Historical Plaque Properties

 

Francis E.H. Baker - Conductor - Grand Trunk Railway
127 Cambria Street
Stratford, ON
1914


Francis "Frank" Edward Harnell Baker was born on July 11, 1884, in Stratford Ontario.

At the time his father, Francis, was 27 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 27. Frank was the oldest of 11 children. His father Francis (1852 - 1930) was born in Quebec City, Quebec. It was noted that the Baker family originally came from England and attended the Roman Catholic Church. Since the Church of England was the dominant religion of the day, it was common for Roman Catholic English to immigrate to "New France".

Frank's mother was Elizabeth Anne Murphy who was born in England on February 24 1857. She was of Irish decent and was part of a family who immigrated from Ireland. Her father was born in 1824 in County Kerry Ireland, and her mother was also born in Ireland. Prior to 1884, Francis and Elizabeth Baker moved to Stratford where they raised their children. Today they are both buried in Avondale Cemetery as are many of their children.

 

Young Frank attended school, and by the time he was 16, he working as a cigar maker, bringing in a wage of 75 cents an hour. Not afraid of hard work and wanting more, by 1911, Frank had become a brakeman for the Grand Trunk Railway. Working for the GTR/CNR at this time was an important job. It was near the beginning of World War 1 and Stratford with both the railway shops and other manufacturing like furniture making ensured that this area was a vibrant part of the Ontario infrastructure.

 

Frank married Loretta Charlotte Murray on October 16, 1912. Loretta was born in October 1887 in Perth County. Loretta grew up in Downie Township and, as a young women, she moved to Stratford.

By 1914 Frank Baker had moved forward in his career from Brakeman to Conductor. Conductors had an important role to play in collecting tickets, setting schedules and assisting passengers and on occasion working on freight trains. The Baker's first child, Frances Joseph, was born in 1914, the year that they moved in and rented 127 Cambria Street. Just a short time after moving into their new home, John Gerrard was born. By 1918 they had added Thomas Augustan, and then, in 1920, their fourth son. Bernard Edward. joined the family. Likely due to a growing family, the Bakers moved to and rented 249 Eric Street, and by 1921, Frank was making $2700 a year as a conductor.

 

During the next few years the family continued to grow with the addition of Charles and daughters, Margaret and Monica. According to the 1935 voters list, Frank was still working as a conductor for the CNR. He and Loretta Baker were living with John Charles at 167 Douro Street.

 

On July 30, 1937 Loretta passed away. In her obituary it was noted that she left behind five sons, 2 daughters, and was a member of the Catholic Women's League. She was buried in Avondale Cemetery.

In 1946 Frank married Elizabeth Lightfoot. Elizabeth had 2 sons, so besides his own 7 children, Frank became a step father to 2 more.

 

Francis E.H. Baker passed away in April of 1959 after a brief illness. He was in his 76th year and had been retired for about 20 years. Besides his wife Elizabeth, and his children, Frank left behind 27 grandchildren. At this time, the Bakers were living at 2 Churchill Circle, Stratford. Frank was buried in Avondale Cemetery.

Architectural Conservancy Ontario Stratford-Perth County