Honoured by Fred Tayler
Edward Tayler was born on April 04, 1876 in Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Berkshire, England.
He married Katrine Waterworth on May 1, 1901. She was born on a ship in French Territorial waters in 1876. The couple lived in England until 1906 during which time three children were born: Katrine Dorothy Margaret in 1901, Irene Maude in 1904 and Charles Edward (Ted) in 1906. He was a male
nurse doing homecare and Katrine was a nurse in a psychiatric hospital.
In September 1906 the family emigrated to Canada with a view to try farming in Western Canada. The encroaching winter put a damper on that idea so they settled in Arnprior for a few months prior to locating in the east end of North Bay. Five more children were bon in North Bay; Cecil Albert in 1909, Isabel Gertrude in 1911, Kenneth Frank in 1913, Leslie Floyd in 1915 and Ronald Alfred in 1922.
Arriving with the family was Pop’s father, Thomas John Tayler who was born in England in 1843. Thomas John Tayler was no stranger to Canada as he served with the British Military posted to Canada during the Fenian raids (1866-1870). He met and married Jane Shannon in Ottawa in 1868 before returning to England. He died in 1927 in North Bay, Ontario at the age of 84.
“Pop” Tayler found employment as a boilermaker in the CPR Shops until a workplace accident injured
his back and he was forced to retire. He decided to open a grocery and confectionary shop in early 1920’s on the corner of Fisher Street and Fifth Avenue that was named “Tayler’s Booth”. The shop
quickly became the gathering place for the young crowd living east of the ONR/TNO railway tracks.
During the 1930’s Pop was one of the driving forces behind the establishment and maintenance of the
Fisher Street Playground that eventually boasted a softball field and playground in the summer and a rink in the winter for hockey, broomball and skating. There was also children’s playground equipment and a play area. At that time there was no Parks and Recreation department in the City so the park was truly
an east end community effort. The store and the park became the social centre of the neighbourhood and the young men became known as the “Fisher Street Gang”. There was no hoodlum connotation to the term “gang” at that time. The ambition of all young boys was to be allowed to stay up all night to water the rink for ice.
Pop Tayler became a familiar figure walking to and from the store using his cane and always accompanied by his German Shepherd dog, first Nero and then later, Crony. The dogs always slept on the floor of the store and provided constant protection. The store performed double duty as a change house for skates prior to construction of the ‘rink shack’.
In 1929, Pop constructed the “Tayler Block” on the corner of Fisher and Princess Streets. The Block was the home of Tayler’s Meats and Grocery for many decades with living quarters above. The business operated by his eldest son Ted provided credit and delivery services. During the Depression Years, Pop maintained the Booth, serving ice cream, soft drinks and candy as well as tobacco products.
When World War II broke out, the Fisher Street Gang marched as a unit to the CPR Station to enlist in
the Algonquin Regiment. They wanted to get in quickly before conscription. A picture was taken at that time of twenty-eight family members volunteering although the exact number of the gang who enlisted was closer to fifty. During the war, Pop corresponded and sent parcels to numerous members of the gang. The wall of the Booth became a clearing house of information of their exploits. Of course, prime interest to Pop was three of his own boys: Cecil, Kenneth and then Ronald who was underage.
The City byProclamation named the park “Tayler Park” in the 1940’s but by the early 1970’s the park was no longer used for recreational purposes. In 2010 the City commissioned a plaque honouring the Fisher Street Gang – it reads “Thanks to the Fisher Street Boys who in the 1930’s developed this small park for all to enjoy”. Today it is still a park, a resting place along the Kate Pace Way.
Pop Tayler passed away in 1957 at the age of 81. His beloved Katy died in 1964 at the age of 88.