The town is well known for being the home of the Stratford Festival previously known as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival; while Shakespeare's plays are still produced, theatre in a wide range of genres is offered each year, from May to October.
We were in Kitchener for a wedding and on impulse we decided to drive to Stratford as it had been years since we were there.
When the area which is now Stratford was first settled in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Stratford was incorporated as a town in 1859 and as a city in 1886.
Stratford is a city on the Avon River in Perth County iwith a population of 31,465 in 2016. Stratford is the seat of Perth County which was settled by English, Irish, Scottish and German immigrants, in almost equal numbers, starting in the 1820s but primarily in the 1830s and 1840s. Most became farmers, and even today, the area around Stratford is known for mixed farming, dairying and hog production.
Love the name. Molly Bloom is from James Joyce's Ulysses.
Stratford’s history began in 1832 when the Canada Company surveyed the area known as the Huron Road and included a settlement named after Stratford on Avon, England. As with any newly established settlement, a gristmill, water source and general store were required to encourage a healthy beginning to a new community.
When the railway boom occurred starting in 1856 it was easier to transport bricks and other building materials to Perth County. By the 1870s when the Grand Trunk Railway shops located in Stratford, brickyards were located throughout the area. The earliest brick used was an orange‐red colour.
Shakespeare Inn and Shakespeare Square. The first permanent building, an inn, was located at this site and was operated by the Sargint family. In 1832 Thomas Mercer Jones, a director in the Canada Company, gave a portrait of William Shakespeare to Inn owner, William Sargint. The Inn soon became known as “Shakespeare’s Inn”, the river tributary was dubbed the Avon River and thus Stratford appeared on maps. The space to the west was public land called Shakespeare Square, for markets etc.
Four hand-painted pianos of the Play Me, I'm Yours musical installation are located throughout Stratford decorated to celebrate our local First Nations heritage and the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
They're a part of the worldwide Play Me, I'm Yours project created by artist Luke Jerram in 2008. The piano installations have been featured in some 45 cities worldwide, with millions of people taking a moment or two to play a song, or just tap out a few notes.
The Freeland fountain in front of the old town hall was unveiled during Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee celebrations in 1897.
Perth Regiment Memorial. The first local militia was formed in 1866 when the Irish Fenians in the USA decided to capture Canada and give it to the USA. The force eventually became a regiment named after the Country of Perth. It was disbanded in 1964.
Stratford War Memorial. This sculpture, originally located on Erie Street, was designed by W.S Allward (1876‐ 1955), noted sculptor, who also created the monuments in Peterborough, Ottawa and Vimy Ridge in France. This work was completed in 1922 and features the classical theme of right versus might.
There's a band playing on the river.
The swan has become a symbol of the city. Each year twenty-four white swans are released into the Avon River.
A bench under the pergola opened in 2010. The original pergola was washed away on April 25, 1937, when heavy rain overwhelmed the floodgates of the old dam.
Across from the church (separate future post) was this house which caught my eye and then I learned why.
Built in the 1860’s, 46 Mornington is a Regency cottage that includes an older structure to the rear dating from the 1850’s. The slate roof is original and the building features dichromatic brick work and contrasting buff brick givens. Note the orange‐red brick, which indicates the earliest brick used in Stratford and dates from the 1850s‐ the 1870s.
This stone bridge was built in 1885, the year that Stratford officially became a city, and is the only double‐arched aqueduct road bridge in North America still in use for automotive traffic. Its limestone blocks came from St. Marys, a nearby community sometimes referred to as “Stonetown.” It was intended to be a triple arch, but the river was too narrow.
This photo was taken from the Shakespeare Gardens which are worthy of their own post.
1 Perth County Perth County Court House was designed by London architect, George F Durand and was constructed in 1886. For a detailed history of the building, please refer to Walk 1, Stratford’s Historic Downtown 12 Perth County Court House Lawn. The first permanent building was a house put up in 1833 for J.C.W. Daly, the Canada Company agent. It sat on the Perth County Court House lawn and a cairn now marks the site.
During the Coronation year of King George VI in 1937, several oak trees from Windsor Castle grounds were planted in Canada. The only one to survive in Stratford stands in front of the Perth County Court House and is now only ½ to 1/3 its mature size. Its acorns are sterile, as it has no tree with which to cross‐pollinate.
This marks the site of the first sawmill (1833) and the first grist mill (1834) beside it, built by John Sebring for the Canada Company, at the south end of a new dam. A huge waterwheel supplied the power.
A Canadian piano decorated with images of Canada Post stamps.
tir na nOg (Land of the Youth) Iron Gate Entrance to park off Downie St.
Had to pop into a few shops.
More lovingly restored and preserved buildings.
Wellington Street has had as many as four or five hotels on it at one time. Although the hotels no longer exist, their names were adopted by the buildings of blocks in which they were located. The earliest remaining block is the Easson Block, which is located at 28‐30 Wellington Street. Looking to your right, The Brandenburger Block, 32‐34 Wellington Street was built in 1870‐1871 by William Brandenburger, sausage maker. His wife, Caroline, operated a small hotel upstairs. The Brandenburgers were also responsible for the construction of the “Theatre Albert”, which was located where the Avon Theatre now stands. William Worth, hotelkeeper in 1880, built the Worth Block, 38‐40 Wellington Street. The strong Romanesque features embellish the Worth Block’s prominent location in the Market Square. Detailed brickwork provides both pattern and texture. The original patterned slate roof remains intact and unifies the building’s intricate design.
Another magnificent commercial building was the Myers Block 69‐71 Downie Street built in the early 1870s. Note the intricate brickwork and detailed design along and above the eaves line. The extended Romanesque round‐arched windows and complementing decorative brick reflect the overpowering presence of the structure, which its prominent corner position demands. The tower matches those on Ontario Street. The building serves as an anchor to Market Square.
We/ll finish our tour with this whimsical utility box mural with all things Shakespeare.