by Janice Nelson
While transcribing the burial records for the Necropolis Cemetery, I came across an entry that intrigued me. The person buried was “Baroness Olga Heimrod”. She died 23 September 1912 of apoplexy. It’s not everyday that a Baroness dies in Toronto. A little curiosity led me to find out more about the Baroness and her husband Baron Ernest von Heimrod.
From a search of Ancestry.ca, I was able to find census records from 1881 and 1901 as well as registrations of both of their deaths. These records show that Olga was born on 3 Oct 1839 in Germany (Prussia—according to the tombstone inscription). Her father is listed as Enrich Crome and her mother is listed as Johanne K.E.D. Schiche.
Olga’s husband is listed as Ernest and he was born 26 Feb 1833 in Germany. In Germany, Ernest’s name was Ernst. With just a little digging, I found that he was part of the Hesse-Kassell noble family. According to these documents, his full name was Ernst Baron von Heimrod. His lineage can be found on The Peerage website. Ernest was the illegitimate great-grandson of William I, Elector of Hesse (German: Wilhelm I., Kurfürst von Hessen; 3 June 1743 – 27 February 1821). William I was the eldest surviving son of Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and Princess Mary of Great Britain, the daughter of George II.
On the Peerage website, Olga’s maiden name is listed as Cornel. Unfortunately, I could not find any additional information about Olga’s heritage with either of the surnames.
According to the 1901 census, both Olga and Ernest immigrated in 1871. Was there significance to their immigration coming in the year of the formation of Germany under Bismark? There is some general information about German immigration in A History of German Emigration to Canada, 1850 – 1939 by Jonathan Wagner, but nothing specific.
In 1881, Olga and Ernest were living in East Toronto in the St. Thomas Ward and Ernest’s profession is listed as “restaurateur”. In 1883, according to the Register of Dominion Annual Register and Review, Ernest was appointed “Consul for the German Empire for Ontario with the exception of the Counties under the Jurisdiction of the Consulate at Montreal”. Ernest held this position until 1888. In his obituary in the Toronto Star (June 20, 1910), it is mentioned that Ernest was quite wealthy when he immigrated to Toronto but lost almost everything in a real estate crash in 1888. At one time he owned property near the Humber River that was sold for $40,000—quite a sum for the times.
In 1901, Olga and Ernest were living in the Toronto Junction area (now part of Toronto) on a small piece of land that they retained. Ernest’s occupation is listed as an “agent”. According Might’s Greater Toronto City Directory of 1903, Ernest was living at 134 Cawthra Avenue and his occupation is also listed as an agent. Given all the train activity in the area, I would guess that Ernest’s job had something to do with that. Information about The Junction can be found at The West Toronto Junction Historical Society.
In 1910, Ernest passed away on June 18 from Bright’s Disease which he suffered from for several years. His full name was listed as Ernest Freiherr Heimrod. Two years later, Olga died. At the time of her death, she was living in the Aged Women’s Home. There is a listing for Aged Women’s Home at 47 Belmont Street in the 1912 City of Toronto Directory (This is a precursor to the present-day Belmont House). The Aged Women’s Home was set up to prevent elderly women from being homeless so it appears that Olga’s fortunes continued to decline after Ernest’s death.
Ernest and Olga do not appear to have had any surviving children. In her will (written 24 October 1911, and probated 22 November 1912), Olga named the German Society of Toronto as executor. The Society renounced administration to the Trusts & Guarantee Co. Olga left her total estate, $417.50 cash and $50 in “household goods and furniture”, to the four children of her “late sister Elise Marie Crome, widow of the late Dr. Eltze, of the City of Charlottenburg, in the Kingdom of Prussia”. The German Society of Toronto or “Deutsche Geselleschaff” was named as the owner of Olga’s grave in the Necropolis burial record. The “Deutsche Geselleschaff” was a benevolence society for Germans living in Canada that ensured that members received an honourable burial.
The modest flat grave marker for Olga and Ernest (Section A, Range 1, Plot 17) adds that the Baron was born in Anhalt-Dessau, and that “Olga Crome Baroness Von Heimrod” was born in Prussia.
 York County Surrogate Court estate files, RG 22-305, Grant 26256, 22 Nov 1912, Archives of Ontario microfilm MS 584-185
Janice Nelson, who lives in Calgary, is a member of the Alberta Family History Society and a volunteer indexer for the Toronto Trust Cemeteries Project. If you can add to the story of the Baroness, or if you would like join the indexing project, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.