Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Family Members We Lost in 2014

As 2014 winds down to a close, I thought it worthwhile to reflect back on those connected to my family that we lost this year.

They are people who we were part of our family circle and who made a difference in our lives, however large or small. They are relatives that we won't forget, who will live on in our memories, and who will be in our thoughts as the New Year unfolds.

Gregory Phillip Francis Donovan

'Greg' was my son-in-law Phil's father. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Greg was die-hard Toronto Maple leafs fan. Perhaps unusual given the long rivalry between Toronto and Montreal, but true. His quiet demeanour could quickly be enlivened when a conversation turned to hockey. His love of his family, especially his two sons, Phil and Jason, as well as his grandchildren was always evident. Greg passed way on November 21, 2014 in Oshawa, Ontario.

Susan Ann (Kamula) Benedetto

Susan was my sister-in-law; the wife of my late wife's brother Anthony. Susan was a scientist who taught for many years in high schools in Cambridge and Kitchener, Ontario. She was also a devoted mother to her son Nicholas and daughter Catherine. Sadly, she was stricken by a still unidentified illness that rendered her immobile and hospitalized. She passed away on May 16, 2014 while enjoying a family weekend away at a cottage in Muskoka, Ontario.

Howard Works

Howard was the father of our son Chris' partner Matt. Born in England, Howard never lost his love for '60's music and the original vinyl recordings that he played non-stop. A true family man, Howard loved having family and friends with him at his Haliburton lakeside retreat. A skilled butcher, he passed away suddenly while at work on October 20, 2014.



John Gerald Foley

John, or 'Johnny' as he was known, was my first cousin, once removed. He was the son of Gerald Foley (born Lewis Fitzgerald Foley), after whom both John and I received our middle names. Johnny was a fun loving family man who passed away on December 1, 2014.




William David Armstrong

David was my wife Ellen's step-cousin. David lived, as he wanted, a full and independent life until the frailties of age took him from us on September 15, 2014 in the former city of North York (Toronto), Ontario.






This list would not be complete without finally mentioning ...

Ivy 'Hadden'

Ivy was our daughter Jenna's best friend and constant companion. Ivy was Jenna's birthday present in 2003. For more than eleven years, Ivy shared both happy and sad times with Jenna, providing the unconditional love that dog owners know so well. After enjoying a weekend of camping and running in the surf of Lake Erie, quite suddenly Ivy became very sick, passing away peacefully on August 28, 2014 in Guelph, Ontario, with Jenna by her side. 

I truly hope that I haven't inadvertently forgotten anybody and I hope even more that I don't have a list to share at the end of 2015.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year From Our Family To Yours!

Ellen and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Recently, Ellen's family gathered at a 'secret' Orangeville, Ontario location to celebrate Christmas. Just before a wonderful dinner was served, we heard the familiar sound of jingle bells from the back deck of the house. We received a surprise visit for Santa Claus himself, to the delight of young and old. Fortunately, the location was far enough north that there was sufficient snow on the ground and rooftop to allow Santa's reindeer to make a perfect landing on the roof.



Even 'Chef', our nephew Andrew's newest family addition was joyous and excited to meet Santa.


After each of the children had a turn to sit on Santa's lap and speak with him, Santa invited them to reach into a small red bag that he carried. Inside the bag were candy canes and as one of the kids found out, a photo envelope that Santa quickly tucked away back into the bag. With the kids quizzically looking at Santa, he relented and admitted that he always traveled with a photo of his 'Sweetie.' 

Santa slowly pulled the envelope out of the tiny sack and allowed the oldest of Carl and Tess Wagner's great grandchildren present to open the envelope. Seven-year old Eva stared in amazement at the photo of Mrs. Claus and quickly explained to her young cousins that she knew it was Mrs. Claus because she had seen the same picture when her Grammie had 'googled' Mrs. Claus a few days earlier. Santa graciously allowed Eva to keep the photo which Eva showed willingly to all present but never let out of her possession.

We hope that your Christmas is filled with the magic, wonder, family and joy that we have shared!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Zion Evangelical Church Follow-up And Church Records I Didn't Expect To Find

In my last post, I recounted my wife Ellen's family connection to Zion Evangelical Church, now Zion United Church, located in Kitchener, Ontario. Ellen's paternal great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, and paternal great-great grandfather, Rev. Jacob Wagner, were both pastors of the church.

At the time of our visit to the church in late October, the church was closed and we learned that the church building had been sold to a Kitchener developer, the sale to be finalized in June 2015. One month later, we returned to Kitchener and visiting the church was on our priority list of things to do. Really, what we wanted was just a chance to take a photo of the church sanctuary and pulpit used by Ellen's great grandfather. We were seeking a family keepsake; what we got was so much more!

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden standing in front of the sanctuary and pulpit where her great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, held Sunday services and preached at Zion Evangelical Church (now Zion United Church) in Kitchener, Ontario

We were greeted by the current church Pastor, secretary, and treasurer. After a warm welcome, we explained our interest in their church and they immediately pointed us to a collage they maintain of all the pastors in the church's more than 170-year history. The collage (seen below) is located in a display case and includes photos of both of Ellen's ancestors.

Collage of Ministers who have served Zion Evangelical/United Church in Kitchener, Ontario. Rev. Jacob Wagner is top row, fourth from the left, and Rev. Louis Wagner third row, fourth from the left (my apologies for the glare from a fluorescent ceiling fixture that partly obscures the top row of photos).

Unexpectedly, we were provided by the church treasurer with a private tour of every part of the church building, including an accounting of some of the church's history.

As an added bonus, when our tour was wrapping up, we were shown a display of some church artifacts that had been found as the church begins it's decommissioning. The church will be sending it's records and artifacts to the United Church of Canada Archives and so what we were shown were some of the duplicate copies of church records from 1914-1915. 

Copies of the church's annual reports listed all members of the congregation and the amounts of their financial contributions to the church and it's missionary endeavours. The church congregation list, complete with the addresses of all the church's members. Special church service programs such as that used in September 1954 to mark the centennial of Kitchener, complete with a church history and photos compiled by Ellen's first cousin, three times removed Albert Liborius Breithaupt.

The cover of the Zion Evangelical Church service program celebrating 
the Centennial of the City of Kitchener in 1954

When we think of church records there is a tendency to restrict ourselves to baptisms, marriages, and funerals or burials. The records I saw, a couple of which I now possess, thanks to the good folks at Zion United Church, show the opportunity to have a different view into the church life experienced by our ancestors. What great finds!

Sadly, the final church service at Zion United Church will take place on June 7, 2015. We intend to be there.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The End Of An Era For A 'Family' Church

The end is drawing close.

Zion United Church, located at 32 Weber Street in Kitchener, Ontario, has been sold and will cease to function as Zion United Church in 2015.

Zion United Church (formerly Zion Evangelical Church), 32 Weber Street, Kitchener, Ontario (photo by Ian Hadden, 2014)

The Evangelical Association was basically a German Methodist church that eventually merged with the United Church of Canada. Sadly, the decline in the number of parishioners and attendance, down to 25% of what it was forty years ago, means that the church's operating costs are much higher than it's revenue. So, the church has been sold. Fortunately it's exterior is protected under the Ontario Heritage Act.

For my wife's Wagner ancestors, this church played a central role in their lives dating back more than 150 years. 

Third great grandfather Jacob Hailer was instrumental in helping to establish a church for what was then the Evangelical Association. He allowed his workshop to be used as the first church Sunday School. He also permitted the traveling Evangelical Association ministers to stay in his home when they visited the then village of Berlin, Canada West.

One of those itinerant ministers, Jacob Wagner married Jacob's eldest daughter Margaret in 1849. Their eldest son, Louis Henry Wagner, my wife's great grandfather, would follow in his father's foot steps, become a minister, and eventually pastor of the Zion Evangelical Church.

Margaret's sister, Catherine married Jacob's best friend Louis Breithaupt in 1853 and, as their family grew to prominence in the growing community of Berlin, they too centered their lives around Zion Evangelical Church.

When Margaret died in 1918 (shortly after Berlin was re-named as Kitchener), her son Louis as church pastor used the church's stationery to pen a poem in tribute to his mother.

Zion Evangelical Church stationery used by Rev. Louis Henry Wagner to author a tribute poem to his mother Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean on her death in 1918. (Note that the church address at the time was 10 Weber Street (now 32 Weber Street) and that the central steeple of the church is now missing)

The tribute poem for Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean of Rev. Louis Henry Wagner reads as follows:

Memories of Our Mother

Our Mother's gone.
The fields, from which she gleaned
The fallen stock of golden grain
Have long since given their ripened store
To other hands. The orchard, bright in bloom,
And promise of a full supply,
Will yield its burdened bough to others
Will these too be as generous with their gifts
As she was want to be?
Or withholding much, impoverish but themselves?
Her home, where, through these many years
Of saddened widowhood,
She reigned serenely well,
--- Her word was law,
Respected every wish ---
That home, of daughters well brought up,
And sons much loved and honored true,
Will miss the mother's smile.
Her gentle words of caution and of love
Will n'er be heard again.
Her voice is gone. Her hand,
So warm to welcome home,Will never give its kindly hold
To those she loved so well.

The stranger, made a noble friend,
Will miss her cordial help.
Her church has long since ceased
To see her in her wanted place;
But when the ring of bell will call to worship here,
Her memory still continues fresh and sweet
And long to come, when we
And here this house of God have passed away,
She still will linger on in hallowed thought.

Our Mother's gone? No. Never.
Her disembodied spirit may linger near,
And still its good unfold.
Her smiles, her words, her loving deeds
Will never pass away.
She lives. Though to its place
We lay her washed frame, she lives.
Our Mother lives, and loves us still.
And when this sad requiem is o'er,
And each his weary way
To distant home we break,
The memory of our mother dear will linger.
Her soothing hand will still be laid on throbbing brow.
Her smile will cheer the lonely heart.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lest We Forget: Remembering Carl William Filkin

They were best friends.

Two kids from Longford Mills, Ontario. That's where they met, likely sometime around 1910, when they were both in their early teens.

Alex and Carl were always up for adventure. Friday, October 1, 1915 was to be the start of their greatest adventure. They were going to defeat the army of the German Kaiser.

Alex was Alexander Smith Morton whom the records show was a couple of years older and a couple of inches shorter than his best friend Carl. Alex, born on May 21, 1895, was 20-years old on that Friday in 1915 at the volunteer enlistment centre in Toronto, Ontario. Carl, whose birth name is recorded as William Carl Filkin, born March 14, 1897, was the eldest son of William Mark Filkin and his wife Alma Maud Armstrong.


Extract from Provisional County of Haliburton birth register, page 145

Alex and Carl joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, although, perhaps neither could understand why they just didn't call it 'the army.' They were among the 640,000 Canadians who would serve King and Country in The Great War.

Carl and Alex enlisted in the 92nd Highlanders Battalion and were even assigned consecutive regimental numbers. Carl was number 192913 and Alex was number 192914.

As privates, Carl and Alex first trained in Toronto before being shipped to England in April 1916 for further training. Once in England, they were both first transferred as reinforcements to the 15th Battalion, a unit of the Toronto 48th Highlanders.

Finally, around the middle of September 1916, they went on their last great adventure together; they went to war in France. They joined the British-led Battle of Arras.

I suspect that their weeks in the trenches of France were not quite the adventure they thought they had signed on for. 

Wet, muddy, cold and terrifying. This was not drill work anymore. Real bullets were being shot at them. Real bombs were exploding near them. Real soldiers, young men just like them, on both sides of the battle line, were dying in front of them, the screams keeping them awake at night.

Then on October 28, 1916, Alex was hit. As Carl would later write to Alex's brother Robert, "Alex was hit with a piece of shrapnel in the right arm and the missile pierced his chest." It was Carl who, while still under enemy fire, carried his best friend to the field hospital where the severe wound was dressed. It was Carl who watched his best friend die on that October day.

The war wasn't finished with Carl Filkin. He kept on fighting and according to Carl's recollections of his time in war, shared with his son William, he and a Major Mavery would often sneak across 'No Man's Land' only to return to their trenches later with a kidnapped German prisoner in tow whom they would interrogate.

In early April of 1917, as the Canadian troops readied themselves for their greatest battle at Vimy Ridge, Carl was shot in the left arm. For the better part of two days, Carl lay in a field, taken for dead before finally being rescued and removed to a field hospital where the first of numerous surgeries removed part of his left arm.

Information traveled slowly in those days, almost 100 years ago, and so it wasn't until November 15, 1917 that the Orillia Times reported that "Private Carl Filkin, son of Mr. Harry Filkin, Longford Mills, and who went overseas a year ago, last May with the Highlanders, was wounded in the left arm by gun shot. He was taken to England, where his arm was removed. He is feeling fine now, and hopes to be home for Christmas." The newspaper got the name of his father wrong, but Carl did eventually come home, minus his left arm and his best friend.

Carl took a course in accounting, saw a pretty girl playing the piano at a party and declared to a friend that he was going to marry the girl. True to his word, on May 21, 1921, Carl married that piano-playing pretty girl, Hazel Hicks. The marriage was officiated by Carl's brother-in-law Rev. Albert C. Hie.

Carl worked as an accountant while Hazel worked at home, raising their sons. They lived in Calgary, Alberta for a while when Carl was President of the Prest-O-Lite battery plant located in that city. Eventually, they returned to the Toronto area and lived in Mississauga, Ontario where Hazel passed away in 1965 and Carl in 1976.

Alex Morton never returned to Canada. He was buried in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France, joined by more than 7,650 other brave heroes of the First World War.



The gravestone for Alex Morton, Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France (photo from Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Veteran Affairs Canada)

Two young heroes went to war. One did not come home; the other came home forever changed. Lest we forget!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's the Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, an annual tradition of enjoying the bounty of the harvest season.

We are beginning our feasting today by attending a dinner with some of Ellen's cousins whose company I very much enjoy.

Tomorrow, we gain some additional weight by having dinner with those of our kids who can attend at my son's home (I think there will only be three of six present) plus at least one, but hopefully more, of our grandkids.

I have much to be thankful for! Most of all, I am thankful for the doctors, nurses and therapists who aided me four years ago when I inexplicably developed Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), a condition I had never heard of, nor could pronounce, let alone understand. The condition caused my total paralysis, (well, at least from the neck down) and for a moment or three, my death.

Those medical professionals were able to resuscitate me in the Ajax-Pickering Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, and help me over the next several weeks begin to regain my strength. They taught me how to walk again and become mobile. They returned my sense of independence to me.

I am thankful that I have been blessed with these past four 'bonus' years, with many more yet to come (I hope!). I am thankful that in the past four years I have been able to 'hang out' and do some traveling with my wife, hold my grand daughter, walk my eldest daughter down the aisle and sing at her wedding. I am thankful that we have been able to continue to offer help and encouragement to all of our kids as they work hard to establish their own niches in this often overly-harsh world.

I suspect we all have much to be thankful for and that is my, at least, partial list. What is on your list?

52 Ancestors: Jack Hangs Up The Blades For A Life Of Service

This is the fourth and final part in a series of posts that primarily set out to capture the professional hockey career of John Osborne 'Jack' Filkin, or, 'Uncle Johnny' to my wife.

The previous three posts about Jack Filkin's hockey career can be read here:




Jack Filkin learned to play hockey, likely on the frozen ponds and rivers of his native Ontario, Canada. It is clear from all of the records that Jack loved hockey and would do whatever was needed to find a place on a good team. He was scouted a signed by the New York Rangers. He didn't make the NHL team following the 1929 training camp but rather was assigned to the Rangers' pro farm team, the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. 

His second pro hockey season was spent in the California Hockey League playing for the Los Angeles Millionaires. Unfortunately, no cumulative statistics for the team or the league could be found for the 1930-31 season. However, various newspaper articles and family-held press clippings tell of Jack impressing with his speed, his goal scoring touch and his ability to play both a finesse and physical style of hockey. Whatever it took to succeed. 

Jack Filkin as a Los Angeles Millionaire (original photo privately held)

Jack's Los Angeles Millionaires finished second in the league that year to the Oakland Shieks. Jack was near the top of the list of goal scorers, probably in the top ten players, possibly as high as the top five in the league.

It is not surprising then that Jack's pro hockey contract was purchased by the Philadelphia Arrows of the Canadian-American Hockey League for the 1931-32 season.

Jack was off to the 'City of Brotherly Love' to join an Arrows hockey team being coached and managed by Hockey Hall of Famer Herb Gardiner. The team played all of it's home games in the Philadelphia Arena on Market Street in the city's west end. Statistics for the 1931-32 season show that Jack played in 31 games, assisted on three goals, and accumulated twelve minutes in penalties. 

What that record does not show is that jack sustained a career ending injury towards the end of the season. Jack's hockey season was ended early when he severely broke one of his legs.

The following hockey season, Jack attempted a comeback with the 1932-33 Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Hockey League. Leading up to the Eskimos' opening game, an Edmonton sports reporter introduced the new member of the local team in this way:

Over on the left wing, McKenzie [Edmonton Eskimos coach] has a big, robust speed merchant in the person of Jack Filkin, 25-year old sniper who has had his share of pro competition...Filkin had a bad break with the Arrows, suffering a badly fractured leg, and he never did regain the form expected of him.

Although his hockey career came to a disappointing end, Jack had lived the dream. But it was now on to other and perhaps even greater things John Osborne Filkin.

With his hockey career over, John returned to Toronto with his wife Hazel (Latimer). They settled into a pleasant home on Vaughn Road in the Toronto borough of York. John and Hazel welcomed into their family two daughters. John went off to work each day according to voters lists as a salesman. Eventually John took up the profession of tree surgeon as recorded in numerous subsequent voters lists. Eventually this profession would be described as Landscape Architecture.

John Filkin in 1965 (from Lions Club International newsletter)

In 1950, John became a member of the Lions Club service organization. According to a variety of club archived records, in 1958, John became the President of his local Lions Club branch. The following year he became the Zone Chairman for the Lions Club. He then spent 1961 and 1962 as the Lions Club's Deputy District Chairman, followed by two years in the role of 100% Deputy District Governor. From 1965 through 1967, John was a Director of the Lions Club International, representing Canada.

John's dedication to service through the Lions Club is well documented, both in Lions Club archived records and in the many newspaper articles from across Canada and the United States reporting on John's message to fellow Lions Club members at the many conventions at which he was invited to be the keynote speaker.

When not inspiring and encouraging Lions Club members, John found time to serve as the Commissioner of the Parking Authority for the Borough of York (Toronto, Ontario) or 16 years. In the 1971 photo below, John Filkin is seen helping Borough of York Mayor Philip White cover a parking meter, an act that offered free parking in the borough for the busy shopping season the week prior to Christmas.

John 'Jack' Filkin (left) with York Mayor Philip White, December 1971 (Toronto Star newspaper archive)

Following a life of giving joy to hockey fans and serving his community, at home and abroad, John Osborne Filkin passed away on April 28, 1977 having followed his dream, served his community well, and teaching all of us how to live life well.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

52 Ancestors: Jack Becomes A Los Angeles Millionaire

I have, admittedly, been delinquent in continuing the story about John Osborne (Jack) Filkin, my wife's uncle through marriage and, in his younger days, a professional hockey player. This is Part 3 in a four part series about Jack Filkin. You can read the previous two parts of this story here:




Jack grew up in small town Ontario, Canada. Here he learned to play hockey, and play it at a high level. In an era before the blades of hockey sticks were curved, Jack played with a standard straight-bladed hockey stick. With that straight blade, Jack developed the unique skill of being able to shoot the puck either left handed or right handed.

At five feet, eleven inches in height and one hundred seventy-five pounds, Jack would have been considered a big winger, even a force to be reckoned with.

In 1929, the general managers of the professional hockey teams had no farm systems from which to draw for the big league team. They needed to scour hockey leagues looking for young talent. 

When the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL) were looking for new talent, according to press reports, they were "told of" Jack who was "known in the Maple Leaf country as Goal-a-Game Filkin, this because he has averaged a goal every game since he began donning the steel blades in league competition."

The 1929-30 season didn't work out as hoped for. Jack attended the New York Rangers training camp and was sent to the New York Rangers' Canadian-American Hockey League affiliate team the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. Although Jack was a fan favourite, his goal scoring touch was missing. He recorded just one goal and one assist while spending 30 minutes in the penalty box.

Following the hockey season, Jack returned to his Ontario home. In Toronto, he was known as Police Constable Filkin, Badge Number 788. In that first 'off-season' of 1930, Jack managed to take time off of his 'beat' to marry Hazel Latimer.




John Osborne 'Jack' Filkin, 1929-30 Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians 
newspaper photo clipping 
(Newspaper source and date of publication unknown)

On November 10, 1930, it was back to hockey for Jack. But this time, Jack was on his way to play hockey in California where his professional contract had been purchased. Jack was going to be a Los Angeles Millionaire.

There does not appear to be a compiled listing of the statistics from the California Hockey League available for the year that Jack played there (1930-31). However, a review of the press clippings available to me strongly suggests that Jack's scoring touch had definitely returned, with numerous multiple goal games reported.

Hazel joined Jack in Los Angeles and, together, they were able to connect with Hazel's aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Knox and Squires families. Hazel's mother, Mattie Diona (Knox) Latimer was from California and had left the state the day after she married her Canadian husband, Edward Latimer, in 1906.



Hazel (Latimer) Filkin
(Original privately held)

The year of 1931 brought about more change for Jack. Maybe it was because of his goal scoring success in California, maybe it was because of team requirements, or maybe it was a combination of both but, whatever the reason, Jack's professional hockey contract was purchased again by another team. 

Jack was gong to spend his third season as a Philadelphia Arrow. He did not know it when he crossed the U.S.-Canada border in the Fall of 1931 that the 1931-32 hockey season would be his last.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

52 Ancestors: The Road To The NHL - John Osborne 'Jack' Filkin

When last we left our intrepid hero, Jack Filkin had finished the 1927-1928 hockey season on a high note as a member of the York Bible Class hockey team that won the city of Toronto championship. (click here to read Part 1)

Based on an assemblage of newspaper clippings, collected by one of Jack’s brothers, it is recorded that for the 1928-1929 hockey season, the now 23-year old Jack found a place on the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company team in the old Toronto Mercantile Senior League, a tough industry based league of teams representing a number of companies from around the city. 

Jack’s skating ability, stick handling, and even a deft scoring ability did not go unnoticed.

Lester Patrick, the legendary coach and general manager of the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League came calling. So, according to border crossing records, on October 23, 1929, Jack was off to Springfield, Massachusetts and the training camp of the New York Rangers, then a fairly new NHL franchise.

Jack toiled for coach Lester Patrick (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947) and played with Frank Boucher (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958) and Earl Siebert (inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963) along with other hockey greats of the era.

Ultimately, Jack Filkin did not make the New York Rangers team (and is listed on the New York Rangers team website as having “missed the cut”) but was sent to the team’s Canadian-American Hockey League professional farm team, the Springfield (Massachusetts) Indians. The team is said to have derived its name from the Indian Motorcycle Company that manufactured the famous motorcycle in Springfield.

Back home in Orillia, Ontario, Jack’s hockey success did not go unnoticed and in an undated newspaper clipping probably from the Orillia area, the following headline and article appeared,

Jack Filkins Playing Professional Hockey in Springfield, Mass.

Was Popular Player With Orillia Intermediates.

“Jack Filkins once the idol of the Longford team that captured the trophy in the OWL league, and later a popular star on the Orillia Intermediate team, is now playing the professional game with Springfield, Mass. Jack was a chemist at the Longford Standard Chemical Co., and made a great hit with the fans during 1925-26-27. In 1928 and 1929 he played for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Toronto, in the Mercantile league. He plays a good brand of hockey and the fans are not at all surprised to see him crashing the professional ranks.

There is no doubt but that Jack will make good. He has a world of speed, is a clever stick-handler and has one of the most terrific shots ever seen on local ice. Playing hockey, as he has, from his earliest days, he has developed a pair of wrists that are the envy of all those who like to get verve into their shots on goal. His sense of direction is acute and very few of his shots go wide of the mark.”


Jack Filkin in his playing days, abt. 1930 (Original photo privately held)

One family story held that Jack did play in one NHL game but that does not appear to be true. Rather, Jack did play one game against an NHL team!

Before training camp broke for the New York Rangers and their farm team the Springfield Indians, the two teams faced off against each other. On a night in early November 1929, the game, according to sports reporter Victor N. Wall, offered “Springfield hockey fans their first peep at the young hockey stars imported from Canada to play with the Indians, their first glance at the New York Rangers, one of the outstanding clubs in the big league, and their first chance to see the changes in the rules.” One of the most significant rule changes made in hockey was introduced that year, the ability to make a forward pass.

The Spingfield Indians were coached by Frank Carroll who told reporter Wall, “I want to give Springfield fans every chance to see these youngsters and that’s why I am placing an entirely new team on the ice at the start. To show that I want this to be a really new team I am sending Filkin, a left handed shot, in at right wing.” Of course, what Frank Carroll didn’t mentioned was that his right winger Jack Filkin had an unusual talent, the ability to shoot both left handed and right handed. In an era of straight hockey sticks, with no curve or warp in the stick blade, this was an effectively deceptive weapon.

The 1929-30 hockey season was not great for Jack and his Springfield Indians team. At that time, professional hockey teams played a season consisting of only about half the number of games currently seen in the pro leagues. Springfield amassed a losing record of 14 wins, 23 losses and 2 ties, finishing 5th in the standings and out of the playoffs. 

Jack Filkin scored one goal, assisted on one other, and accumulated 30 penalty minutes while playing in 34 of the team’s 39 regular season games. It is likely that Jack, a regular on the team, missed five games due to injuries.

Following his less than stellar pro rookie season, Jack’s career was to be influenced by two great events: the Great Depression and Jack got married (not that getting married and the Great Depression should be viewed as being related to each other).

In the next post, Jack becomes a Millionaire!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: Living The Dream - John Osborne 'Jack' Filkin (Part 1)

Sure, I’m retired and could say “I’m living the dream” but this isn’t about me. No, this is about Uncle Johnny, or more accurately Ellen’s uncle John Osborne Filkin.

When I was growing up, I had only one season of sports, serious sports – hockey season. It lasted twelve months each year. I played in organized leagues during the Fall, Winter, and Spring. I played ‘road hockey’ using a tennis ball in place of a puck before school, during recesses, at lunch time and, after school until the street lights came on and I was begrudgingly required to call it a day.  Sure, I played some baseball in the summer and some football in the Fall but life really revolved around hockey, hockey, and more hockey.

I knew every player in the National Hockey League (NHL), as for most of the years when I was young, there were only six teams. More than anything else, I dreamed of developing my skills and being good enough to one day play hockey professionally, especially to be in the NHL.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com


Recently, I took a second, closer look at a border crossing card from 1930 for Ellen’s Uncle Johnny. The card stated that his reason for entering the United States (he crossed the border from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan) was to play hockey in Los Angeles, California. Playing hockey in California? Many, many decades ago? That, to say the least, piqued my curiosity!

It turns out there are many records, some of which are found in obscure non-genealogically oriented databases, that provide evidence of Uncle Johnny’s hockey career. And then the ‘honey hole’ was presented to me by Ellen’s cousin and Uncle Johnny’s daughter, Jule. An old family scrapbook collection, assembled by one of Uncle Johnny’s brothers, containing all the press clippings they were able to gather eighty years ago pertaining to Uncle Johnny’s hockey career.

So this is the story of John Osborne Filkin. He was known widely by the name ‘Jack’ but my wife knew him only as ‘Uncle Johnny.’

John Osborne Filkin was born April 25, 1905 in the tiny hamlet of Irondale, Ontario, Canada. Irondale is located on Salerno Lake in a rural, heavily-wooded part of Ontario, far from, well, almost everything. John’s father was William Mark Filkin, a chemical engineer who about twenty years earlier had immigrated to Canada from his native Birmingham, England. John’s mother was Alma Maud Armstrong who had been born in the small town of Minden, Ontario.

Summers during Jack’s childhood would offer, as they do today, opportunities for water sports – swimming, fishing, and canoeing. The Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons meant attending school and no doubt for Jack, a chance to skate and play hockey on the frozen ponds and rivers that were plentiful in his part of the province. Jack’s teen years meant chances to work in a local sawmill but he always found time for hockey. Jack probably played hockey whenever and wherever he could, just like I did years later. But he was different. He was truly dedicated to the game and very talented.


In 1927, Jack climbed the joined the amateur hockey ranks eventually joining team of the York Bible Class, a young men’s organization established a few years earlier by Denton Massey, a member of one of Canada’s more famous families. That year his hockey team won the championship of the city of Toronto.

In Part 2, a look at the Road to the NHL.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

52 Ancestors: Andrew Kimmerly, A United Empire Loyalist

The episode of the U.S. version of the popular television show Who Do You Think You Are? broadcast this past week featured Canadian actress Rachel McAdams, along with her sister Kayleen, and highlighted the struggles of the United Empire Loyalists during and after the American Revolutionary War. 

In short, the Loyalists were those British subjects living in the '13 colonies' who remained loyal to the British crown and typically either fought for or supported the British side during the American Revolution. As the tide of the war turned against the British, these Loyalists were compelled to leave their homes and their land, most fleeing to the safety of what is now Canada.

Among those who had decided to remain loyal to the crown was a 15-year old Andrew Kimmerly (my wife Ellen's 4X great grandfather) who joined the Kings Royal Regiment of New York, likely the 2nd Battalion, in May 1780. 

"Preliminary Treaty Of Paris Painting" by Print by John D. Morris & Co. after painting by German artist Carl Wilhelm Anton Seiler (1846-1921) - Extracted from PDF version of Seals and Symbols in the American Colonies poster, part of a U.S. Diplomacy Center (State Department) exhibition on the 225th anniversary of the Great Seal. Direct PDF URL [1] (21MB). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PreliminaryTreatyOfParisPainting.jpg#mediaviewer/File:PreliminaryTreatyOfParisPainting.jpg

With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Andrew headed north and into Canada where he petitioned for and, in 1792, was granted 200 acres of land in Adolphustown, Upper Canada (now Ontario), near the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario.

I have always found it interesting that just two generations later, Andrew Kimmerly's granddaughter Eleanor Ann married Francis Dwight Faulkner (Ellen's 2X great grandparents), whose family had been very actively involved in fighting as Revolutionaries, or as they would be termed in the United States, as 'Patriots.'

My wife therefore is in the rather unique, or perhaps just unusual, position of qualifying for membership in both the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada  and the Daughters of the American Revolution

Sunday, August 3, 2014

52 Ancestors - James and Janet Little

This is going to be a short post about my 4X great grandparents James Little and Janet Little. A short posting because I don't really don't yet know a great deal about them.

Scottish records indicate that James Little married Janet Little, probably around 1827 or 1828. This date is based on the birth of the first child Peter about 1829. The record of the marriage of their son James, my 3X great grandfather, states that Janet's maiden surname was Little meaning that she had the same married surname. There is no evidence, at least none that I have found, that suggests that James and Janet were related to each other in any way prior to their marriage.

James was born about 1801 in Dumfriesshire whereas Janet was born about 1810 in Fifeshire. After their marriage, James and Janet settled into life first in Dumferline in Fife where most of their children were born. They then settled in Hutton and Corrie Parish, Dumfriesshire, an area just to the north-west of Lockerbie, Scotland, known infamously for the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. There, they raised their family of seven known children, consisting of three boys and four girls.

James worked in the area as an agricultural labourer until his death sometime in the latter part of the 1860's. Janet continued to live in Dumfriesshire until her death in 1886.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

52 Ancestors: James Hadden (abt 1804-1871)

James Hadden is my 4X great grandfather. I really don't know that much about the life that lead but various records tell me that he was born about 1804 in Fetteresso, Kincardineshire. 

I have searched Scotland's Old Parish Registers and could find no baptismal record for James. This suggested to me that either the register book containing the baptismal record for James no longer exists or James' parents, William Hadden and Agnes Robb were not 'church going' people and the baptism of their son was not a high priority for them.

What the Old Parish Registers do inform me is that James Hadden married Mary Smart on May 25th, 1833 in Inverurie, Aberdeen, Scotland. James was about 29 years old and his bride, Mary was 25 years old.

The young couple settled into life together in New Hills, Aberdeen, Scotland, a small village near the location of the present day Aberdeen Airport. James seemed to do well working as a farm overseer. Mary and James also started a family; their first child, a daughter whom they named Mary was born December 31, 1833. A son, Alexander 'Bean' Hadden was born in 1837 and another daughter, named Jane was born in 1837.

Their apparently happy existence was cut short however when Mary died suddenly in 1840. Eventually James re-married. His second wife was Janet or Jessie Jamieson and unfortunately I could find no record of their marriage in the Old Parish Registers of Scotland but other records do provide confirmation that they were married, likely around 1847 as their first of two known children (both sons - James George Wood Hadden and William Hadden) was born in 1848.

James continued farming up until his death from bronchitis on March 12, 1871 in Aberdeen.

Curiously, several years ago while suffering from a concussion that caused severe headaches and an inability to focus for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time, I decided to 'kill some time' by searching Google for images of James Hadden. I had no realistic expectation that I would find a 'photo' of my 19th century ancestor but what I did find astonished me nonetheless. A photo was found of James' gravestone!

The photo had been taken by Colin Milne in St. Peter's Cemetery on King Street in Aberdeen. Colin had taken photos of several gravestones that he referred to as 'strays' and then posted them on his website in the hope that family members might one day find them. I contacted Colin and he kindly provided me with a copy of the original digital file for my use.

James Hadden gravestone, St. Peter's Cemetery, Aberdeen, Scotland (photo courtesy of Colin Milne)

I then contacted City of Aberdeen staff who informed me that the people listed on the gravestone do not represent the names their records show are buried in the plot. The gravestone lists seven family members: Mary Smart, William Hadden (James Hadden's brother), William Hadden (son of either William or James), James Hadden, James G. W. Hadden, Jessie Jamieson, and Alexander 'Bean' Hadden.

As it turns out, Mary Smart is not buried in this plot. Her name on the gravestone is a 'memorial' only. The same is true for James' brother William Hadden. James Hadden and Jessie Jamieson are buried here along with James George Wood Hadden, Helen B. Smith McKnight, James Reid, Elspet Scott, John McKnight, and Christian Mackie. 

The City of Aberdeen staff informed me that James Hadden bought the plot in section 39 of the cemetery in 1842. "In the olden days in Aberdeen it was not uncommon for family's to use graves for close friends or even neighbours as money was so tight."  I was able to identify that John McKnight was James' step-son so perhaps Helen was John McKnight's wife and I have no idea as to who Elspet Scott, James Reid and Christian Mackie are? Identifying them and their relationship to James Hadden is another task to add to my genealogy to-do list!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

52 Ancestors: John Jacob (John Jacob) Hailer 1804-1882

I decided to stick with my wife Ellen's family lineage this week, in part because I have a real fondness for the history of Waterloo County in Ontario, Canada and in part because the only true family artifact that we possess is one that belonged to this week's subject Johann Jacob (or John Jacob) Hailer, Ellen's third great grandfather. He is perhaps better known simply as Jacob Hailer.

Johann Jacob Hailer


Jacob began his life in Wilferdingen, Baden, Germany on December 20, 1804 and records indicate that he was baptized just three days on December 23, 1804. Jacob was the son of Christian Hailer and his wife Maria Barbara Zachmann. It's possible that Jacob was not seen as a healthy baby so the need for a baptism as soon as possible. Perhaps the baptism occurred quickly with respect to the Christmas festivities.

In 1911, one of Jacob Hailer's grandsons, William H. Breithaupt, who was also the first president of Waterloo Historical Society, wrote a book that includes the story of Jacob's immigration to North America. In short, we know from passenger lists that Jacob Hailer, described on the list as being a "turner" by profession, arrived in the port of Baltimore, Maryland sometime between July 1st and October 1st, 1829. On board the ship that carried him across the Atlantic Ocean were members of the Riehl family, noted by William Breithaupt as being a father accompanying his son and daughter to the United States. Once in Baltimore, Jacob was introduced by the senior Riehl to another daughter Margaret and her younger brother who had sailed to the U.S. in 1828.

Jacob followed his new friends, the Riehls, when they moved to Buffalo, New York in 1830 where that same year, he married Margaret. Records show that Jacob and Margaret Hailer established a home across the river in Chippewa, Upper Canada (now Niagara Falls, Ontario) where their first child, a daughter they named Margaret was born in 1831. Just a few months after the child's birth, they moved again, this time following the trail laid out over the previous three decades by various small waves of the group known as the 'Pennsylvania Dutch.' It was a long difficult journey on rough hewn roads, passing around and over swamps near present day Hamilton, Ontario, to reach Waterloo Township.

For their first year, the Hailers lived in a log house in German Mills, a tiny village located just north of the village of Doon. In 1833, Jacob Hailer purchased one acre of land, located at what is now the intersection of Scott Street and King Street East in central Kitchener, from Bishop Benjamin Eby. This was the same Benjamin Eby who suggested the name of Berlin for the town which beforehand had often been referred to as Ebytown due to five of the villages six houses being occupied by members of the Eby family.

Jacob immediately established a home for his family along with a woodworking shop in which he could ply his trade of manufacturing wooden furniture, including chairs, spinning wheels and lamp stands.

Jacob is described as a deeply religious man who was instrumental in establishing the Evangelical Association (sometimes referred to as the German Methodist) church in Canada. Jacob used his workshop as both a church meeting place and Sunday school. Travelling ministers would preach in the workshop and then stay in the house as guests of the Hailer family. It was through this that the Hailer's eldest daughter Margaret met and married a young Rev. Jacob Wagner. The Hailer's second eldest child, also a daughter, Catherine, married Jacob Wagner's best friend Philip Ludwig 'Louis' Breithaupt.

In 1876, although there was no apparent milestone type of event, Jacob was presented with a monogrammed walking stick or cane. It is ivory handled with a gold band covering the joining of the handle to the wooden cane. On that gold band is inscribed "J.J.H. 1876." We aren't certain as to exactly how it happened, but that cane, once presented to Jacob Hailer has passed down through five generations of family hands to my wife, Jacob Hailer's great-great-great granddaughter.

The ivory-handled grip of Johann Jacob Hailer's cane, presented to him in 1876

Jacob was about 72 years of age when he received the presumed gift of his monogrammed cane. He would die six years later of "old age" on March 6, 1882 and be interred in Kitchener's Mount Hope Cemetery. Years later Jacob, purported to be the first German to settle in the area currently renown for it's German heritage and annual Oktoberfest, was inducted into the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

Johann 'John' Jacob Hailer with his cane, probably about 1880

Of course, it is only circumstantial evidence that the cane belonged to Jacob. It bears Jacob's initials and has been passed down and retained by the family and, there are no other ancestors for whom those initials and timeframe fit. Could the cane have possibly belonged to someone else with the same initials and just by happenchance it fell into the Wagner family. The 'clincher' was finding a photograph, taken by photographer C. R. Lundy of Berlin, Ontario, probably about 1880, of Jacob posing with his beloved cane in hand. For Ellen, it makes holding her ancestor's cane all the more a connection to her family's history.