Murray John and the Mayor
by Judi McLeod
December 2000 - January 2001
What do Murray John Marshall and Mayor Mel Lastman have in common? As married men of the same era, both fathered two children out of wedlock, although Mel's paternity is still in the alleged stage.
The Toronto mayor will see his former lover of 14 years and two of her sons in court to contest a $6-million paternity and child-support suit launched by the 68-year-old woman and her two sons, now aged 38 and 42.
Murray John Marshall was my hard-working Haligonian dad. Not ever as famous and never as rich as the Toronto mayor, an army of wailing women turned up at his funeral. All swore behind lace-edged hankies that they were scalawag M. J.'s one true love.
When M.J. wasn't using his legendary charms on women, he was out on Gottingen Street in Halifax serving up soup from a cauldron to the street people, in the days long before it ever became fashionable.
As his eldest daughter, I can be counted as one of the women he charmed.
Piecing together the story from relatives and friends on both sides of the family, it seems that when I was a girl of seven or eight, my father took up with "another woman". My mother and he went through a loud and messy separation before me and my three siblings were placed in St. Joseph's Orphanage, run by the Sisters of Charity. The most interesting part of the story for me was that Murray John had fathered two girls with the so-called other woman.
Whenever the orphanage had an outing, I looked at every passing streetcar window and in every nook and corner for the missing Murray John Marshall. My mother had been able to get a court order keeping him from visiting us at St. Joseph's, but I was determined to lay eyes on him again.
One long ago Christmas, the nuns took us to Simpson Sears to join the staff for a singsong of Christmas carols. As we moved single file through the department store, my obsession was on duty, with eyes peeled for Murray John. Nothing is so convinced in her own mind as a nine year old believing she is going to spot her long-lost father.
As I was lagging behind, Sister Gilberta left the front of the line to make sure she would not become lost from her charge. Knowing of my obsession, she told me not to be so silly. Then I spotted them in the toy department, Murray John and a little girl a couple of years younger than me. The powerful scene remains in my head all these years later. The little girl was dressed in a fur hat and was carrying a tiny fur muff. "Real mink," I shrieked, shocking Sister Gilberta into swift action. "It's ermine", said the nun, and to my nine-year-old way of thinking, that was "only worse."
As I ran off to beat the little girl about the head with her own muff, Sister cuffed me and dragged me tearfully away.
I grew up loving my father, my mother's stories notwithstanding and found him many years later when I was a mature adult. In time, he introduced me to the little girl with the ermine muff, my half-sister, Patricia.
I only met her once, do not know if she ever had children or whether she still lives in Halifax.
I do know it's a little late to blame the adultery of my father, or the breakup of my parents for whatever my life turned out to be. I was lonely in the orphanage and spent three years dreaming of getting out. Some of the nuns, not ever having the experience of being parents, went a little overboard in their discipline, including making us stand all night long in the dormitory when our darning was not judged neat enough. But then again, I don't think I would have ever developed a passion for reading, and may not have been encouraged to become a reporter without the nuns of St. Joseph's. The last two mottoes they reminded me about on the day that I finally left hold true to this day: "Remember always, Judith Ann, true life is stranger than fiction and where there's smoke, there's fire."
Upon his death a few years back, Murray John's money went to a lady called Ida, someone I never met. Ida, who worked long hours in a bakery, had six children, none of them Murray John"s.
Through all his life's adventures, a pious media never plagued M.J.
Only the future can tell if a 42 and 38-year-old will ever get millions from their alleged long-lost father.
As for me, I'm glad that Sister Gilberta caught me when I went on the attack after a little girl carrying an ermine muff. In a jealous rage, I would have been attacking my own sister.
I"m glad she didn't read somewhere that her half-sister in faraway Toronto is the publisher of her own newspaper. I can hold onto my millions without the pious media and a drawn-out court case.
Canada Free Press founding editor Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck and The Rant. Judi can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.