Cluff Court

Cluff Court is named in honour of Rev. William Thomas Cluff

Rev. William T. Cluff

Rev. Canon William Thomas Cluff  was rector of St. James Anglican Church for 35 years.

“Rev. W. T. Cluff, who has accepted the appointment to the vacant rectorate of St. James’ Church, Stratford, was born on the Bayfield Line, Goderich Township, and is the youngest of three brothers . . . He was educated at Clinton Collegiate Institute, taught school for three years, entered Huron College and, on taking holy orders, was appointed to Walkerville Parish.”

From Walkerville, Mr. Cluff went to Brussels, then to Fenton, Mich., but returned to Ontario in a few years to Thorndale. He then went to Strathroy, where he was rector of St. John’s for nine years, then resigned to take charge of St. James.

In his 19 years at St. James, the arduous work of the parish was done entirely by Mr. Cluff, except from May 1921 to September 1922, when Rev. M. C. Davies assisted in the work. Reserved and sympathetic in nature, Rev. Cluff won a host of friends and admirers outside his congregation during the years he was in Stratford. He died in London, Ont., in 1931.

Rev. Cluff served in the Canadian Militia. He achieved the rank of major and was the chaplain of the 28th Perth Regiment while the family lived in Stratford.  

Rev. Cluff had two sons who served in the First World War: Howard Roger Cluff, born 1889 and Reginald Alger (Rex) Cluff, born 1891. 

In the spring of 1912, Howard Cluff completed his bachelor of arts degree and graduated from Trinity College in Toronto. In the same year, his brother Rex passed his first-year exams with honors.

Holding the appointment of provisional lieutenant in the 28th Perth Regiment, Howard Cluff successfully completed the examinations that qualified him for the rank of lieutenant in  1915. His status in the Canadian Militia secured, Cluff preparied for overseas service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). In the First World War, Cluff was listed in the militia as an officer with the 28th Perth Regiment, Stratford, Ont. His name was annotated with (E) to indicate he was seconded to the CEF. Rex Cluff was similarly listed in 1916, and their father, William, continued to be shown as the regiment's chaplain.

On Oct. 7, 1916, Howard Cluff arrived at the front as a reinforcement for the 21st Battalion of the 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. The battle honours awarded the 21st battalion over the next few months included these major actions for which Cluff may have been in the field: Ancre Heights, Oct. 1 – Nov. 11, 1916; Arras 1917;  Vimy, April 9 – May 4, 1917.

 During an enemy raid early on March 4, 1918,  Howard Cluff was seriously wounded, was evacuated from the front line, and admitted to a casualty clearing station. He had multiple wounds and was affected by mustard gas used by the enemy. At the clearing station, medics operated on Cluff's left knee and amputated his toes. Notes in his service record mention his wounds were caused by a grenade. He went from the field to a hospital in England and ultimately to a hospital in Canada.

On Aug. 15, 1918, the Clinton News Record reported on a visit to that town by Rev. and Mrs. Cluff. Rev. Cluff had just received a wire informing them that "his son, Lieut. Rex, who went overseas with the 161st Battalion, had been wounded. No particulars were given as to the nature or seriousness of the wound but it is hoped that it may not be serious. Mr. Cluff's elder son was invalided home some months ago after service in France."    

* For a more detailed story of Howard Cluff's military career, see The Regimental Rogue.

Cluff Home, 108 Mornington St.