Matilda Street

The Yeandle Mould Board

The Yeandle Mould Board Stratford Perth Museum

Matilda Street first appeared on the 1879 map of Stratford, running through the middle of a survey laid out by John Redford. The plan showed lots on both sides of Matilda. In recent years, Hibernia Street was extended, crossing Matilda and running to O'Loane Avenue. A short street, Galt Road, now runs west from Matilda.

Matilda Street was named in an unusual way by John J. Yeandle, a blacksmith who was an early property owner and resident on the street. He was well known in Stratford and his blacksmith shop on Huron Street was an important part of the community in the days when the shoeing of horses and the mending of iron-rimmed wooden wagon wheels were services much in demand. His shop was originally behind the present Perth County jail. He later relocated his Yeandle Plough Company to Church Street.

John was the youngest of six children, and he and his three brothers and two sisters had been raised in Stratford by their parents, William Yeandle and

Mary Ann (Thorn), who had come from near Dunster, Somerset, England. Their passage across the Atlantic Ocean was in about 1853.

Alter the death of his first wife, Margaret (Skuce), in 1890, John married Matilda Doherty who came from Ellice Township and was of Irish descent.

91 Matilda St. Photo: Fred Gonder

It was not unusual that John would name Matilda Street for his new wife, but he also had a practical reason for doing it. Matilda Yeandle found it lonely living in their sparsely settled neighborhood. They were in "the sticks" on the outskirts of Stratford, with few neighbors and no street name. The new bride wanted her friends to visit, but they had difficulty finding her. So John posted a sign at the Huron Street corner pointing to Matilda. The name stuck, and it's been Matilda Street since. This was their home at 91 Matilda St.

The story of the Yeandle family would not be complete without mentioning its celebrated plows. The Beacon-Herald of June 30,1870, told its readers: "We the undersigned having had in use the patent mould board, known as Yeandle's Mould Board, can highly recommend it to the farming community as being the best mould we ever had in use. It answers all purposes." The undersigned included the surnames of these well-known farmers: Gibb, Woods, Todd, Smith, Helm, Dunn, Bradshaw, Trachsell, Brown, Wood, Murray, Whitehead, Bell, Ballantyne, Ferguson, Simpson and Robertson.

His is a handsome plow and is believed to be the same one that was exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair in 1870. It has a fine beaver motif decorating the iron crossbars between the handles, and the nuts and bolts holding the plow together are made of solid brass. The brass bolts would seem to indicate that this particular plough was made specially for exhibition.

The plow won first prize at the Ottawa provincial exposition in 1875, and first prize at the Philadelphia exposition in 1876. Though Thomas Yeandle was given credit for exhibiting the plow, it is likely that his brother John, the blacksmith, was also involved. A prototype of the Yeandle Mould Board was sold at auction 100 years later. In the spring 1970, members of the Yeandle family bought it and donated it to the Perth County Historical Foundation. John Yeandle died in 1939 at the age of 80. By Stanford Dingman