Historical Plaque Properties


William Nichols - Clothier
18 Waterloo Street N.
Stratford, ON


William Nichols was born May 5, 1859 in Fullarton Township. He was the second son of a farmer, John Nichols, who had emigrated from England, and Grace Irvin. He helped his father on the farm and in the 1881 census; twenty-one year old William is listed as a farmer.


Obviously, farming was not to his liking and within two years he moved to Stratford where he set himself up as a produce dealer. Business must have been good and in 1884 he was in a position to support a family.


On July 16, 1884, William, age twenty-five, married nineteen year old Esther Sayers the daughter of John and Margaret Sayers of Stratford. William’s family grew and his business prospered over the next few years. Their first child, a daughter, Grace, was born in 1885 and in 1890 a son, Joseph Franklin, was born.


In 1885, William had joined in partnership with Esther’s father John, and her brother Thomas. Sayers & Co. had a flour and feed outlet on Ontario Street. By 1891, William had set up his own “small wares” shop on the west side of Market Street 3 doors south of Ontario Street. Unfortunately, tragedy struck the young family. Esther Nichols died on April 6, 1894.


On September 23, 1896 William, 37, married Margaret Hodgins, 25. His rise in prosperity was noted by the term “Merchant” used for the groom’s occupation. By 1896, William was in business for himself. At that time he had set up a shop on Market Street were he dealt in “Fancy Goods”. The family was living on Norman Street at that time. The couple had three sons, Thomas Russell born in 1900, William Brock born in 1912 and Leonard Bruce born in 1913.


In 1905, William had enlarged his business at 29 Wellington Street and was selling clothing manufactured in his factory at 106 Erie Street. When he bought the home at 18 Mary Street, now 18 Waterloo Street North, he was listed in the assessment roles as a manufacturer. His brother, David, had moved to Stratford and was working for William as a tailor and foreman in the clothing factory. By 1911, the family had moved to 59 Douglas Street.


William Nichols died May 14, 1924 at 65 years of age. Margaret died in 1931 and both are buried in Avondale Cemetery. Of William’s five children, only one spent their days in Stratford. Grace married George Carpenter in 1905 and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba shortly afterwards. Joseph Franklin moved to Manitoba and later to the United States sometime before 1920. William Brock died in a car accident while he was still a university student. Leonard Bruce moved to British Columbia. Thomas Russell became a physician and surgeon. According to the 1945 voter’s list Dr. Nichols and his family lived at 16 Haig Street, Stratford.