George Leonard Archibald “Nipper” McPhail and Alice Elizabeth Eagan

When George Leonard Archibald McPhail (known as Leonard or “Nipper”) was born on February 11, 1898, in Soulanges, Quebec, his father, Archibald James Jacob McPhail (1870-1941), was 27, and his mother, Cecelia (née Garrow) (1876-1941), was 21. He had five brothers and four sisters.

St. Patrick’s, Toronto (image via Wikimedia)

Records show Leonard crossed the border in March 1924, possibly to visit his future bride (or maybe to meet her for the first time). Less than a month later,  Leonard married Alice Elizabeth Eagan on May 14, 1924. Nipper’s sister Mary and Alice’s brother John witnessed the marriage at St. Patrick’s Church in Toronto, Ontario. Nipper’s occupation is listed as a “fireman.”

Ontario, Canada Marriages (image via

When Alice Elizabeth Eagan was born on January 3, 1903, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, her father, Patrick Joseph Eagan (1877-1932), was 25, and her mother, Mary Ellen (née Duffield) (1880-1943), was 21. She had two brothers and three sisters. (Note: the name Eagan is spelled inconsistently in records. This version seems to be the most prevalent one.)

They had five children during their marriage:

  • Eleanor McPhail (1926-2013) married Adam Scottie (1922-2010)
  • John Leonard McPhail (1927-1996) married Jean Winnifred Gardiner (1927-2019)
  • James “Jimmy” McPhail (1929-2008) married Jennifer Pustelnik (1930-2012)
  • Mary Patricia “Pat” McPhail (1931-2009) married Richard Earl Carson (1930-2008)
  • Donald Joseph McPhail (1936-2019)

The family lived at 9 Cluny Avenue in Hamilton, Ontario, with Alice’s family.

9 Cluny Avenue, Hamilton, Ontario (image via GoogleMaps)

Alice and Leonard were in a horrific automobile accident in Highway 6 in Caledonia on July 4, 1947. Their car stalled on the highway and as they were preparing to tow it, a car crashed into the back. An article from the July 14th Hamilton Spectator suggests:

The Hamilton Spectator

According to the Provincial Constable K.W. McLay, Mr. McPhail’s car had stalled on the highway and one driven by Lloyd Kingsborough, 192 West 2nd Street, had been drawn up in front of it, to tow it to a garage.

Mr. McPhail was linking the bumpers of the cars with a rope and his wife was sitting in the rear seat of the car when a third machine driven by Malcom Chisholm of Caledonia, crashed into the rear of it.

Mr. McPhail was badly crushed between his car and the Kingsborough car and his wife suffered back and head injuries. Their two sons, also in the car, suffered lesser injuries and were discharged from hospital late last week.

Alice died on July 13, 1947, at the age of 44, as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. The cause of death is “myocardiac failure due to the existing disease of the mitral valve with incompetence and precipitating by shock due to fracture-dislocation of the neck with the spinal cord injury due to violence.” Her obituary, from the Hamilton Spectator, reads:

MCPHAIL – At St. Joseph’s Hospital on Sunday, July 13th, 1947, Alice Eagan, beloved wife of Leonard McPhail age 44 years. Funeral Thursday morning at 8:30 from her late residence, 9 Cluny Avenue to St. Ann’s Church for Funeral Mass at 9 o’clock. Interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Leonard survived his wife, but also had extensive injuries from which he never recovered. He died less than a year later on June 30, 1948, in Hamilton, Ontario, at the age of 50. His obituary, from the Hamilton Spectator, reads:

MCPHAIL – At St. Joseph’s Hospital on Wednesday, June 30, 1948, Leonard George McPhail, husband of the late Alice McPhail of 9 Cluny Avenue in his 50th year. Funeral from Dwyer’s Private Chapel Friday morning at 8:30 to St. Ann’s Church for Requiem Mass at 9 o’clock. Interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

The couple were laid to rest together in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Burlington, Ontario. The stone reads:


Main image: Leonard and Alice McPhail


3 Responses

  1. What an awful incident. But it seems better than not knowing what happened to someone. I have a few that seemed to just vanish. One is working the farm in Virginia and then is last seen in Walker County, Texas and then at the age of 32 he just …vanished. Where? How? When? Thanx forsharing this story.

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AG Knapper

I’ve been researching my tree for over twenty years…and I’ve found some easy branches, and some gnarly ones…

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