Historical Plaque Properties


Thomas Stewart - Retired Farmer
54 Elizabeth Street
Stratford, ON

Thomas Stewart was born in 1866 in North Easthope. His grandfather had emigrated with his family from Perthshire, Scotland in 1832. Thomas’s father, John Stewart Jr. was nine when he arrived in Canada with his parents, John Stewart Sr. and his mother, Catherine Crerar.


In 1833, John Sr. had contracted three lots of land along the present Highway 7/8 between Shakespeare and Stratford and held the deed to one other. By 1846, he had the deed to seven farms, over 700 acres. Possibly, this was the reason he was known as the “Laird” in North Easthope. In 1854, after the death of his father, John Stewart Jr. took over three of the farms.

John Stewart Jr. married Christina Cameron and they started their family in 1864 with the birth of their first son, John Cameron Stewart. Five children followed; Thomas, Catherine (Kate), Donald, Christina (Christy) and Margaret (Maggie). Life in North Easthope centred on family, work and church.


John Stewart Jr. died in 1885 and after a few years of farming, Christina, Thomas, Christy, who by that time was qualified as a teacher, and Maggie moved into Stratford. Catherine had married Alexander McMillan in1892 and Donald, who had stayed in North Easthope, remained engaged in farming.


They lived at 50 Britannia for a short time while Thomas had the house at 54 Elizabeth Street built. In 1897, they moved into the new house. Thomas was noted as being “retired” on the assessment roll for that year. John Cameron Stewart also lived with the family for a few years at 54 Elizabeth Street but in 1902 he married Catherine McTavish and returned to farming in North Easthope. Years later, they would also move to Stratford.


By the time the 1901 census was taken, Thomas had moved out west. Although he continued to own the house until 1915, he did not return to live in Stratford. The census shows Christina, her son John C and her daughter Christy as well as her granddaughter, Oral McMillan, living in the house. Tragedy had struck the family in 1899 when Catherine Stewart McMillan died of TB. Alexander McMillan left their one year old daughter in the care of her grandmother while he continued to raise their young son.


The 1911 census shows that Oral had returned to live with her father and brother while her grandmother, Christina, and her aunt, Christy, had moved to Manitoba. By 1911, they were living on Pine Street in Winnipeg. It was in Winnipeg that Thomas married Margaret Hill in 1914. Thomas and Margaret moved to Saskatchewan and later to Kelwood, Manitoba.


Christina and Christy returned to Ontario in 1920. Christina moved in with her son, John, and her daughter in law. John had been out of farming for a time and had engaged in politics, becoming an alderman in Stratford for a number of terms. He also took an active part in the establishment of the Bell Telephone system in Shakespeare. Christy took a teaching job in nearby Fullerton.


Christina died in 1925 and is buried in St. Andrew’s Cemetery, North Easthope beside her husband John who had died 40 years earlier. Thomas lived the rest of his days in Kelwood, Manitoba where he died in 1956.