Historical Plaque Properties


John A. Andrew - Merchant/Mayor
174 Cambria Street
Stratford, ON

John Alexander Andrew was born in Scotland on January 7, 1864. He was the son of William Andrew and Elizabeth Adam.

John came from a farming family that worked acreage around Balgaveny, Forgue in Aberdeenshire. When he was six years old, John’s mother died at the age of thirty-two. Together with his brothers and sister, John helped their father work the farm until William died in 1885 at the age of sixty-nine.
In his early twenties with his parents gone and perhaps little prospects in Scotland, John made the momentous decision to seek a better life in Canada. Upon his arrival around 1890, he did not stray too far from his roots. Initially, he worked on a farm for a number of years in Elma Township before moving to Downie Township where he was employed on the farm of William Byers who would become his father-in-law.

On October 12, 1899, thirty-five year old John A. Andrew married Helen Cawston Byers in Stratford. She was born in Downie Township in March 1860, the sixth of nine children of William Byers and Anne (Annie) Murray. At the time of his wedding, John lived in St. Mary’s and listed his occupation as a Coachman on the marriage register. The couple did not have any children.

Marriage settled John from his migratory ways. The couple decided to live in Stratford where John worked with Helen’s brother as a Seed Salesman. However, by 1904, John appears to have gone into business on his own as he is listed as a Seed Merchant in the Stratford City Directory.  The directory also records the couple boarding at a residence on Water Street.

By 1911 the couple’s fortunes had continued to improve as John set up shop as a Flour and Feed Merchant at 68 Wellington Street. Around the same time they moved to a house at 53 Centre Street. 
In 1920 John was able to retire from active business and went through a transformation to public life when he was first elected Alderman. At the time he and Helen lived at 101 Church Street when they purchased a vacant lot on Cambria St. and had plans drawn for a craftsman style house which was built in 1922.

John was a much respected politician having been elected twelve times, two of which as Mayor in 1928 and 1929. He retired from public life after his second term as Mayor but was coaxed into returning to Council in 1932 as Alderman because of his needed experience in dealing with the ravages of the Great Depression which were taking hold in Stratford. Illness forced him to take a leave of absence. He died on May 6, 1932.  Helen continued to live at 174 Cambria St. until her death in 1945. They are both buried in the Avondale Cemetery