Historical Plaque Properties


Richard Deem - Tailor
323 Cobourg Street
Stratford, ON

Richard Charles Deem was born about 1857 in Hinton-St. George, Somerset, England the son of Thomas Deem and Elizabeth Hawker. He was the third of at least nine children born to the couple.
The family moved to the town of Bath in Somerset England about 1861. According to census data, Thomas Deem held a variety of jobs during this period. In 1861 he is recorded as a labourer, whereas, in 1871 his occupation is listed as a shepherd.

In the mid to late nineteenth century education was not a primary concern among working class families in England. When he was fourteen years of age, Richard was sent out to work as an agricultural labourer along with three of his older brothers to help the family make ends meet.

In 1877, Richard married Annie Elizabeth Bagg. She was also born about 1857, the daughter of Benjamin Bagg and Thirza Palmer. Annie’s father was a journeyman miller and her mother was recorded as a glover.  The 1871 census indicates that fourteen year old Annie along with three of her older sisters helped their mother with the glove making business as Annie is also recorded as a glover. The family had lived in Bath since the late 1850s or early 1860s where Annie and Richard met.

During their courtship and early marriage, Richard and Annie made two life altering decisions. First Richard chose to leave the land and to apprentice as a tailor. The couple also made the decision that their future lay outside of England. By the 1881 census, they had moved to the Channel Islands and lived on Mont Morin Road on the Isle of Guernsey where Richard is listed as a tailor.

Richard’s older brother, Henry, had emigrated to Canada in the early 1880s and settled in the town of Seaforth in Huron County.  Richard followed his brother about 1884 to prepare for the arrival of his family. Annie who had given birth to their first child, Arthur William, in 1884 followed a few months later when she and Arthur boarded the Polynesian in Liverpool arriving in Halifax on March 15, 1885.

Richard was one to two tailors in Seaforth. He and Annie had four more children while they lived in the town: Ellen Blanche (b. 1889); Edgar Richard (b. 1891): Hazel Victoria (b 1893) and Annie Pearl aka Winnifred (b. 1896).

Around 1905, the family moved to Stratford where Richard established a tailor shop at 21 Downie Street. Initially, they lived on St. Vincent Street and subsequently Ontario Street. However, when the house at 323 Cobourg St. was built in 1918 by Edward Schlotzhauer they purchased it and were the first occupants. Richard and Annie lived in the house for the rest of their days.

Richard died on January 3, 1941 at the age of 84 years. Annie died in July 1943. They are buried in Avondale Cemetery along with their children Winnifred, Ethel, Hazel and Arthur. Their son, Edgar, who served in World War I and followed in his father’s footsteps as a clothier is buried in Vancouver.