Youngs Street        

Father and son, two military heroes 

Father and son soldiers

Youngs house, 240 Birmingham St.

Youngs Street runs west from Birmingham Street to end at St. Vincent Street,by Stratford General Hospital. 

Youngs Street was named for Lt.-Col. John Lant Youngs, M.C.  Youngs Street appeared for the first time on the 1922 map. At that time, it was still unpaved. Col. Youngs was a building contractor, Military Commander, and the mayor of Stratford in 1919.

Enlisting in the 28th Perth Regiment in 1909, at age 42, John Lant Youngs left Stratford with the 1st Battalion in August 1914. Wounded in the head and shoulders in France in 1915, he was invalided to England. He later returned to France, where he was promoted to captain. In 1916 he received the rank of major and was given temporary command of a company.

Upon his return to Canada, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and given command of the 110th Perth Battalion, which sailed from Halifax for England in December 1916.  Awarded the Military Cross "for conspicuous bravery during, the Battle of Mount Sorrel," Lt.-Col. Youngs returned to Canada in 1917. In 1918 he was given command of the Western Ontario Battalion at London Demobilized, just in time to be elected the mayor of Stratford in 1919. He was forced to resign from the mayor's job in June 1919 when he was recalled to become a conducting officer on troop transports returning from England.

His mayoralty term was completed by John Stevenson, father of Ann (Mrs. Wilfrid Palmer) Gregory, who was succeeded in 1921 and 1922 by Walter Herbert Gregory, father of W. P. Gregory, who was mayor in 1955 and 1956.

About the same time that Lt.-Col. Youngs was honored for bravery, his son, Lt. John Youngs was also awarded the Military Cross for "conspicuous gallantry at the Battle of Courcelette." Single-handed, he had attacked an enemy machine gun and captured the gun and its crew, Lt. Youngs was killed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917.

Col. John Youngs' early schooling was in West Zorra, where his great-grandfather, Gabriel Youngs (1779-1855), bought 1,000 acres after coming to Upper Canada from the United States. John attended school three miles north of Embro, at Youngsville, which had been named after his great-grandfather.

He then came to Stratford to attend the collegiate. While still in school in Stratford, he followed in his father's footsteps as a builder, and spent summer vacations on construction projects in Northern Ontario. He helped build new Canadian Pacific Railway stations as the CPR ran new lines through the north. Col. Youngs devoted more than just 'his working time' to the construction trade.  After he was fully trained and experienced as a first-class finish carpenter, he entered into partnership with master stone mason Edmund A. Cawsey under the name “Cawsey and Youngs.” Because of their reputation for excellent work, they prospered.

Prior to getting the city hall contract in 1898, the company had completed many important projects including the large Whyte Packing (see Whyte Avenue) plant and the McLagan Furniture factory at 93 Trinity Street (see McLagan Drive). Early in the morning of Nov. 24, 1897, the first city hall, erected 40 years earlier, burned. That led to one of the largest and most prestigious public buildings projects for Cawsey and Youngs. They were the ones who built it, at total of $34,689.


Casey and Youngs had a contract in Renfrew, Ont., to put down sewers and build a dam. Dynamite was used to blast out trees and one of the charges did not explode. When Cawsey, the senior partner, went to investigate, the charge fired and killed him. That ended the successful partnership.

By the time he had retired from the construction business in 1932, J. L. Youngs' completed building projects in Stratford included the masonic temple on Church Street, a new front section on the public library, the YMCA, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, the Stratford Chair factory, parts of the Kroehler factory, and the Ballantyne factory.  He built his own house, at 240 Birmingham St., in 1905. It is now a B and B called The Birmingham Manor.

The Youngs subdivision plan, laid out in 1922 , divided the block into 58 building lots. The colonel provided the land for Youngs Street which was named for him. When he died in 1947, the city hall flag flew at half-staff in respect for the former mayor and widely known soldier. He built the building on which the flag flew. By Stanford Dingman    Picture: Heroes of Zorra