Historical Plaque Properties


George F. Maitland - Photographer
205 Albert Street
Stratford, ON

George Forbes Maitland was born on March 24, 1835 in the village of Belhelvie which is about eight miles north of the City of Aberdeen, Scotland. He was the youngest of thirteen children born to William Maitland and Margaret Trail. When George was about fourteen years of age his father died and in 1851 the Scottish census records that he was still attending school and lived on Laingseat Side Road in Belhelvie with his mother and five siblings.

At the age of twenty, like many young men of his age, George decided to leave Scotland and seek his fortune in Canada.

George was one of the pioneers in the developing profession of photography, which started in 1853 with the opening of the first portrait studio in Paris, France. This was followed a year later by the development of “carte-de-visit photography” by Adolphe Disderi, also in Paris, which led to a worldwide boom in the establishment of portrait studios and the beginning of the stereoscope in almost every home.

George initially settled in the City of Hamilton where he worked as a photographer. It was here that he met Mary Ann Davidson. The couple were married on February 4, 1861. Mary Ann was born in Elgin, Scotland in January 1839, the daughter of James Davidson and Elizabeth Wilson. The Davidsons had emigrated to Canada in 1857.

George and Mary Ann had six children. Their first born, William James Maitland, died at the age of twelve of diphtheria. Their remaining five children; Minnie (b.1863); Mary (b.1865); Isabella (b. 1869); Nellie (b. 1875); and George Henry (b.1879) all survived to adulthood. George Henry became the editor of the Stratford Herald in the early 1900s and then then joined the editorial staff of the Toronto Star.

In the late eighteen sixties George and Mary Ann moved their young family from Hamilton to St. Catharines where he established a photography studio and then briefly moved to Buffalo, New York before settling in Stratford about 1876 where they rented a newly built house at 205 Albert St. They remained in the house for two years before moving to North and then John Streets before finally settling in a house at 151 Norman St.

George developed a reputation of producing fine photographs and experimenting with photographic techniques to advance the art. He established his photographic business on Market Square and at a number of locations through the years finally settling on Ontario Street. He was an important photographer in Stratford for more than thirty years. Following his retirement George and Mary Ann moved to St. Marys.

Mary Ann died in February 1919. George died on January 16, 1928 and is buried alongside Mary Ann in Avondale Cemetery, Stratford.