Thursday, 28 April 2016

Week Seventeen: “One did not ask those things back then.”

My kids would always groan when I would say “Let me tell you a story about that”.  I have been a story teller for so many years that it is second nature to me.  It is no wonder that I should evolve into the family historian.  I love to discover everyone’s story.

In my travels I have uncovered some amazing things that no one in my immediate family was ever aware of.  No one knew that my paternal grandfather was a British Home Child or my maternal great, great, great grandfather was an Arctic whaler and sea-faring captain!

But there is one mystery that I have never been able to find the answer to and quite frankly it has been nothing but roadblock after roadblock in uncovering the mystery on why my mother’s father died so young.

Charles Stapleford Palin was born in 1885 in Gloucester.  (Yes, his middle name is referencing the home that his father was born in, Stapleford Hall in Cheshire)  I am not sure if Charlie was born first or second but he shared a birthday with his twin, Cecil Gordon Palin.   They were both born to Arnold Henry Palin and Lydia Kate Davis.  This was a large family already when the boys were born and there were still more children after them.  Sixteen births in total and fourteen of these made it to adulthood. 

Charles and Cecil were your typical lively mischievous boys for all intent and purposes.  We have a couple of documents stating some of the pranks they would get up to and I have found a couple of mentions of them in the newspapers for being fined for playing in the street and blocking traffic or riding their bikes unlawfully.  We also know from newspaper articles that they were avid rowers and competed yearly and they played cricket.

Twins are hard to tell apart, but I believe Cecil is on the extreme left bottom row and Charlie is second from the right in the bottom row
Wanderlust hit this family hard for most of them took up the offer of the Canadian Western Land Grants and moved to Canada.  I believe Charles came over in 1911/1912.  He had a job as Secretary/Treasurer with the municipality Small Arm in Saskatchewan from September 1, 1912 to December 1913. 

Unfortunately something happened to Charlie in 1913 that would change his life.  He had an accident in October 1913 while out hunting coyotes.  He had broken his leg!  In today’s world breaking your leg would not be a big thing, but his leg never really mended and was back in hospital and there was an operation and supposedly a plate inserted.  Because of this, he was turned down three times in joining the War.  He tried to enlist out west, in Montreal and back in England.  They all turned him down, with good reason, but obviously that must have bothered him because he kept trying to join.  He did end up working for the war effort and worked in the munitions factory in Montreal.

He had gone back to England in 1916 with an older sister and then returned to Canada in 1917.  On that fateful trip back to Canada, he met a Scottish lass that took his breath away.  Over the next four years they grew more in love and married in Montreal in March 1921. 

Sometimes it is very hard to tell a story without veering off to the side.  Here we must veer off to the side.   I mentioned that Charlie went back to England in 1916 with his sister.  His sister, Margaret was employed by an extremely wealthy family in Montreal as a nursemaid for the wife.  The wife had died in 1916 and so Margaret was going back home.   She must have been in contact with the bereaved husband because he came over to England and they married in 1920 and then they went back to Montreal.  I could probably do a whole years’ worth of blogs on Margaret’s husband, Thomas Basset Macaulay, was President of Sun Life Assurance in Montreal. 

When my grandparent’s married in Montreal the reception was in Thomas and Margaret’s home.  We have a wonderful letter that Charlie wrote to one of his other sisters describing the house and being amazed that there was an elevator in the house and tons of ginger ale!  My grandparents then honeymooned at Thomas’s summer home in Hudson Quebec. 

My grandfather out the back of  Thomas B Macaulay's summer home in Hudson, Quebec on his honeymoon in 1921.
My grandfather then worked for Thomas and ran an office for Sun Life in Toronto, Ontario.  He and my grandmother then had four children: my Uncle George, Uncle Bill, Uncle Don and then my mother.  When my mother was only two and half years old her father got sick, really sick, and was told by his older sister to come to the hospital in Montreal and there he died.  My mother was far too young to know why her father died.  I asked my mother why she never asked her mother and she replied “One did not ask those things back then.”

Charles Stapleford Palin and his four children
I had thought that perhaps the death certificate might tell me the cause of death but after speaking on the phone to the Quebec Department of Civil Records they say the cause of death is not shown on the Death Record or on the Copy of the Act of Death.  The woman then gave me the email address for the Department of Information Access and they kindly advised me that all records are closed for 100 years.  Period!

Good morning, 

Unfortunately we cannot grant your request to obtain the Death certificate of your grandfather, The informations on it are confidential for 100 years. 

Thank you, have a nice day! 

Responsable de  l'accès à l'information 
Service de l'accès à l'information et de la propriété intellectuelle 
Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux 
1075 Chemin Sainte-Foy- 4e étage 
Québec G1S 2M1 

(side note – I then advised my 86 year old mother of this and told her she would have to live another 16 years before we could ever find out – she had a real good laugh at this and said she would love to live another 16 years!)

So I can find the birth registration for someone that was born over 200 years ago, but I can’t find out why my grandfather died?  How does that seem right?

We know when he died.  We just want to know why he died.

So time marches on and sometimes we have to accept what we may never know.  However, this particular roadblock has just become cleared and the answer has been revealed in a document about my Uncle George.

George is getting his wings in 1942
George Stapleford Palin was born in Montreal in 1922 and then was raised in Toronto.  He joined the Airforce in 1942 and was killed in 1944. has just released the World War two records of those that died in World War II.  So as I am downloading each document in his folder and I am doing a quick perusal of the information that is given.  I can find his marks at the Air Force Academy, and a couple of great pictures.  I can find his will, his personal articles and possessions and his enlistment papers.  I also find where they did an extensive physical examination and physical history complete with parent’s health or cause of death.  
WAIT!!!!!    WHAT??????

Sure enough right there on my screen it shows father is deceased and cause of death is Appendicitis at age 42. 

I called my mother immediately and shared the news!!!! 

Shoot!  Maybe I should not told her and made her live another 16 years!

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