Historical Plaque Properties

 

Bridget Tracy - Widow/ Dress Maker
89 Rebecca Street
1877

The house at 89 Rebecca Street, built in 1877, is testament to a mother’s love of her children and desire to see them established in life.

That mother, Bridget McQuade was born in Ireland in June 1833 and came to Canada when she was 9 years old. By 1851, she was married to John Tracy and with one-year-old daughter, Anne, and John’s parents were living in a log cabin on Lot 5, Concession 1 of Downie Township, near the present-day intersection of O’Loane Avenue and Huron Street.  Bridget and John’s son, Cornelius John, was born in 1853.

By the early 1870’s, Bridget Tracy was a widow and had moved into the town of Stratford where she had a dressmaking business near Market Square. She was clearly astute about money matters because in 1874 she was able to purchase Lots 9 and 10 on Rebecca Street, most likely as an investment for her children. Her daughter Anne had married machinist Matthew Swift in 1869 and Anne and her husband lived in one of the two houses on Rebecca Street while Cornelius and his family would live in the other.

Cornelius had become a printer and married Sarah Frances Rutledge on July 24, 1876. With some financial assistance from his mother, Cornelius and his bride moved into their newly-constructed house at 89 Rebecca Street the following year. A son, John Rutledge Tracy, was born April 23, 1877.

In 1880, Cornelius opened Pratt and Tracy Printers with his partner Francis Pratt at the corner of Market (now Downie) and Ontario Streets, in the same building as his mother’s dress shop. Almost no job seemed too small for Pratt and Tracy. They printed everything from business cards and envelopes right up to periodicals and journals. He was also Secretary-Treasurer of the Father Mathew Temperance Society.

By 1891, the Tracy family had grown to include daughters Cornelia, Helen, Anne and Mary. There is no further record of their oldest child, John, or of his brother Peter, who was born in 1886, and it is likely that they died in infancy. Bridget lived next door to Cornelius and his family, with her daughter and son-in-law and remained with them when they moved to 102 Railway Avenue.

In 1892 Cornelius sold his share of the business to his partner and he and his family emigrated to Brooklyn, New York. He would die in Brooklyn a few years later, on March 1, 1896. The fact that his funeral and interment were in Stratford is evidence of his strong ties to the community he grew up in. His funeral was well attended with his pallbearers being several prominent fellow businessmen, including his former partner, Francis Pratt. His wife and children appear to have chosen to live in the United States after his death.

Bridget would continue to operate her dress shop for many years. She died at the home of her granddaughter Margaret Swift Patrick at 281 Erie Street in June 1923. She and her son Cornelius are buried in the old Roman Catholic cemetery on O’Loane Avenue just north of Huron Street.