Historical Plaque Properties


Earl J. Dempsey - Secretary/Treasurer - Imperial Rattan Company Ltd.
311 Water Street
Stratford, ON

Earl John Dempsey, one of eight children, was born on September 29, 1894 in Stratford, Ontario.  His parents, Daniel Dempsey and Margaret Armstrong Dempsey, were first generation Irish who farmed for 40 years in Perth County before they moved into 284 Cambria Street in Stratford.  In his obituary, written after he passed on April 15, 1924, Daniel was remembered as a former alderman, prominent horticulturist, Chairman of the Parks Board, and he had established the reputation of being the top fruit judge in the district.

Earl was raised in Stratford. During 1914 to 1918, he signed up in the local regiment.  Sadly in 1917, his brother James lost his life in the Great War.
Earl went on to be a very successful student and ended up attending Queen’s College where he received a degree in science.  Returning to Stratford, he started working first as a clerk and then as Secretary for Imperial Rattan Company Ltd.
This furniture company was started in Flint Michigan by the Strudley Family.  Due to manufacturing issues, the company was closed and moved first to Walkerton and then to Stratford.  Harry Strudley was the president of the company where he hired family members such as his daughter, Eleanor
Eleanor, born on March 13, 1900, was one of four children.  She was just a young girl when the family emigrated to Canada. By 1911 the family was living at 180 Norman Street in Stratford. In the 1921 census, the family was living at 187 Mornington Street. Growing up, Eleanor attended St. James’s Anglican Church and Central Secondary School.  After graduation, Eleanor worked as an accountant in her father’s business.  It would appear this is where she met Earl J. Dempsey.
Earl J. Dempsey and Eleanor Strudley married on August 12, 1924. At the time of his wedding, Earl was reported as someone who cut a fine figure at 5‘9“, brown hair, hazel eyes with a fair complexion.  Shortly after the wedding, they moved into their new home at 311 Water Street.
Earl and Eleanor’s daughter, Marion Eleanor Dempsey, was born on November 3, 1925. Several years later they had a son, James. who was named after his uncle who had died during the war.
Earl worked at the Imperial Rattan Company as Secretary-Treasurer for 12 years. Sadly, Earl John Dempsey died at the age of 41 on April 29, 1936. He was in Preston, Ontario at the time, where he had been ill with pneumonia. Both the family and the company were shocked at how quickly Earl died.  His father-in-law put a notice in the paper expressing sadness and appreciation for his late son-in-law.

During her years as a widow, Eleanor was involved in the community. She was one of the directors of the Stratford Skating Club.  She also attended garden parties with notables such as the Lt. Governor General of Ontario and prominent Stratford families such as the Orrs and the Dingmans.
After her mother passed away in 1941, Eleanor’s dad came to live with her on Water Street until he passed at 90.  At the time of Harry Strudley’s death, it was noted that in addition to his company, he had been involved with the Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the board of governors for the University of Western Ontario, the Hospital Trust, the school board, the Ontario Library Board, the Ontario Club Toronto, as well as the local golf club.
By 1965 Eleanor had left her house and moved into an apartment on William Street where she resided until she died on June 23, 1980. Her obituary stated that she came to Stratford in 1910, was a member of the St. James’s Anglican Church and a member of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. She was survived by her son, James Dempsey of Woodbridge, Connecticut, and her daughter, Maryanne Tuttle of Calgary. Between her children there were five grandchildren. She was interred next to her husband in Avondale Cemetery