Historical Plaque Properties


Henry Thomas Legg - Lather
312 Douglas Street
Stratford, ON

In 1861 a 27 year-old shoemaker, Henry Thomas Legg, born in England, was living in Whitchurch, York County (now York Region), Canada West, with his wife Eliza, also English born and their two young sons, John and James. Ten years later the 1871 census of Canada reveals that they had journeyed west to locate in Stratford. There the Grand Trunk Railway, following its arrival there in 1856, had generated much prosperity and the extensive repair shops, known today as the Cooper Site, were under construction.

The family grew to include five more sons and a daughter Lizzie (Louise). They were living on Douglas Street near Avondale Avenue and Henry continued to ply his trade as a shoemaker. He eventually acquired property in the Forman Survey (specifically Lot 4, Concession 1 of Downie Township), which was later sub divided into six lots along what is now Huntingdon Avenue.

Their son Henry, sometimes called Harry, had become a lather, a tradesman who worked with plasterers applying a backing material known as “lath” that would hold plaster, tiles and other building materials in place. In 1899 Harry married Annie Ebel, who had grown up in Mornington Township north of Stratford. A year later the young couple moved into the new house built on the westerly third of Lot 33, property which he had acquired from his father and which would become 312 Douglas Street. (Lot 33, located at the corner of Huntingdon and Douglas streets, was one of the six lots purchased earlier by his father.) They became the parents of two daughters, Eliza Whilemena and Jane Elizabeth. Sadly Annie and the girls were left without a husband and father when Harry died from complications of diabetes in 1894 at age 29.

The family continued to live in the Douglas Street house and a few years later Annie married again. Her new husband was Robert English, a machinery agent born and raised in Hawkesville, Waterloo County. Three sons, Lewis, George and Herman, and two daughters, Annie and Helen, joined the family. By the time of the 1911 census Annie's widowed mother, Louise Ebel, was living with them; and Eliza was 20 years old and residing in Windsor with her husband Harry MacDonald, a plumber. After travelling west to spend some years in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Eliza and Harry returned east with their daughters, Gladys and Marilyn, to settle in Detroit, Michigan where Harry found a position as a superintendent with a plumbing company. Meanwhile Eliza’s sister Jane married Joseph Drohan, a carriage woodworker from Guelph where they lived for a short time before also migrating west to Portage La Prairie and ultimately raising a family of eight children.

Annie and Robert were still living in the house at 312 Douglas Street when he died in 1937 at 77 years of age.  Annie died seven years later in November 1944. Both are buried in Stratford’s Avondale Cemetery.