Historical Plaque Properties


Thomas John Sayers - Farmer & GTR/CNR Employee
170 Hibernia Street
Stratford, ON

Thomas John Sayers was born on October 9, 1860 in Stratford, the first of five children born to John and Margaret Sayers. His parents emigrated to Canada from Surrey, England in 1855, sailing from LIverpool and arriving in New York. The Sayers were some of the early settlers in Stratford, where John opened a bakery. In the 1871 census John is listed as being a farmer, with his home on Norman Street near John in Stratford. In the 1876 city directory, when Thomas was 16 years old, he and his father are both listed as farmers living on Norman Street. By 1881 the family had moved to Fullarton Township, Perth County, and John is listed again as a farmer. By 1888 the family was back in Stratford, and both Thomas and his father are listed as working at Sayers and Co., flour and feed, on Ontario Street. This must have been a very short-lived enterprise, because in 1891 John was listed again as a farmer, and Thomas was listed as a farmer by 1888-1889.

On April 10, 1884 Thomas married Sarah Jane Warriner who was born in Bluevale, near Brussels, Huron County, and moved to Stratford as an infant. She was the ninth of ten children  born to Richard Warriner (a miller) and Ann Davies, who emigrated from England in about 1847, married in Quebec where they had several of their children, and eventually moved to Huron County and then to Stratford. Sarah’s mother died in 1863. Her father remarried in 1865 and had four more children.

In the fall of 1888 or the spring of 1889, Thomas and Sarah built the house at 170 Hibernia Street on a half acre comprising Lot 30 (where the house was built) and Lot 41 (behind Lot 30). The assessment lists Thomas as a farmer. It is unclear how a relatively young 28-year-old man was able to afford to build such an impressive house. Perhaps when his parents sold the farm in Fullarton Township, they gave him money from the proceeds of the sale towards building his new home. It is also unclear how he could be a farmer living on a half-acre lot. Possibly he grew vegetables and fruit or raised poultry. It is also possible that he worked on a large farm nearby at Hibernia and Avondale.

Over the years Thomas had several occupations: 1888-1900 a farmer; 1900 to 1910 an agent/photo agent/picture agent (salesman?); 1911 working at the chair factory; 1912-1915 a labourer; 1916-1917 a driver. From 1919 to his retirement in 1926, Thomas worked for the GTR/CNR.

Thomas and Sarah had five children. Henry Burtenshaw died just before his fifth birthday. All of the other children eventually married and left Stratford: Fred for Buffalo, Thomas for Windsor, Norman for Sarnia, and Mildred for Detroit.

Thomas died May 12, 1931 at 170 Hibernia. Sarah continued living in the house until 1936 or 1937 when she moved to Windsor to live with her son Thomas. Sarah died at 94 years of age in 1953 at which time there were 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Both Thomas and Sarah are buried at Avondale Cemetery, as is their son Henry, and Thomas’s parents.