Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Last Days of William Cook in the Press

Ad in The Winnipeg Tribune, January 16, 1908
Day of William Cook's Funeral
I recently started a free trial of, which hadn’t been yielding very much about my direct ancestors until I switched from their U.S. section to the Canadian one. I was pleased to see that there were newspapers from the turn of the century from both Winnipeg and Vancouver covering some of the times when my Cooks lived there. I was ecstatic to find an obituary for my great great grandfather, William Cook, right of the bat. I despaired of every finding one. This is from the January 14, 1908 Winnipeg Tribune:

From the account of one of his daughters, he died at 1:20 a.m. According to the weather report in the same newspaper, the weather was “cloudy” that day, with “light snow fall” expected.

This was followed by an funeral notice in the Tribune January 16, 1908:

And an item following the funeral from the same paper on January 17th:

That the family lived in a boarding house gave them premises large enough to host a small funeral. (The two different addresses on Donald Street, 141 and 144, could mean that 141 was a misprint, or that the boarding comprised more than one address).I’m thinking that the “Rev. Mr. Parker” was likely of the Anglican Church, as William was Church of England. The weather report that day states it was “fair”, but that it had been “quite cold”. This might mean that the family was blessed with clear weather as they made their procession to the cemetery.

These notices add significantly to what I already knew. William’s death certificate listed “diabetes” as his cause of death, but gave his illness as “two days” duration. That he also died of “pneumonia” makes this make sense. I knew that the family had come to Winnipeg from Moosomin, Saskatchewan between 1906 and 1908, but did not know that they came in April 1907. I had discovered through Findagrave that he was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg, but had had no information about his funeral. That it was held in his home two days after his death followed by the burial was new to me. I knew from Winnipeg city directories that William’s wife Emma had operated a boarding house at their address, 144 Donald Street, but had not known that William had been part of this during the last months of his life.

When I searched on their address, I was able to find the following advertisement in the January 3, 1908 Manitoba Morning Free Press, eleven days before William died:

Now we know that they considered their establishment to be “first class” and that they charged four dollars per week. From the 1906 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, we know that earlier in that year, the family was still living on their farm in their log cabin in Moosomin, with their hired man Charles, their horses, their one milk cow, their one sheep, and their thirteen pigs. The children still at home at that time were Samuel, Faith, Mary Eliza, and Godfrey. It seems from this and other data, that these were the four children living at home at the time of their father’s death. Samuel would have been have been twenty-one, Faith nineteen, Mary Eliza sixteen, and Godfrey twelve. (The same four children are living with their mother in Vancouver in 1911, along with their older brother Edward. Only Faith is married). From what I can gather, it may have been possible for all the other children, now adults, to attend the funeral, some having to travel from Saskatchewan, except for Lily, who was the first to move out to Vancouver.

With this level of detail, it is possible to imagine what this time must have been like for the family. It seems as though the loss of William must have come as a huge shock, despite his diabetes, as he had only been sick with pneumonia for two days.

I have put out a request on Findagrave for a photo of William's grave marker, which is located at plot 8-G0523, Elmwood Cemetery, 88 Hespeler Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, but so far there have been no takers. If any of you gentle readers would be kind enough to provide me with such a photo, I promise to post it to Findagrave, and I will put the photo in a blogpost giving you full credit. A map of the cemetery can be found here: Elmwood Cemetery Map.

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