The Gurney family

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned an article in the June 24 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a young woman who had been injured in a car crash. The woman, Jocelyn Gurney, was a member of a prominent Toronto family. I traced them in the Toronto city directories, and here’s what I found:

  • This story begins in 1915 with the Gurney Foundry Company, run by a man named Edward Gurney. His two sons, W. Cromwell and Edward M., served as, respectively, First Vice President/General Manager and Second Vice President. Presumably, Cromwell was the older of the two sons.
  • By 1918, the elder Edward Gurney had passed away, and W. Cromwell Gurney had taken over the company.
  • By 1920, a second tragedy had struck the family, as Gretchen Gurney is listed as the widow of W. Cromwell. Edward M. is now listed as president of the Gurney Foundry Company; he will reappear later.
  • The 1925 directory lists Mrs. C. Gurney at 33 Oriole Parkway. (Before that, she had been on Spadina Road.)
  • The 1927 directory includes Edward, a student, also living at 33 Oriole Parkway. (Presumably, he had always been there – he now had his own listing because he was now an adult.) Helen Gurney, with no listed occupation, also was now listed as living there. They were all there in 1929 as well (I checked every two years).
  • The 1931 directory listed the three previous Gurneys and one new one: Cromwell, presumably a Cromwell Junior (unless the directory compiler got it wrong, which was always a possibility).
  • The 1933 directory reverted to just three Gurneys; Cromwell Junior is no longer there. Either he moved out of town or he never existed.
  • The 1935 directory no longer lists Edward, but now lists Gretchen, Helen, and Jocylen (the woman in yesterday’s photo). I guess she was the baby of the family.
  • In the 1937 directory, Edward has returned, and is now the president of Gurney, Mitchell and Brown, manufacturers of twine and cordages. The three women are also still at 33 Oriole Parkway.
  • In 1938, Edward has moved to 50 Eastbourne Avenue, just a few blocks north of the family home. Gretchen (now listed as the widow of Cromwall) and Helen are still there, but Jocylen is not, since she got married.
  • In 1939 – the last year that I checked – Edward H. Gurney, now calling himself E. Holt Gurney, was still the president of the Gurney Foundry Company. He had just decided to give his nephew a job, as Edward is now listed as working as a mechanical engineer there.

I didn’t trace the family after that; presumably, the war changed things.

A search for the Gurney Foundry Company turned up some interesting results:

  • history of the company (which was founded in 1872).
  • Gurney stove catalogue from 1892. (This catalogue lists Charles Gurney as the president of the company and Edward Gurney as the vice-president.)
  • biography of the first Edward Gurney. From this, I learned that the Edward Gurney listed in the 1915 directory was actually Edward Gurney Jr.

The Gurney foundry building still stood at 522 King Street West as of 2019.

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