Lest We Forget – The Hadden – Wagner Families Wall Of Honour

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we pause to reflect and remember those who went before us, bravely sacrificing their youth and in too many cases their lives, for our freedom.

Poppy
The following is the list of those known brave ancestors, some from my family and some from Ellen’s, who gave so much. Today especially, we remember them. They shall not be forgotten.

World War I

GAMMIE, James (1895-1918), Private, Canadian Expeditionary Force, killed in action

GAMMIE, Peter (1893-1984), Private, Canadian Expeditionary Force (enlisted, not sent overseas)

GORDON, Alexander Garrow Duncan (1891-1917), Private, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, killed in action

MERNER, Albert Edward ‘Herbert’ (1897-1917), Canadian Expeditionary Force, killed in action

TRIGGS, James Little (1899-1916), Cabin Boy, Royal Navy, killed in action

TRIGGS, Phillip (1899-1967), Cabin Boy, Royal Navy

FINDLATER, William (1880-1918), British Army, died at home from wounds

FILKIN, Carl William (1897-1976), Canadian Expeditionary Force, lost left arm to shrapnel gun shot wound in France

World War II

SENATO, Nicola F. (1913-1945), U.S. Army, killed in action, Japan

NUSBICKEL, Thomas Raymond (1923-2002), U.S. Army

GAULL, George Leonard ‘Lenny’ (1920-2013), Canadian Armed Forces

MORGAN, Bruce Evan, M.D. (1924-2007), Navigator, Canadian Air Force

WAGNER, Carl Francis (1917-1993), Canadian Armed Forces

WAGNER, Gordon Gilbert Henry (1914-1994), Canadian Armed Forces

Lest We Forget: Remembering Carl William Filkin

They were best friends.

Two kids from Longford Mills, Ontario. That’s where they met, likely sometime around 1910, when they were both in their early teens.

Alex and Carl were always up for adventure. Friday, October 1, 1915 was to be the start of their greatest adventure. They were going to defeat the army of the German Kaiser.

Alex was Alexander Smith Morton whom the records show was a couple of years older and a couple of inches shorter than his best friend Carl. Alex, born on May 21, 1895, was 20-years old on that Friday in 1915 at the volunteer enlistment centre in Toronto, Ontario. Carl, whose birth name is recorded as William Carl Filkin, born March 14, 1897, was the eldest son of William Mark Filkin and his wife Alma Maud Armstrong.

Extract from Provisional County of Haliburton birth register, page 145


Alex and Carl joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, although, perhaps neither could understand why they just didn’t call it ‘the army.’ They were among the 640,000 Canadians who would serve King and Country in The Great War.

Carl and Alex enlisted in the 92nd Highlanders Battalion and were even assigned consecutive regimental numbers. Carl was number 192913 and Alex was number 192914.

As privates, Carl and Alex first trained in Toronto before being shipped to England in April 1916 for further training. Once in England, they were both first transferred as reinforcements to the 15th Battalion, a unit of the Toronto 48th Highlanders.

Finally, around the middle of September 1916, they went on their last great adventure together; they went to war in France. They joined the British-led Battle of Arras.

I suspect that their weeks in the trenches of France were not quite the adventure they thought they had signed on for. 

Wet, muddy, cold and terrifying. This was not drill work anymore. Real bullets were being shot at them. Real bombs were exploding near them. Real soldiers, young men just like them, on both sides of the battle line, were dying in front of them, the screams keeping them awake at night.

Then on October 28, 1916, Alex was hit. As Carl would later write to Alex’s brother Robert, “Alex was hit with a piece of shrapnel in the right arm and the missile pierced his chest.” It was Carl who, while still under enemy fire, carried his best friend to the field hospital where the severe wound was dressed. It was Carl who watched his best friend die on that October day.

The war wasn’t finished with Carl Filkin. He kept on fighting and according to Carl’s recollections of his time in war, shared with his son William, he and a Major Mavery would often sneak across ‘No Man’s Land’ only to return to their trenches later with a kidnapped German prisoner in tow whom they would interrogate.

In early April of 1917, as the Canadian troops readied themselves for their greatest battle at Vimy Ridge, Carl was shot in the left arm. For the better part of two days, Carl lay in a field, taken for dead before finally being rescued and removed to a field hospital where the first of numerous surgeries removed part of his left arm.

Information traveled slowly in those days, almost 100 years ago, and so it wasn’t until November 15, 1917 that the Orillia Times reported that “Private Carl Filkin, son of Mr. Harry Filkin, Longford Mills, and who went overseas a year ago, last May with the Highlanders, was wounded in the left arm by gun shot. He was taken to England, where his arm was removed. He is feeling fine now, and hopes to be home for Christmas.” The newspaper got the name of his father wrong, but Carl did eventually come home, minus his left arm and his best friend.

Carl took a course in accounting, saw a pretty girl playing the piano at a party and declared to a friend that he was going to marry the girl. True to his word, on May 21, 1921, Carl married that piano-playing pretty girl, Hazel Hicks. The marriage was officiated by Carl’s brother-in-law Rev. Albert C. Hie.

Carl worked as an accountant while Hazel worked at home, raising their sons. They lived in Calgary, Alberta for a while when Carl was President of the Prest-O-Lite battery plant located in that city. Eventually, they returned to the Toronto area and lived in Mississauga, Ontario where Hazel passed away in 1965 and Carl in 1976.

Alex Morton never returned to Canada. He was buried in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France, joined by more than 7,650 other brave heroes of the First World War.


The gravestone for Alex Morton, Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France (photo from Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Veteran Affairs Canada)


Two young heroes went to war. One did not come home; the other came home forever changed. Lest we forget!

52 Ancestors: Jack Hangs Up The Blades For A Life Of Service

This is the fourth and final part in a series of posts that primarily set out to capture the professional hockey career of John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin, or, ‘Uncle Johnny’ to my wife.

The previous three posts about Jack Filkin’s hockey career can be read here:


Jack Filkin learned to play hockey, likely on the frozen ponds and rivers of his native Ontario, Canada. It is clear from all of the records that Jack loved hockey and would do whatever was needed to find a place on a good team. He was scouted a signed by the New York Rangers. He didn’t make the NHL team following the 1929 training camp but rather was assigned to the Rangers’ pro farm team, the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. 

His second pro hockey season was spent in the California Hockey League playing for the Los Angeles Millionaires. Unfortunately, no cumulative statistics for the team or the league could be found for the 1930-31 season. However, various newspaper articles and family-held press clippings tell of Jack impressing with his speed, his goal scoring touch and his ability to play both a finesse and physical style of hockey. Whatever it took to succeed. 

Jack Filkin as a Los Angeles Millionaire (original photo privately held)


Jack’s Los Angeles Millionaires finished second in the league that year to the Oakland Shieks. Jack was near the top of the list of goal scorers, probably in the top ten players, possibly as high as the top five in the league.

It is not surprising then that Jack’s pro hockey contract was purchased by the Philadelphia Arrows of the Canadian-American Hockey League for the 1931-32 season.

Jack was off to the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ to join an Arrows hockey team being coached and managed by Hockey Hall of Famer Herb Gardiner. The team played all of it’s home games in the Philadelphia Arena on Market Street in the city’s west end. Statistics for the 1931-32 season show that Jack played in 31 games, assisted on three goals, and accumulated twelve minutes in penalties. 

What that record does not show is that jack sustained a career ending injury towards the end of the season. Jack’s hockey season was ended early when he severely broke one of his legs.

The following hockey season, Jack attempted a comeback with the 1932-33 Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Hockey League. Leading up to the Eskimos’ opening game, an Edmonton sports reporter introduced the new member of the local team in this way:

Over on the left wing, McKenzie [Edmonton Eskimos coach] has a big, robust speed merchant in the person of Jack Filkin, 25-year old sniper who has had his share of pro competition…Filkin had a bad break with the Arrows, suffering a badly fractured leg, and he never did regain the form expected of him.

Although his hockey career came to a disappointing end, Jack had lived the dream. But it was now on to other and perhaps even greater things John Osborne Filkin.

With his hockey career over, John returned to Toronto with his wife Hazel (Latimer). They settled into a pleasant home on Vaughn Road in the Toronto borough of York. John and Hazel welcomed into their family two daughters. John went off to work each day according to voters lists as a salesman. Eventually John took up the profession of tree surgeon as recorded in numerous subsequent voters lists. Eventually this profession would be described as Landscape Architecture.

John Filkin in 1965 (from Lions Club International newsletter)


In 1950, John became a member of the Lions Club service organization. According to a variety of club archived records, in 1958, John became the President of his local Lions Club branch. The following year he became the Zone Chairman for the Lions Club. He then spent 1961 and 1962 as the Lions Club’s Deputy District Chairman, followed by two years in the role of 100% Deputy District Governor. From 1965 through 1967, John was a Director of the Lions Club International, representing Canada.

John’s dedication to service through the Lions Club is well documented, both in Lions Club archived records and in the many newspaper articles from across Canada and the United States reporting on John’s message to fellow Lions Club members at the many conventions at which he was invited to be the keynote speaker.

When not inspiring and encouraging Lions Club members, John found time to serve as the Commissioner of the Parking Authority for the Borough of York (Toronto, Ontario) or 16 years. In the 1971 photo below, John Filkin is seen helping Borough of York Mayor Philip White cover a parking meter, an act that offered free parking in the borough for the busy shopping season the week prior to Christmas.

John ‘Jack’ Filkin (left) with York Mayor Philip White, December 1971 (Toronto Star newspaper archive)


Following a life of giving joy to hockey fans and serving his community, at home and abroad, John Osborne Filkin passed away on April 28, 1977 having followed his dream, served his community well, and teaching all of us how to live life well.

52 Ancestors: Jack Becomes A Los Angeles Millionaire

I have, admittedly, been delinquent in continuing the story about John Osborne (Jack) Filkin, my wife’s uncle through marriage and, in his younger days, a professional hockey player. This is Part 3 in a four part series about Jack Filkin. You can read the previous two parts of this story here:


Jack grew up in small town Ontario, Canada. Here he learned to play hockey, and play it at a high level. In an era before the blades of hockey sticks were curved, Jack played with a standard straight-bladed hockey stick. With that straight blade, Jack developed the unique skill of being able to shoot the puck either left handed or right handed.

At five feet, eleven inches in height and one hundred seventy-five pounds, Jack would have been considered a big winger, even a force to be reckoned with.

In 1929, the general managers of the professional hockey teams had no farm systems from which to draw for the big league team. They needed to scour hockey leagues looking for young talent. 

When the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL) were looking for new talent, according to press reports, they were “told of” Jack who was “known in the Maple Leaf country as Goal-a-Game Filkin, this because he has averaged a goal every game since he began donning the steel blades in league competition.”

The 1929-30 season didn’t work out as hoped for. Jack attended the New York Rangers training camp and was sent to the New York Rangers’ Canadian-American Hockey League affiliate team the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. Although Jack was a fan favourite, his goal scoring touch was missing. He recorded just one goal and one assist while spending 30 minutes in the penalty box.

Following the hockey season, Jack returned to his Ontario home. In Toronto, he was known as Police Constable Filkin, Badge Number 788. In that first ‘off-season’ of 1930, Jack managed to take time off of his ‘beat’ to marry Hazel Latimer.


John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin, 1929-30 Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians 
newspaper photo clipping 
(Newspaper source and date of publication unknown)


On November 10, 1930, it was back to hockey for Jack. But this time, Jack was on his way to play hockey in California where his professional contract had been purchased. Jack was going to be a Los Angeles Millionaire.

There does not appear to be a compiled listing of the statistics from the California Hockey League available for the year that Jack played there (1930-31). However, a review of the press clippings available to me strongly suggests that Jack’s scoring touch had definitely returned, with numerous multiple goal games reported.

Hazel joined Jack in Los Angeles and, together, they were able to connect with Hazel’s aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Knox and Squires families. Hazel’s mother, Mattie Diona (Knox) Latimer was from California and had left the state the day after she married her Canadian husband, Edward Latimer, in 1906.


Hazel (Latimer) Filkin
(Original privately held)


The year of 1931 brought about more change for Jack. Maybe it was because of his goal scoring success in California, maybe it was because of team requirements, or maybe it was a combination of both but, whatever the reason, Jack’s professional hockey contract was purchased again by another team. 

Jack was gong to spend his third season as a Philadelphia Arrow. He did not know it when he crossed the U.S.-Canada border in the Fall of 1931 that the 1931-32 hockey season would be his last.

52 Ancestors: The Road To The NHL – John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin

When last we left our intrepid hero, Jack Filkin had finished the 1927-1928 hockey season on a high note as a member of the York Bible Class hockey team that won the city of Toronto championship. (click here to read Part 1)

Based on an assemblage of newspaper clippings, collected by one of Jack’s brothers, it is recorded that for the 1928-1929 hockey season, the now 23-year old Jack found a place on the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company team in the old Toronto Mercantile Senior League, a tough industry based league of teams representing a number of companies from around the city. 

Jack’s skating ability, stick handling, and even a deft scoring ability did not go unnoticed.

Lester Patrick, the legendary coach and general manager of the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League came calling. So, according to border crossing records, on October 23, 1929, Jack was off to Springfield, Massachusetts and the training camp of the New York Rangers, then a fairly new NHL franchise.

Jack toiled for coach Lester Patrick (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947) and played with Frank Boucher (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958) and Earl Siebert (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963) along with other hockey greats of the era.

Ultimately, Jack Filkin did not make the New York Rangers team (and is listed on the New York Rangers team website as having “missed the cut”) but was sent to the team’s Canadian-American Hockey League professional farm team, the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. The team is said to have derived its name from the Indian Motorcycle Company that manufactured the famous motorcycle in Springfield.

Back home in Orillia, Ontario, Jack’s hockey success did not go unnoticed and in an undated newspaper clipping probably from the Orillia area, the following headline and article appeared,

Jack Filkins Playing Professional Hockey in Springfield, Mass.

Was Popular Player With Orillia Intermediates.

“Jack Filkins once the idol of the Longford team that captured the trophy in the OWL league, and later a popular star on the Orillia Intermediate team, is now playing the professional game with Springfield, Mass. Jack was a chemist at the Longford Standard Chemical Co., and made a great hit with the fans during 1925-26-27. In 1928 and 1929 he played for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Toronto, in the Mercantile league. He plays a good brand of hockey and the fans are not at all surprised to see him crashing the professional ranks.

There is no doubt but that Jack will make good. He has a world of speed, is a clever stick-handler and has one of the most terrific shots ever seen on local ice. Playing hockey, as he has, from his earliest days, he has developed a pair of wrists that are the envy of all those who like to get verve into their shots on goal. His sense of direction is acute and very few of his shots go wide of the mark.”


Jack Filkin in his playing days, abt. 1930 (Original photo privately held)
One family story held that Jack did play in one NHL game but that does not appear to be true. Rather, Jack did play one game against an NHL team!

Before training camp broke for the New York Rangers and their farm team the Springfield Indians, the two teams faced off against each other. On a night in early November 1929, the game, according to sports reporter Victor N. Wall, offered “Springfield hockey fans their first peep at the young hockey stars imported from Canada to play with the Indians, their first glance at the New York Rangers, one of the outstanding clubs in the big league, and their first chance to see the changes in the rules.” One of the most significant rule changes made in hockey was introduced that year, the ability to make a forward pass.

The Spingfield Indians were coached by Frank Carroll who told reporter Wall, “I want to give Springfield fans every chance to see these youngsters and that’s why I am placing an entirely new team on the ice at the start. To show that I want this to be a really new team I am sending Filkin, a left handed shot, in at right wing.” Of course, what Frank Carroll didn’t mentioned was that his right winger Jack Filkin had an unusual talent, the ability to shoot both left handed and right handed. In an era of straight hockey sticks, with no curve or warp in the stick blade, this was an effectively deceptive weapon.

The 1929-30 hockey season was not great for Jack and his Springfield Indians team. At that time, professional hockey teams played a season consisting of only about half the number of games currently seen in the pro leagues. Springfield amassed a losing record of 14 wins, 23 losses and 2 ties, finishing 5th in the standings and out of the playoffs. 

Jack Filkin scored one goal, assisted on one other, and accumulated 30 penalty minutes while playing in 34 of the team’s 39 regular season games. It is likely that Jack, a regular on the team, missed five games due to injuries.

Following his less than stellar pro rookie season, Jack’s career was to be influenced by two great events: the Great Depression and Jack got married (not that getting married and the Great Depression should be viewed as being related to each other).

In the next post, Jack becomes a Millionaire!

52 Ancestors: Living The Dream – John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin (Part 1)

Sure, I’m retired and could say “I’m living the dream” but this isn’t about me. No, this is about Uncle Johnny, or more accurately Ellen’s uncle John Osborne Filkin.

When I was growing up, I had only one season of sports, serious sports – hockey season. It lasted twelve months each year. I played in organized leagues during the Fall, Winter, and Spring. I played ‘road hockey’ using a tennis ball in place of a puck before school, during recesses, at lunch time and, after school until the street lights came on and I was begrudgingly required to call it a day.  Sure, I played some baseball in the summer and some football in the Fall but life really revolved around hockey, hockey, and more hockey.

I knew every player in the National Hockey League (NHL), as for most of the years when I was young, there were only six teams. More than anything else, I dreamed of developing my skills and being good enough to one day play hockey professionally, especially to be in the NHL.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
Recently, I took a second, closer look at a border crossing card from 1930 for Ellen’s Uncle Johnny. The card stated that his reason for entering the United States (he crossed the border from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan) was to play hockey in Los Angeles, California. Playing hockey in California? Many, many decades ago? That, to say the least, piqued my curiosity!

It turns out there are many records, some of which are found in obscure non-genealogically oriented databases, that provide evidence of Uncle Johnny’s hockey career. And then the ‘honey hole’ was presented to me by Ellen’s cousin and Uncle Johnny’s daughter, Jule. An old family scrapbook collection, assembled by one of Uncle Johnny’s brothers, containing all the press clippings they were able to gather eighty years ago pertaining to Uncle Johnny’s hockey career.

So this is the story of John Osborne Filkin. He was known widely by the name ‘Jack’ but my wife knew him only as ‘Uncle Johnny.’

John Osborne Filkin was born April 25, 1905 in the tiny hamlet of Irondale, Ontario, Canada. Irondale is located on Salerno Lake in a rural, heavily-wooded part of Ontario, far from, well, almost everything. John’s father was William Mark Filkin, a chemical engineer who about twenty years earlier had immigrated to Canada from his native Birmingham, England. John’s mother was Alma Maud Armstrong who had been born in the small town of Minden, Ontario.

Summers during Jack’s childhood would offer, as they do today, opportunities for water sports – swimming, fishing, and canoeing. The Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons meant attending school and no doubt for Jack, a chance to skate and play hockey on the frozen ponds and rivers that were plentiful in his part of the province. Jack’s teen years meant chances to work in a local sawmill but he always found time for hockey. Jack probably played hockey whenever and wherever he could, just like I did years later. But he was different. He was truly dedicated to the game and very talented.

In 1927, Jack climbed the joined the amateur hockey ranks eventually joining team of the York Bible Class, a young men’s organization established a few years earlier by Denton Massey, a member of one of Canada’s more famous families. That year his hockey team won the championship of the city of Toronto.

In Part 2, a look at the Road to the NHL.