Exploring Murray Street

I’ve been doing research around 227 Murray Street East, in Hamilton, for quite some time now.  My great grandfather, John Haddow, lived in this eight room dwelling for most of his 43 years in Hamilton.  For over 30 years, John was a valued employee of the Steel Company of Canada and was a member of the Unity Lodge, S.O.E. For any of my readers interested in reading about the establishment of this industry, see Working In Steel: The Early Years in Canada 1883-1935 by Craig Heron.  The content of this writing supports the narratives I have come across regarding my Haddow family, in regards to the influx of Italian immigrants to the area and their ‘english’ bosses.  It also confirms the actualization of ‘union’ life and the reasons for it.  Murray Street was an easy walking distance from both the tracks and industry.  This past summer, I was able to walk the paths my relations may have walked.

Steel Company of CanadaBorn in Daltongate, Ulverston on the 25th of March, 1853, John was the son of William Haddow and Agnes Poole. He married Mary High in 1875. In 1874, John joined the Royal Navy and served for just a few short months.  He had a good farm on the outskirts of Hamilton, Ontario at Ryckman’s Corners, but sadly all was lost in a fire.  This is when John, the father of my great grandmother, Mary Eleanor Haddow, started to work for the Steel Company.  He was in charge of all immigrants who worked there, a crew of about 60 men.  John, an engineer, became superintendent of the steel company on Wellington Street and it is said that on the day of his funeral, the shop was shut down in order to honour his life..  John paid $15.00 a month to live on Murray Street.  His beloved Mary died in February of 1919, but John and some of his children continued to live at the residence until his passing.

John Ames of the City of Hamilton, Growth Planning department was initially very helpful with my research.  I realized early on that there would be no residence left where 227 Murray Street once existed.  So, John and others provided me with some important links to the history of the location.

Kathleen Moors


This section of Murray Street disappeared during the First World War and the 1920’s as a number of industries occupied this area.  According to Registered Plan 287 (July 1879) Murray Street extended from the existing street (at Mary St.) all the way to Wellington Street.  The existing Murray Street house at Mary Street is #115, so your great-grandfather’s house at #227 was on the eastern edge of a complex which included the City Jail, two railway lines, and growing industries which were displacing the original homes.  #227 Murray St was Lot 132, RP 287, right beside the railway line.


In 1929 there was a remnant residential area on the north side of Murray Street east of Ferguson which included #227 (223, 225, 227).  The resident was Edwin J. Walker.  By 1930 all the houses were gone.  If you can, see http://library.mcmaster.ca/maps/airphotos/zoom/1934_A4871_15 to see what that part of Hamilton looked like in 1934.  Use a ruler to visually extend Murray Street four blocks to Wellington Street; this is the part of Murray Street east of Mary which has disappeared.  The Food Basics store was built in 1980 on the foundations of the Dominion Cotton Mills circa 1903, which is the large T-shaped building along the east side of Mary Street.  With the old Barton Street Jail, a large city asphalt plant behind the house, and other heavy industry all around, this was not a very liveable area.


and further to this communication…




As a correction to my last e-mail, the cotton mill on the east side of Mary Street at Murray Street was not Dominion Cotton Mils but was in fact the Hamilton Cotton Company.  There were at least seven cotton mills located in Hamilton, hiring as many people as the steel plants in the early part of the 20th century.


I have included a typical “birds eye view” of Hamilton in 1893, looking south.  Hamilton Cotton Co. is marked as No. 5.  Most of the alignment of Murray St. further east is not laid out, but there is a small group of houses to the east (left) which does mark the intersection of Murray St. and Wellington St., and I am positive that one of them is 227 Murray St.  My earlier estimate of the location of 227 Murray St. in a little bit off:  it should be closer to Wellington St. 


As you can see from Google, most of the site has now been cleared and serves as parking lots for the Hamilton General Hospital and associated clinics.


I did a bit of cropping in order to create a snippet of a map dating back to 1934…pin pointed the area where the Murray Street house would have stood.  I am very grateful to the Hamilton Public Library and for John Ames of the City of Hamilton for their awesome help in my research.

227 Murray Street 6While in Hamilton, I walked the neighbourhoods, visiting with individuals along my walk, particularly a little Italian family, as I admired their rose bushes, adjacent to the block where my great grandparents would have lived.
Similar period, style and location on Murray Street East.

Similar period, style and location on Murray Street East.

Grocery store and parking on block where John Haddow and his neighbours once lived.

Grocery store and parking on block where John Haddow and his neighbours once lived.

P1110413 P1110412P1110415A year before John passes, I find his name in a phone directory, living at 227 Murray Street East.

Hamilton 1922 Phone Book John Haddow Phone Book

It has been a blessing to explore the places where my ancestors settled, worked hard, and enjoyed the joys of family.


Meeting Mike

As a result of conducting family ancestral research, I have connected with new cousins.  Some suggest that the past should be left in the past.  I’m not really in support of that concept.  When I met Mike, I felt that I had met someone who absolutely was connected with my history and my way of being.  For Pete’s sake, he takes awesome photographs of birds!

Photo Credit: Mike Moffat, Green Heron at Grindstone Creek

Photo Credit: Mike Moffat, Green Heron at Grindstone Creek

Although my trip to Hamilton was a short trip, the more I spoke with Mike, the more I felt connected with family.  I am grateful to you, Mike,  for introducing me to your Mom (my Dad’s cousin) and your family (your son is a musician…so is mine) and your beautiful wife.  Thank you for being such a generous participant in the search for my ancestors in their resting places.

P1110531Hamilton Cemetery on York Blvd is a magical location, featuring a Gothic Revival style building erected sometime between 1855 and 1862.  Having initially researched relations on the Elliott, Haddow and Moors branches of my family, I was thrilled to be able to say my prayers at the resting place of many of my ancestors.  Next visit, I fully intend on leaving flowers…and will try to time my visit without my pooch, Max, and with the event, Doors Open Hamilton, similar to our Doors Open Calgary.  I want to make certain that I visit the Hamilton Public Library archive collection in order to round out my knowledge about the area as it relates to my family.  I’m still pretty amazed that I managed to navigate my way on the 401 south west and to the QEW on my own.  My next drive will also include a stop at Paris, Ontario, home of Penman’s textiles.

P1110499P1110509 P1110511 P1110512


Searching Out the Ancestors

I continue the journey of discovering my family tree.  Yesterday, Max and I headed out on a summertime drive to Drumheller, Alberta, in order to locate the final resting place of my great uncle, my great grandmother Mary Eleanor Haddow’s brother, John ‘Jack’ Haddow.  The afternoon yawned wide open with sunshine and miles of crops, golden and dancing in the easy wind.  It was divine.

Once in Drumheller, I collected my free tourist map from a small corner store.  Outside, a collection of teens had congregated, sharing smokes and slurpees and when I asked them for the directions to the Drumheller Municipal Cemetery, they were lovely and gave me specific directions and landmarks.  Then I was on my way.

I took Max for a nice walk around the perimeter of the property and scanned the map that was displayed at the front entrance.  I didn’t have any idea what had brought my relations to the west in the first place and wondered if I would have any luck in finding John.  Once Max was back in the van, I began the search and basically sorted out that there were blocks based on period of history and looked for the section from the 1920s.  Soon enough, I located John ‘Jack’ Haddow, and next to him, his daughter Edith M. Haddow who had passed away in 2009.  I sat down and spent a good long while…saying family prayers and just taking in the beauty of the location.

A large plaque is on display at this location because it marks the section that was set aside for victims of an epidemic of influenza that moved through the region between 1916 and 1923.

“During the roaring 20’s, all of the Drumheller Valley communities were coal towns. From gambling and bootlegging to strikes and racial tension, the valley was full of action and entertainment.”  This information and image collected here.

On my great uncle’s death certificate the cause of death is listed as typhoid, but these were the years of the Great Influenza Pandemic between 1916 and 1926.  John Haddow passed in 1921.  He was fortunate that it wasn’t necessary to bury him in one of the common graves.  He was a young man, only 38 years of age, with a wife, Mary Boyd and two children, John and Edith.

I have previously located Mary Boyd Haddow McLennan’s resting place in the Queen’s Park Cemetery in Calgary, along with her son, John ‘Jack’ Boyd Haddow.  It is a generous thing that someone provided a new headstone and saw that Edith could rest along side her father in Drumheller.  Now I am very interested in finding those individuals who loved Edith into her later years as we, also, are connected by our history.

When Max and I headed east to check out the little hamlet of East Coulee, I felt really blessed that I had located two of my relations.  I am enjoying learning about each character’s life as I go.  I’m going to assume that John found work as a coal miner as there were so many opportunities at the time, in this location.  (LOOKY HERE! Within an hour of this writing, a dear distant cousin on the Haddow-side, wrote to me and told me…”Jack was a rancher in Drumheller … he raised cattle and was a cowboy.”  Mystery solved!  Thank you, Anne! And now I shall have to delve into the ranching history of the area!  Looking forward to it.) I thought about all of this as I looked at the coulees, hills and hoodoos on both sides of the road, undulating and richly-coloured in mauves, taupes and rose layers.  Vegetation was sparse apart from the dash of bright yellow in the brown-eyed susans.

On the way back to the city of Drumheller, I stopped at a wee shop and bought myself a double scoop ice cream cone…maple walnut…my Dad’s favourite.  It had been an exceptional day.

A Distant Cousin Connects

I am so blessed.  I putz around to a great degree these days…sorting, tossing, accumulating and sorting again. As my readers know, I feel like it’s important to work on my family research and the archives on such research can become pretty extensive at times.   I enjoy sharing my findings with my parents when I come upon something new.  Today ‘the new’ came in the form of a message from Anne in Kansas, sharing that I had attached an incorrect photograph to my Agnes Mary (Mae) Haddow South on our ancestry.ca site and I had!  But what was wonderful about that was that this was a distant cousin who was sharing this news with me.  Undoubtedly, we will remain friends now, as it seems that Anne is the keeper of family history to the south of the border, while definitely I am doing the same to the north.  She and I will most definitely become pen pals.

I liked that all of this today sparked a memory for my father…a drive that he shared with my grandfather John Moors, between 1967 and 1968.  Grampa had made a visit with us in North Bay, Ontario and he insisted that my father head out with him, on a drive to Powassan, to meet the Souths.  This is what my father wrote of this memory.

“I knew all about this Agnes Haddow — Her husband (Elkanah Alfred South) had one of the first saw mills in Powassan. Don’t know if he was the guy but some guy named South took the first team of oxen up north (to Powassan) and is buried in a grave way out in the middle of the bush about 3 miles from Powassan. I could not believe it when Dad directed me right to it. He was on the trip that took the oxen up there as a young boy (don’t remember how old). Dad even knew where the old house was and all that was left of it was parts of a stone basement walls.Then Dad looked up some lady named South living in Powassan that day-I did not go in the house but it must have been a living relative.”

Thank you, Anne, for putting us in touch with a memory.  Here are photos of Grace Rebecca, my Grandfather’s sister, as a young girl.  She would have been a wee girl when she lost her father, John Moors, on May 19, 1918 in an enemy bombing in Etaples.