Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Re-checking Old Notes


I've passed along previously that I started researching my ancestors in the early 1980's prior to genealogy software and Internet databases being conceived, let alone readily available. I recently came across the notes that I made (but hadn't really filed properly) when I interviewed Alexander Gauld Hadden (pictured to the left) - to me, Uncle Alec.

Uncle Alec, my great uncle, was the oldest of the three sons of Alexander Shand Hadden and Jessie McKenzie Gaull. I was lucky enough to have enjoyed a close relationship and to have spent a great of time throughout my life with him. He was the family member I naturally gravitated to when I wanted to know more about my family. Fortunately, I made copious notes of the stories and anecdotes he told me. He was the source of most of what I know about the family's time in Saskatchewan (see Scottish Cowboys? - August 19, 2009).

I recently came across those early family history notes while searching for other documents and was reminded when I reviewed them of gaps in the story. Uncle Alec recounted how he met his future wife, Hilda Edith Smith when the Hadden family left Aneroid and moved to Dahinda, Saskatchewan. Hilda lived in nearby Ogema where her father owned the Ogema Times. Dahinda was described as "wild" town where the North-West Mounted Police (the predecessor of today's RCMP) Sergeant Alexander burned the haystacks to fins 'stills' being operated by bootleggers.

Of course, the Hadden family, primarily at the insistence of Jessie Gaull Hadden, left Saskatchewan for the urban environment of Toronto, Ontario where Jessie's younger brother George Irvine Gaull operated a grocery store on Pickering Street. Fortunately for Uncle Alec, Hilda came to Toronto as escort for her sister who wanted to visit the Canadian National Exhibition, an annual end of summer fair. When Hilda and her sister came to Toronto, they stayed with the Hadden family, that is according to Uncle Alec, until Hilda's sister told Jessie, Alec's mother, that Hilda was pregnant and looking for a husband. Jessie promptly 'threw' Hilda out of the house.

Hilda, undaunted, found work as a receptionist for a Toronto doctor and a place to live on Carleton Street in downtown Toronto. Her father eventually came from Saskatchewan to take her home but she refused to go. She stayed and married the love of her life, Alexander Gauld Hadden. Uncle Alec and Aunt Hilda set the bar high for the rest of family as models of compassion, care, and husband and wife.

And, the lesson for me, file the notes better and don't forget to review them from time to time as there will always seem to be information that you hadn't noticed before that jumps off the page.

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