Edsworth Searles Laid To Rest Today In Toronto

Once in a while a person rises through the ranks quietly and impacts the lives of many. Such was the life of Edsworth Searles. He was the first black called to the bar in British Columbia. In Toronto he was a lawyer for thirty years and so much more.
If you live in Toronto and have a friend from the Caribbean you can thank Mr. Searles. In the 1950s he was part of a delegation that went to Ottawa asking Canada to open the immigration doors for those in the islands.

Newcomers knew the man. His home had an open door policy at dinner time on Thursday and Sunday. Newcomers, students and domestics had a home away from home with a tasty home-cooked meal. That along with Searles advice helped many Torontonian.

The Toronto Star reports:

“We are better off for these people,” Itah Sadu, owner of A Different Booklist says. “They were very decent folk, ordinary working-class people who done good. Their superstardom is the stuff we are made of. It’s special for us because they are us. We can touch them and laugh with them and hug them and recognize the place they hold for us.”

Born in Toronto, raised in Barbados, Searles returned to study law at the University of Toronto after marrying his life long love Kathleen. He worked at the post office and at the railroad to afford his family and his education.

“You don’t have to ask what a black man did in the ’40s; either you worked on the railway or as a shoeshine boy,” Edsworth told the Star in 1996.

Today he will be laid in the ground. He is survived by three daughters, Kathleen, Marjorie and Sylvia, and two granddaughters. Sylvia Searles-Elam is Mayor David Miller’s special assistant and a veteran in employment equity and race relations at City Hall and Queen’s Park.


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