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Fay Gardner (née Haber) was born in Toronto in December 1896. Her parents came from Austria. They met and married in New York and moved to Toronto in about 1894. As a child, Fay's family lived on King Street, LaPlante Avenue, and Walton Street. She attended Elizabeth Street School (later Hester How Public School) and Wellesley Public School. At the age of sixteen, Fay and her family moved to Margueretta Street. She got married at age eighteen.