60 Years of Books
John Kenner 1944 Stratford-Perth Archives
Kenner Crescent is named for John Herbert Thomas Geach Kenner (1864-1956), who operated a bookstore in Stratford for 60 years, and for his son, Dr. Harold Brown Kenner (1896-1969), the city's medical officer of health.
Born in Camelford, near Cornwall in England, Herb came to Canada as a child with his parents. His father, Rev. John Kenner, was sent by the Bible Christian Conference to its headquarters in Bowmanville. The conference later merged with the Methodists and then became part of the United Church of Canada.
As a youth, J. H. served his apprenticeship in the book and stationery business in Bowmanville, before the family moved to Stratford because his father was transferred to Clinton.
In 1890, J. H. bought the book and stationary store at the corner of Ontario and Erie streets from Joseph H. Dufton. When Herb Kenner came to Stratford in 1890, the main streets were mud pavement, bordered by plank sidewalks and lit by gas lamps. Lake Victoria was a stump-filled millpond and the Grand Trunk Railway station was an aging frame structure. The old wooden building was still standing by the Avon River where the tennis courts and bowling greens were later located.
In 1894, he married Jessie Brown (1867-1952).
J. H. later moved his business to several Ontario Street locations before settling at 38 Wellington St., adjacent to Stan Blowes' travel agency. In 1949, after 60 years in business, Herb Kenner sold his book and gift shop to Stan Blowes. At the time, he said he had seen the streets paved, the sidewalks built, and the old gas lamps replaced with electric lights. He had also seen hitching posts give way to parking meters, a new dam built on the river, and Lake Victoria transformed into a beauty spot. A brick railway station had replaced the frame building and "one Sunday morning, many years ago, the old rink fell down." When electricity arrived in 1910, the Kenner store was the first to have an electric sign. By then, J. H. and Jessie were living at 14 Waterloo St. N.
Their son Dr. Harold Kenner (1896-1969), a surgeon whose office as of 1950 was at 7 Market Pl., was the medical officer of health (MOH) for 40 years. He married Agnes Tanner Faill (1902-1994), and they lived at 121 Birmingham St, and then at 325 St. David St.
He was one of two Stratford citizens to receive Centennial medals for valuable service to the nation. The other was Lawrence Feick (see Feick Crescent). With notes from Stanford Dingman
Kenner bookstore at the corner of Erie and Ontario Stratford-Perth Archives
Picture taken from Kenner Book Store