Ahrens Drive   

Ahrens Drive was named for Cora B. Ahrens

Cora Ahrens   Photo: Gord Conroy

Cora B. Ahrens,  pianist

Born in 1891, Cora B. Ahrens was a teacher, lecturer, and pianist born in 1891. As the latter, she played in a trio with Leon Vera and Avram Pratz, which accompanied silent movies at Stratford's Theatre Albert (see Downie Street). During the 1930s, she was one of the first itinerant rural-school music teachers and taught throughout Perth County.

She was also an innovator, and to encourage and nurture an interest in music in the schools across the county, she introduced rhythm bands. She had several music theory and harmony books published. In 1926, she joined William B. Rothwell and Margaret Stevenson Grant in co-founding the Perth County Music Teachers' Federation. She also lectured in pedagogy at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto, and McGill University, conducted summer workshops in piano pedagogy in most major Canadian cities, and taught privately in Stratford. 

Her pupils included Campbell Trowsdale (see William Street), Audrey Conroy (see Water Street), James Reaney (see Caledonia Street),  Paul Helmer (see Water Street) and Irene (Jocelyn) Bird and Gordon Jocelyn. (see Strachan Street). 

Cora Ahrens lived with her parents at 55 Elizabeth Street  (see Elizabeth Street).and later as a music teacher at 94 Hibernia Street. In 1953, Miss Irene Worth who starred in All's Well That Ends Well lived at Miss Ahrens' apartment on Hibernia Street. Miss Ahrens stayed at Brescia hall at the University of Western Ontario. During this time, she was writing one of her books for piano students. She died in Stratford on Aug. 26, 1964.  Source: Canadian Encyclopedia

Some of the young musicians gathered by Miss Ahrens from around Stratford are in the rhythm band in the picture below, which appeared in the Stratford Beacon-Herald in May 1931.  

* On July 1, 2016, Cora Ahrens was honoured by the city with a Bronze Star, which was placed near the city hall. 

See Hibernia Street for added details and photos of the life and work of Cora B. Ahrens. 

Cora Ahrens,  Rhythm Band 1931

Front row, from left: Palmer Stalley, Ruth Burston, Josephine Penner, Grace (Capling) Walkom, Helen (Tough) Cremin, Marjorie (Tough) Millar, Jean (Stewart) Hall. Second row: Duncan Stewart, Elizabeth (Dempsey) Dillon, Elizabeth (McTavish) Polley, Audrey (Whiteside) Conroy (the group's pianist), Irene (Jocelyn) Bird (conductor), Charlie Corke, George Whiteside, Jack Whiteside. Back row: Gordon Jocelyn, Marie (Kalbfleisch) Wittig, Marion Smith, Constance Dickens, Jean (Dempsey) Graff, Dalton Walpole, Henry Kalbfleich  Photo: Brian Wendy Reis  FB