Herbert & Eliza

Herbert Fox

June 24, 1877, Bradwell, Derbyshire, England

August 8, 1969, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Eliza Emma McCarthy

February 28, 1879, Mile End, London, England

June 9, 1953, Hamilton Ontario, Canada

Herb and Eliza - 60 of 67
Untitled - 1 of 1 (24)
Herb and Eliza - 61 of 67

Eliza and Herbert attended West Avenue School as children when they arrived in Canada in 1885 and 1887 respectively.  Undoubtedly, Eliza and her older brother, Henry, had a good chance of mixing with Herbert and his younger siblings who also attended the school, if not in shared grades, then in the yard at recess.

Eliza's personal autograph book from 1895 is filled with funny poems by many friends, but none from Herbert, so their mutual attraction might have happened in young adulthood before 23-year-old Eliza left Canada to work as a nurse in the United States in 1902.  That initial attraction was enduring.  Their daughter, Dorothy, recalled that her parents' union was due in part to Herbert's endeavour;  to move forward after the death of his first wife and re-connect with Eliza.  Not bothering to cast an eye around for local spousal prospects, Herbert trekked to New York to interrupt Eliza's career at St. Luke's Hospital, and asked for her hand in marriage.


Marriage Certificate
Diocese of Niagara on the 25th day of April 1906
Were Married Herbert Fox. - of the City of Hamilton, Ontario - Widower and Eliza Emma McCarthy of the said city of Hamilton - Spinster.  By me Chas. E. Whiticombe, Rector of St. Mathews, Hamilton.
This Marriage was solemnized between us.
Witnesses:  Henry J. McCarthy, Winnifred E. Byrne, Herbert Fox, Eliza Emma McCarthy.
I Certify that the above particulars are truly extracted from the Register of Marriages kept in the parish of St. Matthew's Hamilton this 25 day of April 1906.  Chas. E. Whiticombe Rector of St. Matthews, Hamilton.
Eliza was Herbert's muse when first married.  Click on the thumbnails to open the pictures in full.

Diving into a new life, their first few years together were full.  Herbert made his living as a Pattern Maker working for International Harvester.  Eliza, as per historical expectations, took over household management, and likely carried out domestic chores with regimental efficacy considering her skills learned in her training on the hospital wards.  Her pet name 'Lyda' is used by Herbert and close friends and family.

The couple moved frequently and welcomed the first three of their five children in these temporary homes - 25 Case Street, 2 William Street, 25 Keith street. One letter was addressed to Mrs. Eliza Fox back at her parent's home at 99 Emerald street - she might have returned while Herbert travelled for work.

  1. Herbert (aka Bert) Barnsley: January 15, 1907 - 1981

  2. Elmer Bradwell:  August 5, 1908 - September 14, 1908: died at 6 weeks.

  3. Wesley (aka Wes) Maxwell:  1909 - 1988


Experiencing the sudden death of their son Elmer was an indelibly tragic event - Eliza even recording in her journal to England 40 years later:  "Saw Victoria park, August 5 the birthday of our second child, left home this morning by tube..."  They were in Dunnville with Herbert's parents when Elmer passed away from convulsions. They might have travelled there with the purpose of receiving support from Herbert's mother, Elizabeth, herself a mother of ten who had lost her own infant daughter suffering from convulsions.

Herbert Fox Collection - Propertv of Hamilton Civic Museums - Elmer Bradwell Fox GTR Transportation Certificate. 1908

Grand Trunk Railway System  Transportation of Corpse  Physician's or Coroner's Certificate

Name of Deceased - Elmer Bradwell Fox  Date of Death - September 14th 1908  Hour of Death - 5pm   Age - 40 Days  Place of Death - Dunnville  Cause of Death - Thrush with intestinal hemorrhage and convulsions which is a ----communicable disease.

I hereby -----above is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.  A Mair M.D. or Coroner.  Residence - Dunnville County of Haldimand Province or County of Ontario

Permit of Local Board of Health

This permit must be properly signed and with Physician's Certificate presented to the Railway Agent before a body can be shipped.

In the Town of Dunnville County of Haldimand Prov. or State of Ontario on the 14 day of Sept. 1908 Permission is hereby given Herbert Fox to remove for burial at Hamilton, Ont. in the County of Wentworth Prov. or State of Ont. the body of Elmer Bradwell Fox who died at Dunnville County of Halmimand Prov. or State of Ont on the 14 day of Sept. 1908 Aged 40 days and he is hereby authorized to accomany any remains.

Signed JW Holmes Secy lveal Bd Health

A few photos of the young family with austere expressions (Bert was one-and-a-half years old) captures Herbert and Eliza in mourning for Elmer while simultaneously expecting their next child, Wes, to join them in 1909.

The arrival of their fourth son, Birley (Walter Birley:  September 6, 1910 - 1978) is significant in two ways.  Firstly he was born at the family's first permanent home on Gibson Avenue, and secondly his birth was attended to by Dr. Annie Davis, M.D. an early pioneer female physician.  Dr. Davis' medical kit is held at the Hamilton Public Library.  Her life synopsis can be read here, at the top of page 12.

Gibson Avenue was in a new suburban development in Hamilton; Herbert and Eliza had bought the house and waited a few years for its completion before moving in.  The Foxes' house number in the city directory listings changed from #256 in 1911, to #270 in 1913, and in 1915 it finally became 228 Gibson Avenue (Vintage Hamilton FB Group).  These changes were partially due to the City of Hamilton annexing land from Barton Township.

A flurry of intense activity cycloned around Herbert and Eliza in their new domicile.  Finally a place to settle, but it was also fluid as a contemporary home that ushered in many guests, mostly relatives.  As family lore dictates, the need to stock a new kitchen with pots and pans and dishes required Lyda to take a hefty $100 plus shopping trip, causing quite a sensation at the store.  Herbert and his trusty camera (plus an in-house darkroom) captured their well-appointed kitchen, parlour, the people that stayed with them - mostly his siblings, and life with three boys.

Click on the thumbnails to open the pictures in full.

 Eliza and Herbert were active members of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Herbert later served on the Board of Management in 1917 and 1920.  Herbert also maintained his position as a Volunteer Militia in Hamilton's 13th Regiment, serving since 1895 at the age of 18,  first as Private, then Corporal in 1910, and Sergeant in 1916 - in this same year he received the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service medal.

Adding to the bustle was Herbert's evolving career.  Hired by International Harvester, Herbert was required to travel for the job. In 1909 he took his camera with him on a trip to mid-west Canada (Saskatoon) and dipped into the United States, likely visiting the towns that had established International Harvester Headquarters.  By 1915 he was working as a salesman selling combines, and stayed in Toronto for a time.


Herbert's work as a pattern maker engaged him in his company's need to develop a Self-Driving Combine (aka Grain Shocker), an upgrade from horse-powered combine harvesters - something many other companies were racing to do at the same time.  The story goes that Herbert's team was a day or two away from filing their patent when news broke that Massey-Harris had beaten them to it.  Disgusted with the outcome and loss of years of productivity on the project,  Herbert ended his career at I.H. and became an employee at Smart Turner, where he stayed until his retirement, developing wooden replica pumps.  His one hand became locked in a semi-closed position as a result of the physical strain.


From Agroparts.US. https://agroparts.us/articles/combine-harvesters/combine-harvester-since-invention-to-nowadays:

International Harvester started making horse-pulled combines in 1915. At the time, horse-powered binders and stand-alone threshing machines were more common. In the 1920s, Case Corporation and John Deere made combines and these were starting to be tractor pulled with a second engine aboard the combine to power its workings. The world economic collapse in the 1930s stopped farm equipment purchases, and for this reason, people largely retained the older method of harvesting. A few farms did invest and used Caterpillar tractors to move the outfits.

In the U.S., Allis-Chalmers, Massey-Harris, International Harvester, Gleaner Manufacturing Company, John Deere, and Minneapolis Moline are past or present major combine producers. In 1937, the Australian-born Thomas Carroll, working for Massey-Harris in Canada, perfected a self-propelled model and in 1940, a lighter-weight model began to be marketed widely by the company.[11]


Below is a sample of the many Canadian and US patents filed by Herbert and his partner, Thomas Arthur Woolley, between the years of 1899 and 1926 for improvements on grain shocker machines on behalf of International Harvester.  Some of the patents' designers include an Adam Zimmerman of Hamilton and an Arthur Ernest Osler from Toronto.
More about Thomas Arthur Woolley can be read near the bottom of  Friends and Neighbours.
Herbert worked on his own for the last few of years on something he christened the "Fox Shocker" (!).  The acceptance letter in the final thumbnail shows just how close he was to success.


July 4, 1915, 228 Gibson Avenue
Dear Daddy I am getting along very well at school.
I got a diploma at school.
And I passed. What will you give me for getting a diploma.
How are you, are you getting along very well. I had a good time at the (illegible).
I was on the merry-go-round towers. And on the bigger one.
We had balls. Birley lost his at the levers of the figure 8. And he got a new one and then he lost it. And I lost mine down the sewer and Wesley's is still on the go. And I had a five cent ice cream cone.
Mr. Fox's eldest son.
(Bert, age 8).
July 4, 1915,  228 Gibson Avenue, Hamilton
Dear Herb,
Received your letter Friday morning, suppose it was delayed on account of the holiday. Mr. Turner was inquiring about you Sat. he was very nice. I phoned Mr. U. he got a letter the same time as I got mine. Did you get the letter I sent last Mon? What do you think of Bert's letter. He did it all himself I told him he was to write without help - hope you can make it out he scribbled it off in a few minutes, was going to make him do it over but thought you would enjoy it this way. The last line is Mr Fox's eldest son. I think that is some joke have laughed over that a good deal but did not let him know, please keep it.
Mr. Evans was here on the 1st. He stayed for dinner and make me promise to go to London wanted to take me back with him.
Mr. Mattic is some better but not out yet. Allie (Ollie?) is not improving very much but taking of leaving hospital.
Monday morning light went out so had to stop, was just going to tell you how hard it was raining. Two cataract wires fell across the road and we watched them until the men came to cut them at 10 o'clock, we had had lots of rain lately. too bad you have had so much but hope it as dried up by this time and that everything is working smoothly for you. Washed last Tuesday and was just finished when a crate of berries came from Dunnville did not hear from them but sent word that I would be up a little later. House next door is still empty no one seems to want it. Well dear I will close there does not seem to be any news to tell you, so success to you have a good time if possible.
Yours with love xxxxx

1918 ushered in a changing household.  Herbert and Eliza's last child, Dorothy, was born (Dorothy Maude, August 9, 1918- November 2003), the family moved to a new house on 257 Balmoral Avenue North, and they welcomed a new roommate:  Eliza's older brother, Henry, who lived with the Fox family until his death in 1927.

In the 1921 Census for 257 Balmoral Ave:  Herbert Fox, Head, 42 yrs,  Eliza, wife, 40 yrs, Herbert, Son, 14 yrs, student, Wesley, Son, 11 yrs, student, Birley, Son, 10 yrs, student, Dorothy, Daughter, 2 yrs, Henry McCarthy, Brother-In-Law, 42 yrs, Draughtsman. Henry McCarthy, 1921 Census of Canada, Hamilton City, Wentworth Ontario

Herbert ended his career with the Volunteer Militia in 1927 after 32 years, and without so much as taking a pause, signed up the following year to become a member of the D.O.K.K.  - Dramatic Order of the Knights of Khorassan, also known as The Dokeys:  a foundation devoted to non-sectarian charity work directed to aid children in need.


Crown Attorney Court House, Hamilton, Canada

Sept. 13, 1927

My Dear Fox,

I have your letter of resignation and regret very much that the Regiment is to lose your services.

However, I cannot blame any man for desiring a rest after thirty two years of work.

Permit me to thank vou for the assistance you have given me while we have been together.

Your work has always been above reproach, and it will be a long time before the company has as faithful and reliable a D (?).M.S as yourself.

With sincere regards to you and your family, and wishing you the best of luck, believe me.


G. Wheeler (Whelland?)


Click on the thumbnails to open the pictures in full

Eliza and Herbert in middle-age stayed much the same, continuing to travel locally in Ontario to visit relatives, and casting their nets a little wider to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to the States, revisiting the places Herbert had seen with his work at International Harvester, and Eliza's St. Luke's hospital in New York.  Herbert's obsession with cars was legendary, taking group photos with the machines that drove the family on their long trips.  Dorothy remembered the accidents: sandwiched in the back seat with an aunt at top speed down a bumpy road, and having at least one major turnover in the ditch that saw some family members thrown out of the car.  Cuts and concussions were the results, no one was tragically injured.  Except maybe Herbert's pride when his replacement car (for one stolen on the 1931 anniversary trip) was wrecked a few months later in November.

October 4th, 1931

Your description of your silver wedding trip to New York was also very interesting to read but we were sorry about you having your car stolen & hope by now you have got recompense for the loss thereof. It must have been very annoying at the time.

Aunt Hannah R. Somersert, 31 Hemsworth Rd.  Norton Woodseats, Sheffield

Bert, Wes, Birley and Dorothy were now adults and they systematically departed the Balmoral home; within four years, four weddings were celebrated between 1937 and 1940.  Dorothy (three children) returned to live with her parents in 1944 when her first child was born and her husband worked for the RCAF in Quebec.  Birley (four children) was employed as an Electrical Estimator, and with four other friends developed a  startup called SWIFT Devices, a business that continues to operate out of Hamilton: https://swiftdevices.com/about-us/.  Wes (two children) was hired by Smart Turner also as a Wood Pattern Maker and completed a 36 year career at the company.  Bert (two children) became a chemist at Stelco, enjoyed playing tunes on the piano, and was an accomplished astronomer.  See www.rasc.ca/herbert-fox for a summary of Bert's work.  Bert also took up photography and inspired his nephew to follow the family hobby by lending him a Kodak 620 box camera from a large collection kept in a cardboard box in his garage.

 Eliza and Herbert wasted no time planning for a return trip to England upon Herbert's retirement from Smart Turner in 1949.  Their philanthropy to support extended family continued to be a big part of their lives - sending care packages to English relatives living on war-time rations, co-signing mortgages for younger descendants and acting as general contractors for houses being built in new subdivisions - Eliza's second cousin from England was a recipient of one of these buildings when he and his family moved to the Hamilton area.  These personal endeavours were in addition to their charitable work through church and Herbert's involvement with the Dokeys.

Their grandchildren remember visits to the Balmoral Grandparents:  Herbert, or 'Pappy', was kind and engaging (he built wooden toys for his grandchildren), but strict to establish a quiet atmosphere when he was settled in his armchair paying full attention to his radio program.  He taught his grandchildren how to maintain etiquette at the dinner table when it came to refuse second helpings.  Placing his hands firmly on either side of his empty plate he would push his chair away from the table, "then wait ten minutes, and you will feel full," he would say.  No doubt a trick he was made to practice growing up in a poorer large family when dinner wasn't consistently a sure thing.  Eliza was always glad to have the grandchildren come visit, and was delighted when schedules became mixed up, resulting in a few kids from different family's being dropped off on the same day.  "Oh for Good Night's Shirt!" was one of her common expressions, showing disbelief in anything either too incredulous or ridiculous.

By the early 1950's Eliza's health was failing.  She passed away at home at the age of seventy-four.  Herbert was with her, and wrote of the experience:

Lyda had a heart trouble for about 3 years, she was rushed to the hospital at midnight about a year and a half ago and put in an oxygen tent we did not expect to see her full through, it was a close call and she recovered enough to be brought home after two weeks, for a while continued to improve, later the attacks became more frequent and three months ago had to be taken back under oxygen again for 9 days and came home much better, she said at times she did not think there was a thing wrong with her and was preparing for nice drives this summer.

On June 9 she decided to stay in bed all day and get a good rest, she was sitting up working on her apparel a good friend neighbour was in for a short time they had a nice talk, at noon the neighbour had to leave, I was up with her and the phone rang I went down to get the message which was for her.  When I returned a change had come over her, she was still sitting up and when I spoke to her no response, then I stroked her forehead still no move and then I tried her pulse and no sign or move so i decided she was gone, then I called the Dr. he came about 45 min. later and after examination pronounced her gone.  So he called Birley (they were old friends) we then decided on an undertaker and then she was moved out at once.

It was a good way to go, no pain and absolute repose, but quite a shock to those left behind, we were really dazed for a while, she was the last of her family and in years outlived them all 74 yrs.  A good wife and mother, she saw all her family grow up married and doing well also eleven grandchildren which adds up to a full life, but we miss her very much.


She is much remembered by me as a much loved and appreciated grandmother who was always happy and giving of herself to others.

  Fox grandaughter.

Herb and Eliza - 1 of 1 (29)
Herb and Eliza - 3 of 3 (1)

As a widower, Herbert lived a full agenda for the remainder of his life.  He still travelled to England and the United States.  He maintained his letter writing to relatives in England, kept in touch with family and friends and continued his charitable work and making his wooden creations.  Herbert remained in his home on Balmoral Avenue for as long as it was possible.  He passed away in 1969 at the age of 91 at the Macassa Lodge in Hamilton.