Historical Plaque Properties


Mary Ann Way - Widow, mother of John Way, Bootmaker
169 Church Street
Stratford, ON

Mary Ann lived at 169 Church Street from the time it was built by her son John Way in 1878 until 1882. In the census she is listed as Mary Ann Cooper; however, in the city directories and assessment rolls she is listed as Mary Ann Way or Mrs. Way. In the 1881 city directory she is listed as Mrs. Mary A. Way, widow of William (Way).


Mary Ann Cooper is listed in the 1851 census as a 42­year­old widow living in Downie Township with her six sons: Thomas (19), a blacksmith; Benjamin (17), a labourer; Robert (15); William (13); Richard (10); And John (8).


In the 1861 census Mary Ann Cooper was living in Stratford with her two youngest sons: Richard, a blacksmith, and John, a shoemaker.


In the 1871 census Mary Ann Cooper was still living in Stratford, although she was no longer living with any of her sons. In the 1881 census she was living at 169 Church Street by herself.

In all four censuses she is listed as having been born in Ireland, although there are no readily available records confirming that. She is also listed as being a Roman Catholic. Her birth dates listed in the censuses are as follows: about 1810, 1811, about 1809, and 1805.


The last record of her was in 1882 when she was still living at 169 Church Street. There is no record of her death or burial in Stratford or Perth County.


It would appear that Mary Ann McGraw may have been born in Ireland, married William Way (from England), had six sons, was widowed, remarried a Mr. Cooper, was widowed again, and then died in 1882 or later. There are no records to confirm any of this, and there is no information concerning her arrival in Canada.

John Way was a prominent boot and shoe merchant in Stratford. In the 1870s he was a partner in Way and Heinbuch Boot and Shoe Store in the Myers’ Block, Market Square. By 1880 he owned the business himself. He later moved the store to 26 Downie Street and then to 13 Market Place. The business flourished until his death in 1921, at which point it was taken over by his daughter Sarah.


The house at 169 Church Street was built in 1878 by John Way, apparently for his mother. She is listed as a tenant from 1878 until 1882. After her departure, the house became a rental property for John.
In 1879 John Way purchased a lot on Brunswick Street from his brother Robert, and in 1880 John and his family moved into their new house at 129 Brunswick Street. John was still living at this address when he died in 1921.

Through her son John, Mary Ann had seven grandchildren, two of whom died in infancy. Her son Richard emigrated to Michigan in 1862 or 1863, married and had five children, became an American citizen, and died in 1917. Apparently there are no records of the other four sons.