William and Catherine Shaughnessy

It sometimes takes me a little while but eventually I get around to tracking down the siblings of my more direct ancestors. Such is the case with Catherine Foley, the sister of my great grandfather John Foley.

Like her older brother John, Catherine was born in Barrie, Ontario, Canada in 1865, the daughter of William Foley and Bridget McTague. On November 28, 1883, in Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church in Barrie, at the age of 18, Catherine married William Shaughnessy, also a native of Barrie, Ontario, the son of Michael Shaughnessy and Catherine Miller. The record of their marriage appears both in the Ontario marriage registrations and in the church register. Finding these records was made all the more difficult due to the frequent misspelling of the Shaughnessy surname – in the records the name is spelled as ‘Shanacy.’

Not long after their marriage, William and Catherine headed south for the ‘big’ city of Toronto where William found employment as a brick maker. In 1887, when their third child was born, the Shaughnessy’s were living on Verral Avenue in Toronto’s east end. By 1911, Catherine and William had taken up residence at 10 Brighton Avenue, just one block away from the Blong Avenue homes of where Catherine’s older brothers, John and Thomas had lived. Below is an image, captured from Google street view, of the house at 10 Brighton Ave. as it looks today. I suspect it didn’t look too much different 100 years ago.

By the time they lived in this house, William Shaughnessy had left the brick-making industry and became a teamster, then a contractor. A pattern of employment identical to Catherine’s brother, John. It just seems too coincidental that William would work for some years years as a teamster and then work as a contractor.

Although I have never heard it suggested and have no family stories to base it on, I suspect John Foley was the head of a ‘family’ business that employed Thomas Foley and brother-in-law William Shaughnessy. It will be interesting to see if records exist that might corroborate my suspicions.

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