Dingman Place

Dingman Place is named in honour of William Smith Dingman

59 Grant St. The Dingman family's  first residence in Stratford was purchased in 1889. 

William Smith Dingman (1858-1947).

William's father, Absalom (1827-1911), born in Belleville, was already a newspaper publisher in Strathroy when he purchased the Herald, a popular weekly Stratford newspaper, and relocated here in 1886 with his wife, Emma Smith and their family of 3 daughters and 4 sons. That was the beginning of the Dingman Dynasty in Stratford newspaper publishing. 

Absalom employed three of his sons, William, Lewis and Charles, with him in the newspaper business. William, the eldest who had gained newspaper experience as managing editor at the Port Arthur Sentinel, shortly became co-publisher. Lewis moved on in 1889 to become managing editor and later owner of the St. Thomas Journal. Although he spent most of his career with that city's newspapers,  he remained connected with Stratford by purchasing the Herald in 1920 and merging it with the Beacon in 1923. Charles left Stratford to work at the Montreal Star and the Winnipeg Telegram before returning to Stratford to become the first editor and managing director of the new Stratford Beacon Herald in May 1923. After his sudden death six months later,  his son Charles Dobson Dingman succeeded him. 

Hence began, what is described by Adelaide Leitch in the Stratford history, Floodtides of Fortune, a newspaper dynasty. It would last for 113 years.

William Smith Dingman and Margaret (Maggie) Elizabeth McDonough were married in Strathroy in 1889 with her father, the Rev. William McDonough, a Methodist clergyman, performing the ceremony. They immediately settled at 59 Grant St., where their first child, a daughter, Wilhelmine Margaret, was born. William and Maggie’s first son, George McDonough, served in the First World War, after which he joined the Dingman newspaper in St. Thomas, as an advertising manager.

In 1890, William moved the Herald into a new building, designed by architect Joseph Kilburn, on the south side of Market Square. It remained there until his paper's merger with the Beacon in 1923. 

William became active in municipal life. He was on the Stratford Collegiate Institute board, was an alderman on city council and was the mayor in 1909-10. During his term as mayor, he played a key role in bringing water-powered hydro service to Stratford. His advocacy and support for Sir Adam Beck’s  (see Sir Adam Beck Road) Niagara Power project culminated in a 1910 Christmas Eve ceremony at which the first Niagara-powered electric lights were switched on to illuminate Stratford’s streets.

In 1899, William was elected president of the Canadian Press Association, a non-profit organization created in 1859 to improve relations among newspaper publishers, proprietors and editors, and strengthen the press against the divisive effect of political interference.

After more than 30 years in the newspaper business, the Ontario government called on him in 1915 to serve as vice-chairman of the newly established Ontario Board of License (Liquor) Commissioners. That position soon involved him in the administration of the Ontario Temperance Act, which came into effect in 1917. He and Maggie moved to Toronto where they spent the rest of their lives. William Smith Dingman died in 1947 at age 89 . Source: Historical Plaque Properties and  William Smith Dingman (1858-1947) - Find a Grave Memorial 

Additional Note on the William S. Dingman family's residences: William and his wife Margaret (Maggie) took up residence at 59 Grant St following their marriage in 1889. Their children were born there. In 1895 William and Margaret (Maggie) Dingman moved into their new house at 196 Cambria Street with their daughter Wilhelmine and sons George and Arthur. This house was located on the easterly portion of Lot 509 and was built in the summer of 1894. It was their second home in Stratford. Source: Historical Plaque Properties