Historical Plaque Properties


William McVittie - Yardman/ GTR
143 Bay Street
Stratford, ON


William George McVittie was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1881. He was the son of George McVittie, who had emigrated from Ireland, and Harriet Broad. Harriet was born in England and emigrated in 1870 at age 11 with her father, Edward, a blacksmith, her mother, Lydia Biroff, and six siblings. Three more siblings would be born in Canada.

When he was married to Harriet in 1880, George McVittie was a livery stable keeper. Later when his son William was born he was a coachman, a job he stayed with for many years. Sadly, Harriet died of complications 15 days after William was born. Two years later, George married Joanna Wilkins and they had four children together.

William began his career with the Grand Trunk Railway and moved from Hamilton to Stratford. There he met Mary J. G. (Josephine) Bart, the daughter of Joseph Bart and Matilda Mers. Joseph was born in Quebec and as a child moved to Stratford with his family. Once in Stratford, the family changed the spelling of their surname from Barthe to Bart. Joseph Bart worked in a relatively new occupation as an electric lineman.

William McVittie and Josephine Bart were married in 1903. At the time William was a switchman for the Grand Trunk Railway and Josephine was a finisher at Dufton’s Woolen Mill. After their marriage the couple lived on Falstaff Street. Here their son, Wilfred Harold McVittie, was born in 1904.

In 1907 the family moved into the newly built house at 143 Bay Street on the NW part of lot 669. At that time William was a yardman for the GTR. The family remained in the house for the next three years.

William then left Josephine and their son, Wilfred, and moved to Detroit, Michigan. There he found employment as an assembler in the Cadillac Motor Car Co. Josephine and Wilfrid remained in Stratford.

In 1918 William McVittie was drafted into the American army. According to the information on his registration card, he had remained a Canadian citizen, was of medium height and had blue eyes and red hair. The date on the card is September 1918 so it is doubtful he was deployed overseas.

Wilfred left Stratford in 1925 to move to Detroit and become an American citizen. After this time few details are available for Josephine or William. When William crossed the border at one point in 1925, he used the alias William Baker but no further information was found under that name.