Historical Plaque Properties


Jonathan Scarth - Merchant
428 Downie Street
Stratford, ON

Henry Alexander Scarth was born in 1812 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK and immigrated to Upper Canada in 1834. He was one of the original pioneer settlers of Perth County where he operated a farm on Lot 18, Concession 1, Downie Township, the centre of present day Sebringville. In 1836 he married Rachel Stinson from County Roscommon, Ireland, the daughter of Alexander and Sarah and they would have 6 children all born in Sebringville;  Jonathan May 8, 1837, Fanny in 1839, Avery Henry in 1842, Henry Alexander, July 13, 1844, Ellen in 1846 and William Frederick, July 12, 1850.


In 1867 Jonathan married Elizabeth Odbert from South Easthope Township, the daughter of William Odbert and Ellen nee Stinson. She was born in Sligo, Ireland in 1839 and came to Upper Canada with her family in 1842. They moved into their new house that Jonathan had built on the Huron Road, just west of his father’s store. Jonathan’s brother Henry married Elizabeth’s sister Anna Maria in 1871 and in 1872 when Henry Sr. retired and moved to Vittoria, Norfolk County he turned the store over to his two sons who renamed it Scarth Brothers. Henry was also Clerk for the Township of Downie.


Jonathan and Elizabeth would have 4 children, William Henry, September 29, 1869, Henry Jonathan October 10, 1871 and Helena Victoria May 1, 1876. There was a fourth sibling M. Scarth who died in infancy in 1872. Henry sadly fell victim to the meningitis outbreak that swept through the area in 1872.


With the arrival of the repair shops in the 1870’s, Stratford began to expand and Jonathan saw an opportunity. In 1873 he purchased several lots on Downie St. close to the GTR Station and leased them out to various employees. By 1880 he had torn down the existing house at the corner of Downie and Inverness and built 2 new homes whom he rented to James Harvey, express driver and John Lauder, conductor.


Never one to miss out on an opportunity, when the Canadian Pacific Railway was asking for applications for land grants along the newly constructed railway, Jonathan applied and with his 3 brothers and several members of their extended families set out for Gopher Creek, Manitoba now the town of Virden. The town of Scarth a few miles to the south was named after Jonathan’s brother William. Jonathan would become an alderman for the City of Winnipeg, Avary a lumber merchant in British Columbia, Henry a merchant and William would be the postmaster in Virden.


In 1884 Jonathan and Elizabeth returned to Perth County and moved into Stratford in 1888. They lived for a while at 428 Downie St. where Jonathan would build 2 more properties at 198 and 208 Nile St. in 1888 which he would also rent out. While their family remained out west, their daughter Helena returned with them and later married insurance agent Maitland Alexander Humber, October 17, 1906. Helena and her husband took up residence next door to her parents at 198 Nile St. Maitland would later become a supervisor for the CNR.


A prominent member of his community even serving as a city councilman, Jonathan Scarth died at his home on Nile St. in 1911.  Elizabeth would move in with her daughter and son in law where she passed away a few years later. Both are commemorated in St. James’ Church in Stratford where on the altar there bears an inscription “To the Glory of God and in Grateful Remembrance of JONATHAN SCARTH Who Died February 9, 1911. And his Wife, ELIZABETH SCARTH Died May 13, 1919”.


Jonathan and Elizabeth along with their infant children are buried near her parents in Avondale cemetery. At the time of his father’s death, William was living in Banff, Alberta but would return to his relatives in Virden, Manitoba where he died in 1940.