February 9, 2015 – tons of snow day, time for thinking

I have talked before about my parents and their lives together.  They obviously were very much in love all through out their marriage.  Today since I was not going anywhere due to the snow I ended up cleaning out the baby toys I had purchased for the grandkids.and moving some things around the extra room upstairs so each of the girls can have their own bed in that room when they come to visit.

Anyway, I took my ipad upstairs to take a picture of some items I found in my mom’s hope chest. And then I spotted in the book shelf my Dad’s photo albums from when he was in college and when he and mom were dating.  He loved taking pictures and did so all his life it seems. As kids we cannot say we don’t have pictures of us growing up because there are so many of them.  Black and Whites, Slides, movies etc. We have them all.

My Dad’s parents were a little “different” so to say.   James Vint Laughland was the son of William Laughland, a successful Scottish tailor who moved as a young man with a wife and the first few children to Southampton England. William was a typical outgoing Laughland and ended up having a good business and became involved in politics in the City of Southampton.  James left home at age 18 to go to the University of Toronto in Ontario. He lived with his Aunt Peggy Laughland McMIllan and her family.  We believe he was studying for the ministry. I tried to find out if he graduated but the U of T did not have records on him.

He met my Grandmother up around Owen Sound.  Margaret MacDougall had left her home in Nova Scotia to attend nurses training. She never went home again it appears until the 1950’s after both her parents were dead.  I found their info and it turns out that Christy Caissie MacDougall and Martin MacDougall divorced in about 1905. That was very unusual for Catholic couples.  There must have been some reason for this. They split and the kids seemed to have split along lines of who liked which parent.   Martin was injured in a mining explosion in about 1923.  And when he died in the 1940’s he was living with one of the sons.  I found out that when my brothers were young they had a gr grandfather alive up in Nova Scotia. We never knew.  Strange as I said.  I suspect things were pretty unhappy at home and Margaret moved as far away as she could from them.

So the young couple James and Margaret married and had two sons. My Dad born in 1910 and his brother a few years later.  They lived for five years in Canada and then moved to England in 1915.  Grandfather became a minister in several churches. It seems that he became a Unitarian/Presbyterian/Baptist minister depending on where he was living at the time.  James also became involved in social issues such as union organizing.   It was 1915 with the approaching war and social unrest.  He changed cities and churches several times during the 10 years they were in England.  He eventually became minister at the Pembroke Chapel in LIverpool and as time went on became more and more involved in strikes and leading the dock workers protesting for rights. He was arrested and beaten by the police at one time.  There are pictures of him in the museum in LIverpool with the strikers.

For a bit my Dad lived with the family in Liverpool but at some point Margaret and the boys were put out on the Isle of Mann. Must have been pretty isolated for them living away from James while he did his thing.  They had tickets to sail home in 1920 but although on the ships manifest we know they did not sail on that ship.  They actually returned to Canada in 1925 to Amherst Island near Kingston Ontario to a Presbyterian Church.  They also lived in Richmond Ontario south of Ottawa for a while.

When I realized how much they moved around and how often James left his wife at home with the two boys for months at a time one can see why Dad felt very strongly about family.  James became involved in the Townsend Plan during the Depression and by then they were living in the Rochester area.  My Dad was in Toronto at the UT studying to be a Pharmacist.  I found a ton of pictures today that he took of Kingston Ontario where he interned at Best’s Pharmacy and pictures in Toronto with his classmates.

So here was Milt son of James who had lived all over the place, his mother was not a happy camper it appears and his father was a version of Don Quijote chasing windmills.  Working at Bests Pharmacy the young ladies of Kingston came in often to have film developed so they could check out the young intern.  He was dating my mom’s friend but she told mom she was not serious about him and Mom could try her hand at getting a date with him. After that they dated for several years while the depression worked itself out. Mom worked in labs at the University and at a bank.. Here was Norah the oldest of 8 children of a doctor and a teacher.  She had graduated from Queens University at age 20 with a degree in history and economics.  Her brothers were heading for Medical School and her sister Margaret was studying for degrees in Library Science.  This was a stable family, who were not moving anywhere and who opened their doors to many students and young people.  A total contrast to his own family.

I suspect that stability was very appealing to my Dad.  He wanted a stable family life and my mom knew about that.  So, I believe that is what brought them together and why they were totally committed to each other.  My mom had found a caring, loving husband who was welcomed into her family with open arms and with no prejudice against her father in law, the interesting minister, and his wife who had been raised a catholic and was now the wife of a minister.  She told my grandmother O’Connor that she missed going to Mass and would go with my Grandmother when she visited in Kingston.

So that is the background on my parents.

Pictures of: Milt ands Norah on wedding day. With their parents; the O’Connor women, the three Doctors O’Connor;  Jean and Maurice ;  Mary and Peter her true love;  Church on Amherst Island where the family lived;  dispensary at Bests Drug Store, O’Connor sibling with Milt and Bud O’Gorman; Milt in the Pharmacy

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