Historical Plaque Properties

 

George S. Pequegnat - Jeweller
289 Cobourg Street
1907

George Stanley Pequegnat was born in the village of Tavistock on June 30, 1882. He was the son of James Victor Pequegnat and Pauline Bouquin.


The Pequegnats were Swiss and came from a long line of clock and watchmakers. The family, which included sixteen children, could only speak French with a smattering of German. Led by their father Ulysses and mother Francoise Verpillot they arrived in Toronto from Switzerland in April 1874 on their way to Muskoka. A fierce storm and the challenge of language in a predominately English speaking province caused them to change their plans and to settle in Berlin (now Kitchener) which was the heart of German speaking Ontario.


During the next two decades Ulysses’ sons learned the family business and were dispatched  to surrounding communities, such as Stratford, to set-up their own jewellery stores. This network of shops was supplied by the flagship store in Berlin, which purchased items in such volume that their prices were rarely matched.


George’s uncle Arthur was the most adventurous entrepreneur of the family. The increasing popularity of the bicycle during the late 1890s led Arthur to establish a bicycle manufacturing company in Berlin. However, by 1903 he recognized the potentially disastrous impact the invention of the motor car would have on the cycling business. In 1904, he returned to his roots by establishing the Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company, which became the most recognized clock company in Canadian history until its closure in 1941.


It was in this environment that George was born and raised. By 1889, his father James who was a skilled watchmaker in his own right,  had moved the family to Stratford to establish his own jewellery store as part of the Pequegnat network. George learned the business from his father and by the time he was twenty-one he was able to call himself a jeweller.


On September 7, 1904 George married twenty-six year old Jean Isabelle Watson of Clarimont, the daughter of William Watson and Jean Preston Cooper. They had one child, Phyllis Helene, who was born in 1905. In 1907, the couple moved into the newly built house at 289 Cobourg.


George, along with his brothers loved music, and sang in or directed church choirs. George’s talent was discovered as a young member of the Ontario Street Baptist Church. He developed his voice and became a well-known soloist while he lived in Stratford and in other communities where he lived.


George left Stratford about 1910 to join Seifert and Sons jewellers in Quebec City and latterly the prestigious Montreal based jewellers Henry Birks & Sons. He lived in London, Ontario during the last thirty years of his life where he was a Bond Salesmen and kept his lively interest in music.


George died in London and was buried on Christmas Eve 1945 in Avondale Cemetery.  His wife, Jean, died in 1963 and his daughter Phyllis in 1994. They are also buried in Avondale along with George’s parents and some of his siblings.