Historical Plaque Properties


Dr. John Alexander Bothwell - Dentist
149 Church Street
Stratford, ON

The house at 149 Church Street, with the second floor bay window and the neoclassical pediment on the porch, was commissioned by Stratford dentist Dr. J.A. Bothwell and designed by newly-established architect James Simpson Russell. Architect Russell went on to have a wide-ranging practice that spanned more than three decades. His impressive contributions to Stratford’s cityscape include the Stratford Public Library, the Windsor Hotel, the Zion Lutheran Church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, the Masonic Temple and the Veterans Drive Bandshell as well as numerous homes.

John Alexander Bothwell was born in Blanshard Township on September 30, 1866, to parents Alexander and Mary Bothwell. He grew up on a farm just outside Motherwell in Fullarton Township with his older siblings William, Emma and Henry and his younger siblings, Archibald and Elizabeth. He trained to be a teacher and in 1891 was teaching in nearby Blanshard and boarding with William Rundle’s family. He taught for a number of years before returning to college to study dentistry. On December 21, 1899, he married Frances (Fanney) Catherine Pinch from Exeter,  the daughter of Daniel and Martha Pinch. He set up his dental practice on the west side of  Market Street (now Downie) near the corner of Wellington Street. On January 25, 1901, their daughter Muriel Alexandra was born and that year, Dr. Bothwell, his wife, her mother and a servant, Eva Hendley, were living in their new home on Church Street. On June 1, 1904, daughter, Margaret Ruth, was born.

By 1911, Dr. Bothwell had moved into a new house he had built at 77 John Street N. Sadly, tuberculosis would soon take his daughter Muriel on June 23, 1918, at age 17 and her mother just two years later on July 9, 1920. Dr. Bothwell, who was clearly devastated by the loss, created the Muriel Bothwell Medal at Stratford Collegiate, now Stratford Central Secondary School, to be awarded annually to the best student in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The original endowment must have been significant because the medal was awarded for the next 90 years, until the funds ran out.

On May 16, 1922, he married Frances Coleridge at Knox Church. A few years later in 1926, his daughter Margaret, who had become a music teacher, married Elgin McKinnon Wansbrough from Shelburne. He was a much decorated World War I hero and like her father was a dentist. Dr. Bothwell and his second wife sold the house at 77 John Street N. and, after a brief stint at the York Street apartments, moved into 62 John Street N. in 1930. Dr. Bothwell died on December 30, 1936, while visiting his daughter in Shelburne. Shortly afterwards Frances would move in with a son from her first marriage, at 131 Mornington Street.

As a leading member of the community for many years, not only was Dr. Bothwell a prominent dentist but also the treasurer of the YMCA, President of the Stratford Horticultural Society and Chair of the Board of Education.

Dr. Bothwell, his first wife Fanney and their daughter Muriel are all buried in Avondale cemetery.