Historical Plaque Properties


James & Susan Bolger - Cabinetmaker
70 Caledonia Street
Stratford, ON

James W. Bolger, the son of Joseph Bolger and Mary Quigley, was born June 17, 1860 in beautiful Sullivan Township of Grey County about 2 hours north of Stratford, Ontario.


James Bolger married Susan Chesterfield, the daughter of Perter Chesterfield and Mary Allen, of Tara Township. By the time the 1891 census was taken, the couple had moved south to in Stratford and James was working as a cabinet maker.


In 1915, James and Susan became the first owners and residents of 70 Caledonia Street where they resided for almost thirty years. The family including daughters Irene, Mildred and Mary belonged to the nearby St. James Anglican Church.

Like many Stratford residents at the time, James W Bolger was employed at Porteous and McLagan Furniture. George McLagan was the first furniture manufacturer to build one of the large yellow brick buildings in Stratford’s factory district. At the time, Stratford was home to Canada’s largest furniture industry. Along with James Bolger it employed about a quarter of the city’s workforce. It was the second largest employer next to the railway which employed about half.

James started as a cabinet maker and after a number of years began doing chair design. This was a very prosperous and major economic sector in Stratford. The industry attracted prospective workers to the area in the early 1890’s. This was a time of economic hardship in other parts of Canada.
James W. Bolger continued to work there until his death.

James died May 31, 1919. Susan Bolger continued to live in the house until her death in 1924. During the last years of her life, she shared the house with her daughter, Mary, her son-in-law and grandson. James and Susan Bolger are buried in Avondale Cemetery, Stratford.