Historical Plaque Properties


Archibald Lamb - Locomotive Fireman - GTR
301 Albert Street
Stratford, ON


Archibald Lawrence Lamb was born in Stratford in 1891. He was the 7th of 9 children of Alfred Lamb and Isabella Addie. Alfred lamb was born in 1856 in London, Ontario. He began working for the Grand Trunk Railway at an early age. When he married Isabella Addie of St. Marys he was a car repairman.

Alfred and Isabella moved their young family to Port Dover where Alfred was promoted to Car Inspector. They returned to Stratford in1889 with their 6 children. Two years later Archie was born. Alfred died in 1896 leaving Isabella a widow with 9 children to raise.

When the 1901 census was taken, Isabella was living on King Street with her 7 youngest children. She had taken in a young family as boarders to help support her own family including 9 year old Archie.

Archie began his career as a furniture finisher but later he followed in his father’s footsteps working for the railway. Before he joined the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force in 1915 during World War I he was employed as a locomotive engineer for the Grand Trunk Railway.

His Attestation Paper describes Archie as 5 feet 7 ¼ inches with a medium complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. He was described as fit and was accepted into the 71st Regiment.

After the war, Archie returned to the Grand Trunk Railway. He lived in Owen Sound for a number of years where he met and married Lilean May Barfoot in 1923. Lilean was the daughter of a farming family living just outside of Owen Sound. A modern young woman, she was working as a stenographer at the time of their marriage.

They returned to Stratford and moved into the newly built house at 301 Albert Street in 1925. His brother, Charles, lived nearby at 307 Albert Street. In Stratford, Archie continued his employment with the railway as a locomotive fireman.

In the steam-locomotive era on railways, the fireman was not only the one who stoked the boiler and fed it water to make steam, he was also the co-pilot of the locomotive. The fireman - all at the same time - managed the combustion and steam production of a 1000- to 6000-hp power plant and helped the engineer running at high speed in identifying signals, watching at road crossings, and watching for hazards or obstructions on the right-of-way.

Shortly after Archie and Lilean were married, their daughter Marion was born. She was their only child as Archie died within 1 ½ years of moving into the new house of Hodgkin’s disease. According to his obituary, he was well known throughout the community and an adherent of St. John’s United Church.

Lilean returned to Owen Sound where Archie was buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Lilean was listed in the 1965 Owen Sound voter’s list as an accountant. She never married again and when she died in 1985, almost 60 years after Archie, she was buried beside him in Greenwood Cemetery.