Historical Plaque Properties


John & George Ellison - Saloon Keepers
9 East Gore Street
Stratford, ON

John Lake Ellison (b. 1821) and his brother George Smith Ellison (b. 1829) were born in the seaport town of King’s Lynn, located in the County of Norfolk in the eastern part of England. They were the sons of George Holdgate Ellison and Amy Barrett who had two daughters, Phyllis (b. 1824) and Amy (b. 1825)  and two sons, William (b.1817) and Thomas (b. 1835), in addition to John and George.


Not surprisingly John and George’s father had gone to sea as both a mate and ship’s master for forty-five years before establishing a sail making and chandler’s business in King’s Lynn, which he operated until his death in 1858.

John followed in his father’s footsteps going to sea when he was fifteen years of age and achieved his Master Mariner certificate in 1851. As a ship’s captain and part owner of a vessel John engaged in the merchant trade between England, Russia and Quebec until the 1860s.

The 1861 U. K. census records John listed as a Master Mariner living in King’s Lynn with his widowed mother and his sisters Amy and Phyllis who was widowed with two children thirteen years old Amy and eleven year old Thomas Steel.

Following the death of their mother John, George, Amy, Phyllis and her children made the decision to emigrate to Canada and appear to have arrived in Stratford about 1865.

John and George are listed in the Perth County Directory as proprietors of the Grand Trunk Refreshment Rooms located at the GTR’s railway station. Their advertisement announced that twenty minutes were allowed for meals at the station, which included cakes, candies, teas etc. and their bar was furnished with the best brands of liquors, wines, ales and cigars. A year later assessment records show that John and George rented a newly built residence from Robert McLagan at what is now 9 East Gore Street where they established the Stratford Saloon.

John and George appear to have operated the saloon until the early 1870s. The family moved to a house on Huron Street near what is now Douglas Street. In honour of their hometown they called the house Lynn Cottage.

George appears to have retired after the saloon business and is reported in the directory as a gentleman meaning he lived on income. While part of the reason for his retirement may have been health problems because George died at the age of forty-eight in 1877 and is buried in Avondale Cemetery.

After leaving the saloon business, John joined the federal public service as a custom’s officer with the quaint tile of customs waiter at the customs house, which was located on Shakespeare St. near Downie. Known as Captain Ellison, John died in 1887 and is buried alongside his brother and sister.
With the death of her siblings Phyllis went to the United States to live with her son, Thomas.