Almost 70 years after her great-aunt Katherine disappeared, Meghan Redmile of Cowansville, Que., is hoping to pick up her trail online.
She's scouring the internet for any clues about what happened to Katherine Redmile after the late 1940's, when she was last seen by the family in the Sudbury, Ont., area.
"My dad grew up hearing that she showed up at her parents with two kids, asked for help because she was leaving her husband, and [her father] said no and to get out of his life, and then that was it," Meghan Redmile said.
Redmile learned that Katherine's children had been put up for adoption or into foster care, and that after that, she disappeared without a trace.
Using Facebook, she managed to find one of Katherine's children.
Beverley Pearce, who now lives in Sault-Ste-Marie, Ont., was seven when her mother left for good.
"The last memory I had of my poor mother, I was standing on the bus station platform watching her go away on a bus," Pearce recalled.
"And we went down every day for two weeks to meet her because she said she was coming back. But she never did."
Going back in time
Redmile learned about her great-aunt while going through an old photo album with her father.
"He said, 'Oh, that's Katherine, your grandfather's sister who disappeared.' And that's basically where I started from. No one really knows much."
Pearce helped fill in some gaps about Katherine's life before she left.
She told Redmile that Katherine's husband, her father, was abusive.
Redmile is still hopeful she'll learn more about what happened to Katherine after she got on that bus and left her daughters behind.
"I'd like to think she found love somewhere else," she said.
"I don't really see it with an ending with children since she left her kids. I just hope she had a happy life."
An online community for missing people
Redmile says she's stumbled upon various Facebook groups for people who are looking for relatives, and that their members have been helping her in her search.
"They're just giving me different ideas about where to look: census, voting records, hospital records, divorce — giving me different hints, like to try to look for different ways to write the last name, maybe she just changed a letter, maybe she kept her married name," she said.
Redmile's online sleuthing has yielded an important clue.
She says she found a record that showed contact between Katherine and Children's Aid from within a couple of years after she left.
Redmile imagines she might have been checking in on what happened to her children.
Pearce, who is now 76, doesn't have high hopes for finding out where her mother went. But she does have questions she'd like answered.
"I wish I knew if she's dead," she says. "If she is dead, I just wish I knew where she was buried.
"It's something like a sore. It won't heal until it's drained."
Redmile would also like to be able to offer some answers to Katherine's children.
"It just makes me want to find her even more because her daughters are in their 70s," she said.
"It would be just so satisfactory for them to know what happened. So that they can kind of let it go."
Redmile says that anyone who thinks they recognize Katherine should get in touch with her at email@example.com.