Historical Plaque Properties


Roderick Lean - Blacksmith/Inventor
27 Church Street
Stratford, ON

Roderick Lean was born in Truro, Nova Scotia in 1833. He was the son of Andrew and Harriet Lean. Although his parents couldn’t be traced in the various censuses, it is known they were born in Scotland according to the information recorded on their son and daughter’s marriage records.


On May 24, 1860 Roderick Lean, 27, married Chloe Belfry, 22, of Queensville, East Gwillimbury. At the time of his marriage, he was living in Shakespeare and making his living as a blacksmith. Later that year, his sister Isabella also living in Shakespeare at the time married William Long, a widower from East Gwillimbury. In the 1861 census, Roderick and Chloe are recorded as living in Shakespeare in a 1 ½ storey frame house. Over the next five years, the couple had two sons, Emerson and Finnius. Sadly, Chloe died at the age of 27 in December 1865. She is buried in the South Easthope Cemetery in Shakespeare.


On May 23, 1867 Roderick married Sarah Smith who was a cousin to Chloe. He was still living in Shakespeare and working as a blacksmith at the time. According to the List of Canadian Patents 1824-1872, Roderick Lean was granted a patent for “A new and useful machine, namely: ‘A Punching Die’.” in August of 1868.


By the fall of 1868, the couple had moved to Stratford as another patent in October of that year was granted to Roderick Lean of the Town of Stratford for, “A new, useful and improved agricultural implement, to be called “R. Lean’s Combined Gang Plough and Cultivator.” Roderick bought three lots on Church Street and built a house and two buildings for his business on the property. According to the 1871 Perth & Waterloo Co. Gazetteer, R. Lean was engaged in general blacksmithing and manufacture of agricultural implements. His buildings were 50 by 25 feet and 40 by 20 feet and he had eight “hands” in his employ.


Sarah Lean gave birth to a daughter, Linna, in 1868, a second daughter, Hattie in 1871, a son Andrus in 1873 and a second son, Milton in 1875. A year after the birth of their second son, Roderick Lean established an iron harrow manufacturing business in Ohio but his residence was listed in the 1876 Cleveland Directory as being in Canada.


A short time later, the family moved to Mansfield, Ohio where the Roderick Lean Manufacturing Company was built into an extensive business. Eventually, about half of the agricultural implements made there were exported to a large market in Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe.


Due to ill health, Roderick Lean moved to California in 1892.  He died there in San Diego in 1894 and despite having moved to Ohio almost twenty years before he continued to own the house at 27-29 Church Street until his death. First his sons and then his grandson, Roderick, carried on the agricultural implement business that he had started until 1954.