Historical Plaque Properties


Frank D. Hamilton - Boot and Shoe Merchant
166 Church Street
Stratford, ON

Francis Dunn Hamilton, commonly known as Frank, was born in Hibbert Township, Perth County on November 19, 1854. He was the eldest of ten children born to Robert Dunn Hamilton and Catherine McInnes.
Frank’s grandfather was originally from Lanark in eastern Ontario but moved to farm in Hibbert along with Frank’s parents who worked and ultimately inherited the property. Typical of the period when education was not a priority of hardworking farm families, Frank was listed in the 1861 Canadian Census as a labourer. He was only seven years of age.
The family farmed in Hibbert until 1870 when they moved to a farm in North Easthope Township. Frank continued to work on the land for three years before resettling in Stratford where he apprenticed for another three years as a boot and shoemaker with local merchant A. J. MacPherson.
Frank married Margaret (Maggie) Myers on June 13, 1879 in Stratford. She was born on December 23, 1851 in Galt, the eldest child of Robert Myers, the first boot and shoemaker in Stratford and the developer of the Myers Block along Downie Street during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Sadly, Maggie was only nine years of age when her mother, Margaret Hill, died in 1860 leaving her the eldest of four children. Her father married a second time in 1862 but his wife, Mary McInerny, died in 1871. As the eldest, twenty year old Maggie had prime responsibility to help care for her six siblings. Maggie’s father married a third time and his wife, Jane Kippen, bore him five children. She died in 1908.
Frank and Maggie had six children: Margaret Daisy (1880-1965); Robert Blake (1882-1953); Mabel Hill (1885-1950); Frank Kent (1887-1958); Catherine Elizabeth (1890-1950); and Zeta Marion (1891-1954).
In 1883, Frank, in partnership with his brother Archibald, purchased the store owned by John Way, another well-known Stratford boot and shoe merchant, located at 53 Downie Street, which was part of the Meyers Block. They operated the store for fourteen years before selling the business in 1897.
Perhaps because he did not have the opportunity to go far in school, Frank “was ever ready to advance educational matters,” according to his obituary and served six years on the school board with one term as Chair. He was also active in the Woodmen of the World, a fraternal order dedicated to helping the less fortunate in the community. His membership is memorialized on his tombstone.
After the sale of his business in Stratford Frank and Maggie emigrated to Syracuse, New York where he helped his brothers, John and Donald, set-up a boot and shoe business in that city.
In 1898, Frank took ill and was admitted to Syracuse Hospital where he died suddenly from surgical complications on June 18th. He was forty-three years of age.  Frank was returned to Stratford and is buried in Avondale Cemetery. Maggie lived another fifteen years when she died at the age of sixty-one on November 16, 1913. She is buried with her husband.
Frank still owned 166 Church Street at the time of his death. Initially, his estate leased the property in 1899 as a residence for the American Consul in Stratford. A year later, it was leased and subsequently purchased by the Methodist church for use as a manse. The church owned the house until 1966.