Historical Plaque Properties


William H. Schenck - Builder
273 Cambria Street
Stratford, ON

The first owner of 273 Cambria Drive in Stratford was William Henry Schenck.  Mr. Schenck was a builder by trade.


William Henry Schenck was born on May 2, 1865, the son of William Frederick August Schenck and Pauline Eischer.  Both parents were born in Prussia and emigrated to Canada during the 1850s, settling in Ellice Township. They were married in April 1860 and had nine children, three of whom died in infancy. William was their fourth child. William’s father farmed and also worked as a carpenter to supplement the family’s income.


Growing up, William helped his father on the farm and learned the carpentry trade.  By 1891, William was boarding with John Kastner and his family in Downie Township. Mr. Kastner was a lumber merchant and, according to the census of that year, William worked for him as a carpenter.

William listed his occupation as carpenter when he married 24 year-old Melinda Margaret Kruspe in November 1896 in Sebringville. Melinda was born on March 24, 1875, the daughter of Frederick Kruspe and Mary (Maria) Katherine Seegmiller. Frederick was born in Prussia on August 22, 1826 and emigrated to Canada about 1846. Mary was born on June 7, 1836 in Alsace-Lorraine and emigrated to Canada in the early 1850s. They were married on June 7, 1856 in Sebringville and had at least eight children. Matilda was their seventh child.


Not long after their marriage, William and Melinda moved to the town of Chesley in Bruce County. The town, which sits along the Saugeen River, was the home of the Krug Brothers Furniture Factory, established in 1885. The next two decades saw a rapid demand for the Krugs’ product. The requirement for skilled labour and above average wages likely attracted William and Melinda to Chesley where their first child, Emerson Verne, was born in 1900.


By 1905 the family moved to Stratford where their remaining children were born: Mary Doreen (1907) and William Edwin (1911). During the next 18 years the family resided at a number of locations in Stratford and William established himself as a successful house builder. He built 273 Cambria Street in 1914 and the family lived there for several years. They ultimately settled at 190 Birmingham Street.


According to his obituary, William received a slight scratch on his knee while working on one of his houses. Thinking nothing of it he continued to work but visited the doctor later in the day and the following morning to have it treated. That afternoon he and his 12-year-old son Edwin and William’s sister set out to visit their parent’s gravesite in Rostock. During the car trip William was overcome by fainting spells twice but was revived. He continued on; however, the third attack, resulting from severe blood poisoning from his wound, was fatal. William died on July 2, 1923 at 58.

Melinda lived another thirty-eight years and died in 1961. She is buried alongside William in Avondale Cemetery.