General History
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Action on Heritage properties Leslieville

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Welcome to the Leslieville Historical Society's website. Please feel free to join us, to ask questions, to attend walking tours and other events, and to celebrate Leslieville's past while creating our future. Guy Anderson, President, Leslieville Historical Society and Joanne Doucette, local historian and webmaster.

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  1. Dear Joanne Doucette
    I was very interested to read one of your absorbing 2016 articles, in which Joseph Simpson appeared along with his son Ernest. I am descended from Joseph’s younger son Rupert, whose youngest daughter Marguerite “Babe” married my grandfather E. O. Leadlay, from another Toronto family. My father Kenneth Rupert Simpson Leadlay was born in Winnipeg in 1913 but then EOL came over to fight and my two uncles were born in England. I really would like to know more about Joseph. Family story used to say that they came up from Montgomery Alabama in a covered wagon. I read on the internet that he was a successful and respected Jewish manufacturer and that he had been born in Charleston South Carolina in 1823/4/5 (the date depending on who you believe) to a German Jew named Wilhelm Simpson and his (unnamed) wife the daughter of William Cohen of Nova Scotia; that his parents died when he was very young; that he put himself to work at 13; that he married a presbyterian woman Elvira (?surname) – to judge from Ernest’s age probably in around 1848, but if Ernest’s age was misreported maybe 10 years later. The story about the 1848 gold rush I had also heard – without any detail. One source says he came to Toronto in 1860-61 with two very small children; but the 1881 Canadian census (which as well as reporting father and sons as Hebrew, somewhat sinisterly has an extra little comment written alongside Joseph’s name, “German Jew”) states that Ernest was 12 years older than Rupert; and none of the family appear in the census for either 1861 or 1871. My g grandfather liked yachting and had a summer house in Nassau Bahamas for some while, so maybe they owned it then and they were simply away for the 1871 census; and hadn’t arrived in Toronto in time for the 1861 census. One source says he left the South in 1863 which was slap bang in the middle of the Civil War and which saw the North taking the first ground in Alabama. I wonder where Joseph met Elvira (was this the Montgomery connection? – or was it in California?). And what was Elvira’s maiden name?
    Sorry this has turned into a rambling post, but anything you can tell me (or where to look further) about this interesting and energetic man who spans so many events and places would be most gratefully received!
    Best wishes
    Peter Leadlay
    Cambridge UK

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