The McCorkell story continues……
The youngest in the Joseph McCorkell family was born in 1897, and baptized under the names of Ethel Philomena. She was loved deeply by her brothers and sisters as the youngest often is. A group picture of the children, at our country school, taken in 1902 shows her along with her brothers, cousins and others to the number of 40 in all. She was then 5 years old, and had probably anticipated her actual start at school, prompted by Rosella. Ignatius and I can be found in the group, both with new caps, his all but concealing his face. The picture-taking was evidently announced well in advance. Happily it enables us to see ourselves as we once were. No one will deny that Phil in her blonde curls and white pinaforte is the most beautiful child of the group. Another photo of Ignatius and Phil, taken in a studio, was undoubtedly initiated by Rosella. The date is 1904 or 1905. It does not mark any particular even in their lives, but is merely an attempt to preserve the memory of them in their golden youth “forever breathing and forever young”. It is priceless now after nearly seventy years.
Though Ignatius and Phil remained always closer in spirit to each other than to the rest of us, his going away to high school at Orillia made a difference. Other people were to enter into the lives of each of them and become new friends. This happened for Phil at St. Joseph’s convent in Toronto where she went for her high school studies. Several of her new girl friends came to have a holiday with her at intervals on my father’s farm. It was good to see Phil create her own personal following as she grew to maturity. Dad was determined to do for her in the way schooling what he had done for her brothers. She was grateful for this chance because she loved studies and the camaraderie of school life. But it was not to continue to the end. Before she reached her graduating year Phil had to undergo surgery for appendicitis, and a few months later surgery for adhesions. I was in Toronto in those days and was depended upon by the family to keep an eye on her in the hospital and to advise her. A period of convalescence was imperative, and that proved to be the end of her schooling.
After a year of two of uncertainty Phil took the plunge and began her great career as the wife of a young Uptergrove farmer, Hugh McLaughlin, and the mother of 7 girls and 8 boys. This was a challenge for any father and mother. Hugh and Phil met it bravely in a Christian manner. They had their ups and downs. Once their house burned down, and they had to rebuild it. Once or twice the crops were under average. But Hugh was a hard worker and a good neighbour. He was public spirited too, and served on the Township council. Phil was more or less the balance wheel, keeping everything on an even keel, even if always under pressure, keeping the kids at school, and attending to their religious duties, getting small jobs for the older ones, giving sound advice to her husband on business matters, planning for the next move, and above all getting the family to work together, one helping the other where this was possible.
It can truly be said that the one thing they had in abundance was love. I recall one striking evidence of this. One of the boys, Pat McLaughlin, followed up his graduation from the high school in Orillia by joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. Attached to the coastal command (Demon Squadron) in England in order to scout submarines in the Atlantic, he was shot down over the Bay of Biscay and never found. The harrowing uncertainty of his fate when he was reported missing, followed by the gradual realization that he would never return was a long drawn out agony for the family. They sought relief in the hope that Pat’s two brothers, Joseph and Edmund, also with the Canadian Armed Forces, would return safely, but this hope was only partially realized. Both did, in fact, return, but Edmund was so shaken in health that he died in a military hospital in Toronto two years later. What touched the neighbours and friends deeply was his mother’s resolve t wake him in their own home which was really too small for the purpose. He always came home when he could, she said. She wanted it that way now.
The surviving members of the McLaughlin family have lived their own lives with the Catholic faith and courage of their father and mother. They have made good to and extraordinary degree. Many have been able to improve their education, which is after all, a life-time business. All who chose to marry have found excellent life partners, and have many children. I can attribute it only to the blessing of God upon the family for the sake of the originating parents, whom He first loved before they began to love Him.
I cannot, however, pass up the chance of saying a word or two about each of them, at the risk of unevenness and of a jerky style like that of a dictionary, in which the subject changes abruptly and often. May I begin with those whom I met oftener, and usually on some rung of the educational ladder; Kathleen, is, I think, about the middle of the line-up-a good person to begin with. She is a registered nurse, having trained at St. Michael’s Hospital. She married Joe McBride, a graduate of St. Michael’s College and a successful lawyer in the city. They have a family of 6, and live in Etobicoke, overlooking a spacious golf course, which is a break for their athletic children. John; following several years at St. Michael’s, John topped off his education with an excellent course of 4 years at Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto. He teaches technical training and is technical director at Erindale College. Married Barbara Farrell of Beaverton (also a reg. nurse) they have 5 children and live in Brampton. Charles; after several years at St. Michael’s, Charles withdrew to try out various jobs in many parts of the country including the DEW line. Finally met at Edmonton an attractive young widow, Bernice, with two handsome children, who finally pinned him down. They motored all the way to Toronto on a postponed honeymoon in November and were greeted by the McLaughlin family at the Dymond home in Toronto–an affectionate welcome for a new member of the family. All are happy for Charles. He has a pleasing personality and deserves to be happy.
Teresa (Terry) , married Al Schnurr, who presides over the Texaco empire in the Parry Sound area and has 5 sons to keep the business humming. One of them, Peter, is already married to Emerald Chamberlain and there is now a grandson. Gladys married Bill Dymond, executive director of Lockwood Survey Corp. They live in Toronto, have a family of 8, one of whom Pat, by name, has cleared out to make a home of his own with a bride, Barbara. The Dymonds have a splendid summer home at Honey Harbour–a hospitable one too. Bert –in London–a mechanical genius by nature, engaged in electrical construction. Mary, his wife, a former teacher, was a most competent man on her father’s farm. Now an ideal housewife and mother. They have 5 children, the fifth a long expected son, Patrick. Clare, is I think, the giant of the family. He and Sally have 3 boys already making themselves heard. I recall that at Sally’s wedding in Goderich, the pastor’s dog kept me at bay. But it was worth it. It was a beautiful wedding. Clare’s Dad made one of his characteristic and really good toasts to the bride. By the way, Clare is short for Clarence, which is a family name in the McCorkell tradition.
Joan married Peter Sullivan, also a St. Michael’s College graduate. An earlier Joan and Peter was a work of fiction by H. G. Wells in the period of World War I. Our Joan and Peter are real people, living a real life, and a creative life too, for they have 5 children, one of who is already a good hockey player. Peter Sullivan has been promoted steadily by his company and he is now sales manager of Sealtest Products in the Toronto area. Joan has been an inspiration to him. Joe, the senior son in the Hugh McLaughlin family, is a miner with Inco at Sudbury. His wife is Bessie, and his son is Kevin. He, the son, is a minor, but his dad is a miner. There is a difference chiefly in the effect upon the family budget. What a dreadful pun!
Marie the eldest in the family, and unmarried. A competent employment counsellor in the service of the Canadian government in their Toronto office. Get jobs for many! Also at the service of her brothers and sisters for whom she has been a kind of guardian angel. She believes in education by travel, and has visited South America and Japan. Rita –also lives in Sudbury. She lost her beloved husband, Gordon St. Germain, recently by death. The family of 5 is closely knit. Already the eldest girl, Lynne, is a university graduate and will teach. The eldest boy, Ricky, has a good basic education and holds a promising job in town. Helping to balance the books Rita, too, has a job. She will make all her flock go-getters like herself for the things of true value in life. May God bless them all.
Eleanor, the youngest girl, is a teacher with a university degree, and a wealth of experience. Gave a year without salary to impoverished Catholic schools of central British Columbia, and 2 years under similar conditions in Peru. She is now principal of an Indian school in northern Manitoba, reached only by air. Her friends expect to see her at a school in the Toronto area, perhaps a high school before long. Bravo Eleanor! Jim, the youngest of the Hugh McLaughlin family, made good with the Canadian National Railway and holds a responsible job at Capreol, where the Montreal and Toronto super trains meet. Married Joan Heitzner, a registered nurse, and has a spirited family of 4. Joan has been an inspiration to Jim, but I expect that such is true of all the McLaughlin wives in their respective households.