Historical Plaque Properties


John Alexander Andrew - Seed Merchant & Mayor of Stratford
101 Church Street
Stratford, ON

The house at 101 Church Street was built in 1917 by John A. Andrew.
John Alexander Andrew was born near Huntley, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1864, the son of John Andrew and Elizabeth Adam. In search of opportunity he left Scotland in his late twenties and emigrated to Canada about 1892.
John initially settled in Elma Township in Perth County and then moved to Downie Township, where he was employed, probably as a farm hand, by William Byers. In October 1899 he was residing in St. Marys and working as a coachman when he married Helen C. Byers, the daughter of William Byers and Anne Murray. Helen, who was born in Downie Township in 1855, had lived for a year in St. Marys before moving to Stratford.
The newlyweds made their home in Stratford and John began working with his older brother-in-law, John Byers, who had a flour and feed business. In the 1901 Canada census John’s occupation is given as seed salesman. John eventually became the owner of the prospering business, which had a store on Wellington Street in downtown Stratford.
In 1916 John Andrew acquired a vacant lot on Church Street and the next year built the current house at 101 Church Street. John and Helen did not enjoy their new home for long, however, and by 1921 the property had been sold to J. C. and Janet Garden. The Andrews had moved to 108 St. Vincent Street South and were living with John Byers and Annie Byers, Helen’s unmarried siblings. John Byers was also John Andrew’s retired former employer. As John and Helen had no children, and John was retiring from his business about this time, it may simply have been a matter of convenience for the two households to combine. They all later moved to 174 Cambria Street.
On retirement John became active in municipal politics. He was elected as alderman and, after eight years on city council, served as mayor of Stratford in 1928 and 1929. He continued on council as alderman until he died at 68 on May 6, 1932 following a long illness.
John’s death was front-page news in the Stratford Beacon Herald, which described him as a man “who was beloved by all” and “dearly respected.” The flag at city hall flew at half mast in his honour. In a separate glowing tribute the next day, the Beacon Herald said: “One cannot help thinking what a splendid thing it would be for public life in municipal and the larger centres of government the world over if there were more of the John Andrew type.”
Helen lived on at 174 Cambria. (Her sister had died in 1923 and her brother in 1929.) Like her husband she was an active member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Helen died at 89 in April 1945. She is buried with John and her siblings in Avondale Cemetery.