Historical Plaque Properties


Thomas Mitchell Ruston - Carpenter
34 Birmingham Street
Stratford, ON

Thomas Mitchell Ruston was born in 1860. He was the second son in a family of eleven children. His parents, Francis Ruston who had emigrated from Yorkshire, England and Margaret Ramsey, farmed in Ellice Township, Perth County.

Thomas, who preferred not to follow in his father’s footsteps, became a carpenter. At the age of 26, in 1887, he married 21 year old Matilda Jane Middleditch also of Ellice Township. Their daughter, Edna Blanche, was born in Stratford in August 1889. Sadly, Matilda Jane died seven months later in March 1890. Edna Blanche was cared for by her paternal grandparents on their farm in Ellice Township while Thomas continued to work in Stratford.

Three years later Thomas married 20 year old Selena Moore, daughter of Thomas Moore and Selena Moore of Sebringville, Ontario. Thomas’ brother, Frank, had married Selena’s sister, Elizabeth Moore, in 1891. The 1896 Stratford City Directory records Thomas and Selena Ruston living on Cobourg Street. At the time Thomas was employed by Porteous & McLagan Furniture Company as a carpenter. Their first son, Thomas Franklin, was born on Christmas day in 1900 and their second son, Harry, followed two years later in 1902.

In 1903 Thomas Ruston and his brother, Frank, built the red brick Edwardian house with a turret at 34 Birmingham which was to become the home of Thomas and Selena. At the time the house was built, the two men were listed on the assessment roll as carpenters. Both would change occupations several times over the years. Two years later, Frank was listed in the 1905 city directory as a builder and Thomas the owner of a planing mill.

The 1911 census notes Thomas, Selena and their two sons living at 34 Birmingham. Edna Blanche, Thomas’ daughter with his first wife had married John Drown, a dairyman, in 1907. In 1913 Thomas Ruston became the Assessment Commissioner for Stratford and remained in that job until his retirement nineteen years later.

Selena Moore Ruston died in 1922 leaving Thomas as a widower for the second time. Five years later, he married 46 year old divorcee Bertha Marsh Bertelet and became the stepfather to her sons, Gordon and Alfred.
Thomas and Bertha lived on Birmingham Street until his death in 1944. He is buried in Avondale Cemetery beside his wives Matilda Jane and Selena.