John & Mary Colestock
ON THE MOVE
The Life Story of John and Mary Colestock
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John Colestock was born in Toronto in 1877 to Robert Colestock, an English immigrant Home Child who landed in Canada in 1869, and Annie Reel, Ontario-born daughter of Irish parents who came to Canada around 1850 to escape the Irish Potato Famine.
John Colestock was born in Toronto in 1877 to Robert Colestock, an English immigrant Home Child who landed in Canada in 1869, and Annie Reel, Ontario-born daughter of Irish parents who came to Canada around 1850 to escape the Irish Potato Famine. The eldest of five siblings, John married fellow-Ward resident Mary Hazelton, a daughter of Irish immigrants, in 1907, when Mary was 20.
The two lived lives typical of the Ward’s original immigrant working class. John, whose father was a baker, worked mainly as a teamster, delivering ice and coal; his brothers did factory labour. Mary, whose father died in 1892 when she was just six, was a young seamstress before marriage. Atypically, both turned up in the pages of The Toronto Daily Star—John, in 1905, after being found one night unconscious and critically injured on College St., due to a head blow; Mary, in 1907, after her widow mother Delia Hazelton, a charwoman, was struck and killed by a car while crossing Yonge St. at Bloor, in one of Toronto’s first pedestrian fatalities caused by an automobile.
Delia died on October 3, 1907. Just nine days later, Mary married John, and the pair lived with John’s parents and siblings for several years, while Mary’s only sibling, a younger brother, went elsewhere. Both John and Mary’s families had moved frequently before their marriage, and that pattern continued afterwards. Between 1908 and 1917, they had at least six different addresses in the Ward: 43 Chestnut Pl., 9 Barnaby Pl., 66 Albert St., 160 Chestnut St., 47 Edward St. and 141 Elizabeth St. For a time, three generations of Colestocks lived under one roof in tight quarters: Robert and Annie, John and two brothers and Mary, and their first children.
John and Mary moved out as their family grew, but most everyone stayed close by, on and around Edward St. The couple would have 12 children, with only six living into adulthood. Elizabeth was their 11th child, born in 1925. They left the Ward in 1930, moving slightly west, and by 1940 had settled on Niagara St., near Bathurst St. Soon after, Elizabeth met Edward Banks working at the Canada Foils factory on Fraser Ave., near King St. and Dufferin. They married in 1946 (photo), and after the factory moved to Scarborough, they bought their first house there in 1953. Elizabeth’s next closest siblings, Mildred and Bernice, would also move to Scarborough. Elizabeth and Edward had two sons, Kerry and Brian, and in the postwar suburbs escaped the constant movement of Elizabeth’s forebearers, finding stability in the upward mobility provided.
“My family members always did similar work, but they had to move around for it. In fact, they had more stability in what they did than where they lived.”
– Brian Banks, grandson of John and Mary Colestock