Historical Plaque Properties


Joseph Decimus Hanson - Agent & Merchant
53 Centre Street
Stratford, ON


The handsome Gothic Revival house that sits on the property known as 53 Centre Street was originally part of a ‘park lot’ (number 447), one of a number of lots surveyed for future development as the population and the need grew. The lot was bounded by St David, Birmingham, Cambria and St Vincent Streets. The house was built in 1872 by John Holmes, one of Stratford’s early builders and land developers who lived at 351 St David Street.


The Land Registry Records indicate that in May 1830, the Crown passed lot 447 to the Canada Company and in June 1853, the lot was conveyed from the Canada Company to Adam Seegmiller for 50 pounds.


As a result of a severe economic depression 1857-1859, Seegmiller lost his business and committed suicide by jumping off the local dam. It appears the property was seized for unpaid taxes. However, a transaction is recorded on May 17, 1864 between Anna Eva Seegmiller, Adam’s widow, and John Holmes at a value of $1,600. John began sub-dividing park lot 447 into smaller lots, building houses and selling them.



On June 5, 1872, Laura Ann Cory (‘spinster’) purchased 53 Centre Street. In 1873, J. D. Hanson appears in the records as tenant at 53 Centre Street, the house having been built in 1872.


Joseph Decimus Hanson was born November 5, 1832, in Norwood, Surrey England. He married Henrietta Winifred Cory Scoles (born in Kensington England) on March 27, 1856. By 1861, they had immigrated to Canada West. The 1871 Census lists Joseph (then 39 years of age) as an insurance agent. He and Henrietta (38), and their seven children, were living in Stratford at 53 Centre Street in 1873. Within a few years, the records indicate Joseph was able to buy the property (1876).



In the 1881 Census, the family were still living in the house. Joseph is listed as a ‘com (commercial) agent’. It appears he was an engineer in 1851 before leaving England. The family owned the house until 1886 when it was sold to William Preston, a bookkeeper, and Joseph Hannah, grocer. A Mrs. Hannah is listed as their tenant.


In the 1891 Census, Joseph, Henrietta, their children, John and Josephine, are living in Selkirk, Manitoba where they had moved. By 1901, they were living in Brandon Manitoba. Joseph lived into his seventy-fifth year, dying on June 5, 1907.