Historical Plaque Properties


Arthur Burston - Locomotive Engineer
55 Front Street
Stratford, ON

Arthur Tom Burston was born about 1890, the son on Thomas Chave Burston and Elizabeth Ann Carey. The family farmed near the village of Blagdon in the County of Somersetshire England.

As he was growing up Arthur along with his brothers helped their father with the farm and listed his occupation as a farmer on various documents. However, farming did not appear to be his chosen life’s work nor did it present the kind of opportunity he was seeking. When he was nineteen years of age, Arthur made the momentous decision to leave his family and emigrate to Canada. He boarded the Empress of Britain in Liverpool bound for Canada and arrived in Quebec City on May 15, 1909.

By 1911, Arthur had made his way to in Stratford. The census records that he boarded with the Irwin family who lived at 295 Queen Street and that he worked for the Grand Trunk Railway as a fireman.
A little over a year later on October 22, 1912 Arthur married Margaret Pearl Bateman. She was born on June 5, 1890 the daughter of Hugh Bateman, also a railway employee, and Margaret Jane Hutchison. Arthur and Pearl set-up house at 262 Albert Street. They had at least three children, two sons Lorne Franklin born 1913 and Glen Richard born 1916 and a daughter Ruth Audrey Loreen.

Arthur’s fortunes improved as he was promoted to the position of locomotive engineer and in 1919 the family moved into their new house at 55 Front Street. Arthur was transferred to the City of London in 1931 where he worked as a locomotive engineer until his retirement in the mid nineteen fifties.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Arthur and Pearl’s sons enlisted in the RCAF. Frank was a pilot with the rank of Flight Lieutenant while his younger brother Glen was a navigator with the rank of Flying Officer. On July 5, 1944, the brothers were members of a six man crew of a Wellington bomber that took off from England for a final operational training flight over France. Some say they were dropping leaflets in the vicinity of the Town of Brest. Their aircraft may have been hit by enemy fire or the plane may have developed engine trouble. Either way they made it back across the channel to England and attempted to make a forced landing at Livermore Farm in Horrilton. Witnesses report they saw the aircraft with an engine on fire crash into the farm house killing all on board. Normally, family members were not allowed to fly in the same aircraft. Some suggest that Frank, as the senior training officer on board, was looking out for his younger brother. They are buried side by side in the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Woking, Surrey, England. Both brothers were married. Frank left an 11-month old daughter. The crew was remembered in 2008 on the sixty fourth anniversary of the crash in a special communion service at St. Michael’s Church not far from the crash site.

Arthur and Pearl retired to the Town of St. Mary’s. Arthur died on October 31, 1968 and Pearl died in Woodstock in August 1982. They are both buried in the mausoleum at the Avondale Cemetery in Stratford where their sons are also commemorated.