Historical Plaque Properties


Philip Birch - Tinsmith
39 Douro Street
Stratford, ON

This house was built in the summer of 1871. Philip Birch and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) were the first occupants.


Philip was born in Markham Township, County of York, Ontario in 1847 to George and Ellen Birch.

Information about Philip and his family was listed in the 1851 Census. They were living in Brant County (Brantford), Canada West.  The family had emigrated from England between 1843 and 1845.

In the 1871 Census, Philip’s occupation is listed as a tinsmith. He and his brother, John, were the owners J & P Stone & Tinware along with his father, George, a tinsmith, who managed the business. The shop was located opposite the Albion House Hotel on Ontario Street in Stratford.  The business also lists steam fitting and bell hanging as services they offered.


Philip married Bessie Ridley on January 24, 1870 in Kent County, Ontario.  Bessie's parents were Ellen and Harry Ridley. On the marriage certificate it lists Bessie as adopted.  They had a son Charles on March 14, 1873 in Stratford.

Philip's wife, Bessie (1848), his father, George (born 1801), his brother, John Edward, and his sister, Ellen, William Henderson and Alfonzo Frise are listed as living in the house in 1871.   His mother, Ellen, born in England in 1807, was living in Canada in 1851, but had died before 1871, as it has George listed as a widower in the 1871 census. (no death certificate could be found.)   Philip had another older brother, Thomas John (born January 1828), a sister Franny, (born 1833) and a brother, John Edward, (born about 1842), who were all born in England. His sister Ellen was born in Canada in 1845. His father, George, died on April 2, 1879 in Stratford.

Philip and his family continued to live in the house at 39 Douro until 1880 when it was rented to Elizabeth McNeal. In 1883 Philip sold the house to John Brown.

Philip's brother, Thomas, took over the tinware business in 1880 and continued to run it until 1891.