Historical Plaque Properties


Thomas Newton - Blacksmith
179 Cambria Street
Stratford, ON

The large Queen Anne red brick house at the corner of Cambria and Church St. was built by Thomas Newman in 1892 who was a prominent blacksmith. Thomas Newman was born on November 2, 1850 in Guelph, the son of Thomas and Ann. Little is know of his early life or of any siblings but by 1881 he was working as a mechanic in Mitchell, where he met Catherine Hackett, the 26 year old daughter of Andrew and Sarah Hackett of Mitchell and they were married in Stratford on July 19. The following year their first child, Thomas Aubrey Newton was born May 13 in Mitchell.


Like many skilled workers at the time flocking into Stratford to take advantage of the economic growth provided by the railway, Thomas and Catherine and their young family relocated from Mitchell and their second son John Edwin was born in Stratford on January 1, 1885. After becoming a successful blacksmith, in 1891 Thomas and Catherine were able to purchase Lot 321 at the corner of Cambria and Church St. and by 1892 had built their new home where their daughter Rhea Gladys was born on August 10. According to the 1891 census they also had a 16 year old Irish lodger living with them named Clara Kernahan, perhaps to help out Catherine with her young family.


John Newton began working for the Grand Trunk Railway eventually becoming a conductor. He moved to Hamilton where he married Mary “Minnie” Alister Elliott on January 1, 1908. They would have one child, daughter Rhea Adeline before John died suddenly on June 8, 1914. Minnie would get married for the second time to Harvey Hull and move to Michigan with her daughter.  John’s older brother Thomas would seek his fortune out west but sadly he too died young in Neepewa, Manitoba on March 14, 1915 at the age of 32. Thomas and Catherine’s daughter Rhea would become a school teacher and continue to  live with her parents in the house on Cambria. Thomas Newman’s wife Catherine died on August 13, 1918. In 1921 Thomas had his lot severed and a new house was built next door by Thomas Ballantyne Jr.


A popular citizen of Stratford, Thomas Newton died on August 29, 1927 and his funeral was well attended by many friends and relatives including his daughter in law Minnie and her daughter Rhea who made the journey from Detroit.


Thomas and Catherine’s daughter Rhea never married but remained a popular school teacher and continue to live in the house along with several boarders until she died in 1964.


Thomas and Catherine Newton, along with their son Thomas and daughter Rhea are all buried in Avondale Cemetery.