Historical Plaque Properties


Catherine and Mary - Crerar House
196 William Street
Stratford, ON


Catherine and Mary Crerar were the daughters of Peter Crerar and Jessie Hedrick. Peter and Jessie were both born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada with their respective families. Peter’s family arrived in 1832, when Peter was four, and Jessie’s in 1848, when she was thirteen, as recorded in the 1901 census. The couple were married in 1852 when Peter was 24 and Jessie just 17.


Peter began farming and would eventually own four lots on Concessions 2 and 3 in North Easthope Township in Perth County. According to the 1861 census, the couple lived in a 1½ storey stone house and were the parents of three girls. The family grew and prospered and eventually there were 6 girls and 2 boys. Catherine was the third girl and Mary the sixth. After Mary’s birth, the two boys of the family were born.



By 1901, their daughters Jessie, Ann, Robina and Elizabeth, as well as son Peter, had all married and were living in their own homes. The census also recorded Catherine (42), Mary (35) and Robert (29) were the only children living with their parents on Lot 36, Concession 3 North Easthope.  Jessie Hedrick Crerar died on July 1, 1901. It may have been that event that prompted Peter Crerar to make a will later that year. In it he left his farms to his sons and some money to all of his daughters. The largest beneficiaries among the girls were Catherine and Mary who were given over three thousand three hundred dollars each as well as, conjointly, the majority of the furniture in the family home. Peter died five years later in 1906 at the age of 78 years.


In early 1908 Catherine and Mary Crerar built the house at 196 William Street in Stratford. Mary did not live in the house for long. On December 18, 1908, forty-three year old Mary Crerar married widower David William Johnston aged forty-eight. David Johnston was a blacksmith by trade who worked for the Grand Trunk Railway. In 1910 the Johnstons built an identical house next door to the original house at 200 William Street. Both houses were built by John Oman, a carpenter.



Catherine owned and lived at 196 William Street until 1921 when she sold it and moved to 207 Mornington Street. She died there on September 18, 1923. Mary and David Johnston moved to Britannia Street in 1920 where she died on April 10, 1956.


The houses at 196 and 200 William Street have changed somewhat over the years but the bones of the houses built by the Crerar sisters and David Johnston can still be seen today.