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Biographies for Secondary Webquest

Murphy Family (Family 3)

It is September 1948. You are the Murphy family. You live in a modest two-storey house situated on the banks of the Otonabee River in Peterborough, Ontario. Your house has both electricity and a telephone. Peterborough is a working-class community of about 37 000 people who find work in the city's numerous factories and industries. Your family consists of a father, a mother, and three children still at home. An older son and two older daughters have married and left home. Since no one in your family learned to drive, you don't own an automobile and consequently your feet transport you from one place to another. You have about $60 to spend on this catalogue order, the only order your family will make this fall.

Income Table





Disposable Income Table





Each person in your group needs to select one of the following family members.

Bessie (Mother)


My name is Bessie Murphy. I am 48 years old.

My parents were born in Toronto and I was born and raised there too. I moved to Peterborough after I was married in 1922.

I am a housewife and take care of the children and home, cooking meals, darning socks, and other household tasks. I belong to the local Women's Catholic Church League and do volunteer work for St. Anne's parish.

We could use some new linoleum flooring in our kitchen and I wish I could buy a new set of dishes and a new egg beater. I need a new housedress and I would like to buy a gift for each child for Christmas.

I will phone in the catalogue order to our Eaton's catalogue outlet in Peterborough, and then either Fred or I will walk across town to pick up the order when it arrives.

Go to these catalogue pages and choose a few things to order:

  • Linoleum flooring (Pages 414 and 415)
  • Egg beater (Page 543)
  • Dishes (Pages 422, 423, 424)
  • Housedress (Page 63)
  • Toys (Pages 511 and 512)

Fred (Father)

Hello. My name is Fred Murphy.

I am 53 years old and was born on a farm about 40 miles [64 km] from Peterborough.

A decade ago I worked at the Auburn textile mill but now I have a pretty good job as a firefighter in this city. It is dangerous but exhilarating and rewarding work and I have helped to save lives and property. I earn a decent salary of about $2,500 annually.

I need new winter boots and a warm hat. Maybe Bessie would like a new clock or even a radio.

Go to these catalogue pages and choose a few things to order:

  • Winter boots (Pages 240 and 565)
  • Hat (Page 279)
  • Clock (Page 345)
  • Radio (Pages 468 and 469)

Marion (Child 1)

Hi. My name is Marion and I am 15 years old.

I am in Grade 10 at the Catholic high school and it will be my last year of school.

I hope to get a job at the Westclox factory next year so I can start contributing to our family income and also have some spending money. I help my mother do the laundry and ironing.

I would love to get a pair of Baby Doll shoes; they are all the rage these days. A sharp blouse or skirt would also be nice, or else I can buy some fabric to make my own dress.

Here are my favourite catalogue pages:

  • Baby Doll shoes (Page 225)
  • Blouse (Page 168)
  • Skirt (Page 168)
  • Fabric (Page 322)

Gladys (Child 2)

Hi. My name is Gladys and I am 13 years old.

I dry the dishes for my mother every night and have to keep an eye on my little brother sometimes.

I am in Grade 8 and walk two miles [3.2 km] to get there. I walk home for lunch and back to school again.

Sometimes I take the catalogue when my mom is done looking at it and I cut out all the things I would like to buy. I would especially love to get a toboggan, some playing cards, and a board game. I would also really like a new dress.

Here are my favourite catalogue pages.

  • Toboggan (Page 483)
  • Playing cards (Page 503)
  • Board game (Pages 502 and 503)
  • Dress (Page 175)

Paul (Child 3)

Hi. My name is Paul and I am 10 years old.

I'm a little spoiled and don't have to do too much around the house at all.

I am in Grade 5.

Hockey is my favourite sport and I would like to get some skates, a hockey stick, hockey gloves, and a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey sweater.

Here are my favourite catalogue pages:

  • Skates (Pages 490 and 491)
  • Hockey stick (Page 489)
  • Hockey gloves (Page 488)
  • Hockey sweater (Page 490)


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