Historical Plaque Properties


John Gall - Contractor/Ice Rink Caretaker - Mary Ann (Litt) Gall
19 Water Street
Stratford, ON

John Gall was born in Ellice Township on February 6, 1865. He was the youngest of seven children born to German immigrant farmers Frederick (Friedrich) Gall (1819-1882) and Dorothea Maria Bangen (1823-1913). John’s parents married in Prussia in 1843, had their first child in 1846, and in that same year immigrated to Upper Canada. The Gall family continued farming in Ellice Township for decades. 


By 1891 at the age of 26 John was a farm labourer lodging with the Litt family in Ellice Township. Theobald Litt was ethnically German but born in France, and his wife Catherine Sebring was born in Ontario to German-American parents. The second oldest of their six children was Mary Ann, who ended up marrying John on February 25, 1896 in Milverton. They had a son, Aron Edward, on November 30 of that year, but he died on May 21, 1897. John and Mary Ann did not have any other children.


John and Mary Ann moved to Stratford by 1906, living at 25 Church Street. By September 1910 they purchased the original house that was located on the lot that is now 19 Water Street. This house was built in 1867 by English immigrant John Codd, whose family lived there until around 1875, when they moved and kept 19 Water Street as a rental property. In 1910 the Codd family sold the house to John and Mary Ann Gall, where they lived until 1930 when they severed the lot, demolished the original structure, and built the current house on the east part of the lot. It is very likely that John was directly involved in the construction of the house, as he was a contractor.


While John and Mary Ann were living in the original house at 19 Water Street, there were five residents enumerated. There is no evidence of them having any children during that time, so we can assume there were other relatives or boarders living with them. They lived alone in the new house.

It is sometimes difficult to determine accurate information about John Gall’s family, as many of the directories and censuses listed Gall as Gaul. However, in any legal documents such as birth, marriage, and death records, Gall is used.


The records of John’s employment are somewhat inconsistent.  His death certificate states that he was a contractor/cement worker since moving to Stratford around 1906. However, he was listed as a labourer on several tax assessment rolls and directories. In some earlier directories John was listed as a contractor, and in later ones as a mason. The 1911 census states that he was a cement contractor, and that he was working at the skating rink. One book has him listed as the ice maker at the rink, while one family tree states that he was a cement worker by trade, and that for 18 years he was the caretaker and ice maker at the rink. It would appear that, from the time John and Mary Anne moved to Stratford, John worked in the winter as the caretaker and ice maker at the Waterloo Street rink - across the street from 19 Water, on the eastern portion of the lot that now holds the Tom Patterson Theatre. John worked as a cement contractor during the rest of the year.


John and Mary Anne lived in their 1930 home until their deaths: John on March 6, 1943 and Mary Anne on March 6, 1948. Both are buried in Sebringville Cemetery, near where they were raised.