Historical Plaque Properties


Elizabeth and Thomas Ballantyne Jr. - Cheese Merchant and Stratford City Treasurer
175 Cambria Street
Stratford, ON

The house at 175 Cambria Street was built by Elizabeth and Thomas Ballantyne Junior in 1921 on a lot that was severed from the property owned by Thomas Newton, blacksmith, whose house was built in 1910 at 179 Cambria Street.


Thomas Ballantyne Junior was born June 22, 1863 in Downie Township, Perth County, where his parents had a farm, moved to Stratford when he was ten, and died in Stratford on January 5, 1938.

Thomas’s grandparents, James Ballantyne, a weaver, and Elizabeth Whitson, emigrated with their son, Thomas Senior, and daughter from Peebles, Scotland to Canada West in 1852, settling on the farm of their eldest son in Downie Township, Perth County.


Thomas Senior taught school from 1853 to 1861, and then returned to farming. He then became involved in cheese making, erecting a cheese factory at Black Creek near Sebringville. He was reeve of Downie Township, and later M.P.P. for South Perth and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature. He was also president of the British Mortgage Loan Co., vice ­president of the Perth Mutual Insurance Co., and chairman of the Hospital Trust at Stratford.


In 1856 he married Mary Ballantyne (a cousin), and together they had seven sons and one daughter: James, Robert, Thomas Junior, Adam, Alex, Janet, and Walter.

On February 6, 1889, Thomas Junior married Elizabeth Anne (Bessie) Clarke (born Oct. 4, 1861), a member of a distinguished Elora family. She was the daughter of Emma Clark, and of Lt.­Col. The Hon. Charles Clark, who was M.P.P. for Centre­ Wellington, serving as Speaker and later as Clerk of the Ontario Legislature. Elizabeth’s parents were both immigrants from England. She was one of five children.


Thomas Junior became associated with his father in the cheese making business (eventually Thomas Ballantyne and Sons) when he was 18. When his father died in 1908 he took over the business and operated the cheese factory until 1925 when he was appointed City Treasurer.


Thomas Junior was first elected a member of the City Council in 1897. He served on ten city councils and was a member of nearly every committee of the council. He was a member of the Public School Board for eight years and of the Collegiate Institute Board for one year. He was the prime mover in the building of Avon and Juliet Schools. Thomas was a member of the council when plans were being made for the new city hall (1899). He was City Treasurer for ten years.

Thomas was also heavily involved in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the Stratford Rotary Club, and the Board of Trade. He was also one of the small group of men who organized the first golf club in Stratford, the forerunner of the Stratford Golf and Country Club.


Elizabeth was one of the first members of Stratford Women’s Hospital Aid and a member of the Ontario Hospital Aids Association. She was also a member of the Stratford Old Age Pensions and Mothers’ Allowance Board. During both world wars she was a working supporter of the Red Cross Society. For twenty ­five years she was on the board of the Perth County Children’s Aid Society. She was also on the board of the Victorian Order of Nurses. Elizabeth was also a member of the Women’s Canadian Club. She was very active in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, filling many offices in women’s organizations of the church. Elizabeth was also a gifted pianist, being prominent in Stratford musical circles. She was a strong supporter of the Stratford Musical Festival.


Elizabeth and Thomas Junior had three children: Margaret “Margery” Clarke who died in early childhood; Thomas Whitson, who became a medical doctor and lived in Woodstock; and Emma Kent, who married Stratford­born Ralph Chandler and moved to Port Arthur (Thunder Bay).

At the time of Elizabeth’s death on Feb. 26, 1946, there were seven grandchildren and two great ­grandchildren.

Both Elizabeth and Thomas died at 175 Cambria Street. Both were heavily involved in their various activities right up until their deaths.