Saturday, 29 August 2015


Looking like they are going somewhere about 1927-1928
When we left Harry, Bess and the children it was 1926 and they were living not very happily in the duplex at 106 Pacific Avenue in Verdun. Bess had recovered from her appendicitis illness the prior year, but work was hard to find if you did not speak French and Harry was not well so Bess was the sole source of income. They were thinking of moving to Toronto, Ontario.

It is often the case that people move to places where friends or relatives live. This is true of Harry & Bess as they continue their journey from sea to sea.

They are not shown in the 1927 Montreal, Quebec directory but show up in Brantford, Ontario in 1928. Perhaps the directory publishing dates account for the gap or perhaps they were staying with someone else and didn’t get into the 1927 directories. Brantford is about 400 miles from Montreal, likely a full day driving or even seven  or eight hours by train. It is about 60 miles west of Toronto, Ontario.

The  twenties were the good old days in Ontario as well as the rest of  Canada. With the world’s fastest growing economy, unemployment was low, earnings for individuals and companies were high. 

In 1927 Brantford celebrated the 50th anniversary of its becoming a city and it was also 100 years since the then village chose its name.

Brantford is picturesquely located on the Grand River in the Grand River Valley of Ontario. The city name recalls the famous Mohawk chief and warrior Joseph Brant who was a faithful friend of the British during the Seven Years War and subsequent wars. He was a renowned leader of his people.

Many brave men participated in WWI and those who lost their lives were well commemorated with monuments and parks.

The Bell homestead, where the Bell family lived and where Professor Graham Bell invented the telephone is located there and Lawren Stewart Harris (October 23, 1885 – January 29, 1970) the founder of the famous Group of Seven Canadian painters was born in Brantford. 

Present day luminaries include hockey playing giant Wayne Gretzky, David Hearn, golfer, author Thomas Costain and numerous other authors, politicians and sports figures.

In those fifty years Bradford steadily became a modern and progressive city of 32,000 residents with all the attractions needed to make it a desirable place to live. There was the General Hospital, a large fire department and police department, There were letter carriers, a public library, a theatre and a YMCA, a street railway as well as the Grand Trunk regular railway line connecting to Toronto and elsewhere.

The City Government employed a large workforce to deal with all the issues of a growing city and there were lots of automobile and commercial vehicles; 7000 driving licenses were held by the residents. 

Being an industrial city, there were lots of jobs in manufacturing. Some of the larger manufacturers were; Waterous Engine Works; Robinson & Myers, manufacturers of electric motors and fans; Happy Thought Foundry Co., makers  of stoves, furnaces and boilers;  Ruddy Manufacturing, makers of refrigeration products; Heintzman Piano Co. and Massey Harris, the largest manufacturer of farm implements in the British Empire.

27 Palmerston Ave
While Bess’ remembrances about Montreal told of an offer of cleaning work from a Toronto family that included free travel to that city, I expect they chose to go to Brantford instead for a couple of reasons.

Firstly Bess’s cousin Robert Albert (Abbe) Cheffins and his wife Mona Beatrice (Bunnie) Denovan were living in a house at 27 Palmerston Ave. in Brantford, Ontario, having moved there from Montreal.    

Abbe was working at Massey Harris and given that Brantford was a small city with lots of industry, they were likely hopeful there would be work for Harry as well. Cleaning work for Bess would probably be easily found in any city and Brantford did have a size-able population of prominent and successful families with large homes.

As the 1928 Brantford city directory shows, Harry, Bess and the children were living in Apartment 3 in the Davis Building, which contained seven apartments at 47 Dalhousie Street, in downtown Brantford. Dalhousie St. was and is a major thoroughfare leading through downtown to parks, the Grand River and the Armories.

Abbe & Bunnie with son Ronald

Harry’s occupation is shown as a “brass finisher” but it does not tell us where or even if he was employed.

I believe Abbe and Bunnie Cheffins left Brantford about 1928/29, returning to Montreal  where he later worked as a draughtsman for a number of years.  

They remained in Quebec until Abbe's retirement to British Columbia to be near his son in 1968. At that time he received an honorary lifetime membership to the Quebec Society of Medical Radiological Technicians “for outstanding service and devotion to duty.”

The Welch family’s time in Brantford was not long, as 1929 finds them in the Parkdale region of Toronto.