Historical Plaque Properties

 

Honor & Joseph Hooper - Councillor & Cartage Agent
256 Elgin Street East
St. Marys, ON
1910


 

This elegant red brick home illustrates Edwardian simplicity, with ornamentation features applied sparingly to the understated asymmetrical design. Openings are fitted with plain stone lintels. Detailing is uncomplicated. Transactions for the property, beginning with 1839 Canada Company surveying, and the design plans for this house by builders Stafford and Henderson, are available at St. Marys Museum.

 

Joseph Francis Hooper was born in Durham County Ontario, Sept 17, 1865 to immigrants from Cornwall England: John Hooper (1827-1901) and his wife Elizabeth Harvey (1825 -1892). Joseph and five siblings were raised on their farm in Whitby East. By the 1881 Census, the family was farming in Blanshard (now Perth) County, where the parents remained for their lifetimes, welcoming Joseph’s bride, and many grandchildren.

Joseph married Honor Down on March 1, 1888 in Usborne, Huron County. Honor was born there in 1863, the second of 13 children of immigrant farmer John Down (b. 1830 Devon) and Mary Ann Perkins (b 1837, Sheffield). The Downs had strong connections to the Hoopers, both farming families from southern England and Wesleyan Methodists. Honor’s sisters-in-law included her own sister and a first cousin. Additionally, the families had commercial affiliations including Joseph’s teamster and cartage agency serving his brother, Charles Hooper, and his brother’s wife, Mary Down, in their egg handling business.

 

Joseph and Honor’s five children were born on the Blanshard farm: Hiram (1889), Viola (1892) Leona (1895) Freeda (1897) and Lawrence (1901). Additional farm labour boarded with the family.

Joseph served as a Blanshard Township Councillor in 1906 and 1907, years of unpleasant meetings regarding essential repairs to dangerous county roads, culverts, bridges and waterways.  Joseph opposed ratepayer petitions for Statute Labour (unpaid workers) to reduce expense, and put forward motions to ensure road safety, fiscal transparency, and accountability of the Council.  Joseph did not serve a third term. His experience may have influenced Honor and Joseph to purchase the St. Marys property in 1909, providing safe roads and town opportunities of employment and education for his nearly-grown children.

 

In 1911, the oldest three were working as dry goods salesclerks. Freeda and Lawrence were students.  By 1921 when the house was sold, all five of Honor and Joseph’s children were launched. Hiram went to Edmonton in 1913, to open a store in the booming Canadian West.  In 1914 wheat prices fell, and businesses crashed. Hiram married Lillie Gillis there in 1915, soon moving to raise their children in the eastern States, retiring a successful businessman.

 

The three sisters were married in St. Marys, their husbands well educated: Leona (Bocking) married a teacher, Viola (Martin) and Freeda (Haynes) married druggists.  All raised their families in growing urban centres served by southern Ontario passenger trains: St. Thomas, Brantford and Windsor. 

Joseph and Honor had moved in 1921 from 256 Elgin East around the corner, renting a King Street townhouse with Joseph’s spinster sister Elizabeth. After her death in 1932, Honor and Joseph moved to west Toronto, close to the family of their youngest son Lawrence, a pharmacist and drugstore owner in Port Credit (now Mississauga). Honor died in Toronto in 1944 and Joseph in 1952. They are buried with Lawrence in Mississauga Springcreek Cemetery.

 

Honor and Joseph lived the social change story of many early Ontario farm families, moving their almost-adult progeny to town opportunities, always supporting extended family, and ensuring higher education and professional livelihoods for the next generation.