THORNTON (Dad) SIMMONS
Born in Monmouth, September 17, 1844
Married Louisa Whittington, December 24, 1865
Married Louisa Richards in 1872
Immigrated from Monmouth, thru Liverpool, arriving in Winnipeg, Canada, June 14, 1882.
Children James, Julia, Thornton, George, Owen, Oscar, Francis, Robert and William
Click for Link to JULIA
Died Sunday October 26, 1930, at his residence, according to his obituary. Buried at St James Cemetery, Winnipeg
Thornton (Dad) Simmons
The Parish Records of Monmouth, Wales in the County of Monmouth in the Year of 1844 show that Thornton was baptized on October 15, 1844. His father’s name was James Thornton Simmons and his mother’s name was Mary. They lived in Monmouth and James was a plasterer by trade. (Page # 203, Entry No. 1617)
The 1851 Census shows the family of James T. Simmonds (the spelling changes often) who was 41 years old at the time (born 1810) living in Herefordshire with his wife Mary who was 40 (born in 1811 in Monmouth). At that time James’ profession was listed as Tyler Plasterer and Chimney Sweeper. James and Mary's children and ages are shown as Julia T. 16 years old; Owen T. 14; Alice T. 9; Thornton 6; Amy T. 3; and Tom T. 1 year old. It is interesting to note that Thornton later had a son he named James, after his father, and a son Owen and daughter Julia named for his siblings.
The 1861 Census shows Thornton living in the home of James Powell in Monmouthshire at the age of 16 where he was apprenticed as a plumber and painter. In 1865 we see that Thornton married Louisa Whittington on December 24, 1865 also in Monmouth. Thornton was listed as a bachelor and Louisa a spinster. Thornton's profession shows he was a painter and that his father James Thornton Simmons was a Plasterer. It shows Thomas Whittington, a Labourer, was the father of Louisa and the couple were married in the Parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church. The witnesses were J. Jones and Amy Simmons, Thornton’s sister.
However on the 1871 census we see that Thornton is back living in his father's house, with his son James, who is only two years old; and it is probable that his first wife Louisa Whittington died, perhaps in childbirth, which was quite common at the time.
By the 1881 Census Thornton has remarried, this time to Louisa Richards, another Louisa coincidentally, and that along with his son James, who is now 12 years old, Thornton and Louisa also have four children; Julia T. 6 years old (born April 25, 1874); Thornton 4 (born April 27, 1876); George 2 (born June 2, 1878); and Owen only 1 year old (born January 31, 1880).
On May 25,1882, the family set sail for Canada in search of a new life and the lure of the opportunities of a new land. Their ship was the Sarmatian, of the Allan Line Steamship Company. It departed from Liverpool, England, and arrived at Quebec City, Canada on June 4, 1882. The family arrived in Winnipeg June 14, 1882. (Historical context: In 1882 Wyatt Earp shot Curly Bill Brocius). Closer to home, the Riel rebellion occurred in 1870, with Winnipeg's population of 215 people. Population reached 8000 by 1879.)
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The first winter (1882) in Winnipeg, Thornton sheltered his family in a tent, at south east King Street and Henry Avenue, with straw bales piled up around it to help keep them warm. In 1883 Henderson's Directory lists them as living on Common Avenue (now called Henry Avenue) between Schultz Street (now called Lizzie Street) and Machray Street (now called Stanley
Their first house was built in 1884 west of Main Street on Common Avenue
(now Henry Avenue), possibly the same lot as the tent was. The 1884 Henderson's Directory lists them at 545 Main Street, so the lot might have extended from Main to King, along Henry. The 'move in' date for this house is not known. Since Thornton was a glazier and building materials were scarce he built his home with the lumber from the packing crates that the glass arrived in. That is why this house has been called "the Packing Crate house".
During the Winter of 1885, this house was skidded across the ice and snow to its present site at 160 Syndicate Street. (the address in 1888 was 25 Syndicate, and in 1891 changed to 166 Syndicate due to street
numbering changes. In 1904 the address was again changed, this time to its present day 160 Syndicate). The house was placed on a field-stone foundation. It was added to over the years, and ended up with a living room, dining room, kitchen, 5 bedrooms and 3 baths.
The older Packing Crate house was variously occupied as follows:
by son James, briefly, in 1894. Thornton and family moved out in 1895.
by renters in 1895 and 1896
by daughter and son-in law Julia and John Murray from 1898 to 1903
John and Julia were married November 26, 1895
by son Thornton (junior) and his wife Maud from 1903 to 1913.
Thornton (junior) and Maud married in 1902.
by John and Julia again from 1913 to 1916
by renters until sold.
Oscar Edgar Thornton Simmons was the Administrator of Estate appointed October 1, 1963. He died in November 6, 1965, and his son, LeRoy, continued to administer the property (now 160 Syndicate Street) until it was sold to Rosemary Hiller, wife of Bruno Christopher Hiller. So the house at 160 Syndicate, "the Packing Crate house" remained in the family until June 1974, 90 years. (Needs land title confirmation as this sale might refer to the 2nd house).
The "Packing Crate house" at 160 Syndicate at was featured in Lillian Gibbons' book "Stories Houses Tell",Hyperion Press, CLICK HERE . The house at 164 Syndicate is also mentioned in this feature. [Legal Description of the house at 164 Syndicate Street shows: Lot 12 of Lot 27 (D.G.S.) Parish of Saint John registered in the Winnipeg Land Titles Office, Winnipeg Division as No. 107.]
Thornton built quite a few houses with the help of his sons. In 1895, they built a second house, next door, at 164 Syndicate Street (the address in 1888 was 168 Syndicate but with address changes on the street it is now addressed as 164). This second house became the new family home. Thornton, Louisa, and their various sons lived there, at 164 Syndicate Street, until their deaths.
It is possible Thornton and his sons also built 148 Syndicate around 1891 where daughter Julia, her husband John R. Murray and their children lived, from 1902 to 1913 inclusive.
Another house that Thornton and his sons possibly built is 154 Syndicate. Built in 1895 with the address of 162 Syndicate, this house was initially occupied by Thornton's son, James, for that year.
Thornton's granddaughter Ruby says he was a master craftsman and could build anything. Thornton’s occupation on the 1891 Winnipeg census is listed as Painter & Paperhanger. The 1901 Winnipeg census shows him as a Home Decorator, but his he taught each one of his sons a different craft and formed his own construction team. Over the years they built quite a few homes that became rental properties for the family, two being near the apartment block (unsure where) and two on Hespler. He also worked on
the McIntyre Building which was constructed at 416 Main Street in 1898 and had 2 storeys added in 1908. He crafted the glass for the CPR Roundhouse in the CPR yards near Salter Street and he also crafted the leaded stained glass windows in the Old Christ Church (location unknown) and in All Saints Church at 125 Colony at Broadway.
In 1907, Thornton sold two of his lots to the City of Winnipeg for their purpose of extending Sutherland Avenue and widening Hill Street. They were lots 31 and 72, part of lot 27, Plan 197, parish of St John. According to the newspaper reports, in February, 1907, Thornton was offered $4,300. He held out and was offered $8,000 in June, 1907, which is worth $273,800 today (2022).
In the 1911 Winnipeg census, Thornton's occupation is listed as Painter-retired. Living with him are wife Louisa, sons George, Owen and Robert, niece Minnie Jones, and a lodger Bertie Wm. Brown.
Thornton Simmons and a number of other residents gave testimony which appeared in the Judge Robson's Report on Conditions in the Vice Section of Winnipeg. The story of this investigation and report was covered in the Winnipeg tribune on Saturday, January 14, 1911.
The 1921 Winnipeg census Thornton's occupation is unclear. George and Owen are both listed as self employed Contractors-building. Mother, Louisa, is listed also.
On September 17, 1926, the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper reported that Thornton Simmons, senior, who celebrated his 82nd birthday today, also celebrates living at the same house for 41 years. That house was 164 Syndicate Street, which, it was incorrectly reported, he moved into in March 1885. In fact 164 Syndicate was built in 1895 (see above); and the "packing crate house" at 160 Syndicate was re-located to Syndicate Street in 1885.
Thornton and Louisa appear in a photograph with a story in the Friday, September 20, 1929 Winnipeg Tribune. The story is about Thornton's surprise birthday party, held Thursday night, September 19, 1929. It reads that Thornton's birthday was on Tuesday which was September 17th. That would be correct. But the article says it was his 86th birthday and, as indicated (above), Thornton was born in 1844, so this was actually his 85th (not 86th) birthday.
The Winnipeg Tribune newspaper carried a story on April 16, 1937, about the Point Douglas Old Timers' Association having a party. Thornton Simmons was pictured in this article.
Great granddaughter, Vivian, remembers the beautiful colored glass in the front door of (present address) 164 Syndicate which had been hand crafted by Thornton. The front door had tiny pieces of glass set in lead which he crafted. There was one bedroom for Ma (Julia Murray) and her three granddaughters: Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian. Whenever the girls when to visit their great grandparents, Thornton would be sitting in the chesterfield lounge chair. When they were told to go and say goodbye to him they always hated it because he would always grab them and tickle them but it always hurt. He seemed to rule the roost from his big lounge chair.
He made little cedar boxes for his grandchildren that are still in the family and did a painting of Monmouth Bridge in Wales which he gave to each of his children.
LOUISA (Mam) T. SIMMONS (nee Richards)
Born in St. Briavels, England, August 25, 1851
Father George Richards
Married to Thornton Simmons
Children James, Julia, Thornton, George, Owen, Oscar, Francis, Robert and William
Died in Winnipeg General Hospital, August 31, 1937. Buried at St James Cemetery.
It is not known for sure how Louisa met and married Thornton. Perhaps when his young wife, Louisa Whittington, died and he was left with a 2 year old son, James, the family connection with the Whittingtons sent the young Louisa to look after Thornton and his child. However it happened, they met and married in 1872 or 1875 and together with their six children set out for a new life in Canada in 1882.
Louisa liked to tell the story of when they were on the quay in Liverpool, waiting for the ship. Queen Victoria came along and spoke to her saying “You have a bonny young one there”. It is hard to imagine how she must have felt leaving her home and setting off for the unknown with six children ages 1, 3, 4, 6 and 8, along with Jim, her stepson, who was age 14.
Louisa was known as ‘Mam’ to all who knew her. She always wore a black dress with a high collar. Although she looks very severe in all her photos she was kind, especially to her great grandchildren.
When they were children, Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian went to see Mam (their great grandmother) in the house on Syndicate Street. One of them remembers when they went to see her, she would take them out into the back yard to feed the chickens. They also had a huge St. Bernard dog called Jumbo who was very friendly and loved the children, but they had to have a sign posted that said 'Beware Of Dog'. Louisa would have to control Jumbo so he wouldn’t knock over the little ones. Vivian remembers sitting around the big table and shelling peanuts.
One of the family stories tells about how Louisa, who was also adept at cutting glass, took over the contract for the CPR Roundhouse at Salter Street when Thornton fell ill. She went ‘week after week to the railway yards and cut the glass for the men,” her son George recalls. “In the days of skirts sweeping the ground she never put on overalls, not mother,” he remembers.
Note: That the estate of Louisa paid money to Brunka Memorials for a headstone. Her estate was distributed to:
Children of Oscar and Lou who were: Leslie, LeRoy, Richards, Ruby Simmons, and Ivy Stewart
Son of Robert: Gordon Simmons
Daughter of James: Gwen Simmons
Friend of George: Sarah Slater
Granddaughters: Gladys Campbell and Hazel Anderson
and the estate of daughter-in-law Millie Simmons.
JAMES (Jim) THORNTON SIMMONS
Born in Monmouth, November 19, 1868
Father Thornton Simmons
Mother Louisa Whittington
Married to Florence (Florrie) Ada Oakley, on July 23, 1891
Children: Jessie, Gwen, Ethel Cowen, and Llewellyn
Died in Winnipeg, June 1937.
Along with his step-mother, father, 5 brothers and one sister, Jim sailed to Canada in 1882. He is listed on the ship's manifest as being a laborer and no doubt worked with his father when he first arrived in Winnipeg.
In Henderson's Directory for 1888, he is listed as a carpenter living at his parents' home at 25 Syndicate.
James married Florence Oakley in July, 1891. Florrie was born October 12, 1870. Her parents were James Oakley and Elizabeth Hudson. She immigrated from England to Canada in 1886. On the 1891 Winnipeg census, taken in May, he is listed as a House Carpenter, living with his parents. During the same census, James also appears to be living in Florence's parents house as a lodger, occupation Carpenter. In Henderson's he appears on the corner of Ellen Street (then known as 6th Street) and Pacific Avenue (then known as 6th Avenue).
In 1892 and 1893 James and Florrie were living at 231 Ellen Street (6th Street) which seems very much like the same address as the corner of 6th Street and 6th Avenue from 1891. This address is now a vacant lot. James was now a letter carrier
In 1894 and 1895 James and Florrie are living in "the Packing Crate house" 166 Syndicate (now 160). James is still a letter carrier.
In 1896-James and Florrie have moved to 122 McFarlane which is one street west of Syndicate. Jim is still a letter carrier. His brother Thornton is living with them.
The Dauphin part seems odd CHECK HENDERSON
WORKING HERE In the 1901 Winnipeg census, James is listed as a letter carrier. Living with him are wife, Florence, and children Jessie, Gwen, and Ethyl. Address is not given but it seems to be in Point Douglas
By the 1911 census, James was the caretaker of the Carnegie Public Library on William Avenue, in Winnipeg, where they lived for many years and raised their children in an apartment in the basement. They had three girls and a son. They were Jessie (born June 14, 1892), Ethel (born August 15, 1893), Gwen (born August 25, 1895), and Llewellyn (born June 12, 1906). Neither Jessie, Gwen, nor Ethel ever married. In 1911, the census shows Jessie was a Sales Lady in a department store, and Ethel was a Milliner in a Millinery (ladies hat) store.
By the 1921 census, the family is still living in the library and James is still the caretaker. Both Jessie and Gwen are listed as employees at Eaton's. Ethyl (age 28) has "none" for employment as does Llewellyn who is 15 years old.
Vivian (Konchak) remembers they were always taken to see Jessie and Gwen at Christmas. The girls always had their presents set out on their beds and had so many beautiful things. Jessie was the one who first took Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian to St. Andrews Church and she was also the one that started the Junior Congregation. Years later it was Vivian who eventually took over the leadership of the Junior Congregation. Gwen and Jessie always gave books to Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian, and they loved to go there as the home was really nice and they had beautiful things over there.
When Ethel was 3 years old she ate a hot potato that her mother had left cooling on the turned down oven door while she went away for a minute. Ethel ate the scalding potato and it burned her esophagus and she was never well after that. She died when she was very young as a result of the accident. Reportedly in her 20's.
Jessie and Gwen worked at Eaton's all their lives. Gwen was the Head Cashier for 40 some odd years and did all the books in pen in those days. Jessie worked in the Mail Order for 44 years.
Gloria Baker was Llewellyn’s daughter (and friend of Rhonda Grist – they have been in the Sweet Adelines singing group for years, standing beside one another and one time Gloria mentioned that her father was born in the library on William Avenue and Rhonda said the story sounded familiar and they realized they were 'cousins')
Gloria provided the following information:
James married Florence Ada Oakley (Florrie) who was a professional cook and taught immigrants to cook. She also attended St. Andrew's Church.
Jim was a Post Master in Dauphin. Then the family moved to Point Douglas, and he is listed as a Letter carrier in the 1901 Winnipeg census. When the lot where they lived was expropriated to make a street, they moved to the Library on William Avenue where Jim became the caretaker. The family is shown as living in the library in the 1906 Winnipeg census.
After the Library, James, Florence, and family moved to Furby Street.
Jim built a cottage at Gimli and his daughter Jessie had the cottage next door. Jim played the bass drum in the City of Winnipeg Band and Gloria remembers her aunts polishing the buttons on his uniform. He also was a great woodworker and made a lot of items for his family.
Jessie and Gwennie took great trips, and (Laurie Konchak thinks) Gloria said she has the journals of their trips. One in particular was to Banff. Gloria has great memories of her aunts and was very close to them. Those two sisters lived in the Maryland Apartments after selling the family home when their mom (Florrie) died.
Llewellyn was born June 12, 1906 and died July 2, 1980. He went to Daniel McIntyre the first year it opened, in 1926. After graduation he married Johanna Unnur who died in 1993 at the age of 85 (so was born December 1908). Their children were Gloria (b 1933), Carol, and James Llewellyn ‘Thornton’ Simmons. James married and has two children Sarah and James. Carol did not marry and had no children. Gloria married Gilbert Gary Baker and they had seven children, Cydnie, Judy, Gary, Rob, Sherri, Dawn and Laurie. Gloria attended Principal Sparling School as did Gilbert and Daniel McIntyre also.
Gilbert Baker had lived in Clare, Saskatchewan but came back to Winnipeg in 1936. He first lived at 1156 Ingersoll, then lived on Victor Street then went to live on Erin Street and attended Principal Sparling School in 1938. In 1943 the family moved to Ashburn Street where they still live in a house that is 100 years old. Gilbert says when they first moved there, there were only a couple of houses out there and he could see all the way to the dump. In 1948 he attended Daniel McIntyre and after graduation worked in the Westin Shops for Canadian Pacific Railway until 1956. He worked with his dad for two years doing battery and radiator repair until 1958 then worked with another company doing similar work until 1966. His next job was doing Research for Agriculture Canada until 1970, then with the RCMP, back to Research in 1976 for the Department of Agriculture where he designed, repaired equipment for grain research and finally retired from that position in 1991.
Gloria Baker says the only one on the Simmons side that they knew was Uncle Frank and his family. She remembers her cousin Dorothy who was an accountant for her father’s business. She confirms that Uncle Frank was very successful and left a great deal of money to the Shriners. Dorothy was active in her sorority and Girl Guides. Frank’s wife was Amelia and known to everyone as Aunt Millie. Frank made a lot of money as a commercial plumber and did all the sewage piping in Flin Flon. They called him because it was a challenge to put pipe in the area because of the terrain. He, Uncle Frank, also traveled extensively to book acts for the Shrine Circus.
Gloria Baker inherited and still has the upright transposing keyboard piano from the family.
THORNTON (Thorny) SIMMONS
Born in Monmouth, April 27, 1876
Father Thornton Simmons
Mother Louisa Simmons (nee Richards)
Married Maud Lavin(i)a Loader in 1902
Died in Winnipeg, July 25, 1963
THORNTON SIMMONS ‘THORNY’: From the May 11, 1891 Winnipeg census, Thornton was living with his parents and was an apprentice Steam Fitter. He was 15 years old at that time. By the 1901 Winnipeg census, Thorny was listed as a Plumber. He was still living in the family home on Syndicate Street but now Maud L. Loader was a boarder there. Maud was born on October 14, 1878. Various Winnipeg censuses list her place of birth as: Ontario, USA, and "At Sea". When listed, her year of immigration is shown as 1878 (1906 census) and 1882 (1921 census).
In 1902 Thorny married Maud and likely moved immediately into 160 Syndicate where they were living in the 1906 and 1911 censuses. The 1911 census lists Thorny as a Plumber in a shop. A widowed aunt, Elizabeth Hope (born October, 1833) was living with them.
By the 1916 census they had a lovely home in Elmwood, at 183 Mighton (also ref: 1935 Winnipeg Directory). The aunt Elizabeth was still living with them. Thorny was still listed as a Plumber in a shop.
The 1921 Winnipeg census shows Thornton (Thorny) as owner of the home at 183 Mighton. His occupation is listed as an employed Plumber -general. Again Maud's place of birth is indicated "At Sea". There is no one else shown living with Thorny and Maud at this time.
They seemed to always have a lot of money. Each one of the sons learned a trade from his father and Thornton’s trade was plumbing which served him well over the years. Maud did a lot of lovely handwork. They didn’t have any children. Vivian remembers going there occasionally but not often. What she remembers most is all the beautiful handwork that Maud would have, bedspreads, doilies, etc. She was also a great cook and always brought yummy stuff to the parties. When George and Owen passed away Thornton inherited all the taxidermy animals that had been in the home on Syndicate Street. One time, several years later, when Vivian was bowling she ran into a friend who was telling her about buying a home in Elmwood that had all kinds of things in cages and it turned out it was the old family home of Thornton and Maud.
Reported in the Winnipeg Tribune newspaper of March 8, 1948, Thornton Simmons of 183 Mighton Avenue was honoured by the International Plumbers' Union as a 50 year member. He received a gold pin, a radio, and a set of pipes.
According to her obituary in the Winnipeg Tribune, Maud died on Tuesday, April 26, 1949. She is buried at the Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg. Maud's obituary indicates she "came to Winnipeg 70 years ago. She was one of the original members of Gordon United Church. She is survived by her husband Thornton, two sisters, Mrs. R Shea, Winnipeg; Mrs R Slitzel, Toronto; three brothers, Edward Loader, Gary, Indiana; Wilf Loader, Erie, Pa; Ab, Norwood."
The obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 27, 1963 states: Thornton passed away suddenly at the family home of 164 Syndicate Street, interment in Elmwood Cemetery. He resided in Winnipeg all his life (after 1882). He received his early education in Point Douglas, becoming a Master Plumber and Steamfitter. Prior to his passing he was the oldest living member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. His wife (Maud) pre-deceased him in 1949. Surviving are 2 brothers, Owen William at the family home, 164 Syndicate Street, and Oscar Edgar of 91 Horace Street.
GEORGE THORNTON SIMMONS
Born in Monmouth, June 2, 1878
Father Thornton Simmons
Mother Louisa Simmons (nee Richards)
Married: No, but lifetime companion was Sarah (Sally) Slater
Died in Winnipeg, July 14, 1953
George came to Winnipeg at the age of 4 years old, died at the age of 75. The trade he learned from his dad was painting, and in the 1901 Winnipeg census his occupation is given as Painter, and in 1911 as Painter-buildings. Brothers George and Owen always lived with their parents and eventually alone together in the family home at 164 Syndicate Street, Winnipeg. Neither George nor Owen ever married. They went on hunting trips, and would always bring home deer, ducks and food for the winter. They had a lot of things stuffed (taxidermy)and kept in glass cases all over the house. Vivian took a gopher to school one day so she could tell her class about it.
George and Owen hunted a great deal around Shoal Lake which is where he met Sally Slater. Sally came in from the country to live and was like a maid for them. She kept house for them and it was said she was George's girlfriend.
Sally lived in the family home, 164 Syndicate until her death on August 3, 1984, at the age of 97 years. She is buried in the family plot, along with Owen, George, Louisa and Thornton so it is obvious that she was considered part of the family.
OWEN THORNTON (Rolly) SIMMONS
Born in Monmouth, January 31, 1880
Father Thornton Simmons
Mother Louisa Simmons (nee Richards)
Married: No, but companion was Winnie Bowlay
Died in Winnipeg, January 26, 1974
Owen spent several years farming in Shoal Lake, later coming to Winnipeg to join the family in the contracting business. (It is variously reported that he had a hunting farm in what is now East Kildonan, and/or a farm in Woodlands.) While at Shoal Lake he met Winnifred (Winnie) Bowlay who came to live in the family home at 164 Syndicate as a housekeeper, and was Owen’s girlfriend. It was always thought they would get married but they never did. Winnie finally left and married someone else and moved to Vancouver. The year that Vivian and Denny spent the winter in Vancouver they went over to visit Winnie and her husband.
Owen is shown on the 1901 census as living with his brother-in-law and sister (John R Murray and Julia) presumably at 148 Syndicate Street. At that time his occupation is listed as a Butcher. He also learned a trade from his father and joined in the family contracting business. By the 1906 census, Owen was living at 164 Syndicate with his parents, and in 1911 he was still living with his parents and now listed as a Painter-buildings.
Owen was very clever with woodworking and had built the family home with his father. He never worked outside the family business and he and George always looked after their mother and father in the old family home.
Owen continued to live with George in the family home at 164 Syndicate Street and did the cooking. He had a big vegetable garden. He always had a pot of soup sitting on the back of the wood stove to which was added the leftovers from each day. Owen always washed the dishes because no one could ever do it as well as he could.
Whenever the girls (Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian) went to visit their grandparents (Mam and Dad) Owen was always there.
Owen was the last survivor of the family, and died January 26, 1974 at Princess Elizabeth Hospital at the age of 94 from cancer. He is buried in the crematorium at Brooklawn.
OSCAR EDGAR THORNTON SIMMONS
Born: in Monmouth, April 3, 1881
Father: Thornton Simmons
Mother: Louisa Simmons (nee Richards)
Married: Louise (Lou) Marie Diell, (B July 17, 1880-D October, 1963)
Children: Oscar, Ivy, Lyle, Leslie, Leroy, Ronald, Richards (Richie), Ruby
Died in Winnipeg, November 6, 1965
Oscar came to Winnipeg when he was 6 months old. He was the baby that his mother, Louisa, was carrying in her arms on the quay, waiting for the boat, when she met Queen Victoria.
Oscar's occupation on the 1901 Winnipeg census is Painter. He worked at Winnipeg Paint and Glass and Turnbull McMannis, and did the same work as Dad Simmons. They were glass-cutters or glaziers. For years he ran the putty to put the glass in window frames but the oil from the putty was making him ill and he had to leave the business. One of his jobs was the stained glass windows for St. George’s Church in River Heights. He inherited the glass cutting diamond that his mother had used to cut the glass for the CPR Roundhouse.
The 1906 Winnipeg census shows Oscar and Louise are married and living at 86 Disraeli, in the home of Maria Finn who could be Louise's mom and possibly where Louise lived before they were married. Louise was born in Manitoba.
When Oscar left the glass business he and Louise bought their home in St. Vital at 54 Hindley Avenue. The 1916 census shows them living on Hindley and lists Oscar's occupation as Gardiner-market. They had big greenhouses where they grew vegetables. He had a horse and wagon and used to go around selling his produce in Norwood and St. Vital. He had a lot of regular customers and would have fresh vegetables long before people would have them in their gardens because of his greenhouses.
The 1921 Winnipeg census lists Oscar as owner of their home at Lot 226 Hindley which was likely before that street had house numbers, and later to be called 54 Hindley. The children and their ages were: Ivy (14 years), Leslie (10 years), Leroy (9 years), and Richards (5 years). Oscar's occupation is listed as glazier.
Vivian remembers visiting them on Hindley and they had a huge property, big garden, lots of vegetables, a bush out behind where they could pick chokecherries off the tree and dig carrots out of the garden, and a hedge all along one side. Vivian remembered it as a huge back yard, like a farm. She remembered going to (great) Uncle Oscar's house to pull taffy. They would go by street car to visit. Ma (Grandmother Julia Murray) would take them out for the day and Dada (Grandfather John R Murray) would come out and get them in the car after dinner. Isabelle remembered it being way out of town at the time. Coincidentally, Hindley Street in St. Vital is the street where Vivian ended up living when she married Bob Cooper many years later.
Also on Hindley in the 1916 census is Maria Finn who could be Louise's mom. Maria is listed as immigrating in 1860, from the USA.
After Hindley, Oscar and Lou moved to 91 Horace Street in Norwood.
Oscar wouldn’t buy a phone for the longest time….they had to take the boards out of the neighbor’s fence so they could use the phone next door.
Auntie Lou was very good to the girls (Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian) when they would come to visit. When the girls eventually moved away from Norwood to their own apartment with Gladys, Ma resented it but, since they had to go back to finish school in Norwood, Auntie Lou would always have them over for lunch. She also gave Isabelle a job cleaning house for her so she could earn some money.
Oscar and Lou had 8 children Oscar, Ivy, Lyle, Leslie, Leroy (who had a twin that died), Ronald, Richards, and Ruby. It was scandalous when daughter Ruby bought a car. Here is a bit about each child of Oscar and Lou:
Their son, Oscar, was born with intestinal problems. He died on Sunday night, September 10, 1905 at one year, one month, and two weeks, according to the obituary in the Winnipeg Tribune.
Their daughter, Ivy, was born January 09, 1907 and married Dale Ronald Stewart. She worked as a secretary for an office supply business, and for lawyers before their marriage. They had one child, a son named Dale. Recollections "From daughter Ivy" are below.
Their son Lyle died as an infant.
Their son, Leslie, married Dorothy (Dot). Leslie served in the army in World War II in Europe. He was an upholsterer by trade with a business in Kenora, Ontario, working on household furniture as well as boats on Lake of the Woods. They had 2 daughters: Patricia and Elizabeth. Patricia lives in Ontario, and Elizabeth lives in Winnipeg.
Their son, Leroy, married Myrtle Hope, on Monday, January 15, 1940. According to their wedding announcement in the newspaper, Myrtle was a daughter of Mr & Mrs Louis McArton. This suggests that Myrtle had been married before. The wedding took place in the home of Mr and Mrs McArton. Miss Ruby Simmons, was bridesmaid. Jack McArton, Myrtle's brother was groomsman. Leroy served in the Canadian Air Force as a bombardier in World War II in Europe and in India. He managed a grain elevator for a time in Saskatchewan, and then worked for a fruit/vegetable wholesaler, and finally as a fruit and vegetable inspector for the federal government in Manitoba. Leroy and Myrtle has one daughter, Dawn.
Ronald, twin of Leroy, died at birth.
Their son Richards Farley Thornton Simmons was born October 28, 1915. He married Jean. Richards served in the Canadian Air Force in Canada as an ordinance person destroying bombs that appeared to be troublesome. His working career was with Winnipeg Transit, driving a bus. They had 2 sons, Gary and Jim. One became a nuclear engineer. I (Ray Cruickshank) believe I talked to him once on the phone between 1992 and 2001, when he was working at Pinawa (Whiteshell Nuclear Research Station. We started comparing notes and discovered we are related.)
Their daughter Ruby remained unmarried. She worked for Great West Life Assurance Company in their Winnipeg office. She was part of the organization as computers were being introduced. Ruby was musically inclined paying fiddle and whistling as part of the Great West Life entertainment group that traveled to the army and air force bases in the province of Manitoba during World War II.
Ivy Stewart (nee Simmons)
Granddaughter of Thornton & Louisa
Daughter of Oscar and Lou
From daughter Ivy:
Laurie (Konchak) took notes from her conversation with Ivy, on June 2006, in Tuxedo Villa where Ivy was living and was was 99 ½ years old. Ivy confirmed a lot of Laurie's stories and told her more. She said that there is a place called Simmons Yat which is a body of water where the family came from.
CLICK HERE for a link with information.
They used to call Julia ‘Aunt Sis’. Laurie asked her why they were buried in St. James Cemetery because it was a long way from Syndicate Street and Ivy said it was because they were Anglican and that was the first Anglican Church.
Ivy remembers going to the house on Syndicate Street and that they had two separate staircases. There was a gadget in the hall with a rope and when you undid it a set of steps came down from the attic and you could climb up them into the attic. There were oak floors and a roll top desk in the office of her grandfather, (Thornton Simmons), but the oak flooring was destroyed during one of the floods. There was one bedroom set aside for Thornton's married daughter, Julia Murray, and her 3 granddaughters: Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian.
Ivy said her father put the stained glass windows into St. George’s Church in River Heights. She doesn’t remember the diamond but Ruby told Laurie she (Ruby) has it.
Ivy said that before immigration, Dad (Thormton) Simmons used to work in Wales at Raglan Castle where he was the construction manager. When he decided to leave and go to Canada the owner put on a big reception for him and gave him the gift of a beautiful wooden table that incorporated a piece of General Nelson’s ship. It had all metal handwork on it and when you looked underneath it it said “Raglan 1100 (year)” She said when Dad began to work he studied and apprenticed but was too young for his diploma so the diploma was especially signed by the Mayor and his father to allow him to practice his trade.
Ivy worked at Clark Brothers, a stationery and office supply company, when she was first out of secretarial school. She was the switchboard operator and also ran one of the machines. She continued with the company when they became J. K. Gibbs and worked with her cousin Gladys, who was also a secretary for the company. This company later became Gages. She and Gladys were always very close and good friends. From J.K. Gibbs Ivy went on to work for a law firm until her marriage to Dale Ronald Stewart in 1932.
Ivy remembered the first time she saw her "cousin" Vivian, Gladys’ daughter. Vivian was only a few months old and she was trying to sit up on the dining room table. Vivian’s daughter Laurie is the person compiling the family history and Ivy was good enough to go over the information Laurie has been able to uncover, confirm and add to some of the stories. She thought that Laurie resembled her grandmother, Gladys, when she first saw her.
When Laurie asked her about Ethel Simmons (daughter of James Thornton Simmons), Ivy was able to identify her as the child of Jim and was able to tell Laurie the story of how Ethel swallowed the hot potato and damaged her esophagus. She said Ethel only lived until her early 20s.
Ivy and Dale were married for 73 years and they had one son, Dale. Her husband Dale worked all his life for Eatons and eventually became Merchandising Manager. They lived in Yorkton and Saskatoon for a couple of years when he was transferred there, but eventually came back to Winnipeg.
Dale passed away just before their 74th anniversary. He was in the same Tuxedo Villa and died at the dinner table – just put his head down and went. Ivy continued to live in their home until she was 97 years of age. One day she turned and fell the wrong way and broke a bone in her spine and had to go to the hospital. She was not able to return to her independent living after that and she came to live at the same Tuxedo Villa where Dale had lived. She resided until her passing, on June 15, 2011.
The family are buried in St. James Cemetery on Portage Avenue. When Laurie asked Ivy why that cemetery, because it was a long way from Syndicate Street, Ivy said it was because they were Anglican and that was the location of the first Anglican Church in Winnipeg, which, by the way, this historic log church building is still in the cemetery today (2018).
Dale and Linda Stewart
Ivy had one son, Dale, who was born in 1937. He is married to Linda and they have two girls and one boy. Dale worked for the Government for 38 years and then retired. He continued, however, to do environmental consulting, working part time, and traveling to Calgary often. Linda is a school teacher and grew up in St. Vital. Dale and Linda live in Westwood, Winnipeg.
Dale tells the story about his grandfather Oscar, who wouldn’t buy a telephone when they first were invented. He took the boards out of the fence so he could go over and use his neighbor’s telephone. Dale also says that it was sort of scandalous when his Aunt Ruby bought her first car. He also remembers the wood stove was always on in the kitchen.
Ivy celebrated her 100th birthday January 6, 2007 (the actual birthday is the 9th) at Tuxedo Villa with a party attended by her family and friends.
Granddaughter of Thornton & Louisa
Daughter of Oscar and Lou
From daughter Ruby
Laurie McCullem's conversation with Ruby Simmons: November 21, 2004. (Not to be confused with Ruby Murray, sister of Gladys) is summarized below.
Ruby Simmons thinks Thornton, Louisa, and family were 6 weeks on board the ship, spent their 1st winter in a big tent, and Dad (Thornton) banked the sides with bales of straw to help to keep them warm.
Her Dad was a glazier and worked for Turnbull McMannis. He ran the putty to put the glass in window frames. The oil from the putty was making him ill and he had to leave the business. It was then that they bought the home at 54 Hindley Street in St. Vital and had big greenhouses where they grew vegetables. Her dad had a horse and wagon and used to go around selling his produce in Norwood and St. Vital. He had a lot of regular customers and would have fresh vegetables long before people would have them in their gardens because of his greenhouses.
Ruby was born at 54 Hindley Street (Louise's mother was at 107 Hindley) and Ruby lived there until she was 5 years old when they moved to Norwood. She remembers that the streetcar stopped at Berrydale, which was one block from Hindley and then you had to walk down to 54. There were wooden sidewalks and every once in awhile there would be a raised part where the pump would be as people has to go to the pump for their water. Her dad eventually dug a well in their back yard and lots of neighbors would come and get their water from them. Her mom and dad then bought a house on Horace Street, in Norwood, and she lived there all the way through school.
Ruby remembers that she was always impressed that the house on Syndicate Street had two stairways, one in the front for the family and guests and then there was a back stairs for the maids. The countertops were heavy aluminum; and, of course, she remembers the beautiful stained glass work her grandfather, Thornton, had done in the home. She inherited the glass-cutting diamond from her dad, Oscar.
She also said that Thornton was a master craftsman and could build almost anything. He built the McIntyre Building and he taught each one of his sons a craft. He had his own construction company and each son did a different thing. One he taught plumbing, one he taught bricklaying, one was something else so that each son had a trade.
Her uncle was Frank and he was the plumber. He was very clever and was sent one time to Louisiana on a job and another time on a special job up North because they didn’t know how to keep the pipes from freezing. He devised a method of enclosing the pipes in a box and then filling the box with sawdust to keep them from freezing.
Ruby said John R. Murray, who she called Uncle Jack, would come over to their house with Ruby, his daughter, and the two Rubies would play and have parties, dance and sing. Uncle Jack inspired her to learn to play the violin. He played the ‘fiddle’ and was really good. They would have some ‘rip-roarers’. Her dad, Oscar, had a beautiful voice and she remembers them in the front room, singing and dancing and having a great time.
Her Grandmother, Louisa, was a dear and put up with a scalion of a husband but she loved him dearly.
The family consisted of Ivy, Les, Leroy, Richards (with an ‘s’) and Ruby.
Ruby remembers that the very first time she went to the movies Isabelle, Verna and Vivian (the Magee sisters) took her. They went to see Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera. She was about five years old and she says she always had so much fun being with those three girls.
Ruby worked at Great West Life all her working life. She has been the source for several of the family stories as she, and her sister Ivy, and Gladys’ daughter Vivian, were the only ones left alive that actually knew Thornton and Louisa and all the aunts and uncles at the time Laurie collected this information.
Ruby confirmed that her mom Lou died in October of 1963 and her dad Oscar in November of 1965. They are buried in Brookside Cemetery.
Superstition abounded and this one is pretty weird!
Ivy's dad was Oscar Edgar Thornton Simmons and he was 6 weeks old when they left the old country. She says that when they were on the quay waiting for the boat Queen Victoria came along and told Mam, you have a bonnie young one there.
She says her father was born with a caul (the dictionary says. The membrane enclosing a fetus; esp., a part of this membrane sometimes enveloping the head of a child at birth: thought by the superstitious to bring good luck. the part of the peritoneum that extends from the stomach to the large intestine; great omentum).
She says that it was the superstition that if there was a caul on board the ship it would never sink. Evidently when the family set sail for Canada, the maid stole the caul and sold it to the sailors on board because it brought good luck. When Oscar's father, Thornton, found out it had been stolen he got it back. The caul was always kept by the family in a box and Ivy said that when her dad, Oscar, died it was buried with him. She also had one brother that was born with a caul and they buried it with him also.
Oscar's daughter, Ivy, talked to Laurie (Konchak) about the cowl on her dad and her brother. She said when her brother was born the doctor cut the cowl up the back of his head because it completely covered his head and they removed the thin layer of skin and put it on a Collier’s Magazine to spread it out (to dry?). She remembers you could see through it, it was transparent but you could see the red veins in it.
FRANCIS (Frank) EDWARD THORNTON SIMMONS
Born in Winnipeg, July 21, 1884
Father Thornton Simmons
Mother Louisa Simmons (nee Richards)
Married: Amelia (Millie) Battershill, in 1910
Children: (one) Dorothy
Died in Winnipeg, 1962
Frank was the first child of Thornton and Louisa to be born in Winnipeg. He was always referred to as the rich one. He married Amelia (Millie) Battershill (mistakenly spelled 'Battershell' on some census) who grew up at 128 Syndicate Street. Millie was born August 17, 1884. She immigrated with her family from England to Canada in 1888.
On the 1901 Winnipeg census Frank is living with his parents on Syndicate Street. He is listed as an Apprentice Plumber. By the 1911 census he was a Plumber working at City Council, and living with his wife Amelia at 175 Mighton. (The rest of Amelia's family was still living at 128 Syndicate in 1911).
By the 1916 census Frank, Millie, and 2 year old daughter Dorothy were living at 209 Mighton. Frank is listed as a self employed Plumber working in a shop. Millie's parents, 2 of her brothers, and one of her sisters are now listed at 151 Helmsdale in East Kildonan, Winnipeg, having vacated 128 Syndicate. Frank's sister Julia, her husband John Robertson Murray, and their family are now living in 128 Syndicate.
Although shown at 151 Helmsdale, two of Millie's 2 brothers are enlisted in the millitary in 1916; Charles is at Camp Hughes in Manitoba, and George is in France. This is the middle of World War I. Sadly, George died April 17, 1917, of a wound sustained at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. He was 20 years old. More about George is found when you CLICK HERE.
Frank, Millie and Dorothy were living in Savannah, Georgia when they received the telegram of Pvt George Batterhill's death. Frank was very clever and one time was sent to Louisiana on a job that they needed a specialist for. Another time Frank went up North because they didn’t know how to keep the pipes from freezing. He devised a method of enclosing the pipes in a box and then filling the box with sawdust to keep them from freezing. This method is still used in Flin Flon, Manitoba. Frank started and owned owned Frank E. Simmons Plumbing and Heating, a successful business in Winnipeg.
As well as their lovely home in Winnipeg, Frank and Millie had a cottage at Winnipeg Beach. When the girls Isabelle, Verna, and Vivian were little they would go to visit and Dorothy would talk to them about University and her sorority friends and their parties at the Beach. Frank was one of the Potentate’s of the Shriners. He booked acts for the Shrine Circus in Winnipeg. Page 47 of the April 28, 1945 Billboard magazine has an advertisement for contacting Frank at 469 Henderson Highway (possibly where his shop was then). Frank died in December of 1963, and Amelia died May 26, 1977. Frank and Amelia are buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Winnipeg. Their only child, daughter Dorothy Frances Lenore Simmons died February 3, 2003 and her ashes were interred in the family plot in Elmwood Cemetery.
ROBERT DOUGLAS THORNTON SIMMONS
Born in Winnipeg, December 24, 1888
Father Thornton Simmons
Mother Louisa Simmons (nee Richards)
Married: Minnie Jones
Children: 2 sons: Gordon & Buster
Died in Vancouver, 1956
Robert (Bobby) was born in Winnipeg, and died in Vancouver at the age of 68 years old. He was married to Minnie. They had two sons, Gordon and Buster. They had a nice home in Norwood, St. Vital, Winnipeg.
Granddad (Thornton, Dad) Simmons went to England for a holiday in 1908 and met Minnie Jones, a niece. He brought her back to Winnipeg and she lived with them at 164 Syndicate. The story goes that Bobby fell in love with her and for a while Dad Simmons was mad at Bobby. Minnie was born in September 1887 and immigrated from England (in 1908). It is likely that Minnie was the daughter of Desamia (Desima, Diana) (nee Richards) Jones, who was a sister of Robert's mother. That would mean Robert married his first cousin. In this scenario, although they would be first cousins they would never have met until they were about 20 years old; Robert being born in Winnipeg, Canada, and Minnie being born in England.
The 1911 Winnipeg census shows Robert living with his parents at 164 Syndicate. His occupation is Glazier-lumber factory. Minnie's occupation on the 1911 Winnipeg census is listed as Tailoress.
Bobby seemed to be always working so Vivian (Konchak) didn’t remember a lot about him except that he liked fishing and a couple of times took Vivian and Verna fishing with them to Dawson Creek. Bobby went practically every weekend during the summer and the family stayed in a tent. The girls played with their son Gordon all the time. He made a swing for them in a tree, made them a wagon, had lots of records that they used to play and “listened to the gramophone”.
Minnie had a washing machine (which was a big deal) and said they could come over and use it. They had to pull the machine around to get it started and Vivian remembers being on one side and seeing Verna’s fingers coming through. She got her hand caught in the rollers and Minnie made them promise that they would never tell their grandmother what happened. Minnie loved to tell stories about people and get everyone mad at each other. She was good to the girls though and they had a happy home.
The boys had bikes, wagons, records and a dog named Buddy that they used to dress up. He was an old hound dog and they would dress him up in an apron and a tam and then sit and laugh at him with his sad eyes or put him in the wagon and take him for a ride. One day the dog followed them into the Piggly Wiggly Store and they heard the hoot of a hound dog and had to get him out of the store in a hurry.
Gordon was Verna’s age and he chummed with Malcolm McKenzie. When Malcolm grew up and married they had a son and then grandson, Ross who eventually married Joan Crayston (who is the daughter of George and Mary Crayston, long time friends of Vivian’s.) At George and Mary’s 60th anniversary he came up to Vivian and said I remember my dad talking about the Magee girls.
WILLIAM THOMPSON SIMMONS
Born in Winnipeg, December 1, 1890
Father Thornton Simmons
Mother Louisa Simmons (nee Richards)
Died June 12, 1892
The verse on the card says:
‘Tis hard to break the tender cord,
When love has bound the heart,
‘Tis hard, so hard, to speak the words,
Must we forever part?
Dearest loved one, we have laid thee
In the peaceful grave’s embrace,
But thy memory will be cherished,
‘Til we see thy Heavenly face.
WILLIE THOMSON SIMMONS (both the newspaper obit and this card give the middle name as Thompson, instead of the name Thornton which is prevalent in this family). Willie appears on the May 11, 1891 Winnipeg census as 4/12 years old. His obituary in the Manitoba Daily Free Press says he died June 12, 1892 and he was 1 years, 6 months, and 11 days.
Left: Mom Campbell and Melanie Cruickshank
Thornton & Louisa Simmons
Closing thought: Thornton and Louisa Simmons were Mom Campbell's grandfather and grandmother. Baby Melanie is Mom Campbell's great-granddaughter