Historical Plaque Properties

 

Joseph Robertson - Tailor
145 Grange Street
1888

In 1888 Henry Scarth built a two story brick house on the south side of Grange Street at the corner of Front Street and Stratford gained another tailor when Joseph Robertson and his wife Susan moved in.  They had previously been living in London, Ontario for several years.


Joseph was born in 1832 of Scottish heritage in Pictou County, Nova Scotia and made his way to Upper Canada where the 1871 Census of Canada finds him living in Bruce County, Ontario. He set up business as a tailor in Tiverton and later Brucefield, both villages in that County and was the father of three sons. His marriage to Susan McEwen from neighbouring Huron County, the daughter of Hugh McEwen and Christine Cameron, early Scottish immigrants, had taken place on New Year’s Eve, 1858.


By 1881 the family had moved to southwestern Ontario and taken up residence at 350 Dufferin Avenue in London. Their family had grown with the arrival of three more sons and a daughter. Joseph continued to work in the tailoring profession as a cutter at William Wilson & Co., a London firm that produced gentlemen’s furnishings as menswear was described in those days.


In these later years of the nineteenth century production methods for various goods were changing in response to the market demands of a growing population. Tailoring was no exception and small, usually one-man, shops were being replaced by the factory system of garment production which saw master tailors being replaced by cutters and sewing tailors. The cutter frequently functioned as a salesman as well as doing measurements, making patterns and preparing the garment parts for the sewing tailor who was skilled in working with the wide variety of fabrics but was also responsible for managing the factory, the employees and the machinery. Sewing machines were becoming popular. 
Their eldest son William John, who had become a bookkeeper in London, married Jessie Sage, an American from Sacramento, California who was also living in London. They moved to California where they spent the rest of their lives and raised their only child, a son, Milton Sage. William enlisted in the American army in 1917 and served in World War 1. He died in 1981 at age 95 and is buried in California.


The second son, Milton, settled in Brantford with his wife, Katie Foster, where he established a business as a druggist. There were 2 sons, Foster and Morton, but sadly their father, Milton, died at age 45 from complications following surgery. His younger brother, Peter Daniel, crossed the border into Michigan and became a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo, where he was a furrier. He died there when he was 85 years old.  The fourth brother, James Joseph, made his way to New York State where he worked as a manager in a furniture store in Syracuse and was also drafted to serve in The Great War.


Son Edwin followed the trend to go stateside and found employment in Chicago as a coal salesman. He passed away there when he was only 36 years of age and is buried in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Born in 1878 Christy Grace, their only daughter, was just a toddler when they moved to London and 10 years old when they came to Stratford. After finishing school she enrolled in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbour. The only reference to the youngest son, Osmond was in the 1881 census of Canada when he was five months old and then later in a 1910 US census to a 32 year old single man by that name living and working in Boston as an assistant engineer on a dredging project.


The Robertson’s’ stay in Stratford was brief because  by 1890 they were living in Boston where Joseph was once again working as a tailor and later moved to Detroit and then Kalamazoo  where they shared a house with Peter and his wife. Both are buried in Brantford, Ontario in the Farringdon Burial Ground.