Sunday, June 19, 2016


my mother's grandfather, her father's dad. My great-grandfather.

Hugh Stewart was born April 5th 1902 in Kirkintilloch Scotland to Daniel and Mary Stewart (MacFarlene). He was their only child. He married Helen Templeton in 1929. They had 2 sons, Daniel and Alexander. Hugh died in 1965.

Hugh immigrated from Scotland as a young man. He was a freemason and he also enjoyed playing football (soccer) before moving to Canada. He was apparently quite good, however he got injured while playing and the masonic group was able to find him a job in a dairy in Winnipeg so that's why he came to Canada. He met his wife Helen (some called her Nellie) Templeton in Winnipeg, Manitoba and they were married.

Hugh and Nellie had two sons, Daniel (my grand-father) and his brother Alec. Unfortunately when the boys were young, things were not going so well with Hugh and Helen. Hugh and Helen separated and he met another woman, Elizabeth and they had two children together. My Aunt Helen tells me that this was hard on the boys, and usually they lived with whatever family had room for them. My grand-father Daniel would have quit school in Grade 8 to start work.

Fast forward a couple of decades. My Aunt Helen was doing some genealogy online and she found a forum where people could post messages looking for family members. She did a search for her grand-father, Hugh Stewart and a message came up from Heather Birchall-Stewart who was looking for her two half brothers who had moved east with their mothers after separating from Hugh. Heather says that she waited until her mother had passed away before she searching for her brothers, and her full brother had no interest in that side of the family. Helen asked her father, Daniel if it would be okay to look her up as the description was very accurate. Helen replied to the message but didn't hear back, Daniel remembered that the family had moved to Ontario and so Helen started a Canada 411 search for Heather Birchall (Stewart). After 4 attempts she was able to reach my half-great Aunt Heather.

Although there were a number of challenges in his life, I respect this man for the decisions that he made in supporting his friends and family. Life can take us down many paths, and because of that we can learn a lot of things about ourselves and those around us. I am very happy that we know his daughter Heather and that she has become a part of our family. She was a great support to us when my grandfather passed away in 2011. Hugh Stewart was a brave man despite the tough decisions he had to make in his life, and I look forward to learning more about him in years to come.

top left: Hugh (on the right) with a friend
top right: Hugh as a young boy
bottom: Hugh, Helen and baby Daniel (my grandfather)

1 comment:

Helen said...

Very nice, Alyssa.