Historical Plaque Properties

 

Dr. James Robertson - Physcian / Surgeon
131 Nile Street
1873

John Forbes immigrated to Canada from Scotland with his wife Elizabeth and their young family and appears to be the original owner of the land at 131 Nile Street. John was a successful business person in Stratford and the original owner of the Queens Inn. Two of his sons, John and Robert, owned several livery stables in town. Robert built the house on Waterloo St. that eventually became the home of renowned Canadian actor William Hutt. John passed away on January 9, 1865 and the land was left to his wife Elizabeth.

 

Elizabeth Forbes was the owner of the land when the house was built in 1873. She never resided in the house and passed away in 1875. Her and John’s only daughter Jennie Elizabeth Forbes married Dr. James A. Robertson in December 1874 and shortly after graduating from the Faculty of Medicine - Trinity College - University of Toronto in 1875, James and his bride moved into the house on Nile Street.

Soon they welcomed a son Lorne Forbes in October 4, 1876 and a daughter Pearl in 1878. Pearl unfortunately passed away in April 28, 1893.

 

Like many doctors, James Robertson may well have run his medical practice out of his home on Nile Street. While there he had two employees living at the house, Annie Armstrong, a domestic helper and her sister Mary who was a nurse.  The Armstrong sisters were of similar background to the Robertson’s as they had both emigrated from Scotland.

 

During his lifetime of practice in the Stratford, Dr. James Robertson was extremely well regarded by the community as being the person who visited thousands of homes on his errands of mercy and healing. At one time he became known as the doctor to the Grand Trunk Railway, was president of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons and served as the city’s health officer. Just after his passing on November 4, 1924 a write up in the local paper referred to Dr. Robertson as being of noble character and a leading citizen of Stratford.

 

The Robertson’s son was also a leader in the community.  Like his father, Dr. Lorne Forbes Robertson became a physician specializing in surgery at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.  He received post doctorate degrees in England, Edinburgh and the United States.  Dr. Lorne as he was known to hundreds of people in Western Ontario as a colourful figure, serving as part-time coach of a senior hockey team in Stratford. Rumour has it that he was intricately involved in pushing the career of a well-known Stratford hockey player.

 

One story told was about the year when the father and son were going on vacation together.  They needed to find someone to cover their practice while they were away. After contacting the University of Toronto, they were given the name of a promising young physician, Dr. Norman Bethune.  Dr. Bethune did come to Stratford to cover their practice.  After this experience the Robertson’s approached him to set up practice in Stratford but Dr. Norman Bethune went on to join the Navy.

 

Dr. Lorne Robertson married Jesse Winnifred Munroe April 30, 1920 but they did not have any children. She died March 10, 1938 at the age of 52.

 

Jennie Elizabeth Forbes Robertson died June 28, 1943 at the age of 83 having been attended to by her son Dr. Lorne Forbes Robertson who would pass away in October 1952.

All members of the family are buried in Avondale Cemetery in Stratford Ontario.