Historical Plaque Properties


Peter McLaren - Brick Maker/Labourer
64 Earl Street
Stratford, ON

According to the 1872 Census, Peter McLaren and his family lived on Lot 3 & 4,

in Stratford, later becoming 64 Earl Street. It was either a framed or log house.  

Peter was the son of James McLaren and Margaret McEwen, both of Scottish descent.  
He was born about 1824 in Fulton County, New York, USA.  

Peter married Mary Ann Griffin on June 15, 1850 at Westminster, Middlesex, ON. Mary
Ann was born to Nathan Griffin Jr and Jane McAdam about 1830 in Ontario. Peter and
Mary Ann had 4 boys- Jeremiah, John, Nathan and James. Peter’s occupation is listed as a farmer in 1861 at Westminster, Middlesex, ON, Canada. 

Moving to Stratford, he worked as a brick maker/labourer in 1871. The year before,
the Grand Trunk Railway had chosen Stratford as the site for the new railway repair shops. This brought hundreds of workers and their families to the town, which resulted in a boom in house building to accommodate them.

In the assessment record of 1876, Peter still resided at 64 Earl Street but in the next
year he had moved away.  Peter died on September 1, 1888 in London, Middlesex, ON of
cancer of the stomach and is buried at Brick St Cemetery on Comissioners Road in
London. Mary Ann died on August 12, 1902 and is buried next to her husband.

There is a bit of confusion as to when the house was actually built--before 1873. There were some houses on Park Lot 437, which was 8 acres, but they can't be matched to the
1872 assessment book.  In 1873 the first floor was possibly replaced, as there is a very
thick basement wall and the house was listed as brick on the 1873 assessment.

A second story was added 1888, as an increase in value of the property was listed in the
1888 assessment records.    Between 1877 & 1880, Alex Anderson was listed as the
owner, but rented the land and house to David Brown, a teamster and Daniel Fraser,
a mason.

Samuel Wilton was listed as the owner of the house in 1881.  His first wife Mary Clegg
died in child birth in 1878, after only being married for 2 years. He was listed as a farmer
on their marriage certificate. He then married Margaret McKay on June 22, 1887 in
Listowel.  He was 42 years old at the time. In the 1891 assessment records Samuel and
Margaret lived at 64 Earl Street with their 4 children-Annie, Nellie, Walter and Mary, as
well as Margaret’s father Alexander.  He is listed as having a few occupations from a
milk pedlar to a labourer, a butcher and a gardener.  Samuel passed away May 11, 1899
still living at 64 Earl Street and is buried in Stratford at the Avondale Cemetery.