Historical Plaque Properties


Albert Earle Hackett.
428 Mornington Street
Stratford, ON

The house at 428 Mornington Street was constructed in 1953 for Albert Earle and Shirley (née Boyce) Hackett. Albert was a cable repairman for Bell Telephone which operated out of 56 Albert Street. He was born to parents John Albert and Grace Lilian Hackett on February 17, 1925. Shirley was born on Christmas Day 1927 to Robert Henry Boyce and Laura Beatrice Barisdale. According to a 1949 voter list, she was a bookkeeper at the age of 22, and in 1951 she married Albert. Shirley volunteered at Ten Thousand Villages Store and the VON at Romeo Court, and served on the Prayer Chain, Board of Trustees, and Visioning Committee of the St. John’s United Church, of which she was a life-long member.
Avid travelers, the Hacketts traveled throughout Canada and to Australia, Hawaii, and Europe. They had three children, Ruth Sealey, Susan Grafton, and David Hackett. Ruth and Susan became teachers. Susan and David relocated to Alberta, though the latter returned to Ontario to reside in Mississauga. Albert died a few days after his 85th birthday. Shirley died in early 2013 at the age of 86, after having the opportunity to celebrate the birth of her great-grandson, Emerson, and the marriage of her grandson, Adam Sealey, to his wife Deanna. Both Albert and Shirley rest in the St. James Anglican Churchyard.
Although the house dates to the mid-20th century, the property has a long history. It was surveyed as part of Lot 1, Concession 2, Ellice Township. In 1831, the Canada Company received the Crown Patent for Lot 1. Three years later, James and Henry Mitchell received the contract for this lot; however, it was formally granted to William F. McCulloch Jr. in 1843. In 1864, William granted this lot to James Alexander McCulloch, his son and a Stratford lawyer, who in turn granted it to Samuel L. Robarts that same year. Despite multiple transactions in this period, this lot was farmed as one with Lot 2 between 1834 and 1866. Land valuations were already high by the 1860s, with Robarts taking out a mortgage of $7,876 in 1864 for the property. In 1866, Robarts granted the south 20 acres to William Battershall with a valuation of $1,400. Other parts of Lot 1 were subdivided between 1866 and 1872.
Battershall farmed his 20 acres until 1890. In 1905, he donated five acres from adjacent Lot 1, Concession 1 for what became Battershall Park. A document from R.S. Robertson and J.J. Coughlin, solicitors for Bank of Montreal, to Secretary of the Park Board, R. Thomas Orr, stated “adequate room shall be set apart and reserved for the purposes of The Pastime Gun Club.”
Thomas Benjamin and Mary Ann Johnson took control of Battershall’s 20 acres in the first decade of the 1900s and started subdividing lots in the 1910s. The lot in which 428 Mornington Street sits appears to have been subdivided by Mary Ann to Thomas J. Smith in 1918. The Smith family held onto this lot until Hazel R. Smith, the executor of Thomas’s estate, granted it to Albert Earle and Shirley Hackett on December 15, 1952 for $840 ($560 less than Battershall paid for his 20 acre lot, 88 years earlier!). At this time, the property was referred to as 424 Mornington Street and would be until 1966 when the City of Stratford amalgamated this part of Ellice Township.

Architecturally, the house style is inspired by the Cape Cod style, or what was sometimes referred to as a Colonial Cottage. Both references, in an American context, took precedence from the 17th century New England vernacular with durable designs meant to withstand Cape Cod’s stormy weather. The style experienced a resurgence from the 1930s into the early 1950s, albeit with mass produced, affordable materials that were modern to the industrial era.  For, as Northern Homes Inc. stated “since those early days of candlelight, wood chopping and horseback riding, many, many improvements have continuously and rapidly come along, and progressed.” A number of prefabricated housing companies took to constructing houses such as the one found at 428 Mornington Street.

National Plan Service USA, Aladdin Readi-Cut Homes, and Northern Homes Inc. were just a few of the companies that published their house plans. Even lumber and building material companies provided house plans as a means to sell their products. For example, L.C. Andrews’s Anders plan from 1952 resembles a modern Cape Cod. The Arkansas Soft Pine Bureau marketed a similar style. While modest, the Cape Cod houses of the post-Second World War period provided comfortable housing for attainable prices and are part and parcel of the growing suburbs that sprouted after the war.