A friend of my father’s named Gerry Henderson, who wasn’t a Catholic, introduced my mother and father, who were both Catholic. My parents Edward Basil Foy and Josephine Walburgis Schnitzler were married on June 25, 1912 at St. Francis of Assisi parish on Grace Street in Toronto. My mother’s sister, my Aunt Anna (a smart looking girl) was her Maid of Honour. She lived with us for a while on Fulton Avenue until she married our neighbour, Fred Cartin. He lived on the Dixon Avenue, the street where we had previously lived and where I was born.
My Uncle Fred had been married before, but his wife was killed in a railway train accident. Anna and Fred had three children. During the birth of their third child, my Aunt Anna died in St. Michael’s hospital and at the same time my sister Doreen was also born there. My mother had double pneumonia. The doctors at St. Michael’s hospital told my father to prepare us children for death and that was when I made a promise to God to try to become a priest. It was a surprise to the doctor that my mother recovered. After she recovered, she found out her sister Anna had died.
My mother’s other sister Appolonia went to look after the three children of Anna and she married my Uncle Fred. He had a nice car and a cottage on Lake Simcoe with a cook and a maid where I used to spend some vacation time with their family in August when I was a child. My Aunt Appolonia died when I was in the seminary. Uncle Fred married a fourth time, after Aunt App died.
My mother was born in Ontario, Canada in 1885. She was raised near Kitchener, Ontario which used to be called New Berlin; but after the War broke out, it was renamed Kitchener because Germany was at war with Canada. Kitchener was the name of a British captain and war hero who’s ship was sunk during the war. My mother had ninety first cousins in that area. She had a brother who was in the Canadian Army in World War I and was killed after Armistist was declared and on that same day of November 11, 1918, since word hadn’t reached the section where he was yet. My mother had a photo of him in his uniform.
My mother had a cousin who was a priest, Fr. Matthew Schnitzler. He was ordained in Hamilton and volunteered to go on the missions out west. He was the first diocesan priest in the diocese of Calgary, AB. He used to visit us occasionally and my mother sent him money out west, since he lived very poorly there.
My parents had eight children. I was the second eldest. As of 2015, they are all dead except for me – I am in my 100th year of age now and my youngest sister Shirley is 87.
My sister Doreen was a nurse and my sister Mary was a teacher. My three sisters didn’t marry, but all my four brother’s married.
My grandfather, Nicholas Foy, came over at the age of ten by himself during the potato famine and later brought his brother George over from Ireland. His brother George became a millionaire through importing liquor and built the Foy building on Front Street. My grandfather Nicholas died when my father was only six years old and only had four children. My father was baptized at St. Basil’s Church in Toronto. My grandfather Nicholas was a cab driver and invested in real estate. His wife, my grandmother Mary Gorman, died in 1911 before I was born, so I never met her. As a widow she had lived on the rents from the houses they had purchased. They had four houses – two at 28 and 30 St. Alban’s (later this became Wellesley) Street and two behind them on Fifth Street. When I was a boy I used to go with my father every week to collect the rents over there. There was a stable there where the cab was kept that my grandfather had driven.
In those days, all the money went to the oldest son. My father’s older brother John went over to England where there money was kept. I had a post card from him. He went over on a boat. He came back and lived on Fulton Avenue with his sisters, my two aunts. His money had just run out when he was killed at Parliament and Bloor by a streetcar. He stepped back to avoid the street car and was killed by a car. He used to give me and my brothers ten cents every week.
My father bought a house at 53 Dixon Avenue in the east end of Toronto where I was born in 1915. In 1918 we moved up to Fulton Avenue, which was further west near Broadview and Danforth, in Holy Name parish. In those days, Fulton Avenue was the last street in the city and beyond that was country and farmhouses, with cattle. At the end of Fulton Avenue was a store we used to call The County Store.
Our relatives near Kitchener used to send my mother eggs and when they started to build up things behind us, I used to deliver eggs for her as a favour. She used to share the eggs with others. I had a basket that carried about two dozen eggs. I climbed over the back fence to my father’s sisters’, my Aunt Elizabeth and Babe’s place at 96 Fulton Avenue. A police dog jumped up at me and I dropped the basket. Most of the eggs were broken. I had to go back to my mother and tell her that I had broken the eggs. I was very sorry about it, but was frightened by that dog. I was about 10 years old at that time.