Historical Plaque Properties


Robert M McGregor - Accountant - Allis Chalmers Ltd.
35 Duke Street
Stratford, ON



35 Duke Street was one of a number of houses built by Norval F. Babb on property previously owned by his father-in-law, John Corrie. When Norval Babb married Etta Corrie in 1904, they were given a lot and built the house at 180 Mornington Street. Norval Babb was a successful jeweller specializing in diamonds, watches and clocks. Babb was also an optician and issued marriage licences. In the early 1900s, he built a number of houses on the east side of Duke Street. In 1914 those along the west side were constructed.

Robert Mills McGregor was born in Scotland on May 21, 1878. He was the son of Andrew McGregor, who worked as a wood yard salesman, and Christina Mills. He grew up in Alloa, Clackmannanshire with two siblings, Andrew and Janet. Clackmannanshire is located on the River Forth and is known as the “wee county” as it is only 61 square miles. At the time Robert was born, the principle industry was coal mining.

Robert’s mother died in 1886 when he was seven. By the time the 1891 census was taken, his father had remarried and had become the foreman of the wood yard. Robert was 23 and living in a boarding house when the 1901 census took place. He was employed in his home town as a mason’s clerk.

By 1906 Robert had made the decision to emigrate to Canada. He departed Glasgow, destined for St. John NB, on March 24, 1906 aboard the ship Athenia.  On the passenger list, his occupation is noted as a clerk and his final destination is Kingsville, Ontario. The Athenia went into passenger service in 1905. During the war it was torpedoed and sunk in 1917.

He rose from a clerk to an accountant over the next seven years because when he was married his occupation was written as “accountant.” He married Elizabeth Jane Johnston in September, 1913 in Toronto. On the marriage certificate he had declared his place of residence as Sudbury.

Two years later the couple moved to Stratford and into the new house on Duke Street. Robert was working as an accountant for Allis Chalmers Ltd., a supplier of farm implements. After a few years they returned to Toronto where Robert worked for General Electric as an accountant. He was only 57 at the time of his death in 1935. According to his death notice in the paper at the time, the couple had no children.