Dr. Gillian Leitch has helped organize a family reunion in Victoria this week for the descendants of Canadian immigrants Frederick and Mary Pauline, who purchased and lived in the Tod House starting in the 1890s. On Saturday about 64 of the descendants will recreate a photo in front of the Tod House from (circa) 1891 that features Frederick, Mary and all 13 of their Oak Bay-raised children. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Family to recreate Tod House photo 129 years later

Reunion features 64 descendants of 1890s Oak Bay home

A family reunion this week brings 64 descendants of early Oak Bay residents Frederick and Mary Paulin to Victoria.

The highlight of the reunion, undoubtedly, will be Saturday when all 64 will recreate a photo of Frederick, Mary, and their 13 children on the porch of the Tod House in the early 1890s.

“The Tod House is symbolic because [our ancestors] lived there,” said Gillian Leitch, one of the Paulin descendants who organized the reunion. “I floated the idea of getting everyone on the lawn of the Tod House, and someone said that’s a good idea you should organize that.”

Many of the 64 Paulin descendants are coming from England, a couple from California, a couple from Arizona, and a lot of Canadians, Leitch said.

READ MORE: An unauthorized Oak Bay history

One of the big mysteries Leitch hopes to solve is the family’s curious case of the E on the end of Paulin(e), which was added once the family moved here from London.

It was actually Frederick and Mary’s eldest sons Frederick Arthur (1861) and George (1863) who left London for Victoria in 1884. They were followed two years later by brothers Ernest Alfred (1864) and Herbert William (1866) and Ernest’s wife Emma. In 1888, the rest of the family (aside from the eldest daughter Louisa, 1860) moved to Victoria, Bessie (1868), Amy (1869), Florence (1871), Violet (1873), Sarah (or Sadie, 1874), Marion (or Polly, 1875), John Albert (1877) and Nellie (1879).

Somewhere in that move to Canada the family changed from Paulin to Pauline. Frederick Arthur is the only one who kept the E on the end of Pauline as most of his siblings and their descendants reverted back to Paulin.

“The E is a pain in the [butt] when researching and I don’t know why they added it in the first place, since then a lot of the family dropped it,” Leitch said.

The house was almost 40 years old when Frederick and Mary (Cutler) Paulin(e) bought it around 1888 or 1889.

Eleven of the 13 Paulin(e) children went on to have families of their own. One of the 13 was Ernest Pauline, whose great granddaughter is Gillian Leitch. A professional historian, Leitch took on the family genealogy role (in 2007 she finished her doctoral thesis on the way English and Irish immigrants and descendants identified social in British Montreal from 1800-1850. Leitch identified and contacted hundreds of descendants from Frederick and Mary, which has spawned four generations, and she convinced 64 to make the pilgrimage to Victoria.

When the Tod house was built, there were very few houses in the Victoria area. The Tod House remains the longest running house (built by colonial settlers) in B.C. at 169 years.

Even when the family moved in, around 1889, it was still 17 years before the District of Oak Bay incorporated (1906).

Times were obviously a lot different. Leitch recalls that Sarah’s son, who grew up in Oak Bay, made the long walk downtown for the mail on most days.

READ MORE: Five significant pieces of Oak Bay history that went up in smoke

The Tod House also served to host the weddings of Bessy, Florence, Sadie, Amy and Violet.

To track all the descendants Leitch created a website and put it out on social media. She also began blogging about it. Some of her relatives even found her, though mostly she found them.

“When I contact people they are pleased,” Leitch said. “They don’t all want to engage into the family history, but they are happy to be included.”

Two of the more famous members of the family are Frederick Arthur, the eldest son, and Jack Short, who was from the next generation. Arthur was elected to the legislature in 1916 as a Liberal member for Saanich and later became Speaker of the House. In 1925 he was sent to London, England to represent as the B.C. Agent-General. To this day there is a B.C. House in London used to promote B.C.’s economic interests.

Short got into horse racing as a jockey on the Willows Fairgrounds. In the 1920s he began calling the races and he became the premier race caller in B.C., and is in the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He broadcast his final horse race in 1982.

– With files from Dr. Gillian Leitch

(- Story originally posted July 17, updated to correct a typo on July 31.)

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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