George Irvine Gaull was the brother of my paternal great grandmother, Jessie McKenzie (Gaull) Hadden. He, like his older sister Jessie, was one of 13 children born to John Gaull and his wife, Harriett McKenzie. George was born at the Gaull family farm on July 8, 1892 in Cairnley, Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and was rather interestingly named by his father, John, after John’s twin brother George who had gone by the surname of Irvine almost from birth (George had been raised by an Inverurie family named Houey from infancy whereas John was raised by his mother Mary Jane Gaull – see “An Unsolved Mystery” from August 31, 2009).
When George was 18 years old, likely as with most young men of that age feeling invincible, he left Scotland for Canada. Carrying ticket number 121150 and $25.00, George boarded the Empress of Ireland (pictured above) at Liverpool and sailed into Quebec City, Quebec on June 9, 1910. George then made his way west to Toronto by train where, according to the ship’s passenger list, he planned to carry on the work he knew from home – he was going to be a farm labourer. Maybe it was because he found that there weren’t a lot of farms in the city of Toronto in 1910 that lead George into another field of employment, that of being a grocer. George changed careers and found a room living in the former Village of East Toronto with the Coulson family. Three years later, on July 1, 1913 George married his landlord’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth Coulson.
On May 25, 1917, George, then 25 years of age and standing at just over 5 feet and 4 inches in height, left his house at 67 Pickering Street and enlisted with the Royal Canadian Dragoons in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. George returned to Toronto, Ontario, Canada on October 31, 1920, again sailing from Liverpool, England to Quebec City, this time aboard the ship ‘Melita’ and took up his occupation as a grocer. In 1926, George and Mary were living at 98 Lyall Avenue, a city block or two away from his former Pickering Street home. At the time he was working for Lawlor’s Bread Company but by 1929, George had opened his own grocery store at 87 Pickering Street and according to the Toronto City Directory for that year, he could be reached by telephone at HOward 0280.
The little grocery store started by ‘Georgie’ Gaull, as he was known in the family, continued to operate well into my early childhood days. I passed by the store daily on my way to school knowing that it was part of my family history.