge and his family joined the flow of immigrants to Canada in the early 1880s. His story was similar to that of many other newcomers. David had been overseer of Park Farm, an estate in Hochering near Norwich in eastern England. He and his wife Anna, with their family of six children, lived in a rambling country home on the estate; a house so large that according to family tradition, occasionally they would move to a different set of rooms just for a change.
Anna was organist in the parish church. The family grew up with a steady faith in God, a faith strengthened by daily family worship. Life appeared good, and seemed secure. They enjoyed many comforts: food in plenty; good clothing, for Anna was clever with her sewing machine; education; a well-rounded way of life. David rode a good horse about the farmlands to direct operations at each season.
Even at Hochering there were, of course, some rumblings of discontent. In the evening gatherings at the village pub, tall tales were told of the money this or that person had made after braving emigration to one of the colonies. One evening it was Australia, another time Canada, and next time New Zealand that shone in the rosy hues common to far-off places.
Life for the family might well have gone on indefinitely in this pattern. But David, whose nature was trusting and generous, backed a friend’s note for a considerable sum. His faith in the honesty of his friend was betrayed. The man vanished, the money with him. Laws were severe concerning money matters in England; those who couldn’t pay their debts went to prison. David had no choice other than paying the note in full when it became due. This took everything he had.
The blow to the family was heavy; their savings were now gone and their future uncertain. Security had disappeared over night. Facing them were long years of struggle and hard work to replace even a part of what was lost.
David became depressed in spirits beyond the ability of Anna’s cheerfulness to cure. He felt bitterly that his negligence and too ready trust had hurt his family, and he was ashamed to face his friends. The idea of emigration to one of the colonies in order to start over again among new faces became insistent in his mind. But he did not discuss the matter with Anna; if he had, the outcome might have been different. When he could stand the situation no longer, he did not even bid goodbye to his family and friends, but disappeared.
Anna found no explanation on the morning after his departure. No one had seen him go. True, he had talked, as had others in the neighbourhood, about leaving for one of the colonies to try gathering some of the easy money to be found there, but days passed with no message. At last, after a week or so, there came a brief note from him. It said only that he was on his way to Canada, and that they would hear from him later.
Weeks passed, and the time grew into months. Anna lay awake many nights, reviewing her hopes and fears. She hadn’t told David that a new baby was on its way. She had to plan to provide for it and for the family herself. Her playing of the church organ took on a new meaning. The pay for that service, with what she earned from giving music lessons and her skill as a seamstress, kept the family together. Her sewing machine was seldom idle in any spare time that she could find from house-keeping. The children learned to help whenever they could.
Anna prayed often for help and guidance. Slowly, out of this soul-searching, grew sure faith that things would yet work out for the best. David would manage. He would return and they would make their lives anew. But David never saw England again.