Historical Plaque Properties


George Pallister - Manager - Ferguson's Dept. Store
20 Jones Street
Stratford, ON

George Christopher Pallister was born on July 9, 1869 in the coal mining village of Crook, Durham County in the north east of England. He was the last of seven children born to John Pallister and Margaret Blenkensop.


When George was born his father’s occupation was listed a butcher; however, by the time George was eleven his father had become a victualler or inn keeper of the Black Horse Tavern in another mining village of Wilton Le Wear, Durham.


At some point George made the decision to pursue a career in retail, specifically in the fancy dry goods sector  of  textiles  and  ready-made  clothing.  The  1891  census  records  that  George  boarded  with  his married sister’s family in Wilton Le Wear where he worked as a draper’s assistant.


On June 15, 1896 George married Harriet Burnip. The couple likely new each other since childhood as Harriet, commonly known as Hattie, was also born in the village of Crook on February 15, 1871, the daughter of William Burnip and Jane Cranhall. 


For a number of years, Hattie’s father was the manager of a Co-operative Store, which likely served the needs of the mining and working families in the area. By the time she was nineteen, she worked as a milliner according to the 1891 census.


Shortly after their marriage, the young couple relocated to the village of Chilton, Durham where George established his own dry goods store. By 1905, Hattie had given birth to four children (George, John, Doris and William).


Perhaps  because  of  the  fluctuations  in  the  mining  economy  or  the  desire  for  a  better  life  for  their children, George and Hattie made the momentous decision to emigrate to Canada. George came out first in 1905 to pave the way for his family. He secured a position as a manager with W. J. Ferguson’s dry goods  department  store,  which  encompassed  the  main floor  of  the  Gordon  Block  in  Stratford. Prominent in business circles, W. J. Ferguson was Mayor of Stratford in 1905-06.


Once George was settled, Hattie and the four children, ranging in age from one to eight years old, boarded the Empress of Ireland in Liverpool and arrived in Quebec City on July 7, 1906. They then travelled the long distance to Stratford by train. The year 1907 was an auspicious one for George and Hattie. With a growing family and Hattie expecting their fifth child, George rented the newly built house at 20 Jones Street. Their last child, Lillian, was born on October 9, 1907. 


The family lived in the house for about eighteen months when opportunity took George and the family to Toronto where he managed a dry goods store and ultimately set-up his own store.

George and Hattie appear to have remained in Toronto for the rest of their lives. They lived into the late nineteen forties or early fifties but their dates of death and final resting place could not be found