Historical Plaque Properties


John Ross - Grain Merchant - Ross & Fortune
94 Water Street
Stratford, ON

John Ross, at twenty-three years of age, emigrated from Aberlady, Scotland in 1857. By 1860, he arrived in Stratford where he met and married Julia Lamb, a native of Ireland. According to the 1861 census, he worked as a stevedore for the railway.

When John Ross built his home on Water Street in 1868, Stratford had been the Perth County Seat for twelve years. J.A. Carral was the mayor at the time, but was defeated on January 1, 1869 by T.M. Daly who was the son of early resident, and Stratford’s first reeve, J.C.W. Daly.

Nearby, just northwest of the corner of Water and Nile Street close to the river, young Samuel Fuller had joined with Francis Marshall to build a flax mill in 1866. They employed 200 people and scutched, or dressed, over 100 tons of flax per year in preparation for spinning.

Further to the west along the river, Adam Argo, a merchant from Fergus, had established a three storey flour and grist mill that was run by water and steam. The employees of the mill dressed and packed 240 bushels of flour each day.

The first daughter of John and Julia Ross was born in late 1861. By 1871, when the next census was taken, four more daughters had been added to the family. John had moved from being a stevedore to running his own business as a grain merchant and was able to employ a live-in servant to help Julia.

A few years later he joined William Fortune to create a produce business, Ross & Fortune. Their store was located in the Myers Block on Downie Street across from the market square.

While his business prospered, his family grew up in the house he had built for them. His daughters, Kate and Mary Ann, both married locomotive engineers. Mary Ann remained in Stratford but Kate moved to Chicago with her husband. Agnes, Jessie, and young Julia remained with their parents until their deaths. John and Julia had become well-known and well-respected members of Knox Church and the community at large according to their obituaries.

John Ross died in December 1906 and his wife, Julia, died almost exactly a year later. Their daughters remained in the house until they sold it in 1919 to George Hanley and moved to 229 Brunswick Street. Agnes died in 1927, Jessie in 1943, and Julia in 1954. They are buried with their parents in Avondale Cemetery.