Fonds 1998-032 - Mills family fonds

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Mills family fonds

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CA ON00226 1998-032

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1938-1945 (Creation)

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Physical description

30 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

The Mills was a Peterborough family which found itself on two sides of the Atlantic, separated as a result of World War II. Bartlett Thomas Mills (1870-1939) and Matilda "Tilly" Hooper Mills (1876-1975) were born in Pontypridd, southern Wales. They emigrated to Canada, settling in Peterborough around 1911. Bartlett Mills worked as a painter/decorator in Peterborough, specializing in marbelling and graining. He died suddenly in October 1939. Matilida Mills returned to Wales for a short visit just prior to the Second World War, (her children: Ethel, Vivian, Arthur, Alfred, Lillian and Gladys remained in Peterborough). Once war was declared Matilda Mills was not allowed to make a return voyage since all ships were taken for the war effort. After the War she returned to Peterborough and remained in the City for the rest of her life. Her daughter Ethel Mills (b. 1911) married Harold Lancaster, August 26, 1944. They lived on his farm in Otonabee Township. Ethel Mills Lancaster worked as deputy registrar and court clerk for the Peterborough County Court for some 41 years until she retired in 1976.

Custodial history

The letters were preserved intact by the donor, Ethel Mills-Lancaster, from the early 1940's. The donor contacted the City Archivist while cleaning out some trunks in July 1998.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of several hundred letters from Matilda Mills, living in Pontypridd, southern Wales during World War Two to her children Ethel, Gladys and Lillian living in Peterborough. The correspondence chronicles the lives Matilda Mills and her family as they live through the War, separated by a great distance. The letters contain extensive references to family, daily life and work. Most letters also contain detailed personal impressions of key events in the War (e.g. Battle of Britain, Russian front, D-Day, surrender of Nazi Germany, rationing, Battle of the Atlantic, Canadian war news, etc). Included is a large wall map issued by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1942 showing the distribution of allied, axis and neutral countries, and supply lines in the early years of the War. Also included are immigration documents of Matilda Mills and a detailed Mills family history written Ethel Mills Lancaster.

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Associated materials

See also 989.26 (Museum collection) for a civilian gas mask used by Matilda Mills during her years in Wales.

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