Wilbert Tom


 BORN 15 February 1887
 DIED January 1972 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
 FATHER William Tom (1838-1901)
 MOTHER Sarah M Richardson (1854-1901)
 MARRIED Mabel Swain (1907-1999) in 1933 in Thunder Bay.
 CHILDREN   William Wesley Tom (1934-)
 Phyllis Tom
 Margaret Lynn Tom

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Daughter Margaret comments:

The photo shows him in uniform when he was a 4th class engineer manning engines in Merchant Navy ships taking soldiers to WWI from Canada. That would not have been a pleasant job, in those hot engine rooms and at risk of being blown up by submarines. He returned home in 1919.

He was unable be a soldier as he did not pass the medical because of flat feet which prevented him from tolerating the trenches and being on foot so much.

My father then worked on boats in Lake Superior and was shipwrecked there near Whitefish Bay on the American side in November when it was American Thanksgiving. Only 4 men were on the renovated tugboat, bringing it up to Thunder Bay. Lots of storms that time of year and the lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the world, known for never giving up its dead due to the extreme cold. Two crew drowned, my father and the captain survived by hanging onto a wooden mast until reaching the American shore where they were treated to a thanksgiving dinner by folks who found them. Lake Superior is very cold, but after the summer warmup it obviously was warm enough for them to survive. This was before he married my mother in 1933 but I unfortunately have no more details about it. There is a lot of shipwreck info for Lake Superior but being a small boat, I can find nothing. I think the captain’s last name was Walters. He always praised my dad for saving his life, but my dad used to tell me that he couldn’t shake him off my coat-tails! Dad was hanging on and the captain clung onto my dad! My father continued to work on boats hauling logs along the lake to Thunder Bay to the pulp mills.

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