Fifty years after she was surrendered for adoption, the real birth identity of a Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta woman remains a mystery that is taking professional family searchers to Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario in their quest to find a “mystery mother.”
In 1963, the woman’s mother named her Marie Louise Cameron, before surrendering her for adoption after giving birth in a Saskatoon hospital. But, it has been discovered that Marie’s mother’s purported identity did not exist.
Despite Marie’s mother providing the government with detailed information just days prior to her child’s birth, telling them of her background, other family members, employment details and the address of her residence, it appears much of that information was fabricated, for reasons unknown.
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta’s Birth Family Finders (www.birthfamilyfinders.ca) have picked up the search, after a failed two-year interprovincial search by adoption workers in Saskatchewan.
“It was during the government’s search that this mystery of fabrications started to unfold, when they discovered that Marie’s birth mother, having said that she was born in Lashburn, Saskatchewan, did not in fact have a birth record in that province at all,” says Judy Sellin, Lead Searcher at Birth Family Finders.
“From there, we have learned that seemingly none of the information that the birth mother gave at the time of the surrender of Marie has been able to be validated,” Sellin continues.
“I have been successful in finding birth family in literally every other search I have conducted since 1990,” says Sellin.
“But this one almost feels like I’m searching for a missing person, not a birth mother; it’s been that long, and that intense,” Sellin concludes.
With Marie’s consent, Birth Family Finders has gone public, and is now seeking the public’s assistance in locating the woman who identified herself as Eileen Joan Cameron, who in 1963 claimed to be a 25-year-old elementary school teacher from Winnipeg.
However, the school this mystery mother said she worked at also proved to be non-existent in Winnipeg in the 1960s.
Eileen Joan Cameron would now be seventy-five-years-old.
Making Marie’s plight more troubling is that she suffers from a rare, serious genetic condition. It not only substantially affects her health, but also even more severely affects her two adult children, both of whom require daily professional healthcare.
Adding more mystery to Marie’s origins, and taking the search from Saskatchewan into Manitoba, is a street address in Winnipeg that was uncovered by Sellin’s diligent efforts.
“Eileen Cameron, Marie’s birth mother, told adoption workers in Saskatchewan that she was residing at a specific address in the 1000-block of Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg,” says Sellin.
Through archival research and extensive follow-up, Sellin tracked down family members of those who resided at the Corydon Avenue address in the 1960s.
“Among the many relatives of that family I have spoken to, one elderly fellow in particular uncovered another possible lead, as he read me a couple of family biographies. One sentence popped right out,” Sellin says. “I almost dropped the phone.”
According to that man, one of the residents of the Corydon Avenue address was born in a community called Ashburn, Ontario -- a name strikingly similar to the town of Lashburn, Saskatchewan that Eileen Joan Cameron claimed as her birthplace.
“All we have to is drop the ‘L’ off of Lashburn, and we have Ashburn,” says Sellin, “and now we have a third province, Ontario, to search in.”
“It’s possible the birth mother knew there was a place called Lashburn in Saskatchewan, and that made it convenient for her to distort perhaps where she is originally from, which could be Ashburn, Ontario,” Sellin says.
But so far, that lead has turned up nothing further regarding Marie’s birth family. And, every other lead, now numbering into the hundreds of sources, has failed to find even so much as a trace of Eileen Joan Cameron or any of her relatives.
For Marie, it has been frustrating, particularly now that her adoptive parents have both passed away. That little bit of truth that she felt she obtained through the government’s post-adoption information has seemingly turned out to be complete untruths.
“People have their identities stolen all the time, but I feel my identity was stolen at birth,” says Marie.
Nonetheless, Marie is not angry at her birth mother -- however, she is frustrated and quite hopeless at times because she knows hardly any facts about her life.
Marie is hoping that going public with her story will bring forward more leads, and possibly reveal the missing link that will enable her to locate her birth family.
Judy Sellin, the professional searcher working on her case, is also hopeful the season will bring about better results.
“Christmas is a time of family - it’s a time of reunion for people,” explains Sellin.
“We think this is a good time to bring the birth of Marie to the public’s attention, and hopefully someone will come forward with information that will help us unravel the mystery of Eileen Joan Cameron.”
Anyone with information that may assist the search can contact Judy Sellin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 587-487-8005.