Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Families

My great-grandmother, Mary McKay

One day about one hundred years ago an impoverished peddler knocked on my great-grandmother, Mary McKay's door on Ormond Street in Thorold, Ontario.
The McKays were Scottish immigrants who had come to Canada to help build the Trans-Canada Railroad through northern Quebec.  When workers were needed in the Niagara region to work on the Welland Canal they left Quebec and moved to Thorold.

The peddler, Mr. S., was so poor that he kept all of his wares in one paper bag.
My great-grandmother bought a table cloth from that bag because as she told my aunt later,
 "I knew what it was like to have nothing."

She was his first customer.

Mr. S. eventually opened a successful furniture store on Front Street in Thorold and he and Mary McKay  were friends for the rest of their lives.
Mary McKay's grand-daughter, who is my 96 year old aunt, still has a trunk that she bought at his store.

The odd thing about the story is that I have, on occasion, met the great-grand-daughters of Mr. S. even though they grew up many miles away in Toronto.
By co-incidence they are cousins of one of my closest girlhood friends.

I didn't know about the old connection between our families until my friend's father passed away a few weeks ago.
I happened to mention to my aunt that I was going to a funeral and she recognized the name.

My friend asked me to write the story down so that she could send it to her cousins.

So here it is, Wendy - a  charming story, not important to the history of Canada maybe, but certainly one of a million strong threads that weave us all together.

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Jane said...

What an interesting story - it's a small world! I've been stunned a few times by connections between people I'd never have envisioned.

jimbo said...


Debra She Who Seeks said...

A wonderful story!

P.S. Still wracking my brains about your contest. Why can't I come up with an appropriate entry???

Anonymous said...

Is Mr. S Mr. Steadman ? My family bought just about everything, including my textbooks for Merritton High School from Steadmans .

Doug Jamieson said...

I love this story. Thanks.