Historical Plaque Properties


Henry Johnson - Butcher
161 Elizabeth Street
Stratford, ON

Henry Johnson was born in Stratford on the seventh of January in 1896, the son of Thomas Benjamin Johnson and Mary Ann (Minnie) McCurdy.

Benjamin was a butcher by trade and maintained two stalls at the former Market Building and Town Hall, which was built in 1857. He rented stalls in the building from the mid 1880’s until the building was destroyed by fire on November 24, 1897. Though he, along with other merchants and tradesmen who tenanted the building lost everything, Benjamin was able to rebuild and continued as a butcher.

During his teen years and into his early twenties, Henry both apprenticed and worked with his father as a butcher. However, for a time he changed careers. In 1922, Henry listed his occupation as a drover on his marriage certificate.

Henry married twenty year old Barbara Adella Gibson on October 18, 1922 in Stratford. She was born on May 17, 1902 in Ashfield, a small village in the northwest corner of Huron County. Barbara was the daughter of Sidney Gibson, a merchant, and Clara Lenetta McConnell. Shortly after their marriage the newlyweds moved into their new house at 161 Elizabeth Street. They lived in the house for a couple of years. Subsequently, they lived in a variety of locations in Stratford.

Following their marriage, Henry returned to the family trade and had a shop “Henry Johnson’s Meats and Groceries” at various locations on Ontario Street. Henry kept the shop until the late thirties when he listed his occupation as a salesman.

With the advent of World War II, Henry worked a brief time with the Ontario Provincial Police, though in what capacity is not known. He subsequently joined the Canadian army, although he does not appear to have been posted overseas.

In 1944, Henry again made another major career change when he was appointed Governor of the Stratford-Perth County Jail. He and Barbara, who acted as Matron, lived in the Governor’s residence at the jail on 30 St. Andrew Street.

As Governor, Henry presided over the last hanging at the jail in 1954. Wellesley native, Private Reuben H. Norman was found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of his former girlfriend, Jean Satchell. On February 3, 1953, she was shot nine times by Norman on Wellington Street because she had terminated their relationship a few days earlier.

Henry died on December 2, 1954. Barbara died almost twenty years later in 1971. Both are buried in Avondale Cemetery.