The Wedding Quilt – Episode 38

Donald Stewart arrived in Toronto filled with pleasurable anticipation.

Determined to enjoy the best of everything, he registered at the swanky King Edward Hotel, planning a day of rest before starting out on his quest. It would be a relief to sleep in a bed that wasn’t moving and he looked forward to trying some Canadian cuisine in the hotel dining-room.

After that he would begin by visiting the boarding house where Dugald Stewart had stayed on first coming to Canada in 1846.

That, of course, was a long time ago but Dugald had been in his twenties then. If he had lived to a grand old age it was quite possible that someone who had known him then, and who was now elderly himself, would know what had happened to him.

In a sudden flight of fancy Donald could see himself being directed to the homes of cousins here in Toronto, or perhaps being taken to Dugald’s last resting place in a pleasant tree-shaded churchyard.

As things turned out, he was doomed to disappointment.

When, on the following morning, a taxi took him to the street in question, he found himself staring at a small park, with paths winding among stretches of neatly mown grass, equipped with the occasional bench to accommodate the weary.

“Are you sure this is the right place?’ he asked the driver.

“Yes, sir. There’s no mistake.”

“But Toronto is a big city. Perhaps there are two streets with the same name?” Cities often consisted of a number of former villages which had been swallowed up by growing expansion. Perhaps that had happened here?

The man shook his head.

“No, sir, I been doing this job for twenty years, starting back with a horse-drawn cab, and take it from me there ain’t no other Lupin Street. You must have got it wrong. Mebbe it’s Lilac, or Larkspur. Do you want to get out here, sir, or can I take you some place else?”

Donald knew he couldn’t sit here dithering all day, with the price of the taxi mounting by the minute.

“Could you take me somewhere I could find out more?’ he asked. “Perhaps a place where they keep street directories or something similar?”

“I suppose you could ask at City Hall,” the man said, “or the central library? Or how about one of the museums?”

Donald decided that City Hall sounded as good a place as any to start. He must try to get hold of some sort of street map or he might end up retracing his steps too many times without actually accomplishing anything.

He sank back in his seat, feeling overwhelmed.


After several false starts Donald found himself talking to a friendly librarian who admitted to being a keen amateur historian.

“You did go to the right place, Mr Stewart,” she informed him, “except that you were a number of years too late. Lupin Street was once home to a lot of boarding houses where new immigrants stayed, but by the 1880s the district had gone downhill and the houses were demolished. They were owned by a philanthropist who had the area turned into the park, which he presented to the city.”

Donald wondered if philanthropist was a polite word for slum landlord, but he held his tongue, having no wish to offend this helpful lady. He knew from experience that nobody liked incomers who came out with critical remarks.

“Do you have old street directories here?” he asked instead.

“Yes, we do, but I doubt they’ll be of much use to you. People tended not to stay long in those places, and it all depends on whether your great-uncle soon went on his way.”

A thought occurred to Donald.

“He met a young woman on the voyage from Scotland, and they planned to marry on reaching Canada. There must be a record of that marriage somewhere, surely?”

“Yes, and you may be in luck. Registrations of births, marriages and deaths are held here in Toronto, and I can direct you to the appropriate place. Of course, that won’t help you if the young couple chose to marry as soon as they landed here, because then their wedding would be registered in Quebec.”

Thanking her, Donald went outside to hail another taxi.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.