theo pollard

Two people — neither of whom I’ve ever met — recently gave me gifts that are priceless — glimpses into the history of the Pollards during the difficult recession years at the close of the 19th century (just before the Klondike gold rush). The photo above, taken in 1897, is one of five sent to me by David Langstone of Windsor, Ontario. The gentleman in the back row, third from the right, and the woman in the front row, second from the right, are my great-great-grandparents, Adolphus Theodore (“Theo”) Pollard and Hannah Isabelle (“Belle”) Shook. The Pollards and Shooks were United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada (two generations before Theo and Belle) from the breakaway American colonies at the end of the 18th century and, after squatting in makeshift quarters in Town of York (now Toronto) with their families for several years, received free 200-acre land grants on property to the West of the Town, ceded by the Mississaugua Indians. They carved out their own roads, and helped each other build the mandatory 300-400 s.f. log homes (and note that average number of children in those days was sixteen!). Often, as with the Shooks and Pollards, the children who survived married their neighbours.

Theo was born in Sheridan, Ontario (now on the Mississauga-Oakville border), the second of eight children of Joshua Pollard Jr., in 1832. He travelled in his mid-teens to Burgesville with his step-grandmother, and then in 1858 to New Zealand, returning to marry next-door neighbour Belle Shook, seven years his junior, in 1863, and then moving to Bayfield Ontario where he worked for the local newspaper. Their seven children were born between 1865 and 1885. Theo and his siblings sold the family homestead to their Shook in-laws in 1888, and Theo moved to 988 Bloor St. West in Toronto, as a tailor in partnership with Charles Speers.

A few months ago I got an e-mail from Chris Young in North Carolina, a descendent of Charlotte (“Lottie”) Pollard, Theo’s youngest child. Chris had come into possession of Theo’s 1898 diary, and has sent me the first 12 pages of it. It’s a long way from a blog — mostly weather, record of visitors, pants and coats made, and some strange and toxic-sounding recipes for hair dye, but it’s fascinating reading.

Theo died in 1911, and Belle moved back in with the Shooks where she died ten years later. Theo’s three sons, Brock, Oliver and Frank, went in very different directions. Oliver, my great-grandfather, moved to Winnipeg and established Saults & Pollard printers (now Pollard Banknote, one of the largest lottery ticket printers in the world, owned by my cousins), and Frank became a barber in Toronto — and the first Pollard millionnaire, because in those days the barbers were also the bookies!

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  1. O RLY YA RLY says:

    Interesting. So moustaches are hereditary?

  2. Rayne says:

    Fascinating — I can see a strong resemblance! How fortunate for you to have this photo and a copy of the diary!I know some Shooks who live here in Michigan, not all that far away in the scheme of things; wonder if they are related?

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Harald: Hah! I’ll post a photo of Theo’s father, who looks like something from ZZTop and makes us look facial-hair-deprived. Rayne: The first Shook to cross the border anglicized his name. He was born Heinrich Schuck somewhere in the US in 1766 and settled in Clarkson, Ontario in 1807 where he died in 1839. His son Conrad Shook inherited the UEL land grant, and had 11 children. The picture shows 8 of those children and 5 of their spouses, of which Theo is one.Careful you don’t get the genealogy bug — it’s addictive and time-consuming. I haven’t touched my family records since I started blogging.

  4. Rayne says:

    Nah, I have other family members that are doing the genealogy thing. Mormon family members on the Hawaiian side as well as my father (who’s had to ascertain the identities of the legal heirs to Hawaiian property, all the way back to China on one branch of the family), my mother who’s investigated the causes of death in her family tree (sounds morbid, but fascinating to a health care professional like her). The in-laws have also done their own back to 1671, through Canada (ever hear of the name Bourassa?).Nothing left for me to do but add data to the tree at this point. ;-)

  5. Paul Plante says:

    My grat great grandfather was Joshua Pollard sr. If you care to go to the above web site you will find your branch of the Pollards back to the American Revolution and the French Indian Wars.RegardsPaul

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