Historical Plaque Properties


Alexander Cardwell - Contractor
116 Elizabeth Street
Stratford, ON

Alexander Cardwell was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1816. He was married to Mary Ann Douglas also of County Tyrone who was born in 1818.

They both immigrated in 1841 to the United States and then made their way to Downie township where they were farming in 1845.


Their only daughter Mary Ann was born in Fort Ogdensburg, New York on March 3,1842.  Soon after they arrived in Perth County, their 3 sons were born. Robert in 1850, Alexander Jr. in 1852 and Thomas John on October 1, 1854. Mary Ann would marry William Makins and settle in Stratford where they would have 5 children, John (1869), James (1871), Mary Ann (1872), Jane (1873) and William (1876). Mary Ann died on September 20, 1878 but William would marry for a second time to Ellen Douglas in 1885 and have 5 more children. The eldest son Robert became a tanner/shoemaker and died at the age of 27 on February 17, 1877. Thomas John married Catherine McDonald and had a son named George. They farmed in Downie Township and then retired to Clinton, Ontario. Catherine died on September 23, 1908 and Thomas on June 25, 1934. Alexander Jr. died on September 3, 1879. 

In the 1861 Census, Alexander and Mary Ann were living in Stratford and continued to live there for 10 years. By 1881 they were living back in Downie Township and farming on Lot 2, Concession 3 just south of Lorne Ave. E. When living in Stratford, Alexander was a road contractor and built what is known as the Northern Gravel road from Stratford to Topping in 1856.  He also kept the gravel road from Mitchell to Shakespeare in repair. 

Mary Ann would pass away on January 13, 1891 and Alexander would pass on December 12 of the same year. Alexander, Mary Ann and their sons Robert, Alexander, Thomas and Thomas’ wife Catherine, are all buried in the family plot in Avondale Cemetery.