Anderson Crescent,named for James Alexander Anderson.

Jim Anderson generated a lot of media coverage when he climbed onto the roof of the county courthouse to protest what he believed was a threat to the local archives. Stratford-Perth Archives

James Alexander Anderson

When Thomas Orr died, he left a large collection of papers and stories, some given to Beacon Herald, some to the Stratford Public Library. Jim Anderson frantically implored the Thomas Orr's grandson, Tom Orr, to preserve the collection. Anderson, a teacher at the time, said he would look after the collection if he could get a grant. The local historical society applied for and received enough grant money to cover Jim Anderson's cost for a few months. It was the beginning of what would secure his place as Stratford's first official archivist.

The Orr collection was moved into an enormous office in an empty King Street factory. Then it went to the Perth County Courthouse, and from there to the registry office at 24 St. Andrew Street, behind the courthouse.

In 1981, when the future of the archives was in jeopardy, Anderson climbed to the roof of the courthouse in the night and began a hunger strike in protest. He was "looking like a one of the gargoyles," recalled Tom Orr.

Since June 2015 the archives has been serving the public from its dedicated state-of-the-art facility on Huron Street (4273 Line 34, Rural Route 5 Stratford), beyond the western boundary of the city (see Huron Street).

Jim Anderson was instrumental in the creation of Heritage Stratford (formerly the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, or LACAC) and was the chair and a long-standing member of that committee. He also helped create the Brocksden County School Museum and for many years served as its curator. He assisted in preserving the Gordon Block from demolition and helped save many other heritage properties, including the county courthouse. Source: R. Thomas Orr by Dianne Sewell, from Rick Orr

Jim Anderson, archivist Stratford-Perth Archives

The James Anderson Award was created by Heritage Stratford in honour of James Anderson. It is awarded to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the community of Stratford in the area of preserving buildings, or cultural or natural heritage preservation, or heritage garden conservation. Source: Book: R. Thomas Orr by Dianne Sewell, from Rick Orr

* For a list of those who have been chosen as winners of the James Anderson Award for their historical and preservation work, see James Anderson Award-Stratford.

Jim Anderson at work Stratford-Perth Archives

James Anderson drawing

James Anderson's 1967 drawing of a stagecoach arriving at the Fryfogel Inn, which still stands east of Shakespeare on Highway 7 & 8. Describing his drawing as an artistic conception, Anderson said it shows the 1840s building in its original setting beside Tavern Brook and fronted by corduroy on the Huron Road.

In the 1960s photograph that appears in the lower corner, Anderson is admiring a 19th century mural of Niagara Falls on a wall in the Fryfogel Inn.

Source: Stratford-Perth Archives

R. J. Anderson. Photo: Timothy Jacobs

R. J. Anderson, writer


R. J. (Rebecca) Anderson is the author of several acclaimed books, including the teen thriller Ultraviolet, which was shortlisted for the Andre Norton Award, and the United Kingdom bestselling Knife series for middle-grade readers.

Her love for the Golden Age detective novels of Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham, along with a lifelong delight in fantasy and adventure stories, inspired her to write A Pocket Full of Murder and its companion, A Little Taste of Poison.

Anderson was born to missionary parents in Uganda, grew up in various parts of Ontario, and in addition to being a popular Canadian writer, has become a bestselling author in England, to her great surprise and delight. Having endured years of bullying in primary school, she loves to encourage creative young minds and inspire readers to think deeply about prejudice and discrimination.

Although she writes fantasy, her stories are grounded in real-world history, folklore and science, and many of her books feature distinctly Canadian characters and settings. Ultraviolet is set in Sudbury; its companion novel Quicksilver in Kitchener-Waterloo; and A Pocket Full of Murder and its sequel A Little Taste of Poison in an alternate-universe version of Toronto during the Great Depression.

Her books touch on serious discussion topics such as prejudice and discrimination (Pocket), disability (Knife), mental illness and neurodivergence (Ultraviolet), and Quicksilver has been widely praised for its frank but sensitive portrayal of asexuality.

As a child she immersed herself in fairy tales, mythology, and the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and E. Nesbit. Later, she found inspiration in books by Ursula LeGuin, Patricia A. McKillip and Robin McKinley, and learned to take as much pleasure from the authors' lyrical styles as from the stories they told.

Now married, a mother of three, and living in Stratford with her husband, Rebecca reads to her sons the classic works of fantasy and science fiction that enlivened her childhood and tries to bring a similar excitement and timeless wonder to the novels she writes for children and teens.

Her latest release is the Flight and Flame Trilogy, beginning with the U.S. editions of Swift and Nomad (formerly published only in the UK) and wrapping up with a new third book, Torch (released February 2021).

Sources: Biography : R. J. Anderson ; The Proust-Eeque Questionaire: R. J. Anderson