Herbert Washington Martin was born in 1880 to parents George Martin (1841-1930) and Matilda Eagle (1839-1884). For a deeper look into George Martin, who worked as the House of Industry and Refuge Keeper with his second wife, Annie Elizabeth Martin (1861-1935), before Herbert, please visit George’s story.
Herbert grew up with his parents, along with his siblings Albert E. (1867-), Arthur James (1869-1923), and Mary (1875-1887). His mother, Matilda, died in 1884 from dropsy and his father married Annie Elizabeth Seward (1861-1935) a year later. They moved to Doon Village in Hespeler and had three of their own children: Theodore (1886-1906), Florence (1889-1970), and Frederick (1894-1967). In 1898, George and Annie take over at the House of Industry and Refuge as the Keeper and Matron. Herbert was 17 when he moved into the House and was still attending school at the time.
Lucy Seibert was born in 1883 in Waterloo, Ontario to Franklin Seibert (1858-1920) and Sarah Bedford (1859-1926). Lucy was the fourth of her fifteen siblings: Alice Elizabeth (1880-1925), Oliver L. (1880-1944), Mabel Leah (1882-1961), Albert Jeremiah (1885-1965), David Edison (1887-1959), Franklin Bedford (1888-1932), Nelson Thomas (1890-1966), Shannon Herbert (1892-1969), Clarence (1895-), Gordon (1897-1897), Florence Agnes (1897-), Veryl Marjory (1898-), Margurete Lillian (1900-1992), William Finley (1902-1905), and Dorothy Elenor (1903-).
Lucy’s father, Franklin, worked several jobs throughout the years, mainly as a carpenter but he also worked as a fire fighter and as a labourer in a tire shop and in a repair shop. He also did odd jobs for the Poorhouse beginning in 1903, such as sharpening tools, shingling the roof, doing general repairs around the house, and fixing and filing saws.
At 22 years old, Lucy began working as a domestic at the House of Industry and Refuge in 1905 with her older sister, Mabel. This is where Lucy met her future husband, Herbert.
Her sister didn’t stay at the House for very long but Lucy worked there until 1911. At this point, she was making $4.00/week for a total of $48.00 over the course of 3 months.
On August 23, 1911, Herbert and Lucy were married in Berlin.
Lucy was listed as living at the Poorhouse as a domestic. It is unclear as to whether she lived in the same quarters as Herbert and his family or if she lived with the other domestics in the staff area. She made $180/year working 70 hours/week. At the same time, Herbert was working as a shipper at the White Ware Factory making $750/year while working 50 hours/week.
Lucy and Herbert took over the duties as the Matron and Keeper of the Poorhouse in 1916. Upon George and Annie Martin’s resignation, the Standing Committee appointed Herbert and Lucy to fill the vacancy as the new managers of the House as of June 1, 1916.
House of Refuge
Berlin, June 1st 1916.
The Board of Management of the House of Refuge met to- day.
Present: B. W. Zeimann- Chairman
Warden Snider & Mayor Edwards.
Mr. and Mrs. Geo, Martin resigned from office as manager and matron.
Mr. and Mrs. H. N. Martin applied for the position.
Moved by Mayor Edwards, seconded by Warden Snider,
That the resignation of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Martin as manager and matron be accepted, with regret, to take effect September 1st next, and that Mr. and Mrs. H. N. Martin be duly appointed to the vacancies at a salary of $550 each.
The Martin’s had a rough start to their time as the newest managers of the House when Margaret Heddle, an inmate from England, accused the married couple of physically and verbally abusing her. She wrote a letter to the King of England in order to shed light on her experience living in Canada and to have her removed from the House and put somewhere better. For her full story, please see Margaret’s story. Unfortunately, there is no mention of this event that continued over the span of almost a year in any of the House of Refuge documents. There were no similar incidents reported or recorded after this one.
Lucy always earned significantly less than her husband, Herbert, and would subsequently received a much smaller raise in her salary, as well. In the 1920 Meeting Minutes of the Standing Committee, Herbert’s salary was increased by $300.00 whereas Lucy’s salary was increased by $50.00. On the 1921 Canadian Census, Herbert earned double what Lucy did at $1500.00/year to Lucy’s $750.00/year.
Under the management of the Martin’s, the House began its transition into an “Old People’s Home”. Plans for improvements to the House, which included expanding the resident’s wings in order to comfortably accommodate more people, began in 1919 and the work started in 1923. One of the major improvements was to construct an elevator in the House as well as build a new chimney and deepen the foundation in the Boiler House.
House of Refuge
Kitchener Aug 30th 1923
The Board of management met this day at 12 O clock.
Present Chairman Gruetzner Warden Oliver Mayor Breithaupt & Lackmen & S. Cassel.
Moved By Warden Oliver, seconded By Mr. Gruetzner
That Bills no 4466 – 4501 inclusive be passed as audited Carried
Moved By Warden Oliver Seconded By Mr. Gruetzner that we agree to pay Dunker Bros. the sum of $ 985,00 extra on contract price. For building a new chimney & deepening the foundation in the Boiler house and coal Bin By 3 feet. Carried
Moved by Mayor Breithaupt Sec By Mr. Gruetzner that the Warden and Clerk be hereby authorized to sign the agreement with the Dunker Bros for the improvements at the House of Refuge Carried
Moved by Mr. Gruetzner Seconded by Warden Oliver that the clerk write to the City of Kitchener requesting them to issue a permit free of charge to make the alterations & improvements at the House of Refuge. Carried
Various safety procedures were also put in place over the years. For instance, there were two hydrants that were placed in front of and behind the House and a sprinkling system within the House as per the requirements of the Fire Chief of Kitchener in 1923. The managers and Standing Committee were able to pay for the building expenses by selling plots of land around the House that were no longer of use to them. The main buyer was the Canadian National Railway who attended a few meetings with the Standing Committee in order to discuss purchasing land for the railway.
House of Refuge Kitchener April 30th 1924
A special meeting of the Board of Management was had this day at the House for the purpose of opening of tender for grading & levelling the lawn and fixing the walks & driveway. As prepared by Mr Cowan
Present Chairman Gruetzner, Warden Lantz, Mayor Breithaupt, Mayor Willard, Mr Cowman & S Cassel
A representative from the Canadian National Railway was present in regard to buying some land for switching purposes. After some discussion it was Moved by Mayor Breithaupt Sec by Mayor Willard that in regard to the land which the C. N. R. wants along the North side of present Railway. We will sell the land at $400.00 per acre providing they take the full length of our property and 185 ft wide or $500.00 for acre providing they take only 900 ft long by 185 ft wide. And remove the present remains on the property to a suitable place designated by Mr Martin the Manager. The cost of pilot and Marker not to exceed $100.00 which the C.N.R. will have to pay. And further that the C.N.R. provide us with a 20 ft properly graded Right of way. This in subject to acceptance within three months from date Carried
Herbert became sick and began to take long leaves of absence from 1925 until he and his wife left the House in 1933. Here is one account of this from the Meeting Minutes of the Standing Committee in 1925:
Kitchener Jan 3rd 1925
A special meeting of the Board of management for the Old Peoples Home was held this day at 2 O’Clock P.M in the County Clerks office.
Present Chairman Gruetzner, Mayor Willard, Mayor Breithaupt, Warden Lantz, H W. Martin, Dr Lackner & S Cassel
This meeting was called by the chairman for the purpose to see what should be done with Mr Martin on account of his illness. And also regarding the matter of insurance. After some discussion it was moved by Mayor Willard Sec by Mr Gruetzner that we grant Mr Martin leave of absence for one month and also pay him two hundred dollars towards his expenses. Carried
In 1933, Herbert was asked to resign as the manager of the House by the Standing Committee as his health was getting much worse and he could no longer continue to uphold his duties as Keeper. Lucy had full charge of the institution until they could find a new manager to take over. Lucy was not given any extra money for managing the House by herself.
Kitchener April 11th 1933
Mayor Sturm Office at City Hall
The Board of Management resumed this day pursuant to adjournment
Present Chairman Willard, Mayor Sturm, Warden Hoffer, H E Ratz, Mr. Wilkinson Gov, Inspector & Sam Cassel Inspector.
Mr Wilkinson Gov Inst addressed the Board in regard to the institution. And after considerable discussion it was Moved by H E Ratz Sec by Mayor Sturm that Mr Martin be asked to resign as manager of this institution. Mays, Mayor Willard & Warden Hoffer, lost
Moved by Warden Hoffer Sec by Mayor Willard that Mr Martin be granted leave of absence for two months for a rest for the benefit of his health and he must stay away from the home to get the best results for himself and the chairman is instructed to inform Mr Martin accordingly. And in the meantime Mrs Martin to have full charge of the institution. Carried
Kitchener May 16th 1933 City Hall
A special meeting of the Board of Management was called by the chairman for the purpose of further consideration of the resolution passed at the last special meeting giving Mr Martin 2 months leave of absence OC.
Present Chairman Willard, Mayor Sturm, Warden Hoffer, H E Ratz & Sam Cassel Inst
After considerable discussion the following resolution was presented. Viz
Moved by Warden Hoffer Sec by H E Ratz that Mr Martin be allowed to go to his home for the rest of his leave of absence to further improve his health no condition that he must not attend to any duties as manager. Carried
The Martin’s officially handed in their resignation on July 15, 1933 and the new and final managers of the House were chosen on July 17, 1933: Mr. and Mrs. Amos. Herbert and Lucy continued to live in Kitchener for the next few decades. Herbert died in 1956 and Lucy died in 1968. They had no children together.
The main photo for this page is a picture of a mug that is depicting the re-branding of the Poorhouse into an Old People’s Home. The photo is courtesy of the Region of Waterloo Museum