Historical Plaque Properties


Catherine Young & Alfred Horatio Lofft - Dry Goods Merchant
253 Elgin Street East
St. Marys, ON


  This grand two-storey home was under construction in 1885 for Alfred and Catherine Lofft. It was completed the following April 1886. Catherine was the sole owner of the property from 1891 until her unexpected death in 1930, when her sons and their wives inherited jointly. Alfred Lofft died at home in 1933, attended by son Frederick who resided here throughout his 90 year lifetime


The yellow brick home exhibits Romanesque-Revival elements such as arched windows and ornamental rounded brick archway above the front door. Contrasting orange brick is integrated as a row of crosses at the level of the second storey floor. Additional orange brick detail is inlaid over the windows and doors. For many decades, this contrasting brickwork was not visible because ivy vines covered the walls. Several significant changes were made to the house years after it was built, always respecting the original design. These included the construction of the large addition at the rear before 1900, and updates to the kitchen with installation of electricity in the early twentieth century.


Alfred Horatio Lofft (1852 – 1933) was born in Sheppey England, emigrating to Huron County with his six siblings and parents, William Lofft (1810 – 1887), a dockyard blacksmith, and Anna Wise (1811 – 1868).

By 1881 Alfred Lofft was a St. Marys merchant, arriving from Clinton to open a dry goods store. He joined the Methodist church, where he and his family were involved in church activities throughout his life.  A.H. Lofft Dry Goods prospered, selling books, groceries, household items and clothing.  He married Kate (Catherine) Young in 1884 Witnesses were Kate’s older sister, Sarah Young, and J.J. Eaton.


Kate Young (1858 - 1930) was born in North Gower, Ontario, the third of five children born to farmer George Young and Mary Ann Lowden, who died in 1864. The following year George married Nancy Agnes Eaton (1831 – 1907), whose younger brothers Robert, James and Timothy Eaton were local merchants.  In 1869 Timothy moved to Toronto where he established the Eaton merchandising empire. In 1884 Eaton’s launched its revolutionary mail order catalogue, the same year Kate and Alfred were married.  In 1894, Kate’s half-brother William opened Young’s Jewellers in London


Alfred and Kate and their family were well respected in St. Marys. Their social lives centred around the beautiful Methodist Church, built in 1879. It was two blocks from where the couple built their home. Throughout their lives, Loffts and their extended family were choir members, Sunday School teachers, Board members and strong supporters of the clergy. The family also valued close family ties: census data show Kate’s spinster sister Sarah living with Loffts for many years after their mother Nancy Young died. Lofft sons lived at home until careers moved them away from St. Marys.


Kate and Alfred had four sons: Wilbur Lowden (1885 – 1967), Frederick Young  (1887 – 1977), Hubert Wise (1891 – 1954) and Alfred Hartley (1896 – 1966).  All married, had children, and followed careers in finance and merchandising. Wilbur worked in the Young uncles’ enterprises.  Frederick followed in his father’s footsteps, maintaining A.H. Lofft Dry Goods Store and living always in the family home, welcoming bride Marjorie Moyer in 1931 and raising their two sons in this home. Hubert graduated in commerce and finance (UWO, 1913) and completed his career with Wood Gundy in Toronto.  Hartley was a WWI fighter pilot hero whose career reached its pinnacle as director and vice-president of Robert Simpson Montreal Ltd.  Hartley married childhood friend Betty Gordon. Their daughter Elizabeth became a respected Toronto City Councillor. She married James Eayrs, who was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1985.


James Eayrs was buried in St. Marys February 2021, age 95.  Toronto notables attended the service, including Eatons and Loffts and their business associates. The group received a route, available at the Museum, to drive by the nineteeth century landmarks of these remarkable pioneer merchant families.