Birmingham Public Library opened 2013

Birmingham Street is one of the early streets of the city and appears on the 1848 map of Stratford. It is not known whether any of the Canada Company officials or early settlers in Stratford came from Birmingham, England, but the naming of Birmingham Street was a natural outgrowth of the naming of Stratford. Birmingham is the closest large city to Stratford-upon-Avon in England, and though it is at the meeting point of three counties, it is entirely within Warwickshire, Shakespeare's home county.

Shakespeare Memorial Room in the Birmingham Public Library

The Birmingham Public Library is noteworthy for its extensive Shakespearean collection. Birmingham also established an enduring reputation for the manufacture of small arms and facilitating the growth of new manufacturing methods and ideas. John Cadbury opened a grocery shop in Birmingham in the early 1800s, and in 1853 the company was awarded the Royal Appointment as Cocoa Manufacturers to the Royal Family.

Birmingham's strategic location, near the centre of England, makes it a great railway focus. Stratford, Ont., also shares that distinction, having been centrally located in the railway development of western Ontario. By Stanford Dingman

Father and son awarded Military Cross

Historic place: 240 Birmingham St.

The Youngs, father and son

John Lant Youngs : Military Cross

Youngs Street was named in honour of John Lant Youngs, who was born in West Zorra Township, Oxford County, on December 11, 1867 (see Youngs Street).

Gifted with a photographic memory, John Youngs was a man of many parts and many aptitudes. Following in his father’s footsteps as a builder, he spent his summers, while attending high school in Stratford, working on construction projects in Northern Ontario, which included building railway stations for the newly created Canadian Pacific Railway.

In about 1893, John established his own construction company and throughout his career was responsible for building many of the iconic buildings in Stratford, such as the city hall, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, the first YMCA on Downie Street, and the addition to the Stratford Public Library.

At the outbreak of the First World War, John was commissioned as lieutenant of the 1st Battalion, which left Stratford on Aug. 22, 1914. After a brief time in England, the battalion arrived in France in February 1915. Three months later, Youngs was wounded in the head and shoulder, but after a brief convalescence was back in the trenches. He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery during the Battle of Mount Sorrel in June 1916, and ultimately was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in command of the 110th Perth Battalion.

John’s son Jack left his studies at Queen’s University and was commissioned as lieutenant in 1914. Like his father, he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry during the June 1916 Battle of Courcelette, for capturing an enemy machine gun position, its crew and securing the enemy trench. Lt. Jack Youngs was killed in action seven months later, on April 9, 1917 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

After the war, John Youngs was the mayor of Stratford from January to July, 1919. He was an active advocate for ex-servicemen and a official of the Great War Veterans Association, forerunner of the Royal Canadian Legion.

He died July 10, 1947, at home, 240 Birmingham St. His wife Mary died Dec. 28, 1951. They are buried in Avondale Cemetery. Source: Historic Plaques Properties

A master carpenter, John Lant Youngs built the family house at 240 Birmingham St. in 1907. And in it he built the wooden fireplace mantel and stairs. Photos courtesy of Elena and Dom, owners of the house, now a B and B called Birmingham Manor.

Milt Dunnell Stratford-Perth Archives

Milton Dunnell, sportswriter

Milton William Ryan Dunnell was born in St. Marys, Ont., on Christmas Eve 1905. After secondary school, he worked part time for the post office and was a sales representative for a fruit company.

He became a full-time local correspondent for the Stratford Beacon-Herald in 1929, and then became the paper's sports editor, a posty he held until 1942. He lived on 75 Birmingham St.

During his time in Stratford, Dunnell met his future wife, Dorothy Pigeon, and lived at 75 Birmingham St. He left Stratford for a job writing sports for with the Toronto Star and eventually became that paper's sports editor. He wrote about everything from the Olympic Games to the Kentucky Derby, from the Stanley Cup to the Grey Cup, and all sports in between. He came to be known as the "dean of Canadian sportswriters."

By the end of his career, he had been awarded the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award and Jack Graney Award. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

In 2005, in recognition of his 100th birthday, St. Marys created Milt Dunnell Field, a downtown park and recreation area previously known as "St. Marys Athletic Park” and “The Flats.

On June 10, 2006, the Toronto Star named a baseball diamond after Dunnell, who was 102 when he died on Jan. 3, 2008. Source: Wikipedia

Gerald Boyd Edmonds, RCAF

Gerald Boyd Edmonds was the son of Frank Samuel and Minnie Evelyn (Boyd) Edmonds, who lived at 66 Birmingham St. Gerald was a pilot who flew Halifax and Lancaster bombers with the Royal Canadian Air Force's 433 Squadron. On April 18, 1944, his crew took off at 20:30 from Skipton-on-Swale, North Yorkshire, England, to bomb the railyards at Noisy Le Sec in the eastern suburbs of Paris. They were shot down by flak in the target area and were buried in Clichy Northern Cemetery in Clichy, France. It was the seventh mission for Gerald Edmonds, who was 24 when he died.

The 433 Squadron

Formed at Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, England, on Sept. 25, 1943, as the RCAF’s 32nd – 14th and last bomber squadron formed overseas. The unit flew Halifax and Lancaster aircraft on strategic and tactical bombing operations. After hostilities in Europe, it remained in England as part of the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command strike force, under which it lifted prisoners of war back to England. The squadron was disbanded on Oct. 15, 1945. Source: RCAF Association

Flight Lt. Gerald Edmonds

66 Birmingham St.

The Gerry Emonds 433 Squadron crew, with their Halifax 111 LV-971 Code BM-N, at Skipton-on-Swale Airfield, February 1943.

Standing, from left: Flight Sgt. Harold William (Bill) Fox RAF Volunteer Reserve - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; Flight Lt. Gerald Boyd (Gerry) Edmonds, RCAF- Pilot; Pilot Officer Edwin Arthur (Red) Lansdowne, RCAF - Air Bomber; and Sgt. Arthur William (Art) Wilkinson, RAF Volunteer Reserve, Flight Engineer. Kneeling in front: Pilot Officer David Beatty Carter, RCAF, Mid-Upper Gunner; and Pilot Officer Harold Keith Tole, RCAF, Rear Air Gunner. Source: Remembrance Memorial