Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Oh, I’ll make an entry about Christmas soon. It’s nice to have a record of it. But that’s for later.

First I want to share a little story with you. The story contains mostly facts, and some speculation… and remains unfinished. However, I’m betting that more details will reveal themselves before too long.

The story begins 110 years ago… right here, where I am. Mr. And Mrs. William J. Wright lived in a cottage on Colborne Street with their son, John. Just 4 doors down from them, they watched as a tall, yellow brick house began to take shape. Two years later, this house would be theirs. It wasn’t as fancy as some of the houses up the street, but with all of the extra room and modern conveniences, it must have felt like a mansion to them. The family moved in in 1899 and soon after, Otis was born. Their happiness was short lived however, as tragedy struck the next year, and William J. died. Ida was left a widow at 35 with 2 young boys to raise by herself.

Ida was devastated, but did her best to keep strong for the boys. Thankfully, there was some money so she was able to stay in the house without taking a job.

During this same time, Mr. Robert Thomas was experiencing some struggles of his own. He lived around the corner on Waterloo Street with his son, William (10) and daughter, Cora (13). It would seem that Mr. Thomas’ wife had left him with the two children. Nobody was really sure of the story and it wasn’t talked about in polite company. Mr. Thomas owned a Barbershop on Richmond Street and although he had a steady and respected business, it wasn’t the most lucrative of professions. To help make ends meet, he took on two lodgers, a widow and her daughter who had immigrated from England.

Perhaps it was at church, on a Sunday stroll in the neighbourhood… or maybe taking their children to school, but somehow, Mrs. Wright and Mr. Thomas became acquainted with each other. It wasn’t long before Ida Wright became Ida Thomas and her new husband and his children moved into her lovely, but modest, yellow brick house on Colborne Street. The newly merged family did their best adjust to the new changes. In 1905 the biggest change of all came when little Ida Doris was born, the couple’s only child together.

More changes came over the years and by 1911 Robert's oldest son had secured a job as a grocery salesman and moved out to lodge in a house downtown. That past year, a 24-year old niece, Bessie, immigrated from England and stayed with the family. Both Bessie and Robert’s oldest daughter, Cora (now 23) worked as furriers at a local fur business. Ida's oldest son, John (19), worked as a printer for the local newspaper.

A few changes were made to the house and grounds as well. By 1917 the family had an automobile and a stone garage was constructed in the back. As well, an unheated sun porch was added on to the back of the house.

The story stops here, for now, in 1927. The family remains in the house with 64-year-old Robert still working in his barbershop on Maple Street….

If you haven’t guessed already, the above is the history of my house so far. I did a ton of research during the holidays and discovered so much more thanks to the 1901 and 1911 Census of Canada and local city directories and fire insurance maps. There’s so much more to do. It’s unfolding so interestingly. Aren’t you dying to know what happens to the Thomas family? I’ll be so disappointed if they just move away and I lose track of them. To be continued!

p.s. If any relatives of Robert Thomas, Ida Wright (or Ida Thomas) from London, Ontario, Canada find this through genealogy research, please leave a comment. I’m desperately looking for photos and such!



At 8:09 p.m., Anonymous Louise said...

That is so cool. I can't wait for you to find out more. I was always interested in finding out about my house on William street. Maybe I'll get the time someday to do some research too.

At 12:09 a.m., Anonymous ac said...

This story basically floored me so I didn't even leave a comment when I first read it. I just shared the entry with a friend when we were discussing genealogy so I re-visited your blog and fell in love with the story all over again.


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