Memories of Brother André in Markham

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  • October 14, 2010

Mrs. DalyMarkham, Ont. - Alyce Daly is 96 but she vividly remembers the special visits Brother André, Canada’s new saint, made to her family’s home in the 1920s. But, she adds apologetically, she doesn’t recall any miracles.

What she does retain are fond memories of a saintly man sitting in the parlour and at the dinner table in the family home on Curzon Avenue in Toronto’s east end. The Dalys lived just steps from St. Joseph Church, and outside its doors people lined the sidewalks and spilled into a nearby park to glimpse or touch the famous Miracle Man of Montreal.

Brother André was devoted to the father of Jesus and the many miracles attributed to Brother André were, he always maintained, the work of St. Joseph.

“He used to say, ‘I don’t cure anyone, it’s through the intercession of St. Joseph,’” Daly recalls.

Today, Daly lives in a retirement home just down the street from Brother André High School in Markham. So, in one sense, the old family friend has always been near but he has been more prominent in Daly’s thoughts since Pope Benedict XVI declared Brother André would become a saint on Oct. 17.

Daly says her father met the future saint when Brother André was a doorman at Montreal’s College of Notre Dame. They struck up a friendship and, when Brother André was fundraising for the construction of St. Joseph’s Oratory, he was brought to St. Joseph’s parish in Toronto.

“I remember him coming to our house,” Daly said. “He was small and very shy. “He would come to dinner. He liked my mother’s macaroni and cheese. I can still picture him sitting at our living room suite. In particular, he liked to sit in a little gold chair. We called it the Brother André chair.”

That chair has remained in the family and is now owned by Daly’s niece, Virginia West, the Ontario Deputy Minister of Natural Resources.

Daly remembers one time, around 1928, when she was 14, the family was expecting Brother André when a message arrived from a porter at Union Station.

“He said there’s a little man here with a flat, black hat who says he is not going to move until Mr. Daly picks him up. He’s just sitting on his suitcase.”

She can remember him visiting twice. “He was a dear man. When it was time for him to leave, we lined up to say goodbye and he gave each of us a rosary.”

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