Sentimental Saturday – The Wine And White Formal

The year was 1975.

In February of that year, at least that’s my recollection, I was privileged to be the date of a very pretty 18-year old young woman named Karen when we went to her Notre Dame High School’s annual ‘Wine and White’ formal dance in Toronto, Ontario.

Four months later, I had the honour of escorting Karen to her graduation prom.

In April of 1976, on Easter Sunday, she said ‘yes’ when I asked her to marry me and in June 1977, we became husband and wife.

Today, January 23rd is Karen’s birthday. She would have turned 59-years old but for the cruelty of life that took her from us when she was only 45 years of age. Yes, cancer sucks and it affects the whole family in devastating ways.

Happy Birthday, Karen! I know that you know you are loved and remembered.

BENEDETTO Karen Ann - high school wine and white formal 1975

Karen Ann Benedetto, 1975


Given Names (or A Mini-Case Study Of Where I Got My ‘Ian Gerald’)

Given names, or if you prefer, first names. We all have them.

You know, the names that our parents ‘gave’ to us either at birth or some time shortly afterwards. These ‘given’ names appear on our birth records and are attached to us for life.

If you are like me, we want to know just how our parents chose our names. Were our names chosen by means of a heritage-based naming convention or as the result of a family tradition? Were we named after a celebrity or, as it might be today, were we named after compass directions?

My ‘given’ names are Ian Gerald.

My mother provided me many years ago with the explanation of how she and my father chose my names.

Ian was an easy choice. My father, a first generation Canadian, is incredibly proud of his Scottish ancestry so a Scottish name was preferred. Second, my father wanted a name that could not, in his estimation, be shortened or altered in the way for example James becomes Jim or Donald becomes Don. The name ‘Ian’ met his criteria. That is, until he noticed that my friends had shortened my name and began to call me “E.” Eventually, my father conceded to the shortened first name and joined my friends and other family members in calling me ‘E.’

My ‘middle’ or second name of Gerald was easily explained, but as you will see difficult to verify.

The easy part is that I was given the name Gerald in honour of my mother’s favourite uncle Gerald Foley, a brother of my mother’s mother Gertrude Ellen Foley. My mother thought the world of her Uncle Gerald and so naming her first child after him was an obvious decision. Just as easy as asking a favourite cousin, one of Uncle Gerald’s daughters, Mary Foley to be my godmother.

In the early days of researching my genealogy, locating the birth registrations of my maternal grandmother and her siblings, including Uncle Gerald, was one of my first goals.

Gertrude Ellen Foley was born on 16 April 1898 in Toronto, York County, Ontario, Canada according to her birth and baptismal records. Less than a year after her birth, on 9 April, 1899, her mother Mary Jane Fitzgerald died in Toronto leaving my great grandfather John Foley with an infant daughter and two young sons, known to me through often repeated family stories as Uncle Gerald and Uncle Clarence.

A search for the birth registrations of Gerald and Clarence provided a nil result. There was no Gerald Foley and no Clarence Foley born in Ontario in the 1890’s, nor the 1880’s for that matter.

I decided to search for all children born to Mary Jane Fitzgerald in Ontario in the 1890’s. As it turns out, there were in fact two sons born to Mary Jane Fitzgerald and her husband John Foley. Their birth registrations record that Lewis Fitzgerald Foley was born 17 February 1895; and, William Dorsey Foley was born 28 September 1896. A very puzzled expression on my face was the best I could muster.

FOLEY Gerald birth 1895

Birth registration for Lewis Fitzgerald ‘Gerald’ Foley, 1895

FOLEY William Dorsey  birth registration 1896

Birth registration for William Dorsey ‘Clarence’ Foley, 1896

The family story that I had heard was that my great grandfather John Foley was a brilliant, successful businessman. And the multitude of records about his life that I have found verify this to be true. However, John Foley was also illiterate, at least according to family story. He was a man who had been taught how to sign his name for business reasons but who was unable to read the documents he signed. Perhaps the baptismal records for these two boys would clear up the name dilemma. After all, their baptisms were events at which John’s wife, and the boy’s mother, Mary Jane Fitzgerald was present at and, there is no indication that Mary was unable to read and write.

Both of the boys were baptized at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Toronto. The records show that Lewis (spelled as Louis in the church register) Fitzgerald Foley was baptized on 3 March 1895. William Clarence Foley was baptized on 4 Oct 1896.

FOLEY Louis Fitzgerald baptismal record 1895

Lewis Fitzgerald ‘Gerald’ Foley, baptismal registration, St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Toronto, 1895

It was becoming clear that the family commonly referred to the boys by their ‘middle’ names. Lewis was called or referred to as Gerald and William was referred to as Clarence.

In the 1901 Census of Canada, Gerald was recorded as “Jerald,” the 5-year old son of a widowed John Foley. Clarence was recorded as “William C.” The 1911 Census of Canada records them as Gerald and Clarence. The 1921 Census of Canada makes things a bit interesting again by recording, in an apparent error, Gerald as Clarence in the John Foley household. Clarence by the time of the 1921 census was married and was living with his wife Elizabeth (Blunt) Foley and 3-year old daughter Margaret in another house on the same street.

When Uncle Gerald enlisted for service in World War I, he did so as Gerald Foley, giving his date of birth as 16 February 1895. He was described as a five foot, five-inch tall teamster with dark brown hair and blue eyes.

On 12 November 1917, Gerald Foley of 96 Pickering Street in Toronto served as best man to his brother Clarence when the latter married Elizabeth Blunt.

When he passed away on 6 February 1968, his obituary in the Toronto Star newspaper listed his name as Gerald Lewis Foley. Similarly, the burial record card from Mount Hope Cemetery in Toronto, the final resting place for most members of the Foley family, recorded his name as Gerald Lewis.

So, in the end, I am named after a man who was known as Gerald but whom, ironically, had the same first name as my father, Lewis. Uncle Gerald as it turns out was named after his maternal grandfather Lewis Fitzgerald.

I could have been named Ian Lewis Hadden or perhaps Ian Fitzgerald Hadden. But no, I proudly can say I was named after Uncle Gerald, and the records provide me with a slightly twisted tale to tell about the name.

Sentimental Saturday – Tess’ Family At Her Wedding

I have often heard people say how it feels like the only time they see some of their family members is at weddings and funerals. The message implied is usually along the lines of ‘we really ought to get together more often.’

But weddings do offer at great opportunity for family to gather and share in a usually, most happy event. Such was the case on Thursday, October 15, 1942 when the Latimer family members got together to share in the wedding celebration of Olive Theresa Evelyn ‘Tess’ Latimer.

On that Thursday, 24-year old Tess married 24-year old Carl Francis Wagner. Tess was a nurse in Orillia, Ontario and Carl was a Canadian army sergeant from Saskatchewan assigned to Camp Borden, not too far south of Orillia, when they met.

The photo below is one of a few ‘snapshots’ taken by an unidentified family member on Carl and Tess’ wedding day.

This photo shows Carl (far right) with Tess’ immediate Latimer family. On the far left is Tess’ father Edward Arthur Latimer, standing between Edward and Tess is Tess’ sister and maid of honour Hazel (Latimer) Filkin. Standing behind Tess are her eldest sister Albertine ‘Abbie’ (Latimer) Ensom and her brother Edward ‘Knox’ Latimer. The two girls standing in front of Tess are her nieces Pat and Jule Filkin, the only two that seemed to be able to muster smiles for the photo.

Edward Latimer Abby Knox Hazel Tess Carl with Pat and Jule Filkin 1942

Pat and Jule Filkin with (middle row l. to r.) Edward Arthur Latimer, Hazel (Latimer) Filkin, Tess (Latimer) Wagner, Carl Francis Wagner, and (back row l. to r.) Albertine ‘Abbie’ (Latimer) Ensom and Edward ‘Knox’ Latimer on October 15, 1942


Introducing: Edna Staebler

She first appeared as somewhat of a footnote.

At the bottom of page 274 of Ruth Merner Connell’s genealogy of the Merner family published in 1976, there is a listing of the two wives of Frederick Keith Staebler.

Frederick Keith Staebler, who went by his middle name of Keith, was listed in the genealogy as he was a great grandson of Jacob Staebler and his wife Anna Merner, who are in turn 2X great grandparents to my wife Ellen.

The entry on page 274 of the Merner genealogy states “Married #1: Edna ??”

It was one of those ‘I’ll get back to figuring out who you are someday’ moments in genealogy. Keith Staebler was my wife’s second cousin, once removed and, with other research underway, I was not quick in getting back to finding the identity of Keith’s first wife ‘Edna Unknown’.

That was until a few days ago when Ellen asked if I had read her Uncle Gordon Wagner’s book From My Window (published in 1987 by The Flying -W- Publishing Co.).

I had read the book but quite a number of years ago. Gordon had completed many years of genealogy research on Ellen’s Wagner family, building a ‘database’ of about 1,500 related individuals. Much of Gordon’s work had helped in my researching Ellen’s genealogy through the Wagner, Hailer, Breithaupt, Merner, Staebler, and associated families prominent in Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada.

I decided to have another look at Gordon’s book, which is a compilation of short stories and poems. As I first skimmed the pages, it jumped out at me.

There she was on page 30, ‘Edna Unknown’ was really Edna Staebler. Of course she was, I told myself, she had married Keith Staebler. More importantly though, the five or six page short story written by Uncle Gordon about thirty years ago contained numerous clues that helped in hunting down Edna’s story.

Gordon Wagner had wanted to learn more about the family’s Staebler ancestors so he visited the Kitchener, Ontario area that his ancestors had come to as pioneers. There, without the aid of the still decades away Internet, Gordon looked through the local telephone directory, eventually calling “E. Staebler.” Edna answered and invited Gordon to meet with her.

“She’s famous, and I’m not used to famous people,” Gordon tells of their meeting.

Edna as it turns out, was a famous author, probably best known for her cookbook Food That Really Schmecks, featuring recipes that she learned living in the Mennonite community around the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo in Ontario. As a writer, Edna’s articles were featured in Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Saturday Night, and Reader’s Digest amongst others. She was the author of more than twenty books. Edna counted great Canadian writers like Pierre Berton and Margaret Laurence amongst her friends. Most importantly, I learned from Gordon’s short story of his visit with Edna, she was simply a friendly and down-to-earth person who happened to be a great writer.

STAEBLER Edna at Sun Fish Lake

Edna Staebler at her Sunfish Lake (Waterloo County, Ontario) home, as photographed by Gordon Wagner, for his book ‘From My Window’

Edna was born January 15, 1906. In the town of Berlin, Ontario. On February 13, 1906, about four weeks later, her father John G. Cress attended the local registrar’s office and registered her birth under the name Cora Margaret Cress. At the bottom of the birth registration is a notation, obviously added much later that reads “Edna Louisa new name see letter 1910.”

The 1910 letter referred to is not included with the birth registration and I have often wondered at the humour it might contain. Can you imagine what John Cress’ wife Louisa might have written had she been the letter’s author? Perhaps something like ‘Dear Registrar, I have learned that my husband John G. Cress really screwed up when he registered the birth of our daughter. I have no idea as to where he came up with the name Cora Margaret. Please excuse my husband’s error and correct my baby girl’s registered name to be Edna Louisa.’

Ah, the possibilities of that letter.

For her contributions to Canadian literature, Edna Staebler was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995.

Edna Louisa Cress married Frederick Keith Staebler in 1933 but sadly, they divorced in 1962. Edna passed away on September 12, 2006 at the age of 100 leaving a legacy of great Canadian writing and an endowment awarded annually in her name through Wilfred Laurier University.

It is great to know who ‘Edna Unknown’ is and we are honoured to count her among our family.


Sentimental Saturday – Milk Delivery 1938 Style

This is one of my favourite photos.

It shows my paternal grandfather, John Gaull Hadden wearing his work uniform and standing in front of his horse-drawn Silverwood’s Dairy milk delivery wagon.

The photo is dated as being taken in 1938 and appears to have been taken on a street somewhere in the east part of Toronto, Ontario, Canada where my grandfather had his milk route.

Although motorized cars and trucks were available at the time, the dairy continued to have their delivery salesmen use the horse-drawn wagons and even maintained their own livery stables for the care of the horses.

HADDEN John Gaull Silverwoods Dairy delivery 1938

John Gaull Hadden, Silverwood’s Dairy Milk Deliveryman, 1938

Sentimental Saturday – When Santa Delivered A New Tricycle

It was Christmas 1991.

Three-year old Jenna Hadden loved that Santa Claus delivered a brand new pink and white with rainbow motif tricycle. Just for her.

No rusted parts. No hand-me-down from an older sibling.

Even riding in the family recreation room, with it’s still not replaced 1970s shag carpeting, could not wipe the smile from her face as she felt the wind in her hair (well, that part might be a bit of an exaggeration).

HADDEN Jenna at Christmas on trike 1991

Jenna Hadden, Christmas 1991


Sentimental Saturday – Christmas Mornings

Christmas morning is always special for those who celebrate the holiday.

We remember back to the days of our childhood and the anticipation of seeing the Christmas tree, all aglow, with gifts from Santa all around.

Or, perhaps, we remember the excited looks on the faces of our own children as they made there way to the Christmas tree.

The excitement is palpable. Shrieks of joy are allowed. Christmas morning was one of the few times when a little bit of shrieking was tolerated.

If you were the oldest child in the family as I was, and as was my late wife Karen, everything you saw was yours! No sharing. You didn’t even need to read gift tags because every gift tag had your name on it.

HADDEN Ian Christmas morning 1958-59

Yours Truly, Christmas morning, about 1957

BENEDETTO Karen Ann 25 Dec 1959

Karen Benedetto, December 25, 1959




Sentimental Saturday – Visiting Santa

Each year. Every year.

It was important to visit with Santa, just to be certain that he knew what we wanted to find under our Christmas tree.

Often the meeting location was the local mall. But just as often it was the work or office Christmas party.

The location was not the important point. The essential point of the outing was ensuring Santa was aware of the expectations.

Here is the photographic record of some of those Santa encounters.


Yours Truly with my sister Lou-Anne and brother Bob (seated on Santa’s lap), probably from around 1964

My mother knit the sweater I was wearing. It was during the Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett furor.

HADDEN Ian and Karen Family with Santa 1984

Yours Truly with my late wife Karen, in 1984, with our then two children John and baby Lisa, who was more interested at the time in Santa’s beard than what was to be under the tree on Christmas morning.

HADDEN Jenna with Santa 1990

Our youngest, Jenna with Santa at an office Christmas party in 1990.

HADDEN Karen Benedetto with Santa office party 1996

My late wife Karen at an office Christmas party around 1991.




Sentimental Saturday – Life As A ‘Roadie’

In 2005, Ellen and I learned that our good friend Johnny Burke was going to be inducted into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony was to take place in Moncton, New Brunswick and we certainly didn’t want to miss the opportunity of sharing such a prestigious honour being bestowed a good friend. So, we decided to drive down to Moncton to be part of the festivities.

In the few days immediately following the induction ceremony, Johnny, a native of New Brunswick, was headlining a few concerts so we tagged along. In the course of the tour, I jumped in to help with the packing and unpacking of Johnny’s equipment. Thus began and ended my very short life as a roadie! (But I was the roadie for a Hall of Fame inductee, not just some run-of-mill megastar).

HADDEN Ian as Johnny Burke NB hall of fame roadie 2005

Yours Truly working (?) as a roadie, New Brunswick, Canada, 2005

Seven years later in 2012, Johnny became just the 51st artist to be inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Well, we couldn’t miss out on being present to see our friend achieve the ultimate national honour in Canadian country music. So another trip was planned but with a slight twist.

We had already committed to being in Halifax, Nova Scotia the week before the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Not to be deterred, we drove the 3,000 miles or 4,900 kilometers from Halifax to Saskatoon, stopping at our home in southern Ontario along the way to do laundry.

BURKE Johnny at CCMA HOF 2012

Johnny Burke, Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 2012

Not only was it a great adventure and an honour to celebrate our friend’s achievement but it was a great way to see the country: the ruggedness of New Brunswick, the breathtaking views of the Lake Superior north shore and flat terrain of the prairie provinces. Memories that will last a lifetime!


Sentimental Saturday – Honouring My Brothers

Around this time every year, I pause to think of my brothers who left our family far too soon.

At this time of year, we would have been right in middle of celebrating their birthdays.

Brian Joseph Hadden was born November 25, 1956, and died February 3, 1957. Stephen Gerard Hadden was born December 2, 1957, and died February 16, 1959.

Brian spent his short life in Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, never having the chance to join us at home. As a result, I sadly have no real memories of Brian.

Stephen, on the other hand, did come home from the hospital and I have many vivid memories associated with his short life. Some of my reflections about Brian and Stephen can be read in I Remember Stephen (from 2009) and Paying Respects to Brian and Stephen Hadden (from 2014).

This then is my most precious photo. It is not the oldest or most artistic. But, it is the only known photo to exist of my brother Stephen.

HADDEN Ian-Mom-Stephen 1957

I am almost certain that the photo was taken by my father. My mother was holding Stephen as she sat on the couch in the living room of our home at 189 Pickering Street in Toronto while I stood beside them.

The photo was given to me by my father at mother’s funeral in 1994. He told me that it was something she wanted me to have. So, from that perspective, the photo is special on many levels.