James Boyle was born in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1885, the son of Charles and Susan Boyle (née Orr). His father was a coal miner, and James followed in his footsteps by also becoming a miner.
In 1906, James immigrated to Canada and settled in the coal mining village of Frank, in south-western Alberta, which is in the Rocky Mountains. Frank is one of a number of coal mining villages that now make up the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.
In 1915, he decided to travel to Great Britain - perhaps because of the war situation in Europe and his own patriotic duty, or perhaps just to visit his family in Scotland.
Consequently, he booked a third class passage from New York to Liverpool with the Cunard Steam Ship Company and having left Canada towards the end of April, he boarded the
Lusitania at the company’s berth at Pier 54 in New York on the morning of 1st May 1915, in time for the liner’s scheduled 10.00 a.m. sailing.
This sailing was delayed, however, as the Lusitania had to take on board passengers, cargo and some crew from the Anchor Liner
Cameronia, which had been taken up by the British Admiralty for war work as a troop ship. Then, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed twelve miles off the coast of southern Ireland by the German submarine
U-20, and sank two miles closer to land. At that stage of her voyage, she was only 250 miles from her home port.
Although nearly 250 third class passengers perished as a result of this action, James Boyle managed to survive and having been rescued from the sea he was landed at Queenstown from which it is presumed he eventually reached his destination, which was probably the family home at 30 Eddlewood Rows, Hamilton. He was aged 30 years at the time of his ordeal.
Having spent a few months recovering from his ordeal, he set out on his return journey to Frank, Alberta, by boarding the liner
St. Paul at Liverpool on the 16th October 1915, arriving in New York harbour on the 24th October. From there, he presumably made his way back to Alberta by rail and continued to work in the coal mines in the Crowsnest pass area until his retirement.
James married Mary Ellen Collins, who also came from Hamilton, Lanarkshire, and they raised a family in Alberta.
James Boyle died at Crowsnest Pass Municipal Hospital, on the 17th March 1951, aged 66 years. His remains were buried in St. Cyril’s Catholic Cemetery, Bellevue, within the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass. His wife, Mary, died in 1982 and is buried beside him.
1891 Census of Scotland, 1901 Census of Scotland, Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 – 1935, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, Graham Maddocks, Sue Powell, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly