Historical Plaque Properties


George Minshull - Machinist - Grand Trunk Railway
60 Well Street
Stratford, ON

George Minshull was born on September 13, 1842 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. Since the 17th century Stoke had been developing into the centre of the British pottery industry as a result of world class potters such as Royal Doulton, Wedgewood, Minton and others locating there. He was the son of Edward Minshull and Charlotte Williams.

In the fall of 1872, George married the love of his life 23-year old Elizabeth Clowes Johnson. She was born in Ipstomes, Staffordshire, England on May 13, 1849 the daughter of James Johnson and Ann Clowes.
Like many newly married couples at the time, George and Elizabeth sought adventure and a new life in Canada. George and Elizabeth, who appears to have been four months pregnant, boarded the S. S. Scandinavian on May 7, 1873 and sailed out of Liverpool Harbour arriving in Quebec City on May 19, 1873. They made their way to Mitchell, Ontario where George gained employment as a labourer.

The couple’s first child, Annie, was born in Mitchell on October 23, 1873. Not long after their daughter’s birth, George secured a position as an engine fitter at the expanding Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) Shops and relocated the family to Stratford.  Tragedy struck the family when Annie contracted Bright’s disease of the kidneys and died on January 24, 1877. The couple had another five children including four sons and their youngest, a daughter, who they christened Avice.

In the summer of 1893, the family moved into a new house built at 60 Well Street. George continued to work for the GTR where he was promoted to the position of machinist, which was one of the better paying jobs in the shops. George retired around 1907 and he and Elizabeth moved to Dundas, Ontario to live with their daughter who by this time had married a William George Way, a cabinetmaker, and had given birth to a daughter Margaret, about 1909.

The family always had a touch of the wanderlust and sometime after 1911 they joined the trek west arriving in Silver Creek, Manitoba. Interestingly, Silver Creek was being inhabited primarily by settlers from Perth County, Ontario, many from North Easthope Township, who were attracted by the lush grass lands, access to plenty of water and lower land prices supported by Canadian government grants.

Sadly, tragedy struck the family again when Avice’s 34 year old husband died leaving her as a single mom with one child to support. Drawing on her strength of character, talent and love of music developed while growing-up at 60 Well Street she became a music teacher providing lessons to local children and families to help support herself and her daughter. On December 27, 1916 she married John Hammond who also came from Perth County.

George and Elizabeth remained in Silver Creek along with the families of their daughter and son James.  George died on June 29, 1918 and Elizabeth on February 24, 1937.