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Liverymen like Chatham’s Lethbridge family were once a going concern

I always enjoy coming across stories concerning the liverymen of the 19th century, as their business functions were so vital to the progress of the community.

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At any given time, the town would have anywhere from three to six of these firms.


As technical change began to affect the community and its transportation needs in the days just before the First World War, these livery operators, a few of them, began switching their operations to automobile-related activities including retail and repair.

In past issues I have written about liverymen such as John Hendershot. He sold, traded and rented horses, wagons and buggies from his shop at the southwest junction of Queen and Cross streets. This would be about where the Chatham public library now stands.

I have also written about the Lamperd Livery. It was located in the ancient Hadley sash and door mill at the foot of Sixth Street and McGregor Creek. This spot is in behind the CIBC at King and Sixth streets. The Hicks Block now stands on the site of the Hadley mill.

The largest livery I have researched was known as the Mammoth Livery. It was behind the Burrows Block at the north west junction of King and Fourth streets.

In 1939, both the Burrows Block and the livery were removed to make way for the Centre Theatre.

Construction of the new theatre began just as the Second World War was commenced. Had construction been delayed, the theatre might never have been built due to restrictions imposed in favour of war-related production. The Centre Theatre was one of the few art deco related structures ever erected in Chatham.

In this story I would like to tell you about another livery business that functioned well into the 20th Century and was located to the immediate west of where the Centre Theatre stands. It was known as the Lethbridge Brothers Livery. It was operated by Stanley and Christopher Lethbridge.

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The brothers were the sons of Garland Lethbridge. In 1887, he decided to migrate from England to North America, and ultimately, to Chatham where he died in 1897.

According to Beer’s Biographical Record of 1904, Garland had settled in the London, Ontario area, but later came to Chatham where he rented or obtained land on the “The Bar Farm.”

The Bar Farm was originally known as “Tobago Farm” and was bounded on the north by the Thames River, on the south by Park Avenue, on the west by a point just west of Merritt Avenue and on the east by a point just west of Inshes Avenue.

The Bar Farm was the huge property of Dr. Robert Bar who had come to Chatham after concluding military service at what are now Trinidad and Tobago, thus the name.

Dr. Bar’s son, Alexander Bar, later changed the name of the property to the Bar Farm.

Stanley and Christopher, sons of Garland, were Raleigh Township farmers before purchasing the livery business of William Gardiner in 1902. They operated this business, together, until the death of Stanley.

I have a bit of information on Stanley. It indicates that he was born in England on May 16, 1866 and died at Chatham on October 21, 1918. He reposes in Maple Leaf Cemetery.

Christopher continued on in the livery business until 1921, but I have little information on him other than the above.

Their former livery was subsequently employed as a storage facility and I am thinking that it required considerable in the dispensation of time to get the horse stink out of it.

In 1922, E Paquette began making shoes here and, in 1926, doctors J. Moriarity and F. Reid began a medical practice here. They remained here until some point during the Second World War.

By 1950, Young’s Jewellers were occupants and a later tenant was The Sound Shop.

I am not sure of the exact age of the building (151 King Street West, old numbering system, 193 King Street West, post 1909) but I do know that the structure pre-dates 1904 and is currently undergoing renovation.

I wonder if you can still smell the horses?

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