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106 Dixon

By John Ellis

This story is not so much about a home in the Triangle as about someone who lived in a Triangle home, and about an obsession – mine!

It begins with a previous Home History article that focused on Eight Rainsford Road, where I found that Annie May Taylor sold the home in 1911 to newlyweds Henry Turner Smith and Anne Selina (Taylor) Smith. I became convinced that there had to be some relationship between Annie May Taylor and Anne Selina Taylor.

Digging into the Internet and Toronto Archives I accumulated a file on every adult “Ann”, “Anne” or “Annie” Taylor living in the Toronto area at this time, including parents and grandparents – a file about three centimetres thick – but found no clear connection.

However, I did find that in 1912 Annie E. Taylor was the first owner of 106 Dixon Road, a handsome 2˝ storey home between Rainsford Road and Woodbine Avenue. I thought, “106 Woodbine is just around the corner from Eight Rainsford – surely there is some relationship between Annie E. and Anne S. or Annie M. Taylor!”

106 Dixon Avenue

Such is the nature of obsession!

(Although I worked backward using Annie’s married name, I’ll continue the story in chronological order, from her birth.)

The 1851 Census of Canada West for Huron County brought to life Ann Steen, age one year, daughter of Samuel Steen, a “labourer”, 25 years old and Elinor Steen, 22 years of age, both from Ireland. Ann had an elder brother and sister, Samuel junior and Mary Jane, with all three born in Canada. The family supported the “Church of England” (currently the Anglican Church) Note that this would have Ann Steen being born in about 1850.

“Anne” Steen next shows up on Schedule B – Marriages for June 22, 1870, at Stayner, Simcoe County (near Collingwood). She married Thomas Pollock, a 45-year old accountant, Presbyterian, born in Scotland to Robert and Jan (Robertson) Pollock. Thomas was currently living at Nottawsaga. She was declared to be the daughter of Samuel and “Ellen” (Elliott) Steen, 19 years of age, and now Methodist. Note that this would have Ann (or Anne) Steen being born in about 1851.

Despite discrepancies between the census record and the marriage record, this is almost certainly the same person. Census records can be inaccurate, depending on the thoroughness of the census-taker and the reliability of the person giving the information. Also, people tended to change their names over time (as you will see was the case with Annie E. Taylor). The discrepancy in birth year is easily explained: If Anne’s birth day is after June 22, she would then be 20 in 1870, equating to a birth year of 1850. Ann/Anne has by then converted to the Methodist Church.

Our next record is another Schedule B – Marriages for August 13, 1878, at Toronto. “Ann Pollock” married Oliver Taylor junior, a 35-year old bachelor farmer, Episcopalian, born to Oliver and Emma Sophia Taylor (place of birth was obliterated). Oliver and Ann were currently living in Toronto. She is the daughter of Samuel and “Ellen” Steen, and 23 years of age. Note that this would have Ann Steen being born in about 1855.

This is the first place that we may have found Annie being forgetful about her birth year (she was almost certainly 28 at this time) or, to be gracious, perhaps the minister simply recorded it inaccurately.

Although we have found no record of what happened to Ann/Anne’s first husband, Thomas Pollock, it appears that he died suddenly in the late spring or summer of 1878, as you will soon see.

Oliver and Ann move to Parry Sound, where Simcoe County Birth Records indicate the birth of Annie Laura Taylor (July 30 1881), Ernest Taylor (October 30 1884), and Hetty Bertha Taylor (July 15 1888).

Curiously, no birth record was found for the eldest child, Avern Taylor, born about 1880, who first appears in the 1901 Census.

“Annie” Taylor next emerges in the 1901 Census of Canada living in “Toronto East” with her husband, Oliver (49), a grocer, and son, Avern P. (21), also a grocer, and daughters, Annie L. (18), a student, and Bertha (11). Very interesting is the addition of Thomas O. Pollock, listed as “stepson”, born January 9 1879 (22). Oliver is now listed as “Anglican”. Note that this record indicates Annie Taylor being born February 15 1862.

Note that this is the first listing for her as “Annie” and the second time her birth year is shown to be after 1850 – either she or the census-taker has shaved 12 years off her life (assuming the earlier records were correct)! “Thomas O. Pollock” must be a child fathered by Annie’s former husband, Thomas, born to Annie after she had married Oliver (note the similarity of names). We have found no other reliable records for Thomas Oliver Pollock junior.

Next, we find Annie Taylor in the 1911 Census of Canada living at 393 Ontario Street with her husband, Oliver, now 67, daughters, Annie (24), teacher, and Bertha (20), stenographer, and stepson, Oliver Pollock, bookkeeper. Curiously, Thomas Oliver Pollock is now declared to having been born in July 1881. Annie is indicated to be 56 years of age and of Irish descent. Note that this record again indicates Annie Taylor being born in about 1855.

Note that this is the second time Annie’s birth year is indicated to be 1855, rather than 1850. The story is further complicated with Thomas Oliver Pollock’s birth now claimed to be 1881, rather than 1879, well after Annie had married Oliver. Given the previous record, I doubt the accuracy of the “1881” entry.

In City of Toronto archival records, Annie E. Taylor shows up as the first owner of 106 Dixon Road in 1912, living there for five years with her stepson, Thomas Oliver Pollock. There is no indication of Oliver or other family members living there with them.

A Deaths record is the last record found for Annie E. Taylor. She died at home, 106 Dixon Avenue, at 61 years of age, on January 28 1917. She had suffered for four years (since a year after moving into the Triangle) with pulmonary tuberculosis, followed by a heart condition, the immediate cause of death. The Informant was T.O. Pollock, her stepson, of 106 Dixon Avenue. She was to be buried at “St. John Cemetery”.

This again indicates 1855 as Annie’s birth year, but I believe she was actually 66, born in 1850.

As mentioned in a previous Home History story, my obsession took me on a search of every Taylor grave marker in St. John Norway Cemetery. On a sunny afternoon last summer, I found Annie E. Taylor’s toppled tombstone in a somewhat neglected area near the outer boundary of the cemetery north west of the church. It was a gripping discovery, no less so when I deciphered the badly weathered inscription:

Annie Taylor - Gravestone

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
ANNIE E. TAYLOR
DIED JAN. 23 1917
HER MEMORY IS EVER GREEN
HER INFLUENCE LIVES THOUGH NOW UNSEEN
LAURA MAY ARSCOTT
DIED SEPT. 18 1914
AGED 19 MONTHS

My obsession took wing – I now had to know about Laura May Arscott.

Testing the notion that she might be Annie E. Taylor’s granddaughter, I looked for records on her daughter, Annie L. Taylor. I soon found an affidavit for the marriage of Annie Laura Taylor, 25 years old, and William John Arscott, 25 years old, in Toronto on September 5th 1911 (the handwriting is very hard to decipher but I believe it is “1911”). William was an accountant and Annie Laura was a music teacher. Both were Methodist. William’s father was a mason and Annie’s father, Oliver Taylor, is “deceased”. The bride’s mother is listed with her maiden name as “Annie Steen”. Witnesses were Bertha Taylor and Oliver Taylor, of 393 Ontario Street.

Note that Annie Laura now seems to have difficulty with her birth year. Her birth record stated 1881, the 1901 Census stated 1882, and now her marriage record states 1886. It seems likely that she really was born in 1881 and her age at marriage was probably 30 years. Now, at the time of Annie Laura Taylor’s wedding, we know that Oliver Taylor died in 1911, and Annie E. Taylor was likely still living at 393 Ontario Street with her daughter, (Hetty) Bertha Taylor, and her stepson, listed here not as Thomas Oliver Pollock but as “Oliver Taylor”. This may well be an error, since he shows up in subsequent City of Toronto Assessment Rolls as “Thomas Oliver Pollock”.

Annie Laura (Taylor) Arscott was destined to experience tragedy. On September 18 1914, her infant daughter, Laura May Arscott, died of nephritis and cardiac failure.

And so we find Laura May Arscott lovingly remembered with her grandmother on a fallen tombstone in a peaceful part of St. John Norway Cemetery, and end our search for the Annie E. Taylor who lived at 106 Dixon Avenue.

Do you have any historical records for your Triangle home? Please share them with us so we can build on our knowledge of the very special part of the Beach in which we live. Contact John Ellis at ellisjohn@rogers.com or by mail at 52 Rainsford Road or by phone at 416-694-3288.