My father traversed an interesting path, one of travel, adventure and creativity. Born in England, he studied botany and horticultural science at Wimbledon Technical College. He worked as a student gardener at the John Innes Horticultural Institution in London.
In a letter dated October 1st, 1937, it says:
“Mr. E. Milner came to us on Sept. 16th 1935 as a Student Gardener. Since that time he has spent 4 months in the Fruit Department, 2 months in the Rock Garden, 8 months on general outdoor work and 10 months under glass. His experience with us has included the propagation and maintenance of stove, glasshouse and herbaceous plants, all of which we grow in considerable variety.”
After completing his courses, he moved to India to work on a tea plantation around 1937. He remained in India during the second world war serving as a translator.
In a letter dated 7th May, 1946 from the India Office, Whitehall, it says:
“Now that the time has come for your release from active military duty, I am to convey to you the thanks of the Secretary of State for India and of the Government of India for the valuable services which you have rendered to your country at a time of grave national emergency.
At the end of the emergency you will relinquish your commission, and at that time a notification will appear in the London Gazette (Supplement), granting you also the honorary rank of Captain. Meanwhile, you have permission to use that rank with effect from the date of your release.”
He returned to England in 1946 and shortly thereafter immigrated to Canada where he met and married my mother. Together they owned a pair of flower shops for a few years. My father later managed a nursery in my hometown of London, Ontario.
Lucky for me his hobbies included photography and the careful assembly of albums, like the one pictured below. I remain fascinated all these years later of his time in India and his work planting and propagating tea in the Darjeeling region.