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Friday, 12 September 2014

Week 37 - Ellen Henry Turriff

Ellen Henry Turriff (1858 - 1940)

Ellen Henry was the second daughter born August 14, 1858 to Mary Tait and William Henry in Perth, Ontario.  She was a sister to my great grandmother Elizabeth Sinclair and also to last week's Janet McKenzie. She was a namesake of her aunt,  Ellen Tait Wilson and had at least one niece named for her, Ellen Sinclair.  

In 1881, Ellen along with her mother Mary and her 10 siblings made their way to Blanshard, Manitoba after the death of her father in 1876.  That same year, she married Malcolm Turriff.  Malcolm was from Little Metis, Quebec and first came west in the 1870's.   He was the clerk of the municipality surrounding Rapid City, MB for 30 years as well as being involved in real estate, butchering, stone cutting, auctioneering and being an insurance agent.  Malcom also operated a ferry across the Little Saskatchewan River before a bridge was built.  The Manitoba Historical Society webpage is a wealth of information and I have used it many times in the research for this blog.  Malcolm Turriff is mentioned as copied below:

Memorable Manitobans: Malcolm Turriff (1849-1917)
                Farmer, municipal official.
Born in Ontario on 7 June 1849, he moved to Manitoba in April 1879 and purchased the entire land section at 10-13-19 southeast of Rapid City from the Dominion Steamship Company. In 1886, he took a job as the second Clerk-Secretary of the Rural Municipality of Saskatchewan, serving until 1906. In this capacity he attended the 1905 founding meeting, in Brandon, of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities. In 1908 he was appointed by the federal government to represent Canada at the World Fair in Britain.
He died at Rapid City on 24 March 1917.
I found that Malcolm Turriff's name lives on when I searched for him with Google.  An online book called "Colour Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada 1900 - 1950"  by Constance Backhouse, starting on page 58, tells the story of Malcolm arranging a pow wow with the local Dakota for the July 1902 fair in Rapid City and the ensuing arrest and prosecution of one of the Dakota elders, Wanduta,  for allowing this to take place.  It seems Prime Minister John A, MacDonald had forbid the Dakota people from dancing for profit and the authorities saw this show at the fair as a violation.  The government of the day did not want the first people of Canada to be encouraged to publicly perform their "savage" traditions.  Malcolm Turriff charged 50 cents each to fairgoers to see the Grass Dance over 3 days but seems to have not been held responsible in any way. Wanduta was not so fortunate and received a punishment of 4 months of hard labour at the Brandon Jail.  

Rapid City Thistle Lacrosse Club 1908

The 1959 Blanshard history book says that the Turriff name was on every line up of sporting events of the early days of Rapid City.  Lacrosse was a very popular game at this time and the Turriff boys helped the town win the provincial title in June of 1914. The above picture was found online at The Western Canadian Pictorial Index as image 22112 on contact sheet AO731and shows Stanley Turriff at the top, second from the left, as enlarged below. 


In later years, many of the family ended up in the city of Transcona, now a part of Winnipeg, working for Canadian National Railways. In fact, one of the children of eldest son William had a street named for him in 2011 on the very eastern edge of  Winnipeg, Stan Turriff Place.
Malcolm died on March 24, 1917 and in February of 1918, documents trace that Ellen lived in Transcona at 74 Harvard Avenue with her son Malcolm.  She died on March 8, 1940 and they have a gravestone at Rapid City Cemetery, pictured below. Thanks to Canada's GenWeb's Cemetery Project and photographer Patricia Green for this photo.  

Children of Ellen and Malcolm, eight boys and one girl:
  • William (1881-1955) married Emma Duneman and worked as a carpenter in Transcona
  • Alexander C. (1883 - 1935) married Maud McLarren and left in 1910 for Chicago then was a teacher in Port Moody, B.C. 
  • Effie (1884-1911) married Robert McKay, railway conductor- she died young with one daughter
  • Robert Gilles (1889-1967) married Pearl Forsythe and was a welder for CN in Transcona.  He served in WW1 and was wounded.
  • Stanley Morton (1890-1961) had a store in Asquith, SK - retired to Oak River
  • Malcolm Harrison (1892-1980)  married Louise Carrick and was a CN Foreman at Transcona and worked for Manitoba Hydro. He was also wounded in WW1
  • Wallace Cameron (1892 -1929) married Nellie Turner and also a CN Foreman at Transcona 
  • John Gordon (1895-1918) married Elsie Gertrude Short  Died in WW1 buried in France
  • Edward Byron (1898-1988) married Rosaline Harding and worked for Winnipeg Electric

With the century of the first world war, it is becoming easier to find information about John Gordon (Regimental number 1000607)  online including his attestation papers and the Commonwealth War Grave Register..He served with the 27th Battalion. Jack was tragically killed on his 23rd birthday. He left behind a wife, Elsie and 18 month old son, Leslie.  Annually on October 31, Page 515 shows his name on display in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower in Ottawa.  He is buried in Bellacourt Military Cemetery in Pas de Calais in France.  

Corporal John Gordon "Jack" Turriff

John's older brother, Robert Gilles (Regimental number 107) filled out his attestation papers very early in the war - September of 1914 at 25 years of age.  He was wounded in WW1 and his medals are on display in the Rapid City Legion as the photo below show (by fellow researcher Sharon).

WW1 Medals of Robert Gilles Turriff in Rapid City Legion

A third son, Malcolm Harrison ( Regimental Number 2380599) also was wounded in the war.  More information about these men and all the others who served is to be released by 2015 at the Library and Archives Canada website.  Follow that link and put in their regimental number to find more once it is online.

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