Here's what happened ...
Over fifty years ago, an attractive engraved Elgin pocket watch was dropped off
for service at “Snowbell Watch and
Jewelry” on St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto ...
... but it
was never picked
up! My husband, Leo, and I had eventually found it
amongst the tools, watch-parts and remains of stock that had been packed away
in storage after the shop had closed its doors in the mid-eighties.
Our goal ... to
pass this treasured heirloom to the oldest living descendant of W. Marshall, the
City Dairy driver to whom it was presented in
With Leo (the wind-beneath-my-wings) at my side - supporting me and
cheering me on, I embarked on a widespread search - starting with a
telephone call to Mike Filey, a Toronto historian and author. His
kind advice set me on the right path.
I delved into old telephone listings and
street directories, visited Toronto City Archives and Provincial
Archives. I subscribed to various geneology websites, searched
census files and border-crossing records, scanned the headstones and
numbered plots at Park Lawn Cemetery, and subscribed to Toronto Star
Although I quickly learned that it’s a lot easier to find ancestors than
it is to find descendants, I was able to assemble countless dates and
clues that led to a successful conclusion.
significant sources included:
directories and street directories of 1918 and onward, which listed Walter
Marshall as a driver for City Dairy. The eventual disappearance of
his listing in the directories indicated to me that he had likely
Star Pages-of-the-Past website. An extensive search led me to the
1956 death notice of Walter Marshall. His brief obit identified the
full name of his late wife, the funeral home and cemetery … but listed
only the first names of his children and grandchildren.
More determined than ever, I persisted in my search, and after
viewing several hundred pages, I discovered the death notice of
Walter’s daughter-in-law. Her obituary revealed the full names of the
people for whom we’d been searching – Walter's descendants!
newfound information led to countless unsuccessful telephone calls.
Ultimately, on New Year’s Eve 2012, I hit right! The "winning" call was
to Walter’s granddaughter, Lynn. She was overjoyed to hear the story of
her Granddad’s treasured pocket-watch – and of all the steps we had
taken to “track her down”.
And so we rejoiced
the weekend following our telephone call, Lynn's family drove down from
their home in the north to join us for lunch. What a joy it was to host
Walter’s granddaughter, great-granddaughter and
great-great-granddaughter at our home!
Later in the afternoon, we were joined by a
reporter from CITY-TV who shared our excitement, and indicated that our
story would be featured on the news. The absolute highlight of our get-together was the presentation of the pocket-watch to the oldest living
heir of its original owner.
We all gleefully agreed that it was
appropriate to propose a toast – by raising a glass (of milk) in fond
memory of the late dairyman, Walter Marshall!
Photo and permission provided by Lynn Weller, granddaughter of Walter
Click here for my oil painting
- step by step
Blessed is the L-rd, King of
who gave us life, sustained us, and brought us
to this momentous occasion