BUCKLEY, MENZIE & MCMURRAY FAMILIES
Morton Major and Elizabeth Ann Buckley
By Derek McDermott
On a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon I drive to
Fairview in the growing darkness with a
ladder sticking out of the trunk of my car. It is
Epiphany, the day I take down the four
Christmas wreaths that I put up on
Remembrance Day each year. The day is full
Three of the wreaths are on monuments in the old Section A and remember the Buckley, Menzie
and, McMurray ancestors of my wife Jane Waldon McMurray McDermott.
They arrived in what is now Niagara Falls in the mid-nineteenth century within a decade of each
other little knowing that within two generations they would be intermarried. The fourth is in
Section 2 on a Celtic Cross remembering the Mortimers and my wife’s parents’ friends Louis
May and Helen Mortimer May.
Elizabeth Ann with her daughters
Victoria, Amelia and Lizzie
It is quiet in the cemetery this afternoon except for the
occasional passing car on Stanley Avenue and, having
removed the other wreaths; I use the ladder to remove the
wreath from the imposing Buckley monument topped by an
equally imposing urn, the symbol of immortality. It is made of
granite transported from Quincy Massachusetts by wagon, as is
the vault in front of it. It was erected soon after Morton Major
Buckley had purchased the Buckley plots and is visible just
inside the first cemetery gates in very early photographs. His
will left money for the second gates, still standing, dedicated to
Morton Major and his wife Elizabeth. They are now closed
after at least one vehicle failed to stop at the Bridge Street
intersection with Stanley Avenue. It knocked the Buckley
monument from its base to the chagrin of the surviving
Buckleys who had to take up a collection to have it raised. In
the background, not far off, I can see the McMurray and Menzie monuments as close as the
families were in life. Like the Buckley monument the Menzie one had a useful family genealogy
inscribed on it when Grace Menzie McMurray had a new monument installed on the Menzie
Lot in 1945. The Buckley monument is pictured here at the time of Morton Major’s burial on
27November 27, 1907; his name not yet inscribed on it.
Morton Major Buckley (1830 – 1907)
MM. Buckley burial 27 Nov. 1907
The first Buckley bookstore
Much has been written about Morton Major
and the Buckley family as it was large and
active in business and politics in the
community in the second half of the 19 th
century. His interests in business had to do
with real estate and he laid out what was the
first subdivision in the city in what became
Buckley Avenue. He owned a block on Queen
Street when business gradually moved from
Erie Avenue that is still remembered by some
as the ‘Buckley Block’. He encouraged those
sons, not working in the hotel, in a number of
business enterprises, Morton Havelock’s
furniture store, Arthur’s photography studio,
Charles’ pool hall, and Wright’s bookstore
carrying on the Buckley tradition of book
sellers into the 20 th century. An early photo of the Buckley Bookstore, taken about 1900, when it
was still located on Bridge Street, shows Wright’s son Howard, later Dr. Buckley, between Will
Hamilton’s two daughters Audrey and Gladys. Audrey died at 20 in 1913 and Gladys was to
marry Eric Stuart who had been badly wounded in action at Vimy Ridge and carried on the
Hamilton Travel business on Zimmerman Avenue after Will’s retirement.
Morton Major had contacts with other businesses through his daughters. Lizzie was married to
Will Hamilton, and Amelia married into the Mears family and the coal business.
He was chairman of the cemetery committee in 1883, purchased the
land for it and involved in its interesting design with the surveyor John
Robinson. Morton was Mayor of the Town of Niagara Falls in 1888
when this large oil painting portrait of him that now hangs in the home
of his great granddaughter Jane Waldon McMurray McDermott was
He served on the School Board; he was a
frequent writer of editorials in local papers
on issues of the day with a strongly British
slant, and saved these in a large scrap book.
Morton erected and inscribed the monument
just months before his own death, in
November 1907, to mark the first burial in
Fairview cemetery of one Thomas
Whittaker on July 20, 1883. Morton gave the land for the Morrison
Street Methodist Church and gave gladly of his time and wealth to the
community that had been so good to him, his wife and his family over
the forty years or so that they had lived there.
The Buckley family came from the village of Radcliffe now swallowed up in the urban sprawl of
Manchester, Lancashire having moved north from London at some point during the Industrial
Revolution into a setting illustrated by Elizabeth Gaskell in her novel North and South.
Flyleaf 1730 MM. Buckley book
When Morton Major’s father, Phillip Buckley, died prematurely
in 1849 after his mill burned, he sailed to Philadelphia on his own
to live with his Morton grandparents. He met and married
Elizabeth Ann Wood there in 1852, the year his mother and
seven siblings followed on the ‘Wyoming’. There he and his
younger brother Mark Arthur began a bookselling business
carrying on a family tradition going back at least four generations
to Samuel Buckley’s printing and bookselling business at Amen
Corner in London in the early decades of the 18 th century made
famous by the publication of Addison and Steele’s Spectator. A
Buckley genealogy is recorded in Morton Major’s hand in 1891
in the Flyleaf of one of Sam Buckley’s publications entitled A
Pastoral Letter of the Bishop of London, Amen Corner, 1730.
The Whittaker Monument
The Woods were natives of Birmingham, married in London, immigrated to New York in 1827
and then moved to Toronto in 1831. Elizabeth Ann was born the next year on Colborne Street
near the present King Edward Hotel.
Philip and Sarah Morton Buckley c. 1845
Elizabeth’s father Charles was a well known taxidermist and written up at length in the
Philadelphia Newspapers at the time of his death from work related poisoning. Perhaps
concerned by the growing Political unrest in Upper Canada which led to the ‘Upper Canada
Rebellion’ of 1837 he took his family to Philadelphia in 1835. Oddly enough and probably
because of political unrest again, the American Civil War and ‘The Trent Affair’, Elizabeth Ann
returned to Canada with her husband in 1861 with their only surviving child George Eli on what
would have been a four week journey. They purchased a farm in Stamford Township across from
St. John’s Church on what is now the North West corner of St. Paul’s Avenue and O’Neil Street
and Morton Major opened a general store which catered to the Village of Stamford.
Morton’s brother, Mark Arthur Buckley, moved to Windsor, Nova Scotia where he published
the first Newspaper. He then moved to Halifax where he ran a stationery and bookstore for
several years before he decided to move to Santa Cruz, California for health reasons. Morton
Major kept a wonderful diary of his rail trip to visit him there which I have read but was lent to a
family member and on his death was sadly lost. On his return he wrote a number of critiques of
the USA comparing it somewhat unfavorably to ‘British’ Canada in the local papers. Another
brother Samuel Morton moved to Richmond, Indiana.
In 1865 seeing opportunities in the new Town of Clifton, brought about by the arrival of the
Great Western Railway in 1853, he sold his property to the Rose family and moved there. The
Rose’s operated greenhouses there for three generations and then sold the property to the
Morgan’s. He built the Albion Hotel strategically between the Great Western’s new Clifton
Railway Station and the Michigan Central Station at the corner of Queen Street, calling it ‘the
hotel in Clifton most convenient for the traveler’. Soon after he purchased a triangular lot at the
corner of River Road and Cataract Avenue and built a house on it which he named ‘Park Villa’.
The photo depicts a hitching post and a step for a coach captured at the edge of the road. He and
his wife are seated on either side of the door with their son Wright and unidentified daughters in
the wings. The child on the step may well be Charles’ daughter Ethel Rose who was raised by
her Buckley grandparents when her mother Rose Louise died at her birth. She was later to marry
Charles Vandersluys, follow him to the Great War and die in the great influenza outbreak of
1918. Charles then married Eva Dobbie on his return. Charles Buckley remarried Will
Hamilton’s sister, Mary, and the son from that marriage, Jerome Hamilton Buckley, went on
to be one of the great scholars at Harvard and Chairman of the English Department.
Front of Elizabeth’s two sided
brooch, with Morton verso
John Mears, of the Mears’ Coal Company behind the old Roseberg’s store was a grandson of
Morton Major’s and after renting out part of Park Villa sold it and the property. It was torn down
and two motels are now located there. He later built the low rise apartment building on Murray
Street and named it ‘Park Villa’ in memory of the lost Buckley home. Morton Major and
Elizabeth are remembered among other things by two stained glass windows now in St. Andrews
United Church on Morrison Street, Niagara Falls, and by the old Buckley gates dedicated to
them both at Fairview Cemetery.
A front view of the Buckley home Park Villa c.1885 with Mr. and Mrs. Buckley seated on either side of the porch
and their son Wright to the left of his mother. Two unidentified women stand on the left and right. The time period
is defined by the horse hitching post and coach step on the edge of what was to become River Road.
The Buckley Family Pre 1887 when William Pitt died, Charles back row left,
Arthur front row left and Wright Howarth front row right. Twins William Pitt
and Philip Morton, George Eli, and Morton Havelock make up the other sons
surrounding their father. Victoria, Amelia and Lizzie the daughters are seated
around their mother Elizabeth Ann.
Will Hamilton home and the Morton Havelock Buckley Home, side by side on Huron Avenue.
Morton Havelock was the owner of the well known furniture store specializing in fine furniture. His
home is now designated a heritage building in the Queen Ann style.
Wright Buckley and Family, Lillian centre left
The Wright Buckley Home, Welland Avenue
Arthur Buckley with his wife Jenny Townsend
and son Arthur Jr.
The Arthur Buckley Home
Philip Buckley and family Xmas 1901
Major Morton Buckley’s interest in Fairview Cemetery was both public and personal. As an
active citizen and businessman in the rapidly growing Town of Clifton in the 1860’s and 70’s,
he saw the need for a town cemetery apart from the cemeteries attached to local churches, such
Anglican churches as All Saints, St. Johns, Holy Trinity, and Drummond Hill and Stamford
Presbyterian where most citizens traditionally had been buried. Lundy’s Lane was a Methodist
Church cemetery until the Township of Stamford acquired it in 1934. His interest in this project
led to his appointment as Chairman of the Cemetery Committee in 1883 and the creation of
Fairview now 125 years ago.
Behind this public interest however were more personal ones. He wanted a burial place for
members of his large family where he could erect a monument appropriate for what he must have
seen as his status in the community. Erie Avenue in the Town of Clifton, after all had, for a time
been humorously labeled ‘Buckleyville’ as so many Buckley businesses were located there. So,
when the cemetery opened, he purchased a large lot just inside the old front gates. He had a
monument erected with a vault in front of appropriate size and had the family genealogy
inscribed on it. It looked directly down Bridge Street over open fields towards the growing Town
of Niagara Falls and ‘Park Villa’ his home on the river.
Ethel Rose and Charles Vandersluys
There was another reason even more personal known only to
a few, his desire to bring back the children Elizabeth and he
had lost and buried elsewhere, including Albert Edward
who died in 1859 far away in Philadelphia, and have them
buried with them in the family plot. John Herman died at
two in 1867 and Eli Philip in infancy in 1872, before
Fairview was opened. Ethel Rose, the grandchild they loved
most having raised her from childhood when her mother died, they could not get back. She died
in the great flu epidemic of 1918 in England waiting faithfully for her husband to come back
from the battlefields of the Great War. The epitaph on William Pitt’s grave written in 1887
speaks for all of these: “His sun set when it was yet day.”
Part Two – MENZIE & McMURRAY FAMILIES
William John (Will) and Grace McMurray
If the Buckleys were active and prominent in the community, the McMurrays and Menzies were
quiet and self-effacing. The McMurray and Menzie monuments significantly stand close together
and not far from the Buckley Monument in Section A of Fairview, and it was the union of these
two families that linked them to the Buckleys.
William, the first McMurray his descendents know of, arrived in the Town of Elgin earlier than
the Buckleys and somewhere about the same time as the Menzies and the Great Western
Railway. Family lore suggests he came from County Cavan in Ireland and worked as a
conductor. He met and married Eliza in September 1859 in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
Her last name is not recorded on the monument at Fairview as is too often the case with wives,
and the early records of St. Andrew’s in its transitional period to a United Church in 1925 fell
into disorder. One family member believes it was King. Other members
of his family settled in Detroit and Kenosha in the United States from the
records of old photo albums.
William and Eliza lived on
Bridge Street not far from
the new Clifton Railway
Station. They had four
children, three of whom
lived into adulthood.
Andrew and Louise Menzie
The son William John was best known in the town
and later city of Niagara Falls. He graduated from
the Belleville Business College and some time
after his return opened a Hardware store with Mr.
Cole. The store was located on Park Street and by chance behind Buckley’s Albion Hotel. In the
photo Mr. Cole is on the right and Mr. McMurray behind the stove. Mr. Carter’s delivery wagon
stands ready in the shade.
About this time he met the youngest child of Andrew and Louisa Menzie, Grace Greenwood
Menzie who had just graduated from the Wesleyan Ladies’ College in Hamilton. The occasion in
the studio photo below is uncertain but a young Grace
Greenwood Menzie is seated in front on the left and
William John McMurray beside her.
The Menzie’s came from Wampsville in the Oneida,
New York area to Stamford Township in 1850
purchasing a large tract of land and building a house
fronting on what is now Menzie Street
It is not clear why Andrew left New York State. Perhaps the death of his first wife Juliett Warren
in 1844 had something to do with it. He had remarried
Louise Ratnour and they arrived with three children, Myron,
the son of his first wife, Eugene and Rosco. They had six
other children over the years, the youngest Grace and
touchingly he named his first daughter Juliett (Etta) after his
first wife. Myron returned to New York State to enlist on
the Federal side at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860
and survived to be buried in Fairview at the young age of
forty four in 1886, perhaps from the toll of the war.
Five of the nine children married but only Grace and Etta are recorded as having children. Etta
married Dr.Emmett Pyle but their only child Jennie Louise, died at thirteen in 1890.
Records on the Menzies are scarce. The burial book at Fairview under ‘Occupation’ defines
Andrew as ‘Gentleman’ which suggests he was a man of means and may have been a speculator
of real estate in his purchase of land in Stamford. He seems to have earned money by selling off
lots as The Town of Clifton and then the Town of Niagara Falls expanded to the west along
Bridge Street until the original large property shrunk to its present size. His daughter Grace still
held mortgages into the late 1940’s which may well have been on parts of that property.
The Menzie House Menzie Street
Dr. Emmett Pyle (1846-1918) and Juliett (Etta) Menzie Pyle (1853-1918)
The McMurray River Road House
William McMurray married Grace Menzie in
1893 in St. Andrews Church. As a wedding.
present he had the house on River Road built for
her captured here in a promotion photo for the
Electric Railway that made the circle form
Niagara Falls to Lewiston, Queenston and back to
the Table Rock.
It was here that her three sons, Norman Andrew,
William John (Jack), and Eugene Menzie were
born and later her granddaughter Jane Waldon
At some point after 1905 William John left the Cole McMurray business and was appointed
Treasurer of the newly incorporated City of Niagara Falls and served in that position with his
loyal assistant Miss Hopkins until his death in 1925. His interests were simple: the finances of
Boys from the Chinese community after Bible Class at St.
The three wee laddies l-r
Menzie Jack and Norman
the growing city and St. Andrews Church where he and his Grace sang in
the choir and afternoon Sunday School classes he initiated for the children
in the Chinese community. He used a Cantonese-English Bible which lay
in the attic of the River Road house for years after his death and then
somehow disappeared. The purpose of these classes was to teach the
children the Bible but also English and he was very proud of the children
and their progress. Their parents were very grateful for his work and
against his wishes insisted on giving him gifts like the Chinese brass
folding table now owned by his granddaughter Jane.
If Grace was a driving force in the Menzie family managing her father’s
property after his death she was also a driving force in her own family
particularly directing the lives of her three sons whom she was very proud
of her three wee Laddies as she called them -shown in this photo taken in
front of the River Road house about 1914. From left to right they are Eugene Menzie, William
John (Jack), and Norman Andrew. Norman was encouraged to enter the ministry but first he
joined the Canadian Army and was stationed in Brighton from 1917 until the war ended and did
not see action. He graduated from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1921
and was a youth minister at the Dutch Reformed Church there for two years before moving to St.
Andrews Church in Ville St. Laurent, Quebec. He had married Grace Smeaton from Niagara
Falls and his mother’s pleasure from all of this was suddenly upset by her husband’s death and
then when she learned almost at the same time that Norman had voted for Union in 1925 and was
returning in 1929 to Niagara Falls to minister to the Kitchener Street Methodist Church, later
Kitchener Street United Church where he had married Grace Smeaton. His mother left St.
Andrews and moved to Drummond Hill which rejected Union, and spoke of herself as a
Jack was more circumspect. He took his mother’s advice and studied
Medicine. He was married to an English girl Margaret (Babs) Redwood
in 1928 by his brother far away in his brother’s United Church in
Montreal and then moved to Bronxville, NY to set up a medical
It was the youngest son Eugene Menzie named for one of her favorite
brothers that gave her the biggest problems. He was his mother’s son
she soon discovered. He graduated from Niagara Falls Collegiate
Institute not eighteen yet and agreed reluctantly to go into medicine.
He is one of the 15 shown in graduating class photo in the spring of
Menzie finished Pre-Med at the University of Toronto and moved on to
McGill and then in his last year gathered the courage to tell his mother
he hated medicine, had never liked it and was coming home. He was
the only one now left as Norman had moved on to Danforth Street
Marion, Babs and Jack c.1931
United in Toronto and then back to Montreal and Jack was in Bronxville. Menzie wanted to
stay in Niagara Falls and start an insurance business.
He had another reason for wanting to come home. He had met Lillian Buckley first in Simcoe
Street School when they were children and she was living on Welland Avenue, now Chrysler
Avenue. When he moved on to high school before her being very clever he had the maid at the
River Road house who was in her class act as a go-between to carry love letters between them.
They were in high school together briefly and then her mother died in 1919 and her father
Wright Buckley sent her to Branksome Hall girls’ school in Toronto and they did not see much
of each other though they wrote. By the time she had graduated and come home he had left for
the University of Toronto. They continued to write each other and see each other on weekends
from time to time and then his father died and he came home and they could spend time together.
Lillian Buckley and Menzie McMurray
Her father loved camping, hunting and fishing as did almost all of the Buckleys. He had lost the
two outside fingers on his right hand when a shogun discharged as he climbed a fence and she
had never noticed it until after her mother’s death and he asked her on a Saturday evening to cut
the two fingers off a new pair of grey church gloves. He was embarrassed when she asked why
NFCI Graduating class 1921, Menzie fifth from the right
Menzie, Jane and Molly 1940
and fell into silence. He was not at all sure that this clever young McMurray from a rather staid
Presbyterian family was right for her. When Menzie opened E.M McMurray Insurance on Main
Street and Lillian persisted, her father gave in and they were married in 1927 in what was then
the Morrison Street United Church, the church Morton Major had given land for when the
Morrison Street Methodist Church was being planned. Their wedding reception at the old Clifton
Hotel before it burned down was one of the social events of the season.
Menzie and Lillian bought a house at the corner of Mouland Avenue and Lundy’s lane and their
first child Mary Louise (Molly) was born there in 1929 just before the great Depression
deepened and they like so many others had to give it up and go to live with parents. They went to
live in the River Road house with Grace. Buckleys, Menzies and McMurrays were living under
Menzie, Lillian, Jane and Molly, River Road house garden c. 1955
Grace Menzie McMurray now in her seventies, Eugene Menzie her youngest McMurray son, her
Buckley daughter-in-law Lillian and their two children, Mary Louise (Molly) and Jane Waldon
managed to compromise though Grace was as independent as always. She refused day help when
she broke her hip and the girls got along without a dog. She had been presented with a life
membership to the Woman’s Missionary Society by the Hamilton Presbytery. She enjoyed visits
for her cousin Maud Parkhurst, ‘aunt Maud, to the family, a Menzie still living in Wampsville in
the Onieda area, and continued to invite church friends such as the Reverend Barber’s widow to
Sunday dinner until her death in October 1952, a
month after her oldest granddaughter Mary
Louise’s wedding. It was a mild fall that year and
in her last days holding a late summer rose in her
hand she sat in the front sun room of the old house
which her husband had built for her all those years
ago when she was hardly older than a girl. She
spoke of those Sundays when she and Will
walked from their house over cow paths out to the
Menzie house still in the country then to visit her
mother after whom her newly married
granddaughter was named. That she had had Will
buried with the Menzies revealed much about her
and she was buried with him there beside the
Menzie monument she had proudly designed.
Norman, Menzie, Etta and Will McMurray
Norman, Menzie, Etta and Will
When her oldest son Norman died years later in
Etobicoke where he was serving as Associate
Pastor of Humber Valley United Church an
elderly Chinese gentleman appeared at the service. He was a doctor from Montreal and had seen
the Obituary of the Reverend McMurray in the Globe and Mail and felt obligated to attend and
pay his respects as Norman’s father William John had taught his father English at St. Andrews
Church Sunday School in Niagara Falls. Norman’s youngest son Ian earlier had met Ed Chung
another son of one of the Sunday School students and they had become close friends over the
years. Norman, his wife Grace Smeaton, and oldest son Norman Jr. are buried in Fairview,
Section 2. Ian lives with his family in California.
In Memory of my father-in-law Menzie McMurray With thanks to Gerry Sweezey, staff Fairview Cemetery Office,
my sister-in-law Gail Woodruff, Audrea Frizell, granddaughter of George Eli Buckley, Eric Stuart who bequeathed
the Hamilton photo albums to me, and most of all to my mother-in-law Lillian Buckley McMurray who saved the
McMurray and Buckley photo albums and bequeathed them to Jane and I with other Buckley artifacts.
Derek McDermott, husband of Jane Waldon McMurray. September 23, 2008