Historical Plaque Properties


Catherine Freeborn - Retired Farmer
93 Hibernia Street
Stratford, ON

When Catherine Freeborn purchased the west portion of Lot# 399 on the south side of Hibernia Street in 1896 and a house was built, she was a recent widow with 4 daughters and a 4 year old son. The family was re-locating to Stratford from the family farm in North Easthope Township where a 29 year old Catherine Karn had begun married life in 1880 with her Irish-born husband Thomas Freeborn. Thomas, who was almost 20 years older, had emigrated from County Donegal, Ireland and found his way to Perth County. The couple were married in Ingersoll, Oxford County, February 11, 1880.

Catherine was born in East Zorra Township, which is in the northern part of Oxford County where it adjoins neighbouring Perth County, the eldest daughter of Christopher and Sarah Karn, who were of German origin and the parents of six children. The farm where Catherine and Thomas lived was in the northern part of North Easthope near the hamlet of Topping, the remnants of which still exist today on the right side of Road 119 as it curves to the left beyond Gadshill. 

The first of their five daughters, Sarah Ellen, (Nellie) was born in 1881 and she was followed by four sisters, Elizabeth, (Bessie), Fannie Mae, Maud, who lived for only a few hours after birth, and Victoria Susan (Queenie) and a brother, William Christopher, born in 1892. Sarah, Elizabeth and Fannie Mae eventually settled in Toronto, did not marry and are buried together in Mount Pleasant Cemetery there.  The youngest daughter, Victoria Susan, married George Chandler, also a Stratford native who was working in Toronto at the time of their marriage in 1914 as an inspector.

Over the years Victoria and George shared their home at 8 Bowden Avenue in the Danforth area of Toronto with various family members who came to the big city. Their only daughter, Marjorie Beatrice, encountered several health problems and died at age 21 in 1936. They also had a son William (Billie).  George and Victoria, who died in 1980, are buried in Allenwood Cemetery which is near Wasaga Beach in Simcoe County, Ontario.

In 1907 Catherine sold her house at 93 Hibernia Street where she had been living with her eldest daughter Nellie and her only son William and moved to 39 Shrewsbury Street. William was 24 years of age and a bank clerk, when he was drafted in 1916 to serve in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. After returning from the war William located in Toronto living in the Danforth area with Victoria and George. He became a travelling salesman and in 1924 married Martha Violet Shaw, also of Toronto. In a few years they moved to western Canada as so many did in those early days, to Calgary, Alberta, where William continued his occupation as a commercial traveller. A son, William Douglas was born in 1942 and would grow up to become an engineer working in the oil business in western Canada. 

Catherine, and her eldest daughter Nellie, a saleslady, lived on in the Shrewsbury Street house until 1919 when Nellie joined her sisters in Toronto which is probably where Catherine went as well as all of her family, except son William in Calgary, was living there. She died in 1939 at age 88.