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'The Woman Nobody Knew': Candlelight walk to be held for Aurora woman killed in 1965

Walk in memory of Geraldine Pickford to take place on Oct. 19
Oct. 19, 2023
Simone Joseph

When David Heard learned about Geraldine Pickford’s life and death, it touched him.

“Something spoke to me,” he said.

Pickford’s story moved him so much he has organized a candlelit walk in her memory Oct. 19.

“She deserves identity and respect,” he said.

After reading a Toronto Telegram story about Pickford, “I was heartbroken,” he said.

Heard had started out researching the St. Andrew’s area -- which was then King Township -- when he came across the story of Pickford.

Heard was struck by her story when he read one particular quote: about her being insignificant.

Norman Stewart, her boss at St. Andrew’s College, had said: “She was the most insignificant person who ever worked here.”

Stewart said: “Some people stand out because they are good workers. Some because they are bad. Some are good looking. Some are ugly. But Geraldine Pickford didn’t stand out at all.”

These quotes were in a Toronto Telegram article about her disappearance and death.

The headline on the Telegram story said: “Story behind a murder victim: The Woman Nobody Knew.”

She had a scar on her shoulder and no one knew where it came from. Even her family didn’t know.

York Regional Police consider Geraldine Pickford’s a cold case.

YRP’s cold cases are unsolved murders and disappearances in York Region.

Pickford had reported for work at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, 1965, at St. Andrew’s College. She had just started the job in April.

At 8:45 p.m., she went off duty. That night, her body was found by a creek near the cricket field of an exclusive boys’ boarding school (St. Andrew’s).

She had been manually strangled.

Heard reached out to the journalist Sylvia Sylvie, who wrote about Pickford in the Telegram article.

They spoke on the phone and Sylvie told him “that case still haunts me.” Her editor had told her no one knew anything about Pickford. Her own family didn’t know a lot.

The Telegram encapsulated part of the mystery behind Pickford’s case: “How did this quiet, unobtrusive woman with no friends, no interests and no money meet such a violent death?”

It is not known where Pickford was laid to rest, Heard said.

“It touched me. Her life started rough,” Heard said. She had lived in several places in Ontario. Her mother died when Pickford was only nine.

Heard is a member of Aurora’s historical society. One of his tasks is researching ghost stories.

He has led walks with Doors Open Aurora and ghost tours annually.

The candlelight walk for Pickford is Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at Machell Park in Aurora.

“This is going to bring the community together,” Heard said.

Heard predicts the event will have a good turnout.    

“A loss is a loss. When there’s no closure, it’s hard to stop grieving,” Heard said.

“This brings her back to life in spirit.”