William “Boss” Easson – Video Documentary

Robert Andrew Moderwell died shovelling snow in January 1968.

‘Bob’ was grandson to both William Easson, mill owner, and Robert Moderwell, Perth County’s first Sheriff.  His William Street house in Stratford was sold, the end of a Moderwell-Easson era.  Family artifacts and archives were thoughtfully removed by surviving family.  Robert’s daughter Ella returned to Toronto with a carload of vintage clothing, linens, books, family trees, photographs, etc.  Robert’s granddaughter, Mary (me) became enthralled by these family treasures.  Owing to my grandparents’ separation c1935, I had never visited Stratford nor met Robert.

Jesse Eason – Andrew Moderwell – wedding portraits

Over the years, with the help of grandmother Mary Moderwell, names were added to photographs, clothing and furniture identified and slowly, the Easson branch of the family came into focus.  Gram was not fond of her mother-in-law, William Easson’s daughter Jessie. The latter’s refusal to send one ailing daughter to hospital (she died) and the full extraction of the other’s teeth, to enhance her marriageability, were not points in Jessie’s favour.  That her father “Boss” Easson was amenable to a drink or three…well….the family temperance supporters were unimpressed.  William Easson’s entrepreneurial legacy remained largely hidden from my vantage point.

William Easson and his family

Stratford’s embracing of heritage has enabled our family’s donation of many artifacts and archives to the Stratford Perth Museum. Jessie Easson’s 1880’s wedding dress and family furniture are home at last.  Online resources have also enhanced the desire to uncover as much family history as possible.  Tireless research from the Stratford/Perth County Architectural Conservancy, Historical and Genealogical societies is ongoing and ever so helpful as I continue to explore the remaining archives in my possession. 

Mary Newel donating Easson/Moderwell items to the Stratford Perth Museum

– Mary Newel