William Beaumont Leather
by Scott Forsyth

     William Beaumont Leather was a Civil Engineer, drafts person, surveyor and architect who for approximately ten years lived in the Aldershot area on the south-west quarter of lot 8 on Concession 2.  His property started from Flatt Rd. in the south, to the end of Flatt Rd. Extension in the north and Hidden Valley in the west to the Flatt Rd. Extension in the east.
     Mr Leather was born in Bradford, England on April 11th, 1820 and grew up in the Leeds area. His father George Leather was an engineer who designed several bridges in Leeds. One of them was the Crown Point Bridge that was built in the 1820's and is still being used today.
     Like his father, William trained to be an engineer and worked with him and his brother in Leeds before immigrating to Canada in 1850. He left behind a wife (Hannah Kettlewell) and four children under the age of six. Once landing here he settled in Toronto and started a partnership with Sandford Fleming who was also an engineer and draftsperson. Fleming is the man credited for inventing Standard Time and getting it instituted globally in 1885 and also designing Canada's first postal stamp, the Three Penny Beaver in 1851.
 Three penny stamp
     William had to intern with Fleming for one year in order to get his surveyors license. During this time he married Jeanette Louisa Young and on August 3rd, 1851 they had the first child, Maria Louisa. The partnership of Fleming & Leather was dissolved in late 1851. He stayed in Toronto briefly but shortly moved to London Ontario working alone and he eventually formed a partnership with William Robinson. After four years this partnership was dissolved in 1857 and William began working on designing the London Post Office. It was his greatest solo achievement and was completed in 1860. During this time William and Jeanette had two more children, two boys named Thomas and Augustus.
 London Post Office
     In 1864 Leather was back working for his old partner on Canada's Intercolonial Railway in New Brunswick surveying possible routes through the province. In 1865 he had moved to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia to work on the construction of the Pictou Branch of the Nova Scotia Railway and the road between Truro and New Glasgow until 1867.
     By the beginning of the 1870's the costs of this railway were sky-rocketing and cuts to staff had to be made. It is not known if this was the reason that William Beaumont left for Ontario but by 1872 he and his family are now living in Aldershot and had taken a mortgage out for the 50 acres on Lot 8. He set up his first office on Victoria Avenue south in Hamilton for his private office and secured a contract with the Great Western Railway as an architect. Later he moved his office to the corner of McNab & Market Square over the Victoria Mutual Insurance Building and later in the Spectator Building between 1876 and 1878.
   Close to where the Leathers lived was a business called the Aldershot Brick Works, located along the north side of the train tracks and west of Waterdown Road. It opened for business in 1871 and lasted almost ten years.  A newspaper article from 1874 states that the company manufactured over three million bricks that year.  At the beginning of 1879 the business was put up for auction. It is believed that W B Leather had some connection with this business as the surname Leather appears a few times in newspaper ads and clippings regarding whether the manufacturing equipment was included in the sale. Further research is needed to confirm this.
     His work with the GWR took him across the border several times to Buffalo and Detroit. While there he corresponded with another railway colleague who convinced him to seek employment in the States. By the late summer of 1878 Leather went by himself to work for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway throughout the mid western states.
     W.B. Leather stayed in the U.S. until the mid 1890's but he must have returned after the first few years because he is listed on the Census of 1881 back in Aldershot. While living in the States he met another woman, Marion Dutton in Topeka, Kansas and they had two children. The first was a son born in 1881 and a daughter in 1888. Once back in Canada he is credited with designing the Anglican Church in Jarvis, Ontario in 1897. Coincidently his wife Jeanette died in Jarvis at the age of 87 in the year 1915.
St. Paul's Church Jarvis Ontario
     The Census of 1901 has William living in a boarding house in Thorold, Ontario. Leather died in a St. Catherine's hospital on February 21st, 1907. His funeral took place from his son Thomas's home in Hamilton and he is buried there in the Burlington Cemetery on York Blvd.

Yacobucci Homestead
Luigi and Anna Yaccubucci purchased this property in 1924 and sold it in the early 1970's.  This house could possibly be the home of either W B Leather or his son, Augustus.  It also could have been built using bricks from the Aldershot Brick Works.  It was demolished some time between 2008 & 2010.