Fonds PR-286 - Underwood family fonds

Fred Burke in military uniform Bert Burke Fred Burke "Uncle Ben, Madeline's husband" Andy Cook Bert [Burke?] in the American Army, WWI Madeline Hartsell (nee Burke) Madeline Hartsell (nee Burke) Mena Patricia Underwood, her father Leslie Harold Patrick Underwood, and grandmother Emma Burke Willford's Sawmill
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Identity area

Reference code



Underwood family fonds


  • 1918-1970 predominant (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4 albums (659 photographs).
148 photographs (loose).
7 film negatives.
1 scrapbook.
Year books.
New clippings.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Ernest Brownlow Underwood was born on March 1, 1873 in St. Paul's, Deptford, London, to George G. Underwood and Lucy Anne Frazer. In 1888 at the age of 15, he joined the Coldstream Guards as a drummer boy and would remain in military service throughout the British Empire, eventually reaching the rank of Major. E.B. Underwood married Alice May Hogben on February 21, 1899 during a short visit home to England. They emigrated to Toronto ca. 1909 and in 1910 moved to Winnipeg. There he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and went on to serve overseas during the First World War. E.B. Underwood, who knew George Pearkes, came to Victoria in 1922 after the war and was posted in Esquimalt. He retired from military service in 1932. He and his wife then lived at 400 Gorge Road W (now 2840 Gorge View Drive), then for a time at 5172 West Saanich Road, and later in Victoria. They had five sons: Arthur Victor George, Leslie Harold Patrick, Ernest Albert, Ghazi Kenal, and Reginald Cyril (died in 1937 when he drowned while working at the Cameron Lumber Company wharf); and three daughters: Lillian Songhurst, Muriel Burch, and Mena Miller. E.B. Underwood's sons Leslie (Buster), Ghazi, and Ernest (Ernie) all saw action in the Second World War. Leslie and Ernie volunteered for service in 1939 in Victoria. They were attached to the 3rd LAA Battery, RCA. They left for England in 1941 and were in the gun crew that was recognized as the first Canadian crew to destroy a German bomber (Junkers 88) during the Battle of Britain. Both took part in the raid at Dieppe. Leslie returned, but Ernie was wounded on the beach and was a Prisoner of War for the duration, writing a series of letters home from the P.O.W. camp. Ghazi joined the Army in 1943 at age 18 and saw action in Italy and Europe. Leslie saw action at D-Day and in Northern Europe until the end of the war. With the end of the war, the three brothers returned home to Victoria. Leslie Harold Patrick Underwood and wife Emily Agnes (nee Burke) (married on September 28, 1934) lived at 3060 Wascana Avenue and 3097 Millgrove Avenue in Saanich and later 5424 Fowler Road (now 776 Menawood Place) in Cordova Bay. They had two children, Leslie Garnet and Mena Patricia (after whom the street was named).


Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated in multiple accessions in 2017, 2018, 2021 by a member of the Underwood family.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists primarily of photographs relating to the Underwood family, 1920-1970. In addition to images documenting family activities and homes, fonds includes photographs taken both locally and overseas relating to the WWII service of brothers Leslie, Ernest, and Ghazi Underwood; letters written by Ernest Underwood from a POW camp; ephemera dating from the end of the war and relating to returning soldiers; and WWII news clippings. Fonds includes school year books, 1955-1985, from Royal Oak High School, Royal Oak Middle School, Claremont High School, and Mount Newton Junior High. Fonds includes scrapbook of items collected by Emily Underwood during WW2 while her husband Leslie, Sr. was overseas, newspapers and periodical issues.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • German
  • Italian

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

All items removed from albums or frames for preservation. Newspapers and periodical issues are torn at edges and worn along folds.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Oral History interview with Les Underwood, son of Leslie Underwood, 2018 (2018-007).
Oral History interview with Marion Underwood, wife of Ghazi Underwood, 2017 (2017-029).
Marion Rousay Underwood fonds (2020-003).

Notes area


Accession no: 2017-027, 2018-004, 2018-05, 2018-011, 2018-026, 2021-008.

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Dates of creation revision deletion




Accession area