Historical Plaque Properties


James Sharman - Machinist - Stratford Foundry
234 St. Patrick Street
Stratford, ON

John Sharman, the patriarch of the Sharman family was, according to JJE Linton in his book Life of a Backwoodsman, “a good tradesman and of an obliging disposition.” He goes on to write that Mr. Sharman, a blacksmith from Bedfordshire, England, arrived in the village of Stratford in 1834 with about 400 dollars.  Nine years later, when Linton wrote the book, he noted, “He has now 5 village lots, and a farm adjoining Stratford. He has a good two-storey framed house, and back kitchen, with a barn &c. on one lot and a workshop (formerly his dwelling house) with a stable on another…He now estimates his value being equal to 4000 dollars.”


In the 1851 census, John and Isabella Sharman had five children, all boys, living with them. They also employed a servant. Of the boys, Joseph, the oldest, John Jr., and James, the third son, would follow in their father’s footsteps. John branched out from blacksmithing. He had established The Stratford Foundry, manufactured agricultural implements, and built a hotel, The Farmer’s Inn, at the corner of Huron and St. George (Mornington) streets. According to the 1861 census his five sons were still living at home. John was also employed as the Crown Lands Agent for land outside of the town.  His office was on Mill Street while the family lived on Avon Street.


By the time the 1871 census was taken, many changes had occurred in the family. Joseph had taken over the foundry which was known as the Stratford Foundry and Agricultural Works as proprietor and John Jr. was his foreman. It was located on Birmingham Street at St. Patrick.


James was a machinist at the foundry. He had married Mary Dean in 1868 and a year later the couple moved into the new house at 234 St. Patrick Street. In September of 1870, their first child was born, a son, Frank Dean Sharman. The couple would eventually have four other children, Mary, Mabel, Hattie and Emma.


Joseph continued to operate the Stratford Foundry but he became increasingly interested in farming, cattle breeding in particular. His son was sent to England to select Hereford stock. Soon “Joseph Sharman and Son” were one of the main Hereford breeders in Canada. The Sharman farm was located on the old Stratford Agricultural grounds off Britannia Street. In 1885, Joseph and his family moved to Manitoba where two of his brothers had relocated.


James took over the running of the foundry and agricultural works in 1880 where, according to the 1881 Stratford Directory, they manufactured mowers, reapers, and threshing machines.


By this time the family had moved to Birmingham Street near Daly Terrace. Their daughter, Mabel, was a teacher in the Shakespeare Ward School. She and Hattie were still living at home. Mary and Emma had married and left home. When his father died in 1883, his mother also began living with them. Frank had moved to London where he worked for the post office.


For five years, James ran the foundry business. He was also very civic minded and was a member of City Council for a number for years. He was also a trustee on the school board and served on the board when Central Collegiate was built. In 1885, a tragic accident occurred in which James lost part of his right arm, causing him to step down from managing the foundry.


James also retired from City Council and was soon appointed to take over the vacant position of city assessor. He remained in this post until he retired in 1912. James Sharman died in 1925 and is buried in Avondale Cemetery beside other family members.