Historical Plaque Properties


William Ireland - Plasterer
158 Elizabeth Street
Stratford, ON

William Ireland was born on May 19, 1846 in Crail, Fife, Scotland to William Ireland and Isabella Armitt. He was the fifth of six children. His father was a joiner (woodworker in furniture and window making).

By the time William (Junior) was 14, he was a slater’s apprentice (laying slates on a roof, etc.). By the time he was 24, he was a plasterer, a trade that he practised for the rest of his working life. In 1871, William married Catherine McLeod Tait in Edinburgh, Scotland. Their first child, Elizabeth McLeod, was born in Edinburgh in 1872. William, Catherine, and Elizabeth emigrated to Canada in 1873. It appears that they moved directly to Stratford.


In the 1876 and 1880-81 Stratford directories, William is listed as a plasterer living on Mornington Street. It appears that prior to 1889, William Ireland owned Lot 23 on Elizabeth Street, but sold part of Lot 23 and then purchased part of Lot 24 to build, in 1889, the house that is now 158 Elizabeth Street. The Ireland family, consisting of six children and two adults, lived in this house only until 1891. In the 1896 directory they were living just down the street at 122 Elizabeth Street, a much larger house, where they remained until 1914.

William specialized in ornamental plastering and cement work. In the directories from 1896 to 1914, he is usually listed as a contractor or builder, so apparently he was more than just a plasterer. William was a member of the public school board for several years. At Knox Presbyterian Church he was an elder and later a clerk of session.


William and Catherine had eight children including two who died in infancy. Several of their children were adventurous, leaving Stratford to start new lives in other parts of North America.   Elizabeth McLeod Ireland was a teacher in Stratford, married in 1904, and died in 1908. Isabella “Bell” was a bookkeeper who moved to Calgary in about 1913 and died in 1917. William James became an architect in Stratford, and was the architect of the Knox Sunday School. He later moved to Winnipeg, and eventually to California and then to Tucson, Arizona, where he was a partner in Tucson Iron Works as an engineer. Edward Wallace was a clerk/salesman who eventually moved to Winnipeg and later to California. Catherine Janet “Jessie” moved to Calgary, and then she and her husband (also from Perth County) moved to Saskatchewan as homesteaders. Sidney Keith lived and worked in Toronto for many years and later moved back to Stratford where he worked in insurance and died in 1970.


William and Catherine followed their daughter Isabella to Calgary in 1914 and lived with her until Isabella’s death. It appears that they then moved to Brock, Saskatchewan where they lived with their daughter Jessie and her family.


William Ireland died on January 24, 1919 in Brock, Saskatchewan at his daughter Jessie’s house. Catherine died on March 31, 1924 in Winnipeg, perhaps living with her son Edward and his family. Although they died in Western Canada, William and Catherine are buried in Avondale Cemetery, as are their children Elizabeth and Sidney and the two who died as infants.