Historical Plaque Properties


George Kennedy - Boilermaker - GTR
35 Caledonia Street
Stratford, ON

George Kennedy was born in 1849 to Thomas and Elizabeth Kennedy. The Kennedys lived in Ayrshire, Scotland. George followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a cotton weaver.

In 1888, George, perhaps because he had lost his wife and was in search of a new life, emigrated to Canada where he learned a trade as a boilermaker working for the Grand Trunk Railway.  Boilermakers were essential for the building and maintenance of steam locomotives.  The development of the GTR was important in the development of Stratford at the turn of the 20th century.

On August 5, 1889 George married Ester Mary Coffey. Ester was born in 1859 and was 29 at the time of their wedding. Her parents were William and Grace Coffey.   She came from Kingston Ontario.

In 1891 George and his wife had their first daughter, Elizabeth.  Two years later in 1893 a second daughter, Grace, was born.

In 1895, with a growing family, the Kennedys moved into their new home at 35 Caledonia Street.  While enjoying living in their new house they had their third daughter Jean, in 1897 and in February, 1902 they had their fourth child Georgina.

1902 was a busy year as they sold their house to Josephine Graber, a widow.
The Kennedys move down the street to 67 Caledonia.  Perhaps they needed more room for their 4 growing daughters.

The eldest, Elizabeth became a high school teacher, holding positions in Peterborough and later Hamilton where she lived until her death at age 95.  Her sister Grace married George McCready, a farmer from Lincoln County in the Niagara Peninsula. They settled there and raised their family of two daughters and a son.

The third daughter Jean trained as a nurse and then married George Lockhart, a salesman from Windsor where they began married life. In 1930 they made the move, with their son, across the river to Detroit where George established a roofing business. They retired to Florida and are buried there. 

The baby of the family, Georgina became a stenographer and also moved to Hamilton with her parents. In 1928 she too crossed the border to spend the next 30 years in Detroit and Chicago, returning as a widow (Mrs. Sexton) in 1952 to join her eldest sister Elizabeth in Hamilton.  Both are buried with their parents in Avondale Cemetery.

In 1921 George was 76 years of age. He and Esther had moved to Hamilton where he died in 1934. His obituary in the October 30, 1934 edition of the Beacon Herald describes him as a “pioneer railroader of Ontario”.