Historical Plaque Properties

 

John L. Youngs - Builder/Mayor
240 Birmingham Street
1904

John Lant Youngs was born in West Zorra Township, Oxford County on December 11, 1867. He was the son of Benjamin Youngs and Margaret Reid.


Gifted with a photographic memory, John Youngs was a man of many parts and many aptitudes.
Following in his father’s footsteps as a builder, he spent his summers, while attending high school in Stratford, working on construction projects in Northern Ontario including building railway stations for the newly created CPR.


On April 27, 1892, John married twenty-two year old Mary Jane Collins the daughter of William Collins and Elizabeth Clyne. They had nine children: Benjamin (died in infancy), John (Jack), Mary, Ruth, Edmund, Donald, Helen, Duncan (died in infancy) and Robert Laird.


About 1893, John established his own construction company and throughout his career was responsible for building many of the iconic buildings in Stratford such as the City Hall, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, the old YMCA, and the addition to the Stratford Public Library.


At the outbreak of World War I, John was commissioned Lieutenant of the 1st Battalion which left Stratford August 22, 1914 and after a brief time in England arrived in France in February of 1915. Three months later he was wounded in the head and shoulder and after a brief convalescence was back in the trenches. He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery during the Battle of Mount Sorrel in June 1916 and ultimately was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 110th Perth Battalion.


John’s son Jack left his studies at Queen’s University and was commissioned a Lieutenant in 1914. Like his father he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry during the June 1916 Battle of Courcelette, for capturing an enemy machine gun position, its crew and securing the enemy trench.  Lieutenant Jack Youngs was killed-in-action seven months later on April 9, 1917 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.


After the war, John Youngs was elected Mayor of Stratford in 1919. He was an active advocate for ex-servicemen and an official of the Great War Veterans Association the forerunner of the Canadian Legion.


The flag at City Hall was lowered out of respect to John Lant Youngs who died July 10, 1947 at his home at 240 Birmingham St. His wife Mary died December 28, 1951. They are buried in Avondale Cemetery.