Historical Plaque Properties


William Henry Hine - Innkeeper & Merchant
132 Cobourg Street
Stratford, ON

In the early 1840’s newlyweds William Henry Hine and his wife Elizabeth Fishleigh left Devonshire, England and made their way to the little settlement of Stratford, Canada West, where their first daughter Elizabeth was born in 1843. An advertisement by William in a March24,1848 Stratford newspaper announced the opening of his new store offering a general assortment of dry goods and groceries which he was selling cheap for cash or produce. The business appears to have prospered because by the time of the 1851 census William was about 31 years old and the family was living in a two story brick house, remarkable as most dwellings of the period were frame or log construction.

But his interest turned to the hotel business which was quite active with several new facilities opening to accommodate the increasing number of travellers. The John Sharman family hotel, The Farmer’s Inn, at the intersection of Huron and Mornington Street had a succession of Innkeepers but the one who was remembered as having “the jolliest laugh that was ever heard” was William Hine who held that position from 1855 to 61. When the Grand Trunk Railway established regular service from Toronto to Stratford in October 1856, a trainload of dignitaries arrived in Stratford about noon in Stratford on October 8 for the ceremonies to mark the occasion. Afterwards they attended a dinner at the Farmer’s Inn hosted by Mr. Hine, and many remained for a ball in the evening.

In 1862 he re-located to the Palmerston House  on Ontario St. where he announced his new position with  an effusive newspaper advertisement assuring the travelling public that they would find it to be the best hotel west of Toronto offering only the choicest food delicacies, finest wines and liquours, clean, well aired beds and good stabling.  A few years later he was the Tavern Keeper at John C. W. Daly’s establishment on the west side of Erie St just south of Ontario Street.

William Hine owned various properties in Stratford including 132 Cobourg Street where in 1857 he erected a small building which housed various tenants until Donald McDonald, a labourer purchased the property in 1872 and enlarged the structure. 

Records show that William served as Perth County Auditor from 1859 to 1862 and was a member of the Perth County Militia. Elizabeth and William’s family included 4 daughters, Elizabeth, Martha, Florence (Flora) & Mary Jane. In 1862 Elizabeth married Walter Moraski, a native of Poland living in Brantford and they emigrated to Michigan. Martha died of consumption in 1876, Flora who remained unmarried died of a brain hemorrhage in Clinton in 1912. Mary married Ragland Rowland and they lived in Clinton in the neighbouring county of Huron where she died suddenly in 1922.

William and Elizabeth and their daughters left Stratford in the late 1860s and settled in Clinton where he returned to the grocery business as a produce merchant. They spent the remainder of their lives there Elizabeth died in1889 and William in 1894.They are buried in the town’s cemetery.