Some of Canada’s missing

I was just looking at the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, which appears to be the Canadian equivalent of NamUs. As ever, the names and faces haunt me. Especially the older ones.

The oldest Canadian case in the database dates back to either 1935 or 1936; they’re not sure. His name was Eetu Vainonen and he disappeared from Thunder Bay in Ontario. The name sounds either Finnish or Estonian, I’m not sure. He would be 108 years old today. The oldest female case is Kathleen Johnson, missing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan since 1953. She was on her way to work when she got off a city bus and…vanished.

They’ve got a pair of brothers, Native Americans (or First Nations or Aboriginals, as they’re called in Canada), aged 12 and 14, who left the Pelican Falls Residential School in 1956 and never returned. Since the boys, named Tom and Charles Ombash, planned to go canoeing, perhaps they had an accident of some kind and drowned. No photos for them. I suppose Canada, being further north and much more rural than the United States, would have a lot more “lost/injured missing” type disappearances. I’ve only ever been in Ontario and Quebec, and only in the warm months.

There’s a family of four who vanished in 1965. Their fates are pretty much known — they crashed their plane — but their bodies were never found. Mom, Dad and two boys, aged seven and three. No photos there either. Little Adrien McNaughton‘s case reminds me a lot of Kurt Newton‘s. Adrien disappeared in 1972, Kurt in 1975. Adrien was five, Kurt was four. Both boys were blond. Both wandered off into the woods — Adrien in Ontario, Kurt in Maine quite near the Canadian border — and never returned.

Beautiful, long-haired, wide-eyed Ingrid Bauer vanished in 1972, walking home from her boyfriend’s house. Sylvie Ouimet ran away from a troubled psychiatric hospital in 1975 and went out into nowhere. A middle-aged woman named Marion Thesson disappeared in 1979, briefly resurfaced in 1984 and then vanished again. She would now be 85ish and may be dead now.

The case of Sultana Suljovic is similar to Charley’s Yuan Xia Wang: a non-English-speaking teenager is smuggled into the country, placed in foster care, and then disappears, possibly to go underground.

16-year-old Sunshine April Hilda “Sunny” Wood was from Gods Earth, Manitoba, a very remote Cree Indian settlement. She arrived in Winnipeg in September 2003, started high school, made friends, and then vanished without a trace just before midnight on February 20, 2004. Her disappearance is profiled in this article, which has another photo of her. And this blog has surveillance camera images of her in the last moments before she disappeared after the face of the earth.

Mario Marabella was abducted in broad daylight in December 2008, when three people forced him into a van and made off with him. His car turned up later, torched. He was in the Italian Mafia. (I didn’t know they still had a Mafia.) This article describes him as “a convicted loan shark with ties to the Rizzuto clan.”

If I didn’t already have way too much on my plate, I’d profile Canadian cases on Charley too, and possibly ones from other English-speaking countries. (I can’t read or speak any other language. This is a great deficiency on my part and I’m frankly ashamed of it. I’d like to learn to read Yiddish and/or Polish, or at least German, but that’s neither here nor there.) So instead I look at their faces and wonder about them. Somebody has got to remember these people.

17 thoughts on “Some of Canada’s missing

  1. Ilya Sitnikov March 5, 2013 / 10:46 pm

    Tania Murrell – whatever happened to her, I wonder?

    Been 3 decades since she disappeared…

  2. Sofia March 6, 2013 / 9:28 am

    Eetu Vainonen is Finnish name.

    • Meaghan March 6, 2013 / 11:01 pm

      Sweet, I was right. *looks it up* says it’s the Finnish version of Edward.

  3. Mischa March 6, 2013 / 12:08 pm

    Even you can’t read German there are Germans who read your blog.

    Grüße aus Deutschland / Regards from Germany 🙂


  4. Crystal March 6, 2013 / 12:14 pm

    All cases of missing children are sad, but the ones where the children get lost in the woods really get to me. Just the thought of them wandering around, scared, in the dark. I can’t stand it.

    • Meaghan March 6, 2013 / 11:05 pm

      I’ve never been lost in the woods, but I did get lost in a cornfield once when I was seven or so and really freaked out. Then I calmed down and reckoned that if I walked continuously in one direction, eventually I’d get out of the field, which I did.

      One of my brothers, at the age of fourteen, drank half a bottle of vodka at a teen party, wandered off into the woods and passed out on a freezing November night. They had to bring the police and bloodhounds to find him before he died of exposure. Fortunately he didn’t suffer any harm from his experience but he did have to go to juvenile court for underage drinking.

  5. Henna March 7, 2013 / 5:32 am

    I´m quite sure that Mr. Eetu Vainonen is orginaly from Finland.Vainonen is quite common surname in here.And at 1930´s lot of Finns moved to Canada or northern states of US-looking for a “better life”..

    • Meaghan March 7, 2013 / 5:49 am

      Well, Finland and Canada have a similar climate, anyway. That might appeal to the Finns.

      I was reading awhile back about a few thousand Somali refugees who were granted asylum in Finland. I felt very sorry for them. I mean, I’m sure they’re much better in Finland than Somalia, but the culture shock must be horrific. I mean, these black people from sunny Africa moving to freezing Finland with its blond, blue-eyed Scandinavians. The book I read said they were originally placed in different towns throughout the country, but the refugees became extremely depressed and lonely and now the Finnish government tends to put them all in one place so they can have each other’s company.

  6. Sara March 7, 2013 / 6:29 am

    Random fact: Thunder Bay has the largest Finnish population outside of Finland. I’ve gone through various databases looking for missing people in the area and the vast majority of them involved either a lake or the bush, so the chances of finding remains is slim to none unfortunately.

  7. lred March 11, 2013 / 1:26 am

    The Canadian cases kind of remind me of all of those MP cases from the Downtown East Side. Many women were considered murdered by serial Willie Pickton, but man many continue to disappear. Most go unnoticed because they are poor, drug addicted, prostitutes or First Nations. in a lot of these cases others on “the track” were the ones to report their comrads missing.
    It really makes me wonder how many disappear in this country and just don’t have anyone who cares enough to seek them out.

  8. Kevin Mark Bauer August 11, 2013 / 7:17 am

    My sister Ingrid was on her way TO her boyfriends house,Larry Teeple in Pine Grove/Woodbridge Ontario some four and a half miles away, when she disappeared. She left our home at 9:40pm to surprise him and was seen just at the end of our street shortly before she disappeared.
    It is our Family’s belief that Ingrid met a bad end,possibly at the hands of someone who was convicted of abducting and killing an eight year old girl a few years later. All we want now is to bring her Home so we can say our “Good-Byes” 😦

  9. Sandy October 22, 2015 / 10:27 am

    “I suppose Canada, being further north and much more rural than the United States, would have a lot more “lost/injured missing” type disappearances.”

    I know it’s been over two years since this was posted, but I just have to say, as a Canadian, I found this comment really odd. Sure, we’re further north, but where in the world does this idea that we’re “much more rural” than the United States come from? I mean, it’s not only you who has this odd image of Canada in your mind as I’ve seen similar comments, but considering that you mention having actually been here, I find it even more odd. Perhaps the areas you visited gave you a skewed perspective? Canada, as a whole, is no more rural than the United States. Just like there, we have large cities and urban areas, as well as some more rural and less inhabited areas. It’s not mostly rural, or much more rural than the US, really.

    • Meaghan October 22, 2015 / 10:38 am

      Well, to begin with, the United States’s population density of people per square mile is 84. In Canada it’s 9.

      • Marley March 10, 2016 / 11:42 pm

        Using ratio to determine how rural Canada is… is ridiculous. I live in a big Canadian city, with an apartment building that houses 5000 people right across the street. I can’t even toss a football in my yard without hitting a neighbor. Canada has vast amounts of unpopulated forests that we haven’t all chopped down yet, and the climate makes it unfavorable to live in (hence all the open spaces), but those of us born into it don’t know any different and wouldn’t change it for the world. I am definitely not an isolated farm girl living in an igloo, using a string and a can to communicate. Your data is skewed.

      • Meaghan March 11, 2016 / 10:29 am

        Thanks for that information. I honestly hadn’t thought of that and I probably should have. Lesson learned.

  10. Justin Sanity March 12, 2016 / 7:56 pm

    When I was aged 4-6, my family lived on a little acreage outside a small college town in Ohio. On the north side was a roadway that passed in from of our house. To the east there was a little forest, to the south & west there were farmer’s fields. I have a memory of wandering far from our house, to the west, looking for milkweed. Looking up from a plant, I could see adult figures off in the distance to the west, too far away to make out features. They weren’t there before I bent down to examine the plant, and they weren’t moving at all – just standing still and looking at me. I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling that they were malevolent and meant me harm. I turned around and ran home in terror.

    I’ve thought a lot about that experience, and my memory of it, over the years. I’ve assumed those figures were an illusion generated by a primal mental defense mechanism. A little child wanders far from home and at some point the mind conjures a bogeyman to tell them: “run away back to safety, now, little one”. But of course, if the child didn’t know which way was “home”, such a mechanism could send them flying headlong into danger instead. This always comes to mind, when I’m reading accounts of little ones gone missing in the woods or from campsites.

    • Meaghan March 12, 2016 / 9:13 pm

      I got lost in a cornfield one summer night when I was about nine. I panicked for a bit before I remembered the old “walk continuously in one direction” trick.

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