When my great grandparents, Alexander Shand Hadden and his wife Jessie Mckenzie Gaull moved their family that included my grandfather John Gaull Hadden, to Toronto from Saskatchewan, they moved into the east end of the city. Jessie had a younger brother, George Irvine Gaull, who lived in Toronto already, having moved there from Scotland about 13 years earlier.
George operated a small grocery store at 87 Pickering Street. The store was on the main floor of essentially what was built as a house. For a time George and his wife lived in the upstairs but later they lived on another house not far away from the store. Pictured above is George’s ‘store’ as it looks today – more like a house and under constant renovation.
My great grandparents initially moved into a house one street away from George’s store but soon after moved the family into the house shown above at 109A Pickering Street (theirs was the one on the left). The ‘A’ designation is not completely unique but was unusual and typically would be used when a semi-detached house like this was built on a single lot. When the Hadden family lived in the home, the brown bricks had not been been painted their current white colour. It was from this house that my great grandfather and eventually his sons went off to work each day. It was also the family home during the time of my grandparent’s courtship. And, most importantly perhaps, it is the house in which my father, Lewis John Hadden, was born.
After a few years in 109A Pickering Street, Alexander and Jessie moved a little further up the street. This time to a house at the ‘top’ of Pickering Street where it ended at Gerrard Street. This house became their home until their deaths in 1945. This house, shown above with my great grandfather Alexander and his dog ‘Queenie’ sitting on the front steps, was also the location for one of the better family myths. As the story goes, when the family moved from Saskatchewan, my grandfather’s oldest brother, Alexander Gauld Hadden or, Uncle Alec as we knew him, brought his six-shooter hand guns with him. His mother, Jessie hated the guns and was always worried that only something bad would come of them. So one day the guns disappeared and Jessie confessed that she was responsible – she told the family she had buried the guns in the backyard and never did tell anyone the location. For decades, the family wondered where they were buried as they never were found. You can imagine Uncle Alec’s surprise then about 40 years later, when visiting family in Saskatchewan, he was presented with his guns by a relative who told him that he thought Uncle Alec was old enough to take care of them himself. I can still recall Uncle Alec passing a large, very ‘cowboy’ like six shooter as well as a much daintier silver six shooter to me about 30 years ago. I got to hold and inspect the guns of family lore that I grew up believing were still buried in the backyard!