Alfred “Fred” Thomas Hallett was born in October 1863 in Lewisham, Kent, England – over 150 years ago! His parents, William and Eliza, moved their family to Canada in May 1869, when Fred was six years old. He had seven siblings: William, Henry, John, Elizabeth, Esther, Charles, and Arthur.
The Hallett family settled in Guelph. At the age of twelve, Fred left school to work at Raymond’s Sewing Machine Company. He operated a machine called a gear cutter.
On February 3, 1879, Fred’s hand was caught in the gear cutter. He tried to pull free, but he lost his arm in the accident. Fred recovered from his injury and returned to work at Raymond’s Factory. He became a wheel turner, a task that he could do with one arm.
Fred lived in Guelph until 1891. When he was 28 years old, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, USA. He got married a year later. Fred and his wife Emily had four children: Hazel, Alfred, William, and Anna. Their descendants continue to live in Upper State New York, USA.
Fred’s story is a permanent fixture of the Families Gallery but this display featuring Fred Hallett, Raymond Sewing Machine Factory and child labour in 19th century Guelph extends beyond the gallery to the second floor, opposite from the elevator.
Thanks to local historian Bonnie Durtnall, Labouring All Our Lives, who discovered Fred Hallett’s story. Her research contributed greatly to this display.