Historical Plaque Properties

 

Donald A. McLellan - Machinist - GTR
95 Birmingham Street
1916

In 1886 Donald Angus McLellan, aged 19 and the son of Angus and Flora, left his birthplace in Inverness, Scotland to cross the Atlantic Ocean and begin his life in a young Canada. His travels brought him to Stratford where the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), following its arrival there in 1856, had become a major employer.

The GTR’s locomotive repair shops were about to undergo a huge expansion due to the closure of their repair works in Hamilton and the relocation of machinery and staff to the Stratford operation. The expanded shop area would be more than 125,000 square feet incorporating new machine, erecting and boiler shops, a brass foundry and several enlarged departments including a carpentry where Donald quickly found work and began a lifetime career in the railway industry.

 

A few years later he met Minnie Miller, who had recently arrived from Heidelberg, Germany with her parents, August and Louise, and settled as had other families from Germany in the Milverton area just north of Stratford. Donald and Minnie were married there in October 1896 and came to live in Stratford, by coincidence, on Railway Avenue. In 1899 they welcomed their first daughter Flora Louise, who would be followed by two more, Isabel and Alexandra (Zandy). Louise became a school teacher and following her marriage in 1922 to Gordon Wilson, a farmer from Halton County, moved to that area.

By 1906 Donald had progressed to a position of foreman at the GTR Shops and the family was living at 207 Birmingham Street. Ten years later they took possession of the new house Donald had built down the street on the southerly portion of Lot 501. It would become 95 Birmingham Street, the family home for the remainder of Donald and Minnie's life together.

 

When the Grand Trunk Railway encountered financial difficulties following the economic disruption caused by the First World War and was facing bankruptcy in 1919, it was taken over by the Canadian National Railway (CNR). Donald retired in 1932 after 46 years of employment with both railways and enjoyed 11 years of retirement until his death from cancer in 1943. Minnie lived on until 1971. Both are buried in Avondale Cemetery together with their daughters Isabel and Alexandra.