Historical Plaque Properties


John Schiefle - Traveller
243 Cobourg Street
Stratford, ON

In 1916 John Schiefle built a house on the north-east portion of Lot 15 at the corner of Cobourg Street and Trow Avenue.  He had just purchased this property from Eli Heimrich who also owned   the north west portion and the adjoining Lot 16, all of which were located in the McCulloch survey. The family which at that point comprised John and his wife Christina and their two younger children, daughter Hilda, age 17 and son Arthur, age 12 were moving to Stratford from Goderich where he had been employed by the Grand Trunk Railway as a brakeman.

John Schiefle was born in 1871 in neighbouring Waterloo County, the son of Frederick and Elizabeth Schiefle both Ontario natives of German heritage. His wife Christina, the daughter of George Sippel and Anna Koch, also of German nationality, had grown up in Huron County which adjoins Perth County to the west. When they were married in 1898 Christina had two daughters, Ethel, age 7 and Gertrude, 4 years old, from a previous marriage. They began married life in Alliston, Ontario where their daughter, Hilda, was born in 1899.

Shortly after her arrival the family moved to the United States where the 1900 United States Federal Census shows them living in Detroit, Michigan with John employed as a carpenter. A few years later they re-located to Chelmsford, Massachusetts where their only son, Arthur, was born in 1904 and John was listed as a ‘drummer’, or  travelling salesman.

In 1911 they returned to Ontario and took up residence in Goderich.The eldest daughter, Ethel, remained in Detroit where she was employed as a stenographer at American Standard Jewellry. She married a fellow Canadian, John Wenzel, who owned a men’s furnishings business in that city and together they raised four daughters. She died in 1981 in Florida and is buried there. Her sister Gertrude also returned to Detroit where she was employed as a stenographer with General Motors.  
While John and Christina were living in Stratford from 1916 to 1922 John’s occupation was listed in the directories of the day as ‘traveller’ or ‘agent’.   By 1921, Hilda had become a school teacher and was teaching at a school in Shakespeare just east of Stratford. When the house at 243 Cobourg Street changed hands in 1923 she apparently went to Yonkers, New York where she was living when she married in 1924.

In a June wedding in 1924, at Knox Presbyterian Church in Stratford, she became the wife of Capt. Evans Alexander McKay, a department manager in Toronto and a  son of the late  William McKay, a Baptist Minister, and Mary McKay, of Toronto. Rev. McKay who was born in London, Ontario, was a clergyman in Stratford when their son, Evans, was born in 1896.  Capt. McKay, a WW1 veteran, was 20 years of age when he served as an aviator with the Royal Air Force in Great Britain. Hilda and Evans spent most of their married life in the US where he was an executive with Moore Business Forms.

At the time of Hilda’s wedding John and Christina were again living in Detroit. John died in 1931 in a long term care facility in Windsor Ontario at age 61 after being a patient there for three years.  Christina and Arthur had both returned to Detroit where they lived close to Ethel and her family.  Arthur did clerical work with the auto industry and later was involved in the publishing business. He married but there were no children and he is buried in Jackson, Michigan. Both John and Christina are buried in Palmerston, Ontario.