Smith, Beverly:
A Family's Fate

Arthur Henry Smith and A Family’s Fate

Martha “Annie” Gregory married William Holland in London, England in November 1892 but for unknown reasons she left home and boarded the ship ‘Kensington’ in Liverpool on June 14, 1906, sailing alone to Canada at the age of 30.

Arthur Henry Smith was born in Camberwell, Surrey (now Greater London) in 1881. He came to Canada in 1907 at the age of 26. He was my great uncle. The remainder of his family also came. His parents and 3 brothers that same year, another brother with his family in 1909 and my grandfather was the last to come in 1911 with his wife and two sons.

It appears that Arthur met Annie not long after they both arrived. By 1911 they were living as man and wife in the home of his brother, Fred and his family in North Toronto. Annie was recorded as having Arthur’s surname on the 1911 census. No marriage record has been found.

Back in England, Annie’s brother William died in 1907 leaving his wife and two young daughters. By 1911 their mother, Lillian was also dead.

Annie’s mother, Marion who had been widowed in 1899 looked after the two children after they were orphaned.

Annie and Arthur, who did not have children, arranged for her mother and two nieces to come to live with them in Canada. Marion arrived with her two granddaughters, Lily, 11, and Ethel, 8 in June 1911.

One morning after having been in Toronto six days, Marion and the two children left the house and headed to Yonge Street to catch the Metropolitan Train, just a short distance from their home on Sherwood Avenue. One obituary stated that they were on their way downtown. At that time the trains went south as far as a stop north of the city limits near Price Street. To go downtown they would have to change trains there.

It is not known how it happened. The accident occurred at a point on Yonge Street where there was no assigned train stop. Perhaps Marion did not understand the locations and use of the train stops. Perhaps she put herself in harm’s way to hail down the train, fearing it would not stop for them and pass them by. Perhaps the train was far faster than anticipated and Marion didn’t make it across the road. Whatever the reason, the beloved woman was struck down by the train while her two grandchildren watched. She was taken to St Michael’s hospital where she died of her injuries the next day.

Coroner's report

What a shock for Annie and her two nieces. To lose their mother and grandmother in this tragic way, so soon after arriving in Canada.

But more sadness was to follow. Very soon after, Annie grew ill with cancer, during which time Lilly cared for her until her death in August 1912. Lilly was not quite 12 years old.

I’m not sure if Lilly and Ethel continued to live with Arthur in the years after Annie’s death or whether they went to live with another family member. But 5 years later just 2 weeks after Lilly’s 17th birthday, Arthur and Lilly were married. Arthur was registered as a bachelor on their marriage certificate. At the time of Arthur’s death, they had been married 20 years and had had 7 children together.

Arthur died in Toronto in 1937.

Lilly died in Toronto in 1991.

They are buried together in Pine Hills Cemetery, Scarborough.

I haven’t found any records for Edith after 1911.

Beverly Smith

Arthur Smith and Lilly with four of their seven children.