Historical Plaque Properties


William Henry Schenck - Builder
361 St. David Street
Stratford, ON

William Henry Schenck was born on May 2, 1865 the son of William Frederick August Schenck and Pauline Eischer.

Both William’s parents were born in Prussia and emigrated to Canada during the 1850s settling in Ellice Township. They were married on April 24, 1860 and had nine children, three of whom died in infancy. William was their fourth child. William’s father farmed and also worked as a carpenter to supplement the family’s income.

Growing up, William helped his father on the farm and learned the carpentry trade.  By 1891, William was boarding with John Kastner and his family in Downie Township. Mr. Kastner was a lumber merchant and, according to the census, William worked for him as a carpenter.

William listed his occupation as a carpenter when he married twenty-four year old Melinda Margaret Kruspe on November 17, 1896 in the Village of Sebringville. Melinda was born on March 24, 1875 the daughter of Frederick Kruspe and Mary (Maria) Katherine Seegmiller. Frederick was born in Prussia on August 22, 1826 and emigrated to Canada about 1846. Mary was born on June 7, 1836 in Alsace Lorraine and emigrated to Canada in the early 1850s. They were married on June 7, 1856 in Sebringville and had at least eight children. Matilda was their seventh child.

Not long after their marriage, William and Melinda moved to the town of Chesley in Bruce County. The town, which sits along the Saugeen River, was the home of the Krug Brothers Furniture Factory, established in 1885. The next two decades saw a rapid demand for their product. The requirement for skilled labour and above average wages likely attracted William and Melinda to Chesley where their first child, Emerson Verne, was born on September 14, 1900.

By 1905 the family moved to Stratford where their remaining children were born: Mary Doreen (b. 1907) and William Edwin (b. 1911). During the next eighteen years the family lived at a number of locations, in Stratford, including Norman and Centre Streets ultimately settling at 170 Birmingham Street. At the same time William began to establish himself as a successful house builder. He built 361 St. David Street in 1916.

According to his obituary, William received a slight scratch on his knee while working on one of his houses. Thinking nothing of it he continued to work but visited the doctor later in the day and the following morning to have it treated. That afternoon he and his 12-year old son Edwin and William’s sister set out to visit their parent’s gravesite in Rostock. During the car trip William was overcome by fainting spells twice but was revived. He continued on, however, the third attack was fatal resulting from severe blood poisoning from his wound. William died on July 2, 1923 at the age of 58 years.

Melinda lived another thirty-eight years and died in 1961. She is buried alongside William in Avondale Cemetery.