Historical Plaque Properties


Michael Egan - Locomotive Engineer - GTR
101 Bay Street
Stratford, ON

Michael Egan was born in Paris, Ontario on September 3, 1855. He was the second of ten children born to John Egan and Julia Kearney who both had emigrated from Ireland during the “Great Hunger” in the latter half of the 1840s. Michael’s younger brother, Daniel, became the rector at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Well Street in Stratford.

The family moved to St. Marys where Michael finished school and began his railway career. Following his father’s death in 1873, Michael was appointed to fill John’s position as watchman of the roundhouse at the Junction. According to his obituary, Michael progressed rapidly with the Grand Trunk and soon became a fireman on the line from Sarnia, London and points east. Not many years later he was promoted to locomotive engineer.

Michael moved to Stratford and boarded at a number of locations in the town. It was here that he met his future wife Margaret (Maggie) Phelan.  She was born on June 20, 1866 in Thorndale, Nissouri West Township, the daughter of Thomas Phelan and Margaret Walsh. Like Michael’s parents, John and Margaret had also emigrated from Ireland. They had a farm in Nissouri West Township.

While the children of both parents were born in Canada it is not known whether they were married in Ireland before they emigrated or met and married after they settled in Canada. It is known, however, that Michael and Maggie were married at St. Peter’s Cathedral in London, Ontario on September 21, 1891.

Michael and Maggie had four children, all born in Stratford: John Martin (b. 1894); Margaret Mary (b. 1897); Julia Ellen (b. 1900); and Thomas (b. 1903). In the same year Mary was born the family rented the new house at 101 Bay Street.

After his retirement Michael and Maggie moved back to St. Marys and lived on Peel Street North adjacent to Holy Name Roman Catholic Church. The house has been subsequently demolished to make way for the construction of a Separate School.

For a number of years prior to his death Michael was in poor health but according to his obituary was of good humour and loved to tell stories about his early railway career with the Grand Trunk. Michael died at the age of 79 on April 24, 1934. He is buried in the Roman Catholic section of St. Marys Cemetery. Maggie lived for another ten years and died on Valentine’s Day, 1944 at the age of 78. She is buried with her husband.