Discovering Your House’s History

On Wednesday, September 20, 2023, the Stratford and District Historical Society welcomed history enthusiasts and curious homeowners to a captivating event held at the prestigious Stratford Perth Archives. The event, aptly titled “Discovering Your House’s History,” was a fascinating journey into the past, shedding light on the secrets hidden within the walls of Stratford’s historic homes.

Leading the event was Ellen Thomas, an Archivist Technician with a specialization in Reference and Research. With her extensive knowledge and passion for uncovering the past, Ellen took attendees on a captivating exploration of the steps necessary to reveal the rich history of their houses.

photo courtesy – Jayne Trachsel

The central theme of the evening revolved around the profound questions that intrigue homeowners and history enthusiasts alike:

  1. When was it built? Ellen delved into the meticulous process of tracing the construction dates of houses. Attendees learned about the wealth of information often concealed in old documents, blueprints, and historical records that can provide insight into a house’s origins.
  2. Who built it? Understanding the builders and architects behind these magnificent structures is essential to appreciating their historical significance. Ellen shared techniques for researching the individuals responsible for bringing these homes to life.
  3. The cost of the house? Uncovering the financial aspects of a house’s history can reveal not only the value of the property at the time of construction but also the economic context of the era. Attendees discovered the treasure trove of financial records that can shed light on these aspects.
  4. Who lived there over the years? Ellen guided participants through the process of unearthing the names and stories of former residents. From early settlers to prominent figures, the history of a house is often intertwined with the lives of those who called it home.
  5. Were the persons living there owners of businesses, members of Council? The event emphasized the importance of local context. Ellen encouraged attendees to investigate the social and political ties of former occupants. Were they entrepreneurs, influential community members, or even members of the town council?

The “Discovering Your House’s History” event at the Stratford Perth Archives was a testament to the power of historical preservation and the role it plays in connecting us to our roots. It served as a reminder that the past is not just a series of distant events but a tangible part of our daily lives, hidden in plain sight within the walls of our homes.

– Nancy Musselman

photo courtesy – Jayne Trachsel