Ash Street

Pot and ashes

Ash Street

Ash Street is a short one-block street running between Nelson and Dufferin streets in the south part of the city. It is one of a group of streets in that area, and a few elsewhere, that have been named for native Canadian trees. The pioneer settlers were much more familiar with our native trees than we are because they cut many of them down with huge axes and saws. 

The virgin forest which covered Stratford prior to 1832, was quickly felled by the first settlers. Because there was far more wood than was needed for building or fuel, much of the timber was burned as waste. Some of the ashes were used to make potash. There was a potash works in the centre the town on the site of the present city hall.

The townspeople would cut down their trees and haul them to the potashery. There was a stream running through the city centre back then. Actually, it still runs through the centre of the city but has been redirected below street level. In pioneer days, water from the stream was used to leach the ashes, which were then left in iron pots and allowed to dry through evaporation. Hence the phrase pot and ashes. Potash was an important commodity for the pioneers, who used it for fertilizer and to make glass and soap.

Several species of this tree are native to the area, including white, black, red and blue ash. White ash was the most common. By: Stanford Dingman

Recently, ash trees in Ontario have been devastated by the ash bore.