Joseph “Joe” Price was born in Toronto on November 16, 1860. His parents are unknown.
He married Helen Elizabeth “Lizzie” Leslie in Belleville, Ontario on March 31, 1884, probably in Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
They had five children:
- Flora Pearl Price
- Joseph Leslie “Les” Price
- Earl Stanley Price
- Helen Fredrica Price (who insisted throughout her life that her middle name was “Elizabeth”)
- Frances Kathleen Buchanan Price
He began his working life as a sign painter and salesman, later becoming an advertising executive and real estate developer. For more about his life, please see the post, “Men Who Built the Beach.”
Joseph died in Toronto on August 8, 1934, at the age of 73, and is buried at St. John’s Norway Cemetery in Toronto. You can view his headstone here.
The little information we have about Joseph’s parents is contradictory. His marriage certificate (1884), probably the most reliable document, says that their names were Alex and Mary (no last names given). When providing information for Joseph’s death certificate (1934), his son Leslie didn’t know the first names of either of Joseph’s parents. When interviewed in the 1980s for a family genealogy book, his daughter Frances said that Joseph’s father’s name was also Joseph, not Alex, but she didn’t know his mother’s name.
The entry for Joseph in the 1891 census of Canada says that both his parents were born in Ontario, and his entry in the 1900 census of the United States (the family was living in Buffalo at the time) says that both his parents were born in Canada. The entry for the 1921 census of Canada, however, contradicts this, saying that his parents were born in Ireland. The 1891 and 1900 censuses are probably more reliable, given that he likely would have provided the information himself. By 1921, there was a good chance that one of his grown daughters (then living with him) provided the information (and got it wrong).
No other documents have been found that refer to his parentage.
Family lore, unsupported by any documentation, maintained that he was either an orphan or the child of unwed parents, and that he spent his early years in an orphanage.
Given that, from the evidence cited above, two of Joseph’s children didn’t seem to be sure about their own grandparents’ names or birthplaces suggests that he spoke about them little or not at all . That would seem to reinforce the unwed parents hypothesis.
The only thing we know about Joseph’s youth is that he grew up in what is now the heart of downtown Toronto. According to his obituary, he attended the Louisa Street School as a child. That school was located where the Eaton Centre is now.
Joseph’s middle name is another mystery. Only one document, a list of members of the Board of Governors of Toronto East General Hospital, includes a middle initial (referring to him as “Jos. H. Price”). No other document with a middle name or initial has been found.
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