Historical Plaque Properties


Peter Dierlamm - Artist & Entrepreneur
189 Church Street
Stratford, ON

In 1907 David M. Wright bought lot 319 on Church Street, building two identical houses   on the centre (191) and south (189) parts. Peter Dierlamm was the first to live in the house at 189 Church Street, moving in by September 1908.


Peter Dierlamm was born on December 25, 1851 in Schonberg, Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, Hessen, Germany. His parents were Justus August Dierlamm (1812-1882) and Anna Catharina Schmitt (1821-1903). The family emigrated to Canada when Peter was three, settling and farming in the Bruce/Grey/Wellington area. Peter began painting as a child, and his school notebooks were filled with watercolour sketches of animals, birds, and landscapes. Peter studied art in Toronto, Chicago, and New York. One of his teachers in Toronto, John Colin Forbes, recognized young Peter’s ability and employed him to assist in painting portraits. Peter must have impressed Forbes, who was an accomplished and influential painter of luminaries such as four Prime Ministers, two Governors-General, several speakers of the House of Commons and the Senate, and King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.


In 1876 Peter married Caroline Schweitzer (1852-1888), born in Perth County. They had four children: Lillian Rebecca (1877-1933), Joseph (1878-1881), Clara Cecile (1987-1968), and Cleveland Reuben (1885-1964).

In the 1880 Mildmay business directory Peter was listed as a painter, while in the 1881 census Peter was listed as a photographer in Walkerton.


In 1888 Caroline died from tuberculosis in Mildmay, Bruce County where they were living at the time. Peter and his children, along with his sister, came to Stratford shortly after. In 1893 Peter married Ida Jane Moyer (1869-1939). They had one son, Arthur Walter Moyer (1896-1946).


In the 1891 census Peter was listed as an artist. Peter was listed in the 1896 city directory as an artist (portraits and landscapes) in the Gordon Block (3 Market Street) with a house at 44 Stratford Street. By 1900 he was living at 86 Nelson Street, and in 1901 at 20 Shrewsbury Street. In the 1901 and 1911 censuses he was listed as an artist. Apparently at some point Peter operated a photography shop on Ontario Street.

By 1898 he was a partner (manager) in Dierlamm and Sack, manufacturers of marble and granite monuments for cemeteries as well as mantles, wash bowl slabs, and countertops. By 1904-06 the company was listed as Dierlamm and Mowat, Marble. Both companies were located at 145 St. Patrick Street. In 1904 Peter patented “certain new and useful improvements in building blocks” for exterior walls. His cement blocks could have plaster directly applied on the interior side and provided “a cheap, simple, and durable building-block which may be quickly laid in the wall and which will require only a minimum amount of mortar…to secure them together.”


In 1901 Peter took over the Windermere Dry Hot Air Hospital at 20 Shrewsbury Street, changing it to the Windermere Sanitorium. The treatments included steam baths and hypnosis. It is not clear how long the business lasted.


Peter won first prize at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Three of his paintings were exhibited by the Canadian government at the 1900 Paris Exposition, winning an Honourable Mention. At one time there were a number of Peter’s paintings hanging in the halls of the Stratford General Hospital. Three of his portraits are of note: Hon. Speaker Thomas Ballantyne MPP, Hon. James Trow MP, and Hon. Isaac E. Bowman MP. In addition to paintings, it appears that Peter painted wall murals in Milverton, Mildmay, and the Fryfogel Inn.

Peter’s second wife, Ida, moved to the U.S. following the death of her husband in 1912. She took a number of Peter’s paintings with her. Peter’s sons Cleveland and Arthur both moved to the U.S. and on various trips back to Stratford took many of their father’s paintings back to the U.S. where they were presumably sold. Cleveland was known to have done some sketching, drawing, and cartooning, although he became a minister of the First Congregational Church in the United States.


Peter died on June 26, 1912 and is buried in Avondale Cemetery. In 1939 Ida died in the U.S. where she was living with her son Arthur, and was buried in Avondale Cemetery.