Historical Plaque Properties


William Easson - Mill Owner & Contractor - First Tenant : James Brown, Contractor
89 William Street
Stratford, ON

By April 1873 David Campbell, a cabinetmaker, owned Lots 89 and 90 on William Street. By 1874 William Easson had purchased both of the lots, had them severed, and built a house on Lot 90, currently 89 William Street. It appears that Easson built this house as an income property, as there were tenants listed from 1875 until at least 1881. By 1885 the house was occupied by William Easson’s daughter Jessie and her husband Andrew Moderwell. William Easson lived nearby at 113 William Street from the 1850s until 1903.


In 1844 at the age of 20, William Easson emigrated to Canada from Scotland. His parents established a farm in North Easthope. William apprenticed as a carpenter and soon established himself as a contractor. He and his brother rented a sawmill in North Easthope. By the early 1850s, William had erected a sawmill on the north side of the Avon River in Stratford. Eventually he supplied the GTR for 40 years with timber, including railway ties, cord wood, and cattle guards. One of his principal contracts was building a house for W.F. McCulloch, in payment for which he received 15 building lots. William built many of Stratford’s buildings and at one time was a principal builder in the city. He also did some contracting for the city, including supplying gravel for the sidewalks. At one time he was the largest taxpayer in the city.


By April 1875 until 1878 the tenant of 89 William Street was James Brown, a contractor. The city directory of 1876 lists him as a railroad contractor, so perhaps he was a subcontractor for William Easson in his dealings with the GTR. This directory lists him as James E. Brown, and there is no other record of such a person living in Stratford. It is possible that James came to Stratford from another part of Perth County or one of the neighbouring counties to work as a contractor for several years, and then returned to his home area. The tax assessment rolls list three occupants from 1875 to 1877, and then four occupants in 1878. It is possible that James was living with his wife and one child for the first three years, and then a fourth child was born in the last year, although there are no records to support this