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The Star lamented that “there could be no grander testimony of esteem towards the departed than the large gathering that surrounded the house” and followed the lone bag piper and hearse to the Maitland Cemetery.
In 1903, the Strachan daughters sold the home to Robert Cockburn Hays, a 50-year-old lawyer born in McKillop Township. Hays had been practicing law in Goderich since 1882 when the Signal described him as “a level headed, upright young man.”
Hays married Hattie Price in 1893. By the turn of the century, the Hays’ purchased the Strachan House to raise their one son, and six daughters.
Hays was known for his substantial library kept in the house. Hays’ son, Robert, was born in 1895 and raised in the Strachan House. In the Great War, Robert Hays Jr. was an infantry officer wounded at Courcelette in 1916 before entering his father’s legal practice in 1921.
When Judge R. C. Hays died on May 2, 1935, after practicing law for 53 years, he was dubbed “the Dean of the Goderich Bar.” His wife, Hattie, died just two months later.
The Strachan House then passed into the hands of James and Violet Johnston in 1938 who operated it as a boarding house. During the Second World War, many of their boarders were instructors at the local airbases.
Just out of the army where he served as a Major with the Royal Canadian Dental Corps, Dr. Raymond Hughes purchased the Strachan House in 1948. Dr. Hughes and his wife Mary not only purchased the property to raise their two children, Nancy and John, but found it an ideal spot for a dental practice. Nancy Hughes, Dr. Hughes’ daughter, can still point out where her father’s dental chair and equipment was located in a room on the north side of the house where he practiced until his retirement in 1973. It was also the room where Judge Hays kept his famous library. The Hughes had a keen interest in Goderich heritage and maintained the home as much as possible in its original state.