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

Visiting My Ancestral Homelands (Part 2) – It’s About Family When I Visit Aberdeen

One of the great benefits of visiting my Scottish ancestral homeland was knowing that I had family there I had never met.

When I began researching my family’s history, it struck me that when my ancestors left Scotland, a country they clearly had  a strong love for, they left not just their homes but they family behind. Family they would likely never see again.

Eventually as technology developed over the past fifty years, the ability to communicate at long distances became more accessible and contact began to be restored with the family members who had remained in Scotland. This contact first began with my paternal grandmother’s family, the Little’s and Galbraith’s of Greenock, Scotland.

Eventually through genealogy research and the use of social media, I was able to virtually connect with my paternal grandfather’s family in Aberdeen, Scotland. Although we had never met face-to-face, I was able to reach out to these family members who freely and willingly provided assistance to my daughter when she was moving to Aberdeen to study.

The sense of family transcended the mere records that told us we shared a common ancestor. They helped look for accommodation and opened their home to my daughter to share a family Christmas dinner.

Our common ancestors were John Gaull (1860-1942) and his wife Harriet McKenzie (1858-1925), my 2X great-grandparents, who lived in Monymusk, Scotland, to the west of Aberdeen City.

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Gaull Family Reunion (from left to right – Renee Thomson, Ian Hadden, Rudy Thomson, Jenna Hadden, John Gaull Thomson and his wife Elizabeth (Anderson) Thomson, Fiona Thomson, Roy Thomson and his wife Romy (Bennink) Thomson) Photo by Ellen Hadden

Roy Thomson and his sister Fiona are my third cousins. Their father John Gaull Thomson is my second cousin, once removed. We enjoyed a fabulous meal together at Roy and Romy’s home near Maryculter, Scotland and a visit that was cut far too short by my concerns about driving back to Aberdeen from a country home in the dark while navigating on what I considered to be the ‘wrong’ side of the road!

My wife and I also had a chance to meet up with my second cousin, once removed Pamela Gaull and share family stories and personal updates over coffee at a downtown Aberdeen hotel. Pamela and I had initially connected online and then met when she visited Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As always, Pamela was welcoming, gracious and engaging.

HADDEN Ian with Pamela Gaull May 2015

With cousin Pamela Gaull in Aberdeen, Scotland (Photo by Ellen Hadden)

Fortunately for me, the effort in researching my own family history has provided me with a rich bounty of those I am pleased to call my family!

In The Newspapers For All The Wrong Reasons: Snippets From The Life Of John Gaull

Today, we might refer to it as his ’15-minutes of fame.’ But for John Gaull, his mentions in the media tended to be for all the wrong reasons or at the least for reasons he likely would not have asked for.

Genealogists have long known that newspapers can be a great source of rich information and stories about the lives of our ancestors. It is for this reason that I try to spend as much time as I can searching through newspaper archives to find the stories of those in my family who laid the foundation for who I am.

In the case of John Gaull, archived copies of the Aberdeen Journal from the 19th century provide me with three stories: he was a victim of fraud; he was accused of fraud; and, when he died he funeral procession took two hours and covered a distance of about eight miles.

John Gaull is my 4X great grandfather and as I remind myself, he is not to be confused with his grandson, my 2X great grandfather also a John Gaull.

The records I have found tell me that John (the elder) was born in 1806 in Inverurie, Aberdeen, Scotland, one of at least six children born to Alexander Gauld and Elspet Harper. Early newspaper mentions confirm what later census records report, that John was employed as the farm overseer at Whitehaugh, an estate owned by Lewis Xavier Leslie of Old Aberdeen, in Chapel of Garioch. In that capacity, John can be found listed in newspaper advertisements as the contact person when the estate had land available for prospective tenant farmers or when livestock and farm equipment was being offered for sale.

In December of 1850 however, John along with several other men of Aberdeenshire fell victim to a fraud perpetrated by a man named James Forbes. Forbes forged John’s signature as well as the signatures of two other men on a bill in the amount of 400 pounds. Forbes had committed a similar fraud on two other occasions with different victims, each time passing off the forged notes as legitimate obligations. When his fraudulent activities were uncovered, Forbes is reported to have ‘escaped’ to America only to be tracked down by constable John Scott and returned to Scotland to face justice. 

On Monday, December 16, 1850, Forbes was brought before the High Court of Judiciary in Edinburgh where he plead guilty to the three frauds. He was sentenced to 21 years transportation. No mention is given as to where Forbes was sent but I’m guessing it was likely Australia.

In November of 1877 the newspapers report that a horse dealer named Alex Smith brought a lawsuit against John Gaull, accusing John of selling him a mare on July 31, 1877 that was sick and subsequently died. Smith alleged that John knew the horse was unwell so completed the sale in order to avoid the loss himself. John told the court that he believed the horse to have been in good health at the time of the sale, that he had offered Smith no warranty and, that Smith had subsequently re-sold the horse to a John Mackie who later returned the horse to Smith. John alleged that Smith had brought the lawsuit to recoup losses that Smith was solely responsible for. Following an adjournment of one month, the case returned to court on December 26, 1877 where Smith gave up the case and the court found in John’s favour including granting him expenses.

Finally, confirming the information on John’s death registration, a death notice was published in the Aberdeen People’s Journal newspaper on August 20, 1892 (page 6). But there was also a separate funeral notice for John published on August 13, 1892 in the Aberdeen Journal (page 6), two days after John died. 



The funeral notice states that his funeral procession would be proceeding from Skene and travelling to his burial site at the churchyard in Kintore, a distance of about eight miles. In 1892, that funeral procession was take an estimated two hours to complete.

The Case of George Irvine – An Enigma Wrapped in a Conundrum

My cousin Pamela Gaull posted some comments on my recent blog post about one of our common ancestors, Mary Jane Gaull. In one of her comments Pamela pointed out that George Irvine, born George Gaull, had listed his father as being George Irvine on his marriage registration. Pamela makes a valid point in suggesting that the father of the twins could have been a man named George Irvine just as ‘young’ George listed on his marriage registration.

It got me to thinking about George and what we really know about him from the records found to date. So here is my analysis of those records and the questions that I still have lingering in my mind.

We know from George’s birth registration that he was born on February 8, 1860 at Whitehaugh, Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom. George was one of two twin boys, the other being John Gaull, and their mother was Mary Jane Gaull. The births were registered by the twins’ grandfather, Mary Jane’s father, John Gaull on February 28, 1860 at Chapel of Garioch. The births were registered as being “illegitimate” and no father is named for the boys. According to the birth registration, George was born at 3:00 A.M. and his twin brother John was born at 4:00 A.M.

We know from the 1861 Census of Scotland that George was ‘boarded’ out to the family of James and Isabella Hooey who lived in nearby Inverurie. James and Isabella Hooey (the spelling of this surname was offered as Howie in the Will of the twins’ grandfather John Gaull) were not a childless couple in search of a child, for the same census that records George ‘boarding’ with them also records that the Hooey’s had three daughters living with them in the household. These daughters were aged 22, 15 and 12.

Were the Hooey’s (or Howie’s) in search of a son? I don’t know. James Hooey was recorded as being 47 years old in 1861 and his wife Isabella was recorded as being 48 years old at the same time. Given the age of their youngest daughter in 1861, that is 12, the Hooey’s would have been 35 and 36 when that daughter was born respectively, therefore young enough to have had additional children. Their youngest daughter would have been born about 1849 thus pre-dating civil registration in Scotland. Each of the three Hooey daughters recorded in the 1861 census record are recorded as being born in Aberdeenshire suggesting a likely long-term residency for the family in the county. Yet the Old Parish Registers, Catholic Registers and the civil registrations do not provide any additional Hooey children either being born or having died. There were 39 births registered between 1835 – 1854 under the surname of Howie but none with the parents recorded as James and Isabella.

It is in my view then still a mystery as to why George, the oldest of the twins, was ‘boarded’ out. I also can find no record suggesting that there was a financial transaction involved in the ‘boarding’ out of George.

There is evidence that the family kept ‘tabs’ on George though. For example, in his Will, dated December 3rd, 1892, Mary Jane Gaull’s father, John Gaull refers to his acknowledged grandson George as “George Gaull sometimes named George Howie [or Heowie], sometimes George Irvine.” John Gaull, the grandfather, directed that one hundred British pounds sterling be paid to George from his estate. Clearly, John Gaull knew of George’s surname change(s).

In all of the records I have reviewed, it seems that there are only two likely candidates as the father of the twin boys. Alexander Glennie, the man who married Mary Jane Gaull just a few months after she gave birth to the twins, and George Irvine, the man named by twin George (Gaull) Irvine on his marriage registration in 1883. I am not convinced however that there is evidence, meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard, for a determination that either man is their father.

The only evidence in favour of the case for Alexander Glennie is the circumstance of his marrying Mary Jane Gaull six months after she gave birth to the twins. However, there is no evidence that Alexander accepted Mary’s child John and assisted in raising the boy. In the 1871 Census of Scotland, Alexander and Mary Glennie are found residing at Tillyfro in Cluny whereas the then eleven year old John Gaull is residing with his grandparents John and Mary Gaull in Chapel of Garioch. In 1881, the twin John Gaull was still living with his grandfather who by then was widowed.  
Both of the twin boys were married in 1883. John Gaull married Harriet McKenzie on June 15th at New Inn in Cluny and George (Gaull) Irvine married Isabella Watt on December 5th  at 48 High Street in Airdrie. As was required, both of the twins were asked to provide information about their parents as part of the registration process for their marriages.

John did not provide a name for his father, rather he simply indicated his mother to be “Mary Gaull married since birth of Bridegroom to Alexander Glennie and now his widow.” Twin brother George however provided the names of his father as George Irvine, a farm servant, and his mother as “Mary Irvine MS [maiden surname] Gall.” Aside from the misspelling of the Gaull surname on George’s marriage registration, it is known that his mother Mary did not marry, and was not married at the time of George’s marriage, to a man named George Irvine. John’s marriage registration recording of his parent’s names is accurate whereas George’s is not accurate with respect to the recorded marriage of his stated parents. That Mary Gaull and George Irvine never married is fact however, that fact in and of itself does not rule out the possibility that a man named George Irvine was the father of the twins George and John Gaull.

In order to determine if George Irvine is possibly the father of the twins, it is necessary to find a man named George Irvine who was of an age and living in close enough proximity of Mary Gaull to be the father. There were six men named George Irvine living in Aberdeenshire in 1861, the year following the birth of the twins when the census was taken. One of these was just one year old in 1861 so he can be ruled out as the possible father. Two other men are unlikely to be the father because of their age; one was 77 years old in 1861 and the other was 55 years old and while they might have had the potential for fathering children, it is unlikely they would have been in an intimate relationship with a 22 year-old Mary Jane Gaull. 

Two of the remaining three men were of the ‘right’ age, one was 27 years old in 1861 so would have been about 25 in 1859 when Mary became pregnant but he lived in Fraserburgh, about 37 miles away. The other man was 23 years old in 1861 so he would have been about 21 years old when Mary became pregnant, that is, he was the ‘right’ age for a relationship with Mary but he lived in Foveran, a distance of more than 20 miles away. I think both of these men can be ruled out of fathering the twins because they don’t appear to have been living close enough to Mary to have been in a relationship with her.

This leaves only one George Irvine, who was recorded as being 20 years old in 1861 so would have been about 18 or 19 years old in 1859. This George Irvine lived in Old Meldrum, a distance of about seven and one-half miles away. He is also recorded as having be born in Chapel of Garioch so was familiar with the town and many of it’s families. Of all the George Irvines in Aberdeenshire at the time, this man appears to be the most likely candidate to be the father identified by George Gaull Irvine. 

In addition to being about the right age and living in close proximity to Mary Gaull, this George Irvine was a farm servant, just as George Gaull Irvine would record for his father’s occupation on his marriage registration. George Irvine, the possible father, is recorded in the 1861 Census of Scotland as being a ploughman servant to David Philip, a farmer of 197 acres.

Unfortunately that is where the evidence seems to end. I am still left with two possible fathers for the twin boys, George and John Gaull. I have found no record in which John Gaull states the name of his father and the only record found to date in which George states the name of his father is his marriage registration. But that recording of the father’s name is built around a fabricated marriage between his mother Mary Gaull and a man named George Irvine.

My cousin Pamela might be right. A man named George Irvine could be the father of the twins. But until additional records are found, I am of the opinion that we can’t definitively determine the identity of the father of the twin boys John and George Gaull. We can only determine good possibilities.

52 Ancestors: Mary Jane Glennie (nee Gaull) 1837-1925

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

Mary Jane Glennie (nee Gaull) is my 3X great grandmother and one of several ancestors that I would love to have had a chance to meet. Mary didn’t invent anything for the betterment of mankind; she wasn’t famous at all but I have always had an impression that Mary was one of those ‘tough-as-nails’ on the surface but marshmallow interior individuals who all of us likely know at least one of. There is no singular incident that leads me to this impression. It based purely on my view of her life in it’s entirety.

Mary Gaull was born around 1837 in Broomhill, Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She was the daughter, and unusually it appears the only child, of John Gaull, a farm overseer, and his wife Mary Christie. It is likely that Mary’s upbringing was comfortable for the times, but by no means extravagant, given her father’s farming abilities. But her upbringing was also likely rather strict as her father appears to have maintained high moral standards.

Life for Mary Gaull thus became more difficult when she gave birth to twin boys, out of wedlock, in February 1860. Mary named her sons George and John but the name of the twins’ father has not been found in any record to date. As was the practise in Scotland at the time, the birth registrations for the twin brothers clearly and boldly labels them to be “illegitimate” children. Mary’s father, John Gaull even decades later in his will referred to them as his “illegitimate” grandsons.

I have commented previously that I do not know the reason but it is clear from all records that Mary ‘gave’ one of her twin sons, George, to the family of James and Isabella Hoey (or Hooey or Howie) who lived in Inverurie. George would later change his surname to Irvine. Mary raised her remaining son John (one of my great great grandfathers) in her parents home, but only for a few months, for in August 1860, when the twins were just six months old, Mary married Alexander Glennie at Chapel of Garioch. 

Alexander Glennie was a farmer who settled his wife, her son, and eventually the five known children that Alexander and Mary had together on a 60 acre farm at Tillyfro, Cluny, Aberdeenshire. Was it possible that Alexander Glennie was the father of the twin boys? Absolutely, but there is no evidence found to date other than the circumstance suggested by his marrying Mary so soon after she gave birth to the boys.

Sadly, Alexander died in February 1879 leaving the farm to his wife. Mary was aided in the running of the farm with monies from her husband’s estate along with monies subsequently inherited from her father’s estate when he died in 1892. 

When John Gaull died, according to his estate file, he left money for his grandson George Irvine and ‘liferent’ on the Gaull farm at Cairnley to his other grandson John Gaull. The residual of the estate went to his daughter Mary Glennie, minus the amount of 250 British pounds which John claimed in his Will that Mary had borrowed to aid in settling her husband Alexander’s estate. Mary denied that she owed her father the money and John Gaull’s estate executors finding no “voucher” nor other corroborating documentation of any such loan noted their finding in the estate inventory, deducting a single shilling from the estate seemingly as a token gesture to John’s wishes. 

Mary thus continued to run the farm at Tillyfro, hiring farm hands as needed, until her own death at the age of 88 on the 30th of March 1925.  Mary Jane (Gaull) Glennie was laid to rest in the kirkyard of the church in Cluny, Aberdeenshire, in the same grave as her son James who had died six years earlier at the age of 51.

52 Ancestors: Andrew Gammie, Sr. (1861-1926) or Why My Family Moved to Toronto, Ontario?

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

When I became curious about the history of my family, some thirty plus years ago, one of the first people I spoke to was my great uncle Alexander Gaull Hadden, or Uncle Alec as I knew him. Uncle Alec told me what he knew of the family. His paternal grandmother was Helen Shand. She had given birth to his father, my great grandfather Alexander Shand Hadden and then later re-married a man named Gammie. In 1907, she and this Gammie fellow moved to Saskatchewan to homestead. Years later, she contacted her eldest child Alexander and invited him and his family to come join her working on the farm in Canada. In 1923, the Haddens accepted her invitation.  

The family story went a bit further but still lacked detail. Uncle Alec told me that his mother, Jessie Gaull, didn’t like it in Saskatchewan, with it’s bitter cold in winter, so in 1927, the family moved to Toronto, Ontario where Jessie had a brother George Gaull who owned a small grocery store. Uncle Alec also made a comment I wrote down in the notes I made during the family history interview with him and have kept to this day. The comment was that there was some tension between the Gammie boys and his father Alexander. No details. Nothing more said.


Andrew Gammie (1861-1926)



I first must confess that I am not genetically related to Andrew Gammie Sr. and I am not really descended from him. But Andrew Gammie Sr was the step-father to my great grandfather Alexander Shand Hadden as seen in the snippet below from the 1891 Census of Scotland.




Andrew Gammie was the eldest son in a family of ten known children (five boys and five girls) born to Andrew Gammie and his wife Jane Christie. Andrew was born on 28 Jun 1861 in Huntly, County of Aberdeen, Scotland. Andrew’s father was a successful farmer of 135 acres in Monqhitter, Aberdeen, Scotland, employing two men and a boy according to census records. It is very likely that Andrew worked on the farm and learned from his much from his father.

On the 14th of June, 1890, Andrew married Helen Shand, a domestic servant, in Ythan Wells. As the census record above shows, with Helen came her son Alexander Hadden whom she had raised on her own, supported by her Shand relatives. Andrew was 29 years old and Helen was 25 when they married. A year later, and just a few months after the 1891 census was taken, Helen gave birth to their first child, the first of three sons. They named him Andrew, like his father and grandfather before him.

Sons Peter and James, or ‘Jimmie’ as they called him, would follow over the next four years. Finally, in 1897, they had a daughter whom they named Helen, after her  mother. I’m not certain as to the reason, but Helen and Andrew later adopted a little girl born in 1904 named Whilimena (Williamina) Alexander, known in the family as ‘Minnie.’

Andrew supported his family by working as a farm servant and then as a baker’s van driver and grocer’s carter. Opportunity knocked, at least in Andrew Gammie’s eyes, when the Canadian government offered the chance at land ownership – for free. All that was required was moving half-way around the world to the prairies of Saskatchewan. It was with this promise in mind that Andrew and Helen along with their five Gammie children boarded the Lake Erie in April 1907 for the voyage to St. John, New Brunswick and from there to Stoughton, Saskatchewan where they would wait for their homestead application to be approved and land granted.

While they waited for their land, Andrew moved his family and worked on farms first in Morse, Saskatchewan and then in Anerley, Saskatchewan. Likely the lessons in farming he received from his father now served him well. Eventually, their homestead application was approved and the family settled on and began farming their own land near Aneroid, Saskatchewan.

As in all families, the kids grow up and begin making their own decisions. Such was the circumstance when on 17 May 1916, sons Peter and James enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. The two Gammie boys went off to fight in World War I but only one would return. Jimmie would die of shrapnel wounds suffered when the Allies were taking a bridge in Fricheux, France. He was buried not far away in a military cemetery outside of Arras, France.

Land that Jimmie had acquired in Saskatchewan, not far from the Gammie homestead was bequeathed to his mother Helen. It was help with this land that she sought when she invited her first-born Alexander Hadden to come to Saskatchewan. Eventually, Alexander agreed to the move and to help with the farming even though he really had no farming experience. I’m told by a member of the Gammie family that Helen had kept her correspondence and this offer secret and so I suspect it was quite the surprise to the Gammie children when their half-brother Alexander Hadden and his family showed up on the prairies in 1923. It is also likely that there was much that needed to be done so there was not much time to quibble about the new arrivals.

However, on 23 August 1926, at the age of 65, Andrew Gammie died. He also died intestate, meaning he had left no will. I don’t know the reason, but Helen, now a widow, chose the younger of her two surviving sons to be the executor of her husband’s estate. Andrew Gammie’s estate file records that Helen, Andrew Jr. and Helen, the daughter, all renounced their rights to letters of administration which were duly granted to Peter by the Surrogate Court, appointing him as executor.

On 11 January 1927, when Helen Gammie renounced her rights to the letters of administration in favour of her son Peter, she listed her husband Andrew’s survivors as: herself, her sons, Andrew Gammie Jr. and Peter Gammie, and Helen Gammie, then Mrs. Harold Hardement. No mention of step-son Alexander Hadden nor adopted daughter Minnie Alexander Gammie. Son Andrew’s renunciation instrument listed the same survivors.

However, just two and half weeks later on 29 Jan 1927, Peter Gammie signed his affidavit as executor that included an inventory of his father’s estate and a list of the surviving family members to whom the estate would pass. Those surviving family members were: his mother Helen who would receive as required by law one-third of the estate, Andrew Gammie Jr., Peter Gammie, Helen Gammie then Mrs. Harold Hardement, and Whilimena Gammie, adopted daughter. No mention of step-son Alexander Hadden.

The estate that they divided consisted of land valued at $7,000, the property described as West Half, Section 1 in Township 8, Range 11, West of the 3rd Meridian. The remainder of the estate consisted of a stove, kitchen cabinet, table, chairs, bed (valued at a combined $100), a wagon, two plows and a set of harrows (combined value of $135), and 6 horses at $60 per head (total $360). The total estate value was $7,595 of which Andrew’s widow Helen received $2,351.66.

And so, the Hadden family, just four years after leaving their home in Scotland appear to have been stranded, at least by circumstances on the prairies of Saskatchewan. Was this the cause of the tension my uncle had told me about? If it was, it seems entirely understandable to me. With apparently nothing for them in Saskatchewan, was this the reason the family moved to Toronto where at least there was some family support available? It seems entirely likely to me. 


52 Ancestors: John Gaull Hadden – The Milkman I Knew

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

This week I am coming a little bit closer to home and profiling my paternal grandfather, John Gaull Hadden.

John Gaull Hadden, aged about 18.



His beginnings were much like much of his life – quite humble. John Gaull Hadden was born on 9 Mar 1910 in a little dwelling at 9 Pirie’s Lane in Woodside, Aberdeen, Scotland, the son of Alexander Shand Hadden and Jessie McKenzie Gaull. He was the fourth son born to the couple in six years. Sadly, the brother born immediately before John, a boy named Lewis, died eleven months before John’s arrival. John would later name his own first son after the brother he did not have a chance to know.

An image of 6 Pirie’s Lane, Woodside, Aberdeen, Scotland from Google’s Streetview


When John was thirteen years old, on 9 Nov 1923, he boarded a ship named the ‘Metagama’ in the Port of Glasgow. John was with his mother Jessie, oldest brother Alex and younger sister Edith as they began a voyage across the Atlantic ocean to join John’s father and his brother Andy, who had made a similar voyage a few months earlier, in Canada. They sailed in the third class section on the ship would take them to Quebec City where they would transfer to rail cars, eventually making it to their final destination of Aneroid, Saskatchewan, just in time for their first experience of winter on the Canadian prairies.

The records that document their passage make it clear that this was intended as a permanent relocation. Saskatchewan however provided only a temporary home for the Hadden family. In 1927, on the death of Alexander Shand Hadden’s step-father, Andrew Gammie, the Hadden family needed to relocate one more time.

The second relocation took the Hadden family, minus brother Andy who decided to remain in Saskatchewan, to Toronto and the east end neighbourhood that became ‘ground zero’ for the family as it is known today. Canadian census records, voters lists, and city directories show that for the next several decades, the family and its members lived in a number of houses and that all residences were east of the central Toronto dividing line of Yonge Street.

John married Agnes Little, who was also a recent immigrant from Scotland, on 29 Oct 1929. Together they had to struggle through the Depression era when finding work to provide for the family’s sustenance was extremely difficult. John’s employment opportunities were a series of short term jobs until 17 Dec 1935 when he was hired by Silverwood Dairies as a “Milk Route Salesman.” That’s the company’s official name for the position but to everyone else, John became a Milkman, delivering milk and other dairy products on his prescribed route, initially by horse drawn wagon.

When I was young, one of my great thrills was helping my grandfather balance his milk route receipts. My grandfather, in our family tradition was known to me as ‘Pop’, just as my father has been ‘Pop’ to my children and now, I am ‘Pop’ to my children’s children. Pop would pick me up, usually on a Sunday afternoon and take me to the dairy building where I would operate the large adding machine by punching in the numbers he would call out to me, pulling the large lever on the side of the machine after each number and with one final level pull, getting the total of the receipts. My reward for all of this effort, a carton of chocolate milk. Knowing the reward, was all I needed to motivate my efforts as a six year old.

I am fortunate that I began researching my family’s history 30 plus years ago and as a result, Silverwood Dairy had no privacy related policies or concerns when they provided me with a full report on my grandfather’s employment history with them. The report shows that John received a couple of promotions, first in 1947 to Milk Route Inspector and then in 1953 to Milk Route Foreman.

John Gaull Hadden in 1985


In August 1970, John was involved in a serious automobile accident, documented in the Silverwood’s report, and as a result he was off work for an extended time to recover. Finally in February of 1971, unable to return to work, he retired. John’s retirement years saw his health slowly decline but he never lost his Scottish brogue and that little twinkle in his eyes that I remember so well. John died soon after his 89th birthday, hopefully at peace following a very hard life.