Maitland Alexander Humber (1877-1950) has been called the father of apprenticeship in the Grand Trunk and Canadian National Railways' Stratford operations. Known to his friends as "Mait," he was named after two rivers — the Maitland River, which flows into Goderich, where he was born, and the Humber River in Toronto.
He entered the service of the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) in Goderich as a young man in 1899, and came to the Stratford locomotive repair shops the following year. As early as 1903, he acted as assistant instructor to a group of volunteer apprentices. He took charge of the apprentices in the shops in 1909. He eventually became the supervisor and examiner of apprentices in the CNR central region.
As of 1917, he was headquartered in Montreal, but he always maintained his home in Stratford. A noted sportsman, during his early days at the Stratford shops he was a sprinter and a cyclist. He did "the century," 100 miles non-stop from Stratford to Goderich and back, in five hours and 35 minutes. In 1930 he was a member of the only Stratford rink ever to win an Ontario curling championship.
Graduates of the GTR and CNR apprenticeship programs were considered preeminent among railway apprenticeship graduates anywhere on the continent. To his tribute, some 200 apprentices, past and present, were among those who attended Mait Humber's retirement banquet in 1942.
Mait and his wife Helena (Scarth) took up residence next door to her parents at 198 Nile St. She was 93 when she died in July 1967. Source: Streets of Stratford 2004