Historical Plaque Properties

 

James Elliot - Stone Mason & Quarry Owner
345 Wellington Street
St. Marys, ON
1843


The house at 345 Wellington Street South was built circa 1853 by James Elliott.

 

James Elliott was born on August 26, 1828, in Yarrow, Selkirkshire, Scotland. He came to Canada in 1845 and settled in Blanshard Township, Perth County. In 1851 James married Jane Moore, the daughter of Eli and Mary Moore, who farmed in Beverly Township in Wentworth County. Jane was born in 1832.
James was a stone mason and became one of the early quarrymen of St. Marys. One of his earliest projects was the 1856 construction of a main sewer for Queen and Water According to assessment records, he purchased his first property for quarrying in 1857. This land was located on lots 11 and 12 on the east side of the Thames Avenue, south of St. Maria Street and west of Water Street.


By the time of the 1861 Canada census James, Jane and a seven-year-old son John are living in the house on Wellington Street overlooking his quarries along Water Street and the Thames River. It is estimated that the house had been built several years earlier, within a few years of their marriage.


Through the 1860 and 1870s James built several private homes in St. Marys. In 1875 he was awarded the contract to complete the stone and brick work on the St. Marys Collegiate, later the North Ward School. In 1879 he erected the St. Marys Opera House on Water Street. One of Canada’s grandest buildings at the time, the Opera House was designed by Silas Weekes, a local architect. The cost of the stonework for the building was $5,163.50.


James’s and Jane’s son John also became a mason and almost certainly worked with his father on many of these projects. He was later a well-known contractor in town.


By the late 1880s James owned more than four acres of quarry land. In 1891 The Argus, a local newspaper, announced: “James Elliott has struck a bed of 14-inch stone in his upper quarry. Some of it was shipped to Middlemiss to be put in a bridge…. it is said to be the best stone ever shipped from St. Marys.”


In 1905 James sold his quarries to the Thames Quarry Company, owned by John Bonis.
James died suddenly the next year, at age 80, at the Ontario House (a St. Marys hotel). He had presumably moved there following Jane’s death at 345 Wellington in 1902. They are buried in St. Marys Cemetery.
In an obituary in the St. Marys Journal James Elliott was described as “strictly honest in all his dealings and of a very jovial disposition, always ready to enjoy a joke with anybody.”

The main source for this history is an article about James Elliott by St. Marys historian Ken Telfer.