Historical Plaque Properties


William Reick - Building and Bridges Crew - GTR
12 Bay Street
Stratford, ON

William Herman Rieck was born in 1878 in Brandenburg, Germany to William Rieck Sr. and Marie Louisa Berlin. In 1882, his parents who were in their late twenties, made the decision to emigrate from Germany to Canada with their young sons Rudolph, William and Ernest. They joined many others of German decent in Waterloo County and settled in New Hamburg. By 1897 they had added another five children to their family.


William Sr. was a mason and bricklayer who at first worked for others but later began making a living as a builder. Several of his sons followed in his footsteps by becoming masons. William, however, worked as a farm labourer before becoming a carpenter.

In 1903 at the age of 27, William married Florence Collett. Florence was born in Hamilton, Ontario where her father was a mechanic for the railway but moved to Stratford when the repair shops closed in Hamilton. At the time, William was working on a farm but by the time their daughter was born in 1907 he also was employed as a mason.

William moved his family to Stratford where the Grand Trunk Railway shops in 1907 and 1909 had expanded and opportunities opened up for employment and new housing. In 1910 the house at 12 Bay Street was built and William Rieck is recorded on the assessment roll as the builder and first occupant. At the time, he was a carpenter with the Grand Trunk Railway Bridges and Building Crew. The Riecks remained in the house for only a year. The next occupant, Charles Smith, was also a carpenter who was employed in the furniture business.

The family moved to Kitchener before the birth of their son Frederick in 1913. Sadly, Florence died a number of years after his birth and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Waterloo. The 1921 census shows William and children living with his parents in Kitchener. He was employed as a night watchman for the GTR.

In 1923 William married the widowed Viola Slomski Johannes. Seven years later the couple had a son Herman Carl who unfortunately died at the age of five days. Little was found about the couple afterwards but there is a William Rieck buried beside Florence in Mount Hope Cemetery who is likely her husband and the first occupant of 12 Bay Street.