Historical Plaque Properties


Charles McDonald - Typesetter - Stratford Herald
17 Nile Street
Stratford, ON

Charles John McDonald, born in 1865, grew up on Cobourg Street just around the corner from Nile Street. His father, Donald was born in Scotland, his mother, Jane Holloway, in Brighton, England. They married in 1857 here in Ontario, then known as Canada West, in the Brock District, now part of Oxford and Brant Counties and in a few years made their way to Stratford where they settled on the north side of Cobourg Street with Charles and his sister Elizabeth Maria.


In Stratford and elsewhere during the later years of the 1800’s, newspapers were flourishing as the primary vehicle for news, advertising  and  community information but their production was highly labour intensive as linotype or other printing machines were yet to come. Production staff knownas type setters or printers picked the type out of cases and placed it by handto format the pages. This was the occupation that Charles chose and it led toa career at the Stratford Herald. A photo from the Beacon Herald (copy attached) found at the Stratford-Perth Archives shows “Charlie” as he was known there working in the make-up room at the Herald with his fellow printers.


On August 22, 1889 he married, not the girl next door, but a neighbour a fewdoors down the street. Mary Anne Cook, the daughter of George and Mary Ann Cook, immigrants from England, was born in Quebec City as were her five brothers and sisters. The family continued travelling west to Stratford and  were living on Cobourg Street by the time of the 1881 census of Canada. George was a bricklayer, two of his sons were painters and a third was a moulder.


Charles’ sister Elizabeth became a milliner, a popular occupation for young women back in the days when hats were an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe  She married Samuel Hoffman, the son of a Stratford merchant andthey moved to Daly Terrace. Her husband and two of his brothers opened a dry goods store, Hoffman Brothers, on Ontario Street very near the Post Office.


Following their marriage Charles and Mary Anne continued to reside in the Nile/Cobourg Streets area. Charles’ father Donald owned the west half of Lot 180, a property at the northeast corner of Nile and Cobourg. In 1911 a lot was created at the southwest corner of Lot 180 and a new house with the address of 17 Nile Street was built for Charles and Mary Anne. They did not have children but appear to have raised a niece, Emma Cook. Charles died ofpernicious anemia in 1923. Shortly afterwards Mary Anne moved to 11 Nile Street and died in 1947.