So far this blog has focused on the gardener’s paternal family, the Scheshkos. As I mentioned a year ago, in a post called Murray’s Further Military History, the gardener’s father Murray married Diana Shulman, the sister-in-law of his friend Jack Blanc.
Now I will start trying to “reconstruct” the Shulman family history. Unlike the Scheshkos and my own family in my blog The Family Kalamazoo, the Shulmans are a large, artistic family who lived, after immigrating from “Russia,” mainly in Canada. Because of the size of the Shulman family, my unfamiliarity of Canadian records, and a lack of any concrete documentation of origins, I feel that I am dealing with an “unruly” mess when I try to work on this family.
Diana was born Dinah Leah Shulman*, to Joseph and Dora Shulman, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. However, at the time, the family lived in the village of Aberdeen, just outside Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Winnipeg is about 480 miles from Saskatoon, and they had family living in Winnipeg. The story goes that Diana was almost born on the train, but whether Dora was intentionally traveling to Winnipeg to have Diana or if Diana came early, we do not know.
* Updated info on Diana’s birth name. While her Hebrew name was Dina(h) Leah, her Canadian name at birth was Dina Shulman, according to her birth certificate.
The best record of where the family was living in Aberdeen is the 1921 census, which was one year before Diana’s birth.
Here are the cropped entries for family members:
We see that Joseph is listed as 35, Dora as 30, daughter Edith as 13, Sarah as 9, Rose as 8, Harry, as 5, and Florence as perhaps 1.5. For the time being, that is good enough. Dora would have been pregnant with Diana at the time of the census.
What can be seen in the larger image is what the quotation marks in two columns mean. It means they were living as boarders in a hotel on Main Street. Imagine living as boarders with all those children.
In this section we learn that Joseph and Dora were both born in Russia, as were both their parents. Edith, Rose, and Harry were born in Manitoba (surely Winnipeg) and Sarah and Florence were born in Saskatchewan. Why the back and forth between birth places, I do not know.
We learn that Joseph and Dora immigrated to Canada from Russia in 1905, and that they were still Russian citizens as of 1921. Their children were all Canadian citizens. They were listed as Jewish for racial affiliation and Jewish for religion.
All the family could speak English, but they could not speak French. I wonder how long it took Joseph and Dora to learn English. Everyone except the two youngest could read and write.
Column 28 is Months at school since Sept. 1, 1920: the 3 oldest children spent 8 months at school since that date. But why does it say X240 for Joseph???
For occupation, Joseph is listed as OA (owner) of a grocery something or other. I can’t read the second word, but know that he owned a grocery store.
Diana was born 29 January 1922 in Winnipeg. The gardener has ordered her birth record or certificate. For Canadian records, you have to wait 100 years before they become available unless you are next of kin! Other than his request, her birth record will not become available for three more years.
Notice that this portrait was taken in Winnipeg, not in Aberdeen. At a point, the family did move from Aberdeen to Winnipeg, but I have not yet found documentation of the family in Winnipeg.
From the time she was small, Diana was viewed as a little “tomboy,” the only one of the sisters. She got into a few scrapes because of her adventuresome spirit. One time she ran away to the circus and had to be rescued by big brother Harry. Another time she hid on someone’s running board because she wanted to venture out farther from home. Again, Harry came to her rescue, chasing down the car to bring his little sis back. She was pretty scraped up from that event.
The next time I see the family address documented is in 1940 when Diana was 18. In the voter’s record, the adult household members are living at 544 Spadina in Toronto. The gardener remembers the family still talking about the Spadina location when he was a kid, although they no longer lived there. I can’t be sure on Google Maps if the house is still there or torn down. See what you think.
In 1948, Diana immigrated to the United States. Her family was living at 34 Brunswick Avenue in Toronto.
In the 1949 voter’s record, 34 Brunswick is verified. This address is still in the electoral district of Spadina.
According to Google, the house still stands. See the red flag? That house has 3 sections. They lived in the middle section.
Does it really still stand? I don’t know. We traveled to Toronto this summer, and at the rate that old buildings are being torn down to build new ones, I wouldn’t be too sure.
In the 1957 voter’s record, the family still lived at 34 Brunswick Avenue, but Diana had been in the U.S. for a decade.
When exactly did she leave her home for New York City? Although the immigration form above shows 1948, she was most likely living in NYC as a student for at least a year before that–maybe two years. She traveled back and forth by train. The gardener says that she told him once she was turned back to Canada and not allowed into the states.
But eventually she did stay here for good. And in 1954, she married Murray Scheshko.
Here is a portrait of Diana taken just before her marriage.