Historical Plaque Properties


Frederick Reginald Vanstone - Wood Turner
181 Cobourg Street
Stratford, ON

The house at 181 Cobourg Street was built by Frederick Reginald Vanstone in 1906. According to the tax assessment of that year, Fred’s occupation was a cabinet maker but he actually worked most of his life as a wood turner, someone who uses a lathe to fashion pieces of wood into various forms such as chairs and table legs.


Frederick Reginald Vanstone was born in Stratford on July 20, 1853, the youngest of eight children born to John Vanstone (1806-1876) and Elizabeth Jones (1815-1889).  His parents were from Devonshire, England and came to Canada in 1842. By 1851, John and his eldest son John Jr. were working as wagon makers in Stratford. Fred had four brothers, John (1836-1927), Stephen (1838-1886), James Thomas (1847-1917) and Hubert Lewis (1851-1929), as well as three sisters Ann (1832-1925), Grace (1839-1921), and Elizabeth (1845-1921).

In 1880 Frederick, Hubert and Stephen were all living at 5 Norman Street with their widowed mother. Fred was working as a wood finisher, Hubert and James were carpenters, and Stephen was a woodworker.  Their eldest brother John was living at 29 Mill Street and was working as a carriage maker nearby on Huron Street, as well as serving as a Public School Trustee and Deputy Reeve of the town of Stratford.


On July 6, 1881, Frederick Vanstone married Mary Jane Ball, the 18 year old daughter of John and Margaret Ball of Stratford. They would have two daughters, Jessie Delphine Vanstone (1882-1971), and Lorene (Laura) Elgar Vanstone (1884-1970).  Soon after their marriage, the family moved to Seaforth where Fred was working as a wood turner.


At some point between 1905 and 1906, the family returned to Stratford. Fred had a home on Milton Street before building the house on Cobourg Street.  In 1911 Fred was working in the furniture industry as a wood turner and he and Mary Jane had Elizabeth Gosden boarding with them.


On January 8, 1907, Jessie married Thomas Edward Patterson. On November 23, 1912, Laura married engineer William Robertson and they moved to St. Thomas.


By 1924 Fred was working as a turner at the McLagan Furniture Company. Hubert was the president of Greenwood and Vivian House Furnishings Ltd. at 26 Ontario Street and had a home at 111 Huron Street.


Shortly after the death of his wife Mary Jane on January 25, 1928, Fred moved to St. Thomas to live with Laura and William at 88 Ross Street.  He died at the age of 85 on July 10, 1939.


Frederick Reginald Vanstone, his wife Mary Jane, his parents John and Elizabeth and all of his brothers and sisters are buried in Avondale cemetery.