Historical Plaque Properties

 

Charles A. Mayberry - Principal - Stratford Collegiate Institute
126 St. Vincent Street N.
1902

In 1853, Richard Mayberry and Matilda Sibbald were married in West Oxford Township, Ontario, in the vicinity of Ingersoll. Richard of Irish heritage was born in Isle Aux Nois, Quebec while Matilda's ancestors came from Scotland to New York in the early 1800s before locating in Streetsville, Ontario. Richard set up his business as a blacksmith and wagon-maker and over the years the couple had three sons and three daughters.

In 1882 the second son, Charles Alexander, known as “Cam”, who had obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto and taught in rural schools in Oxford County, was living in Brantford with his wife, Georgetta (Etta) Craig, and their little son, Horace, when they relocated to Stratford. Cam had successfully pursued a position advertised in the Toronto Globe for a classical master to teach Latin, Greek, French and German at Stratford High School.

 

Eight years later he was appointed principal of the school, now Stratford Collegiate Institute, a position he would hold until his retirement 37 years later. Among  the several thousand students who passed through the collegiate over those years were Agnes McPhail, the first woman in Canada to be elected to the House of Commons and Professor J.C. McLennan, University of Toronto physics professor and world famous scientist.

His family life was marked with sadness when their youngest son, James, lived for only a few months after his birth in 1891; three years later his wife Etta succumbed to typhoid fever leaving him with a young family of four. In July 1895 he married Helen St. Clair Coates from Walkerton, Ontario and six more children followed. In 1902 the Mayberry family moved from their residence on Douglas Street to the new house on St. Vincent Street North which Charles had built on property he purchased in 1894. They were still living there when he died on July 15, 1938 at age 81.

 

Cam Mayberry became a highly respected member of the community as well as a prominent leader in both the city's and Ontario's educational systems. At the time of his death the considerable publicity in the Beacon Herald included several tributes from both civic and educational officials. The then current chairman of the Board of Education wrote that “Cam Mayberry might well be known as one of the greats in the advancement of education in Ontario, he kept abreast with the times and he was one of the most interesting persons this city has known.” The mayor of the day, Thomas Henry, a former student, was quoted as saying: “I know of no man in this city who was more favourably known, who has done more to mould character and better the standards of our citizens.”

 

His wit and eloquence made him a popular speaker at public occasions while his love of classics led to a special interest in words, their derivation and spelling. In retirement he became a keen motorist especially at the wheel of his bright yellow Studebaker convertible which he named “Whiskey Six.” His tall, erect, silver-haired figure became a familiar sight as he walked along the city streets greeting almost everyone he met along the way. Mayberry Place in the northeast part of Stratford is named in his honour.