Historical Plaque Properties


William Henry Wegenast - First Occupant - Cabinet Maker
170 Brunswick Street
Stratford, ON

The house at 170 Brunswick Street in Stratford was built in 1909 by William Schenck.  The first occupant was William H. Wegenast.


William Henry Wegenast was born on December 27, 1864 in Waterloo, Ontario, then a village. He was one of seven children of Mathias Wegenast, a cabinet maker, and Salome Staebler. Both the Wegenast and the Staebler families had emigrated from Germany and settled in Waterloo County.

Willam married Lydia Ann Braendle in April 1887 in Berlin, now Kitchener. Lydia was the daughter of William Braendle and Mary Magdalena Geisel, who had also emigrated from Germany to Waterloo County. William and Lydia had four children: one daughter (Edith Louise) and three sons (George, Edward, and Sandford). Tragically, but not uncommon for the time, their daughter and one son (Sandford) died in infancy of tubercular meningitis.


In 1901 the family was living in Waterloo, by then a town. The census of that year lists William’s occupation as “carpenter.”  The next year they relocated to Stratford. For many years the Wegenasts with their two surviving boys lived at 387 Albert Street, but by 1909 the family had moved into the newly built house at 170 Brunswick Street. The builder of the house was William Schenk, a successful house builder responsible for a number of homes in Stratford.


William worked as a packer for the George McLagan Furniture Company. A large employer in the city’s burgeoning furniture industry, McLagan's supplied major department stores such as Eaton's, Simpsons and Hudson’s Bay with custom-made furniture. At that time McLagan’s operated out of a large brick factory at Trinity and Douro Streets in the east end of the city. Edward Wegenast, the oldest son, himself began a career at McLagan’s, also as a packer. Meanwhile his brother George became a salesman at Knetchel & Co., which sold shoes and boots. George lived at 170 Brunswick until 1915.


On November 3, 1913 Lydia went to Stratford General Hospital for a routine surgery. But complications developed and she died in the early morning of November 4.  Lydia was buried in Stratford’s Avondale Cemetery.


William married his second wife, Mary Ann Balzer, two years later in 1915. At that time his occupation is listed as “Foreman packer.” He and Mary Ann resided at 170 Brunswick until 1919 when he left McLagan’s and the couple moved to Wilmot Township and then in 1923 to Sebringville. Following years of ailing health William died in a nursing home in Mitchell on February 25,1952 at the age of 87. He was buried in Avondale Cemetery.

Mary Ann died in 1961 and is also buried in Avondale Cemetery.

Edward Wegenast died in 1942. George lived until 1973.