In Search of Willie Beaton

Beaton Family
Beaton Family (Willie; small boy)

Today I  continue with what I call the “Beaton/Batten” Mystery. So as I told you; when I was in Victoria, British Columbia I had a chance to go to several of the local archives. On Friday before going to the B.C. Archives I made my way a few kilometres from our motel and found the  (CFB) Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum and Archives. The Archives is small and is run by Joseph, who was very helpful.

So as a back story; William (Willie) Beaton had a son; William Theodore Beaton Jr. who also had a son; Leonard K. Beaton.  William Beaton Jr. got divorced from his Leonard’s mom; Eleanor. Eleanor and Leonard, I was told,  left Alberta and went to British Columbia; Victoria to be exact. I was told that Leonard was a Dr. for the Navy.

Joseph quickly looked up Leonard’s name and wasn’t able to find him. So now we knew that Leonard wasn’t a Dr. Often family stories are just that…. stories. But I usually find that always have a grain of truth. I was sure Leonard was in the Navy, but Joseph said that if he didn’t have a rank then he wouldn’t be in the records. I’d been able to find Leonard in the Electoral Roll in 1962 living with his mom. I was trying to figure out if he ever got married and had any children.  Finally Joseph said he had a book that I should check. It was called; Operation Sick Bay and it was written by Lieut. Commander S.T. Richards. Sure enough; Leonard was in there.. So he was in the Navy, but he wasn’t a Dr. he was a Medical Assistant. Joseph showed me the building where he would have worked.

Joseph suggested that my next stop should be the Esquimalt Archives.  Located a short taxi ride away it was situated just below the MacDonald’s.  The curator; Greg was very helpful as well. I told him that the last known address for Leonard and his mom; Eleanor was 883 Admirals. He was able to provide me with some details on the house they lived in.

He suggested that my next stop should be the Victoria Genealogical Society.  So off I went in my Yellow Taxi. After paying my $5.00 to use the library I started looking at the Victoria City Directories.. They didn’t have a complete set but I was able to figure out that Leonard’s middle initial stood for Kenneth. (funny I’d dreamed that the night before).

Then it was off to the B.C. Archives across from the beautiful Empress Hotel.  Besides being able to listen to my uncle’s audio recording that I spoke about before.. I was able to look at all of the Victoria City Directories as the B. C. Archives had a complete set.  In 1968 I found out that Leonard had married Ann. That was all I found.. in just one of the directories .. but it ended up being such powerful information.

Armed with the new information I made a list of all the Ann Beaton’s and Leonard or L. Beaton’s on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver. On Saturday in the late afternoon; I made my first cold call to Ann Beaton. It went like this;

Hi my name is Ellen and I’m looking for Ann Beaton who was married to Leonard Beaton. Are you she?  I could no believe my luck when she said she was. I then said; is Leonard Beaton still alive and she replied; “Shouldn’t he be”…  I was dumb struck… I was so tongue-tied I didn’t know what to say. After I told her what I was trying to do she explained that Leonard had some memory issues and I explained that I understood. I asked a few more questions and then decided that I would call back the next day with a list and I hoped a bit of composure.

I ended up calling on the Monday evening when we were in Valemount, British Colombia on the way home. Armed with my list I asked the questions that I’d thought of.. Now was the time for the big explanation and the big question.

Leonard is the last of the Beaton line and I wondered if he would do a DNA kit for me. I had broached the subject during the last conversation and it didn’t seem hopeful. So I went on to say again that he was the last of the line and that I was trying to solve the mystery of his grandfather’s parents and who they really were. I told her that I would pay for the kit and all the postage and paperwork that would be required. I explained that it was only for genealogical purposes and the information would be for my use.  Lets be honest…. I begged.. and then I waited for the answer. The answer was no.

We spoke a bit more and I asked for her address; which she gave to me and I gave her my information and told her that her two daughters were welcome to call me and I would provide any information that they’d like.

I have to tell you that I sobbed that evening. It seemed silly that someone who I didn’t even think was alive a few days before had suddenly become so important. But there I was sobbing in the hotel swimming pool.

Later in the evening I got myself a glass of wine and thought of how I would try to win the family over and get Leonard to do a DNA kit.  After all he’d been estranged from the family for 65 years so why should he care about these people? So I have to talk to Ann and her family and tell them stories and show them photos.. and maybe just maybe …

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