Historical Plaque Properties


Allen Petrie - Boilermaker - GTR
116 Centre Street
Stratford, ON

The early residents of Elma Township, now part of North Perth, came mainly from continental Europe, England, Ireland and Scotland. The latter was the home of John Petrie’s parents, Andrew and Janet, when they decided to immigrate to North America.


John was born at sea in 1833 and by 1861 was a farmer living with his wife, Élan and his widowed mother in a log house in Elma Township. Sadly Ellen and their young child died. In 1872 he married Sarah McMane, also a resident of Elma. They would have five sons before his death in 1882.

Allen Sands Petrie was the fourth son and the first resident, with his family, of 116 Centre Street.
On July 3,1901 Allen Petrie and Margret Ann Henry, also a native of Elma, were married in  Monkton, then a thriving  village in neighbouring Logan Township.

By 1907, they owned a farm property at Lot 30, Concession 9 in Elma Township where the hamlet of Donegal was emerging on lots separated from the four farming properties, one of which was Petries, at the intersection of two roads. It soon had a general store, post office, cheese factory and of course, a blacksmith shop. In the 1950s it was known as the place to go dancing, especially square dancing.

Allen and Margaret’s children spent their childhood years on this farm attending the local one room school. In 1920 the farm was sold and the family moved to Stratford where Allen found employment as a boilermaker with the burgeoning Grand Trunk Railway.

The eldest daughter, Muriel, became a bookkeeper and her sister Marjorie found a position as a saleslady with a local department store. John then 15 years old, finished high school and became a clerk at the local post office.  The two younger children, Belva and Joseph, continued their studies.

The Post Office soon transferred John to Toronto but after a few years he returned to Elma, purchased a farm and married a local school teacher, Gwendoline Gray. Together they raised three children and became successful and prominent dairy farmers. Dairy stock from their farm was exported across North America.

Apparently city life was not that appealing to John’s parents either because Allen and Margaret sold the house on Centre Street in 1926 and returned to Elma with their younger son, Joseph. They located on Concession 10, Lot 33 which later became the home of Joseph, also a dairy farmer, his wife, Beth Hincks, a teacher, and their four children. The community welcomed the arrival of hydro and telephone service in the late 30’s –early 40’s.  Their farm property was named Birch Tree Farm because of their custom of planting silver birch trees to commemorate special family events.

Allen and Margaret eventually moved to Atwood, a nearby village, where they lived until their deaths, a week apart, in 1958. Both are buried in the Donegal Cemetery.

The farm in Elma where Allen was born had the distinction of being a Century Farm. This designation means that the farm has been in the possession of a single family for 100 years. A sign identifying such a property would be located at the main entrance.