Historical Plaque Properties


Catherine (Bast) Blum
74 Cobourg Street
Stratford, ON

Catherine Bast was born in Wellesley, Ontario in 1861. Her parents, Jacob Bast and Elizabeth Doering, were born in Germany around 1834. It is not certain whether they were married before emigrating or if they met and married in New York. We do know that their oldest son, John, was born in New York City in 1859. Two years later, they were in Wellesley and then settled in Howick Township, Huron County. Jacob bought a farm on Concession 1 Lot 16 where the south branch of the Maitland River crossed the north east corner of the property. Catherine grew up on the family farm along with her 4 brothers and 5 sisters.

In 1881, 20 year old Catherine Bast married 22 year old George Blum in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sebastopol, South Easthope, just north of Tavistock. George Blum was born in South Easthope in 1859. He was the son of George Blum Sr. and Katherine Kalbfleisch who lived and farmed on Concession 6 Lot 31. The Blums had 4 children, three sons and a daughter. They were obviously concerned about education for their children since George Sr. sold a parcel of his land for a school. The school, SS No. 5 South Easthope, was known as Blum’s schoolhouse. The last students left the school in 1967. Today, it is a private residence.
The Blums also boarded the tradesmen who built their farm buildings while the work was ongoing. This might have been the inspiration for George Jr. to take up carpentry as a profession rather than follow his father into farming.

After their marriage, Catherine and George moved to Stratford where George worked. The 1888 Stratford City Directory lists them living on Cobourg Street and George as a carpenter. The 1891 directory is more specific and notes that George is a cabinet maker working for William Easson. The family continued to live on Cobourg Street and it was at number 68 Cobourg that they raised their family: Louise, 1882; Maude, 1883; George John, 1884; Olive, 1885; Florence, 1888; Edna, 1891; and William Alfred, 1904.

Louise married John Krantz, a tailor, in 1901. Maude worked as a clerk and Olive as a dressmaker. Florence married Jacob Weiss in 1912 and moved to California. A year later, Edna married Walter Dorland. George John became a machinist for the Grand Trunk Railway and lived at 63 Water Street. William became the timekeeper for Canadian General Electric.

Jacob Bast, Catherine’s father, died in 1909 and was buried in the Kurtzville Cemetery. Her brother, Albert, took over the family farm and Elizabeth, her mother, continued to live on the family farm with Albert and his family. In 1888, Catherine’s younger sister, Barbara, married George’s brother Henry Blum. Henry had bought a farm seven lots away from the Bast farm where he and Barbara farmed and raised their family.

George Blum died in 1921 and was buried in Avondale Cemetery. The 1921 census shows Catherine’s children, Olive and William, still living at home. Gordon Blum, Catherine’s nephew and the son of George’s older brother, Edward, was living with them in the upper level. Gordon was a machinist for the Grand Trunk Railway.

Catherine took a step to change her life and sold 68 Cobourg Street in 1924, severed part of the lot it stood on, and built the house at number 74. Olive was married in 1928 to Frederick Kirkland, a wood machinist. Catherine lived in her new house until her death in 1931. She was buried next to George in Avondale Cemetery. By the time the 1937 city directory was published, there were no longer any members of the family living at 74 Cobourg Street.