Oakville Local History

Solving the Mystery of Lady Diana Taylour – In the beginning

It started off as a simple search to find some information on Lady Diana’s military history but it turned into a ten year search for the truth behind the myth of Lady Diana Taylour.

In 1999 I was asked by a friend to find out more information about a grave stone found in the Old Oakville/St. Mary’s cemetery. He felt that because of the inscription on the grave stone that she deserved a flag on Remembrance Day and the town would not do this without proof of her military service. The local paper only provided a basic death notice with no information on her military career. I said I would see what I could find and so started a journey that would take ten years to solve and provided twists and turns that were both frustrating and exhilarating.

A trip to the Toronto Reference Library provided the information needed to put a flag on her grave but it also raised more questions that needed answers.

A reference was found for Lady Diana Taylour in the Biographies of Canadian Women Index at the Toronto Reference Library. This is an index that can have a lot or a little information. In this case it was a reference to an obituary in the Toronto Telegram newspaper.[1] A search of the Biographies of Canadian Women microfilm provided a copy of this obituary.

The obituary stated a connection to the Marquess of Headfort’s family so a search was done in “Burke’s Peerage and Gentry” and “Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage.” She was not mentioned. A relation of the Marquess did live in British Columbia but research provided no link between the family and Diana Taylour.

In Ontario when applying for a death certificate you can only get a short form death certificate unless you are related to the deceased. The short form provides: name, date of death, place of death, age and gender. The name on the certificate was slightly different it was Katherine Diana May Taylour. [2]

Land records for her property in Oakville were searched. Diana bought the property in December 1936[3] with a friend Jean Riddell. Diana was listed as a nurse and Jean a dietitian. They went through foreclosure in 1954 but continued to live there until 1957 when a move was planned to Grimsby. Diana died just before they were to move. Jean went through with the move to Grimsby.

Since no place of birth was known the birth indexes were searched for Ontario, England, Ireland and Scotland from 1891-1901. There were no Diana Taylour’s and too many Katherine, Kate and May Taylor’s to distinguish which could be the right one.

The Oakville Historical Society was approached for information on Diana. Someone had donated a more extensive obituary that was found in the Hamilton Spectator newspaper.

The obituary provided new information. Early in 1914 Diana was in Paris at finishing school. She was engaged to a young man who was killed in the first few months of the war. She outfitted and ran a private ambulance herself. When the possibility of eviction from the house on Dundas Street was very real she stated “I will never leave this house.”

I was able to speak to a few people in the community who knew her. They said she walked at the head of the Remembrance Day parade with a chest full of medals. Ran a home for invalid men and if they could not pay she did not care. Diana provided nursing care to people in the community. She drank like a fish and swore like a banshee. She had dogs and a myna bird and was a good conversationalist.

Mary Ingham is a researcher who specializes in women, nurses, First World War and suffragettes. She found a war medal index card in the women’s index[4] and sent me a digital copy. The card showed Diana applied for a General Service Medal on 30 June 1919. The address provided was on Kirkstall Road in Streatham. The other research proved inconclusive.

The Men’s War Medal Index[5] cards were online so a search was done under Taylour to see if anything could be found on her brothers. Imagine my surprise when a card for Diana showed up! She had not only been in the women’s index but the men’s as well. The card on the men’s index gave me a more detailed look at her war efforts. K.D.N Taylour applied for the British War Medal on 30 June 1919. Theatre of war was home. The Corps listed were Canterbury Private Amb[ulance] Work and Canadian Forestry. The address was Kirkstall Road in Streatham. Since the cards make no reference to her receiving her medals I was told that she probably had not received them.

To be continued…

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

[1] Lady Diana Taylour, obituary, 23 October 1957, Toronto Telegram newspaper, Biographies of Canadian Women, Toronto Reference Library, microfilm T686.3

[2] Katherine Diana May Taylour, Ontario death registration, 22 October 1957, registration #1957-05-039176, registration year 1957, Ontario Registrar General

[3] Ontario Land Records, Halton County, Trafalgar Township, Town of Oakville,  Part of Park Lot N, 24 Dec 1936,Instrument #11974, Halton Land Registry Office, Milton, Ontario

[4] Katherine Diana M. Taylour, WW1 Women’s Service Medal Roll Index, The National Archives of England, WO372

[5] WW1 Campaign Medals, The National Archives of England, Documents Online, digital image (http://tinyurl.com/aessz)  viewed 2005

Richard Shaw Wood: His Journey from Bermuda to Ontario Canada

I have a great interest in the local history of Oakville. Sometimes I am researching one thing and come across a person or event that intrigues me and I keep researching until know more. Richard Shaw Wood was one of those intriguing stories.

There is a house in Oakville called Kerosene Castle that Richard Shaw Wood was supposed to have built but he was not found on the land records or on the census records with those who would have been his neighbours.

The Wood family arrived in Bermuda around 1628. They were seafarers and traders. Captain Thomas Wood purchased “Bosco Manor” at Spanish Point in Bermuda. The family prospered and owned land from Newfoundland to South America.[1]

Thomas’ great grandsons, Richard, Joseph and Stowe, formed the “Patriotic Company” circa 1800 and had offices in Quebec City, Montreal, St. John’s, Philadelphia, Grenada, the Turks Island, Trinidad and Guiana.[2]

Richard Shaw Wood was born on 27 December 1827[3] in Bermuda.  His parents were Benjamin Burch Wood and Frances Nusum Shaw who were married on 10 June 1819 in Southampton Parish, Bermuda.[4]

As a young man Richard Shaw Wood travelled many times between Bermuda and New York on his way to the United States, Canada and Great Britain.[5] He his found in New York’s Fifth Ward on the census that was taken on 23 September 1850. Richard was 24, born in the West Indies and listed as an engineer.

Richard Shaw Wood married Sarah Isabella Shaw some time prior to 1857. Their first child Frances was born circa 1857. Then Sarah was born circa 1860 and Elizabeth was born circa 1861. All the daughters were born in Bermuda. Frances seems to have died in New York around 1858.[6] The rest of their children were all born in Ontario. Benjamin was born circa 1863, Mary McCulloch was born circa 1865, Robert O.S. was born circa 1867and Anna Burch was born circa 1870.[7] They had a son called Thomas Burch Wood who was born circa 1874 and died 9 December 1874.[8]

The first time Richard is found in Ontario is in the 1862-63 city directory for Toronto where he is noted as living at 241 Carlton Street.[9] The first time he is found in records relating to Oakville is in 1863 on land records but he is noted as being from Toronto.[10] The first time he is listed as living in Oakville is on land records in 1868.[11] Richard Shaw Wood and his wife Isabella were found on many land records in Oakville.

Richard Shaw Wood built an oil refinery in Oakville along the Sixteen Mile Creek and Dundas Street North which is now known as Trafalgar Road. The refinery blew up in July of 1866. It was known as the Great Fire of Oakville.  It was reported in the Hamilton Spectator as an amazing sight because the creek was on fire.[12]

In the 1871[13] Canada census the family are living in Oakville. The head of the household is listed as Nusum F. Wood aged 71, born in Bermuda and he is a gentleman. The enumerator crossed out F and put M under gender and crossed out independent and added gentleman under occupation. The person is a widow. This is actually Frances Nusum Wood Richard’s mother.

Richard Shaw is listed as a merchant and manufacturer. In the house are his wife Isabella and their children: Sarah Shaw, Elizabeth, Benjamin S., Mary McCulloch, Robert O.S. and Anna B.

Also in the household is Charles E Wood aged 20 and born in Jamaica West Indies. His occupation is general manager. Charles Edward Wood is Richard’s cousin.

Richard Shaw Wood and family are found in London, Middlesex County, Ontario in the 1881[14] Canada census. In the household is Sarah Hooker Shaw, aged 81 and born in the United States. Sarah is Isabella’s mother. Richard moved to London and built a large family home called Woodholme.[15]

Mrs. Frances N. Wood died on 7 December 1888 in Philadelphia. Her obituary was in the Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda. She was the daughter of Thomas Shaw and Frances Russell Wood and the widow of Benjamin Burch Wood all of whom were from Bermuda. She was born in Bermuda on 14 June 1800 at the home of her grandparents Joseph and Rebecca Wood. The home was called “Boss Cove”.[16]

In the 1891[17] Canada census Richard and his family are in London Ontario. Sarah S. Ogden, their married daughter, Elizabeth S., Robert O.S. and Anna B are all living at home.  Richard lost his wife Isabella on 14 November 1897.[18]

Richard Shaw Wood died on 10 March 1903[19] in London. He was 76 years and 4 months old. His will lists properties in London and Oakville Ontario, Bermuda, New York and Newfoundland.[20]

Richard Shaw Wood was in Oakville for less than ten years but his legacy lives on. His legacy reaches from Canada, the United States and Bermuda. It was rumoured that he would wear a warm beaver hat during the summer in Oakville as he found the temperatures cold.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved


[1]A History of the Wood Family” by Fairwood Island Forest Management Plan, digital image viewed June 2011 (www.fairwood.ca/000-FairwoodPlanImages/001-03-BriefHistory.pdf), page 2

[2]A History of the Wood Family” by Fairwood Island Forest Management Plan, digital image viewed June 2011 (www.fairwood.ca/000-FairwoodPlanImages/001-03-BriefHistory.pdf), page 2

[3] RS Wood household, 1901 census, Canada, Ontario, Middlesex County, London Township, page 8, family number 86, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[4] Benjamin Burch Wood marriage notice, 12 June 1819, Royal Bermuda Gazette Hamilton & St. George Weekly Advertiser, digital image Bermuda National Library Digital Collection (http://cdm15212.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm4/search.php   ) viewed June 2011

[5] Arrivals New York United States Passenger Lists, digital images (www.ancestry.com) viewed June 2011

[6] Frances Hook Wood died Coldspring New York on 25 August 1858, digital information (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bmuwgw/woodsurname2.html) viewed June 2011

[7] RS Wood, 1871 census, Canada, Ontario, Halton, Oakville, page 21, family 79, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[8] Thomas Burch Wood, Ontario death registration, 9 Dec 1874, registration number 001836, registration year 1875, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[9] 1862-3 Toronto City Directory, page 133, Toronto Reference Library

[10] Ontario Land Records, Halton, Town of Oakville, Northerly half Lot 13 Con 3,  Instrument 937, Volume A, 1-1000, Archives of Ontario, microfilm GSU 179044

[11] Ontario Land Records, Halton, Town of Oakville, N1/2 Lot F NE1/2 Lot C, Block 33, Instrument 164, Volume A, 1—1000, Archives of Ontario, microfilm GSU 179044

[12] Mathews, Hazel C., “Oakville and the Sixteen A History of an Ontario Port” page 350 University of Toronto Press 1994; Oakville Public Library

[13] Richard Shaw Wood, 1871 census, Canada, Ontario, Halton, Oakville, page 21, line 7, family 79, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[14]Richard Shaw Wood, 1881 census, Canada, Ontario, Middlesex, London, page 29/30, line 21/1, family 147, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[15] Cunningham, Dianne E., “Orchard Park Through the Ages”, London Board of Education 1983,  page 90-92, Toronto Reference Library, call number 971.326 O67

[16] Mrs. Frances N. Wood, obituary, Royal Gazette Bermuda Commercial Advertiser and Recorder newspaper, Bermuda, 19 Feb 1889, page 2, digital image (http://cdm15212.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm4/search.php) viewed June 2011, Bermuda National Library

[17] R Shaw Wood, 1891 census, Canada, Ontario, Middlesex, London Township, page 8/9, line 20/1, family 39, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[18] Sarah Isabella Shaw Wood, Ontario death registration, 14 Nov 1897, registration number 016457, registration year 1897, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[19] Richard Shaw Wood, Ontario death registration, 10 Mar 1903, registration number 017427, registration year 1903, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed June 2011

[20] Richard S Wood, Middlesex Probate Records, 1903, estate file 7619, Archives of Ontario, microfilm MS887 Reel 1296