By Michael Walmsley
Lorne Street runs S-N from Florence Street to Caroline Street
When Allan and Mary Shay named their newborn son John Philip Lorne Shay, he became one of those people who ended up not being known by his first name. From the time he came into the world on February 11, 1879, he was called Lorne.
The second son born to Allan and Mary, Lorne received his formal education in Huntsville and was one of the many Shay children who grew up in a community containing streets marked with their names.
By 1901, Lorne was working as a stone mason and was renting a room in Huntsville on one of his sisters’ “streets” at 278 Cora Street, which was probably part of Huntsville’s Davisville tenement development.
Three years later, in 1904, Lorne had migrated south to Boyne, Michigan where he married Claudia McClain on March 30, 1904. Things seemed to go smoothly for Lorne up until 1917, at which time he and Claudia divorced just before Lorne joined WWI as a member of the United States Army.
Following his tour of duty as a Canadian wearing the Stars and Stripes, Lorne married Martina Jessup and resided in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Lorne was a mill worker at McPherson Tin Plate Company. Lorne and Martina had two sons, Wilson and Lorne, and the Roaring Twenties were, no doubt, exciting times for the young family, but tragedy was in the offing.
In November of 1927, Martina succumbed to tuberculosis. By 1935, Lorne was listed as an unemployed mechanic who was dealing with a serious illness. On December 21, 1935, meningitis took his life. Yet one more tragedy occurred on October 28, 1936 when young Lorne was found lifeless in a garage, the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning in what was ruled a suicide. Quite possibly, the “Dirty Thirties” had proven insurmountable.
The life of Lorne Shay was not typical to the lives attached to so many other Huntsville street signs. He did not rise to local prominence as a politician. He did not operate a business that had profound influence on his community’s existence. He did not build any heritage-worthy structure within Huntsville’s limits. Indeed, Lorne Street exists because of a parent’s wish to honour his child during the time of life when all seems possible and full of promise.
Perhaps we would all do well when moving along Lorne Street to remember the young lad who, most likely, looked up at his street sign and felt a sense of pride. Enjoy the moment, because one never knows what lies around the corner.
See more Saturday Streetscapes here.
Michael Walmsley is a retired elementary school principal who resides in Huntsville. He enjoys looking at things with a bit of “outside-the-box” perspective and totally believes in living today with a hand on the past and an eye on the future. He has published articles in Kanawa and Adventure Kayak magazines and has recently published a book entitled The Joy of Kayaking – Including the Kayak Quiz.
During this past year, as president of the PROBUS Club of Muskoka North, he has written a weekly article to the club’s membership which has included a focus on Huntsville’s streets. These articles have been combined into book form which will be published in the summer of 2021.
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