Errol Gerow's parentage
Just came across your email. I am a great granddaughter of Erroll Gerow. Yes, Erroll was born out of wedlock.
Originally, Peter and Melissa pretended Erroll was their son - in the 1891 Ontario cencus he was listed as such. After Martha married, she and her husband James McLean raised him and Errol was correctly listed as grandson to Peter Gerow in the 1901 cencus.
The family legend is that his father was a Native American (Mohawk or Cree) farm worker or a travelling salesman - it depends on who you ask. However, both he and my grandfather, Norman Gerow, did have dark features. I've been told that Norman was occasionally turned away from bars in Detroit because they thought he was "coloured".
Norman, born 1917, was Erroll's son through Caroline Shipley. She died in 1919 of the Spanish Flu shortly after giving birth to a second child. The child also died. Erroll remarried a few years later and had another son, Erroll Jr. Erroll Jr. had no children.
Martha McLean definitely had children with James McLean. Erroll was killed in a railway accident in Leamington, Ontario in 1928. Norman, Errol's son, then went to live with Martha as he did not get along with his step-mother. He called Martha "Ma McLean."
The whole illegitamacy issue was very touchy back then. The family doesn't really know how much Norman was told or guessed, but he didn't like to talk about his family very much. However he did talk about living with "Ma McLean" and her children, though he called them his 'cousins' as opposed to his aunts or uncles, which is what they were. The only reason anyone in later generations knew what had happened was because Norman confided in his mother-in-law. I'm afraid I do not know any of Martha's children names.
Norman Gerow married Ruby Winona Dawdy in 1937. They had 6 children. Norman died in 1979 in Toronto. Ruby died in 1997 in Leamington ON.
If anyone has further information about Erroll, Martha or her children, Caroline Shipley and her family, or Martha's sister Mary (m. Walter B. Topping), please contact me.