There is a statue in downtown Edmonton, Alberta of a railway worker lounging on a bench. Beside him is a lunch pail and open thermos. Each time I glimpse it, a memory startles me; it’s my Granddad Dunn! It must be the overalls and cap that remind me of him. It’s not him, of course. It’s a statue, sculpted and forged by American artist, Seward Johnson, called “Lunchbreak”.
David Walter Dunn was born the 18 June 1906 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was the third child of John Dunn and Christina Clayton. His older sister, Jessie was born in 1902 and Clayton was born in 1904 both in Hamilton, Ontario.
In the fall of 1907, when Granddad was just a year old, his parents moved to a remote area of British Columbia near Procter, a small village on Kootenay Lake. The BC Archives has a picture of Procter in 1911. The family lived in the area less than year when his father, John Edward Dunn, drowned. Christina, with 3 children under the age of 6, moved back home to Hamilton.
After their dad’s death it was decided that Walter and his older brother Clayton would live in Hamilton with their mother, Grandmother Clayton, Aunt Jane and Uncle Edward Cutriss while Jessie was sent to Hudson Township, just north of New Liskeard, Ontario to live with the Dunn side of the family.
His mother, Christina, remarried 10 years after the death of her husband to a widower, James Richardson. The 1921 census has Walter and Clay living with their mother and step-father in Hudson Township, Ontario. Jessie is a teacher, lodging with a family, in the same township.
Granddad Dunn’s obituary says he started working for the railway in 1924. He would have been 18 years old. He started in Porcupine (now part of Timmins), Ontario. He was promoted to foreman in 1940. Voter’s lists, 1945 in Cochrane, 1957 in Timmins, and 1962 in Cannaught all list his occupation as section foreman.
“Baldy and his Buick” is written on first picture. Granddad looks quite dapper. The second picture could be of Granddad at work. It looks like he is the second from the right.
After his retirement from the railway in 1966, he and Grandma moved to Yellowknife, North West Territories where he worked in one of the mines. In 1972 they were back in Cochrane. They then moved to Moosonee, Ontario, a community on James Bay, where Grandma Dunn worked as a teacher.
I don’t have many memories of my grandfather. When they lived in Northern Ontario we visited my grandparents once a year at the most. One summer they were living in Cobourg, Ontario. I must have been older because I remember him teaching my brother how to make a rose out of a deck of cards.
Walter ended up in the nursing home in Cochrane where he died in November 1987.
Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935–1980. R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B). Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
1911 Canada Census; Emily Clayton Household; Hamilton, Ontario; District 78 West Hamilton; Subdistrict 14, Ward 4; page 13; Microfilm T20376; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.
1911 Canada Census; David Dunn Household; Hudson and Lundy, Ontario; District 99; Subdistrict 65; page 5; Microfilm T-20386; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.
1921 Canada Census; James Richardson Household; Hudson, Temiskaming, Ontario; District 129; Subdistrict 24; Ancestry,com [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Original data: Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada.
1921 Canada Census; Andrew Young Household; Dymond Township; Temiskaming, Ontario; District 129; Subdistrict 25; Ancestry,com [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Original data: Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada: Library and Archives Canada.
Family Tree of D. Roger Timms; Temiskaming Speaker Newspaper; May 8, 1908, page 1; http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gibsondunn/news/dunnmisc.html; accessed 1 October 2013; article on death of John Edward Dunn
Obituary; David Walter Dunn; Joan Miller Collection; probably from the Cochrane newspaper shortly after November 8, 1987