Historical Plaque Properties


Robert Heideman - Bolt Maker - Grand Trunk Railway
58 Strachan Street
Stratford, ON

In 1852 Robert Theodore Heideman was born in Germany, the fourth of seven children. He emigrated to Canada in about 1871. It is possible that he came with his parents Theodore Heideman and Johanna M. W. Riecke Ludke, as their deaths are recorded in Woodstock. Robert first arrived in Brantford, then shortly after settled in Hamilton where he had a grocery business for about fifteen years.

On June 2, 1874 in Hamilton, Robert married Louisa Burkholder (listed as Buchholz on the marriage record). Louisa was born in Hammondsville, Ontario (current-day Mississauga area) or in Wentworth County in 1857. It is difficult to determine the exact place of her birth and the names of her parents because of conflicting records.


Robert was later employed as a blacksmith by the Great Western Railway in Hamilton, and when that railway was taken over by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1888, he moved with his family to Stratford where he was employed as a bolt maker in the Grand Trunk Railway shops.


By 1891 Robert purchased the house on Lots 57/58 that is now 58 Strachan Street (also listed as No. 47 or 50 before the numbering system was modified). The house had been built by Joseph J. Dennis, carpenter and builder. Joseph farmed in Oxford County for most of his life and appears to have tried his luck as a carpenter and builder in Stratford from about 1873 until 1880. In 1909 Robert had the original house demolished and had a new one built.


Robert and Louisa lived at what is now 58 Strachan from their arrival in 1891 until Louisa’s death on April 29, 1923. By 1925 Robert had retired because of poor health and had moved to live with his daughter and family in Dashwood, Huron County, where he died on October 12, 1926. Both Robert and Louisa are buried in Avondale Cemetery.


Robert and Louisa had seven sons and three daughters. It is interesting that all of the sons were employed for at least part of the careers in trades, five with the Grand Trunk Railway: Robert Jr. was a brass moulder and bolt maker, William an apprentice, Joseph a bolt maker, Herbert a machinist, and Albert a fitter. George was an electrician who eventually became a superintendent of building for the city, while Norman worked for the Stratford Chair Company, one of the many important furniture manufacturers in Stratford. By the time of the death of Robert Sr., only three children were still living in Stratford; others had settled in Kitchener, Detroit, Peterborough, Washington State, Toronto, and Dashwood. There were 23 grandchildren at the time of Robert’s death.