Historical Plaque Properties


Frederick Kuch - Foreman/George McLagan Furniture
171 Ballantyne Avenue
Stratford, ON

Frederick Kuch was a Leap Year baby. He was born on February 29, 1876 in the village of Phillipsburg not too far from Stratford. He was the fourth child of Julius Kuch and Ernestine Roth who had emigrated from Germany in 1869.

By 1891, the family had moved to the village of New Hamburg where Julius worked as a carpenter. They typified a nineteenth century working family. Fifteen year old Frederick worked as a farm hand alongside his twenty year old brother Anthony. His seventeen year old sister Louisa laboured in a knitting mill and his oldest brother Charles was a house painter.

In his mid to late teens, Frederick decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and apprenticed to become a carpenter, which was the occupation listed on his marriage registration.

On October 4, 1899, twenty three year old Frederick married Marguerita (Maggie) Wettlaufer, who was born July 2, 1874 the daughter of Conrad Wettlaufer and Catherine Schellenburger. The Wettlaufer family farmed in West Zorra Township. Frederick and Maggie had six children: Frederick, Harold, Wilfred, Edward , who died at four years of age, Viola and Conrad George who was born shortly before Maggie died.

By the early nineteen hundreds, Frederick had perfected his skills to become recognized as a skilled cabinet maker. About 1903, he and Maggie moved to Stratford, where Frederick joined the George McLagan Furniture Company. McLagan, also a skilled cabinet maker and designer in his own right, arrived in Stratford in 1886 and established his furniture manufacturing business, which lasted until 1952. The McLagan company was the catalyst for establishing Stratford as a prime furniture manufacturing centre in North America and beyond until the mid-twentieth century. At his death in 1918, the Toronto Star noted that McLagan “contributed more to the furniture industry than any other man in Canada.”

By 1913, Frederick had risen to the position of foreman of McLagan’s cabinet making operations and the family was doing well. Frederick and Maggie had purchased the house and property at 66 Queen Street. However, on March 24, 1913 tragedy struck when Maggie died suddenly of pleurisy at the age of thirty-eight. Frederick who was thirty-seven was left with five surviving children ranging from six to thirteen years of age, which he raised as a single father until they reached maturity.

The storey-and-a-half cottage at 66 Queen Street was likely too small for his family and any caregivers that he may have had to help with the children and to take care of the house. So in 1914 he sub-divided the property and built a larger house at 171 Ballantyne Avenue which he moved into in 1915 while continuing to rent out the house at 66 Queen Street.

In 1929, Frederick married Janet Elizabeth Davis. He died on August 1, 1955 and is buried in Avondale Cemetery along with his two wives, parents and his son Edward who died at four years of age.