Historical Plaque Properties


Samuel Wyatt - Engineer - GTR
19 East Gore Street
Stratford, ON

19 East Gore Street
Built 1915
Grand Trunk Railway

The two-and-a-half storey, red-brick house at 19 East Gore Street was built in 1915 for Samuel Wyatt.

Samuel Wyatt was born on January 18, 1878 in Goderich, Ontario, the son of Thomas Wyatt and Eliza Swaffield. Thomas, born in 1826, came to Canada from Hampshire, England about 1860. Eliza, born in 1836, was from Dorset, England, and had come to Canada with her parents in the late 1850s. Thomas and Eliza were married in Goderich about 1862 and raised a large family of 10 children. Samuel, the youngest, was seven years old when Thomas, who worked for the Grand Trunk Railway, died in 1885 when he was crushed between two railway cars when making repairs.

Like his father and four of his brothers, Samuel (Sam) became a railway man. About 1900 he moved to Stratford, an increasingly important railway centre, and found employment with the Grand Trunk Railway. Soon after he met Mary Jane Bennett. Mary Jane, born on May 21, 1878, was the daughter of George Bennett, a brakeman with the GTR who had come to Canada from Ireland, and Annie Smith, born in North Easthope Township to parents of Irish origin. Coincidentally, like Sam’s father, George Bennett was tragically killed in a railway accident in 1878, when Mary Jane was just a few months old.

Sam and Mary Jane were married in Stratford on August 24, 1903. They resided first at 389 Front Street and their first four children — Hazel, Melvin, John (Jack) and Charlotte — were born there. In 1914 Sam acquired a lot on East Gore Street just east of Downie Street and built the house at 19 East Gore the following year.

By that time Sam had worked his way up to the position of railway engineer and was a proud member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. In June 1916, when the Wyatts had been in their new home for just a year, disaster struck. In a cruel echo of the fate of his father and father-in-law, Sam, then 38 years old, died in hospital in Welland as a result of terrible injuries received when his train derailed near Port Colborne. The accident made the front page of both the Daily Beacon and the Daily Herald.

The Beacon described Sam Wyatt as “a very cheerful young man” who “always had a kind word for all with whom he came in contact.” The Herald said: “He enjoyed the warm admiration and esteem of numerous friends, who sincerely regret his tragic death.”

In March 1917 the widowed Mary Jane gave birth to the couple’s fifth child, Samuel Earl Wyatt. She continued to raise her young family on East Gore Street and lived on in Stratford for the rest of her life until moving to Brantford to reside with her son Samuel in 1952. She died a year later at age 75.

Samuel and Mary Jane Wyatt are buried together in Avondale Cemetery, Stratford.

In 2017 the house at 19 East Gore is still in the Wyatt family.