Swetnam, William James, 1878-1973

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Swetnam, William James, 1878-1973

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Rev. William James Swetnam was born in Wolverhampton, England in May 1878, the son of William and Ellen (Wood) Swetnam. He came to Canada in 1902 as a lay minister with the Methodist Church and after studies in Montreal was ordained in Riverport, Nova Scotia. Thereafter, he held charges in Truro, Whitney Pier, Glace Bay, Parrsboro, Halifax, Bridgetown, Bermuda, Pugwash, Nappan, Shelburne, Gabarus, and Port Mouton. He was first married to Elizabeth “Lizzie” Louise Astbury, the daughter of Rev. John and Frances (Lowe) Astbury, born in August 1879. They had two children: Carman A. who was born in January 1910 and Dorothy Louise who was born in Glace Bay on 27 March 1911. At the time of the Halifax Explosion in 1917, Rev. Swetnam was the minister at the Kaye Street Methodist Church. His wife and his son were both killed during the explosion. He remained in Halifax for two years afterward overseeing the reconstruction of the church but ultimately moved to Truro, Nova Scotia. He subsequently remarried to A. Jean MacDonald and had two children: William D. and Isabel. Rev. Swetnam died on 13 January 1973.


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