Historical Plaque Properties


Alfred and Leola (Vivian) Richards - Machinist - McLagan Furniture Co.
336 Cambria Street
Stratford, ON

The one-and-a-half-storey stuccoed frame house at 336 Cambria Street, built in 1907 for Alexander Vivian, was first occupied by Alfred and Leola (Vivian) Richards.


Alfred “Alf” Richards was the son of Peter Richards and Charlotte Harrison. Peter, whose parents were of German origin, was born in 1852 in Woolwich Township, Waterloo County. Charlotte’s parents had emigrated from England and she was born in 1853 in Downie Township, Perth County. At the time of their marriage in Stratford in 1873 both were living in Downie where Peter was farming. By 1881 the family had moved into Stratford where Alfred was born in March 1883, the fourth of six children.


In 1905 Alfred, who by then has left home and was working as a machinist in Wingham, Ontario, married Marion Leola Vivian in Stratford. Leola, born in Stratford in August 1884, was the daughter of Alexander “Alex” Vivian and Helen (Todd) Vivian.


Alex Vivian was born in Stratford in December 1857, the son of John Vivian and Maria Luke. In January 1876 he married Helen Todd, the daughter of Walter Todd and Margaret Connelly. Alex and Helen had eight children including Marion Leola. Alex was a furniture finisher and later cabinet maker, part of the burgeoning furniture-making industry in Stratford. In 1906 Alex began a partnership with C. W. Greenwood to form Greenwood & Vivian House Furnishings and Undertaking Limited. Alex also built a number of homes in Stratford, including 239 and 336 Cambria Street, 191 Cobourg Street and 152 Albert Street.


Alf and Leola Richards had their first child, Velma Mae, while still living in Wingham in June 1906. They then moved for a year or two to Preston (now part of Cambridge) and their son Charles Gordon was born there in February 1908. It appears that, later that year, they returned to Stratford and moved into the house owned by Leola’s father Alex at 336 Cambria, which had been built the year before. Alf was working as a machinist at the McLagan Furniture Company, one of the city’s largest furniture manufacturers.


By the time of the 1911 Canada census and the birth of their second son, Alfred Edward Newton, in November of that year, they are living at 225 Brunswick Street. In 1912 they are back on Cambria Street, at number 340.

The Richards family left Stratford about 1912. The 1921 census shows them living in Kincardine. A year or two later they moved to Oshawa, where Alf found employment at General Motors as a mechanic. Velma was married in Oshawa in 1926. Tragically, in 1927 Alf contracted the flu and died in April of pneumonia at the age of 44.


Leola, now using her first name Marion, continued to live in their home at 201 Clarke Street, Oshawa, with her two sons Charles and Newton. By 1940 Newton has married and moved out. Marion lived on with Charles and at times others who may have been tenants or boarders. In August 1974, at the age of 90, Marion died at Oshawa General Hospital.  She is buried with her husband in Union Cemetery, Oshawa.