Sentimental Saturday – My Sister’s Christening

I am posting photos each week from my collection and offering an explanation of what I know about the picture.

Well, my sister is having a birthday in the upcoming week so I thought I would share a photo from a (much) earlier time in her life.

Yours Truly with my parents Anne (O'Neill) and Lewis Hadden and my sister Lou-Anne on the day of Lou-Anne's christening

Yours Truly with my parents Anne (O’Neill) and Lewis Hadden and my sister Lou-Anne on the day of Lou-Anne’s christening

This photo is from the day of my sister Lou-Anne’s christening but I don’t know if it was taken before or after the trip to the church. The gown she was wearing gives away the occasion and it was the christening gown we all wore.

In the photo, Yours Truly is seated, and smiling, beside my parents Anne (O’Neill) and Lewis Hadden. My mother is holding my sister Lou-Anne, who doesn’t seem to be having a good time. The photo was taken by an unknown person in the living room of our family home at 189 Pickering Street in Toronto, Ontario.

It was a happy occasion for my parents who had experienced the death of a son, my brother Brian, the year before Lou-Anne was born. My brother Stephen died when Lou-Anne was just three months old and he is not in the family photo. I suspect that Stephen may have been too ill to be included. Based on those observations, I think this photo was taken in late November or early December 1958.

In the large mirror behind us, on the right, you can see image of a guest smiling. The person’s face is partially blocked by a decidedly 1950s lampshade but I think it is my aunt Mary (Raponi) O’Neill who was married to my mother’s brother.

I like this photo as it shows just how 1950s our house decor was and because I can’t stop thinking about how valuable some of the furnishing might be today, cherished by decorators looking for that retro look.

The Return Of The Long-Form Census In Canada For 2016: My Quick Take Editorial

There is much happiness in the land of academia, urban planning, social development among many sectors who have expressed strong opposition to the rather silly, voluntary National Household Survey that posed as the Census of Canada in 2011.

Today, the Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Development alongside the Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development announced that the new Canadian government, sworn in just yesterday, was returning the mandatory long-form census for 2016.

There is a strong case to be made for quickly fulfilling this election campaign promise. The change reuired no legislation to be passed and the mandatory census simply produces better data. As my children can attest, I believe that better information produces better decisions. The voluntary census of 2011 resulted in a 77.2% response rate, meaning that more than 20% of all Canadians in that year were not included. This is particularly troublesome for smaller communities and the vulnerable in our society. How can you know where needs exist if more than one-fifth of the population is not surveyed. How can businesses complete reliable forecasts.

“Statistics Canada has always stated that a mandatory survey will inevitably produce data of better overall quality than a voluntary survey of the same size, all other things being equal.” (Wayne R. Smith, Chief Statistician of Canada: 4 June 2015) By comparison to the poor 2011 response rate, the mandatory census survey of 2006 produced a response rate of 93.8%. There is still work to be done to get that number to 100% but ‘better information produces better decisions.’

Genealogists may also be happy with the return of the long-form census but I’m not so quick to jump on that bandwagon. While there will be plenty of statistical data churned and disseminated by StatsCan following completion of the 2016 returns, genealogists will not be able to access the census information until 2108!

In Canada, there is a belief that withholding the rather generic information gathered in a census form for a period of 92 years protects the privacy of the individuals who provided the information. Following the current rules, sometime in 2053, the Canadian government will release the first census in which I will appear, the census of 1961. That census will likely make public that I was 6-years old and attending school. Not quite earth shattering news and certainly not anything that anyone could have guessed. All that information from a form that was not even completed by a family member for in those long ago days, enumerators were hired to go door-to-door, ask the required questions, and complete the forms with the answers received, or at least the answers they thought they heard.

I’m not suggesting or advocating for immediate census access. The risk of identity theft, however real or perceived, does exist. There is a good case to be made for a reasonable amount of privacy. But why 92 years? In the United States, the census is released after a period of 72 years. Why the difference? I know from an historic perspective, reasons can be given about the context in which different governments in certain times decided that these were the best and safest timeframes. The reality is that identity theft and fraud are not new, 21st century crimes.

So, I simply question the current lengthy delay in releasing these public records. Why look at this question now? Well, as newly-minted Prime Minster Justin Trudeau replied yesterday to a question on gender equality in Cabinet, “Because it’s 2015.”

On the other hand, if someone in 2053 wants to pretend to be 98-year old me, have fun with it.

Sentimental Saturday – Happy Halloween!

I am posting old photos from my collection with a brief explanation of what I know of the photo each week.

Well, today is Halloween. It is a day that evokes memories from our childhood, of costumes we wore, of friends we went out to ‘trick or treat’ with, and, of course, of candy.

For some of us lucky enough to be parents, it also brings back memories of our kids as they excitedly dressed up in costumes and beckoned for Mom or Dad to take them out. After all, candy was at stake!

Last year, I shared the first Halloween that my family had with all three kids. The year was 1988 and our youngest Jenna, eight months old at the time, joined her big sister Lisa and big brother John for the compulsory costume photo.

Jenna, Lisa and John Hadden on Halloween 1988

Jenna, Lisa and John Hadden on Halloween 1988

Flash forward three years to 1991 and Lisa and Jenna were ready for all things spooky on their Halloween outing.

Lisa and Jenna Hadden all set for Halloween in 1991

Lisa and Jenna Hadden all set for Halloween in 1991

My late wife Karen usually made the costumes that our kids wore. In 1988, John was an ewok and in the photo was not wearing the head piece that Karen worked so hard on. In 1991, Lisa was, of course, a princess while Jenna wore a bunny costume made with love by Mom.

Sentimental Saturday – John and Agnes Hadden’s 25th Anniversary

I know … I know … this posting is a day late. My only excuse – stuff happens.

Today, I am sharing a glimpse back in time to October 1954 and the 25th Wedding Anniversary of my paternal grandparents.

On October 10, 1929, John Gaull Hadden married Agnes Little in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Both John and Agnes were born in Scotland (John in Woodside, now part of Aberdeen and Agnes in Greenock). John immigrated to Canada with his parental family in 1923 while Agnes immigrated to Canada in 1928 on her own. They met in Toronto.

In October 1954, my parents hosted a 25th wedding anniversary party. I know that my parent’s house was not large so I suspect that it was a fairly small party.

In the photo below, likely taken by my father, my grandparents can be seen cutting the anniversary cake. Standing behind them was the party hostess, my mother Anne (O’Neill) Hadden who at the time was pregnant with her first child and first grandchild for her in-laws. I suppose that in a sense that technically means this is also the first photo of Yours Truly.

Agnes and John Hadden cutting their 25th wedding anniversary cake

Agnes and John Hadden cutting their 25th wedding anniversary cake

The Service File Of Peter Gammie

Each month I would check and find nothing but the attestation (enlistment) form for my great granduncle Peter Gammie.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) had a much publicized project underway to digitize and post the full service files for the Canadian Soldiers of the First World War (according to the website, they are about one-third of the way through the digitization project). As batches of these digitized files were completed, they were posted on the LAC website. Available for free for all who were interested.

Long ago, I had paid LAC to photocopy and send me the service file of James Gammie, Peter’s brother. I had great interest in James’, or ‘Jimmie’s, file because his death in the 1918 from injuries sustained in France during combat had triggered the events that lead to my great grandfather, and Jimmie’s half brother, to move the Hadden family to Canada. The move had been at the invitation of my great grandfather and the Gammie brother’s mother Helen.

A distant cousin had once informed me in an email that while James had died in combat, Peter had not seen action in the war. But there was no explanation.

Peter Gammie

Peter Gammie

What was known was that Peter, aged 23, and his younger brother James, aged 21, had enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force together on May 17, 1916 in the village of Aneroid, Saskatchewan. Together, they completed the enlistment form giving their names, dates and places of birth, as well as listing their next of kin. Both brothers listed their mother Mrs. Helen (Shand) Gammie (my 2X great grandmother) as next of kin.

The brothers stated they were farmers willing to serve overseas. They swore oaths to King and Country. They were assigned consecutive regimental service numbers; the younger Jimmie becoming #1010103 and Peter becoming #1010104. Both were found to be medically fit to serve. Both were sent off for training.

For Jimmie, time would see him sent to the front lines in France where he was injured by shrapnel. He spent time in a hospital, recovered from his injuries and was sent back to the front lines. He wasn’t so lucky the next time. On September 28, 1918, Jimmie was killed in action. He was buried in France where an iconic maple leaf adorned gravestone marks his final resting place.

James Gammie gravestone, Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Arras, France

James Gammie gravestone, Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Arras, France

The mystery that surrounded Peter’s military career has now been cleared up.

His service file has now been posted and reiterates what was known. He enlisted with his younger brother and assigned to artillery training with the 229th Battalion. As all soldiers were required to do, on October 20th, 1916 he completed his pro-forma last will and testament, leaving all his possessions to his mother, “Mrs. A. Gammie.”

His medical record indicates that he received his required inoculations and all five feet, nine inches and one hundred and fifty-two pounds of him seemed well and fit. At least until February 1, 1917 when he was diagnosed and hospitalized for 29 days with a severe case of the mumps.

Two months later, on April 24th, 1917 he was again medically examined and was found to have “defective vision and varicose veins,” dating back, although never previously noted, to his pre-enlistment days.

To quote the examining doctor, Peter was “practically blind in right eye – left eye subnormal – varicose veins in right leg below knee.” The vision of the left eye was tested at 20/80 vision.

It is puzzling how a young man, an eager soldier recruit, could be medically examined numerous times by various medical personnel, spend a month in hospital and then, after six months of military service, be found to have pre-existing condition of near blindness in one eye and very poor sight with the other. But, apparently that was the case for Peter Gammie.

The doctor recommended a medical discharge. The medical board agreed and so, on June 7, 1917 Peter Gammie was medically discharged from the army and sent back home to the family farm. Never to see action in the war. Never to see his younger brother again.

Sentimental Saturday – The Family South-Paw

I am posting photos from my collection each week along with a brief explanation of what I know about the photos.

I am right-handed. My late wife, Karen was right-handed.

When we were raising our first child, our son John, we just assumed that he too was right-handed. That he could be left-hand predominant never entered our collective minds.

I taught John how to play all sports right-handed, just like ‘dear ol’ Dad.’

He throws right-handed, bats right-handed, catches right-handed, bowls right-handed, shoots in hockey, you guessed it, right-handed.

What a shock then to recognize much later that he is left-handed!

I have been spending a fair amount of time recently ensuring that all of my old family photos are scanned and filed electronically. This is a time consuming endeavour that almost all genealogists endure to make certain that precious family photo records are preserved in an organized fashion. The electronic copies are also a great way to ensure these records are able to be stored, ideally in multiple locations, should something bad happen to the originals. I have even made sure that my old home movies and videotapes are similarly digitized, organized and stored.

While going through a box of ‘old’ photos, I came across the photo below, taken by Yours Truly in the kitchen of the first house that Karen and I had when we were starting our family. There is John, in late 1981 or early 1982, seated in his high-chair finishing up his breakfast that seems to have included bacon and sausages.

John Hadden, the south-paw

John Hadden, the south-paw

Looking at the photo which I had not seen in many years, it hit me. John is using his left hand! I guess the signs were there.

At least he survived his rearing with the unique talent as a ‘leftie’ of being able to do most things right-handed!

Sentimental Saturday – Celebrating The Anniversary Of My Death!?

Celebrating the day I died? A bit melodramatic? Probably. Real? Certainly.

On October 10, 2010, at 5:00 a.m., my wife received a phone call from the Intensive Care Unit of our local hospital. “Mrs. Hadden, we think you should get here as soon as possible. We don’t know if he is going to make it.”

With a scream and a scurry, my wife, along with oldest son Chris who was staying with his Mom that night, raced to the hospital, arriving just as the ‘Code Blue’ was called.

The nurse attending to me that night later told me that my heart rate and breathing began to decline in the early morning hours of that day five years ago. To quote the nurse, “Then you were gone, you went cold. That’s when I called the code.”

I had been struck down by a cold. Well, actually it started with a cold but I had been struck down by a somewhat rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS. It was something I knew nothing about and could not even pronounce when I was diagnosed.

Even after my resuscitation, I was left in a quadriplegic state. I could move nothing from my neck down. Doctors told me that I would recover and estimated the recovery time to be two years. The recovery was frustrating and too slow for me. Things I did all my life like getting out of bed, feeding myself, going to the bathroom were gone, taken from me. All sense of independence was stripped away.

Yours Truly being taught how to walk again in the halls of the hospital with my physiotherapist Dawn in November 2010

Yours Truly being taught how to walk again in the halls of the hospital with my physiotherapist Dawn in November 2010 (photo by Ellen Hadden)

I was fortunate. As swiftly as the disease had caused my ‘decline’, my recovery, fortified by a lot of work and effort, not just by me, restored my mobility. The two year recovery timeframe that was estimated became four months.

I don’t usually share much personal information but today is special. It represents for me five years of bonus time during which I have been able to walk a daughter down the aisle, see grandchildren born and grow, travel with my wife, hang out with my kids. That’s what makes family history!

Sentimental Saturday – Happy Birthday, Mom!

I am sharing photos from my collection along with a brief explanation about when and where the photos were taken, if known.

Tomorrow, October 4th would have been my mother’s 85th birthday had not cancer interfered and cut her life off at the much younger age of 63.

Anna (Anne) Margaret (O’Neill) Hadden was on October 4, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan, United States. My mother’s parents, J. Graham O’Neill and Gertrude Ellen Foley with their first child Ed, had moved to Detroit from Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1929 as there was work available and waiting for my grandfather. My mother and her younger brother Bill as a result were both born in Detroit. The family moved back to Toronto in 1937 when my grandfather’s mother Margaret (Graham) O’Neill passed away.

My mother never did completely lose her ‘Michigan accent.’

Anne (O'Neill) Hadden with her granddaughter Lisa Hadden and her husband Lewis Hadden in 1991

Anne (O’Neill) Hadden with her granddaughter Lisa Hadden and her husband Lewis Hadden in 1991

The photo above was taken by Yours Truly following my daughter’s first communion. The photo was taken inside Holy Redeemer Church in Pickering, Ontario.

My mother never missed a milestone event in the lives of her grandchildren for whom, she once explained to me, she had the “God given right to spoil.”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sentimental Saturday – A Wedding Anniversary

I am sharing photos from my collection and offering a brief explanation about what I know about the photos.

Today, September 26th would have been my parents 62nd wedding anniversary. On Saturday, September 26, 1953, Anna (‘Anne’) O’Neill married Lewis Hadden in St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The photo below of my parents on their wedding day was taken at the wedding reception, which was held at the Guild Inn in Scarborough, Ontario. Strangely enough, The Guild Inn was the former estate home of my wife’s second cousin, twice removed Rosa (Breithaupt) Spencer. My parents were married for 40 years prior to my mother’s death in 1994.

Anna and Lewis Hadden on their wedding day, September 26, 1953

Anna (O’Neill) and Lewis Hadden on their wedding day, September 26, 1953

Sentimental Saturday – Carol And The Panda

Carol is my aunt, my father’s only sister.

This photo is undated but appears to be from the mid-1950s. The photo was taken in the living of my grandparent’s home on Darrell Avenue in Toronto and I suspect it may have been taken by my father during one of our visits to see my grandparents when I was very young.

Carol Hadden with her stuffed panda bear, mid-1950s

Carol Hadden with her stuffed panda bear, mid-1950s

It may be a bit blurry in the above photo, but it is quite clear in the original, in the lower right corner there is a magazine on the couch. It is a copy of “For Men Only.” At the time this photo was taken, the magazine was not pornographic in nature. That would come much later in the magazine’s twenty or so years lifespan. No, in the mid-1950s, the magazine contained fictionalized and sometimes lurid stories of adventure. I don’t know who the magazine belonged to and I may never ask.