The first three blocks of Britannia Street form the oldest part of the street, which appeared on the 1857 map of the soon-to-be a town incorporated in January 1,1859. It was not until mid 1900s  that the the street was built up out past the former agricultural grounds. Britannia Street was named by the Canada Company officials in honour of their homeland, Britannia. By:  Stanford Dingman

Joseph Shaw, actor

Joseph Shaw lived in the house pictured below, at 25 Britannia St. He was born in Lancashire, England, and moved to Canada in 1954. He joined the Stratford Festival in 1962, playing Duncan in Macbeth and Pedant in The Taming of the Shrew. Equipped with a broad, high brow, hooded eyes and large ears, his forte was elderly men of wisdom, be they kings or servants. Other roles at Stratford included the King of France in All's Well That Ends Well in both 1982 and 1988; Old Adam in As You Like It in 1996 and 2000; Seigneur Anselm in The Miser in 1998; and John of Gaunt in Richard II in 1999. His final roles at Stratford were Vintner and Archbishop Scroop in the 2006 production of Henry IV, Part 1. As an educator, he was the founder of the George Brown Theatre School in Toronto, which offers one of the country's premier theatre training programs. He served as artistic director of the school for its first 10 years. Mr. Shaw also acted at other companies across Canada, including the Shaw Festival, where he essayed a memorable Charles Condomine in a sold-out production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. His screen work included The Veteran and The Lady with Wendy Hiller, Chasing Rainbows, Seeing Things, Street Legal, Canada Confidential, A Gift to Last and Ray Bradbury Theatre. He died at the age of 87 in 2008.     Source: Playbill Obit

Historic pioneer house

Built by George. G. Ewart in 1872 this  gothic house remained in the Ewart family from 1872 to 1948. The first three blocks of Britannia Street, off Mornington Street, form the oldest pad (built on logs) of the street which appeared on the 1857 map of the soon-to-be incorporated Town of Stratford. George lived at 25 Britannia St. from 1872 to 1905 and was called a pioneer resident. He was widely known in the city and esteemed as one of Stratford's fine, old citizens. He was, up until his final illness, crier of the court, and was also a well-known accountant, and one of the Stratford auditors for several years.

25 Britannia St.       Photo Fred Gonder

William A. Ewart (June 8, 1867-March 26, 1947) lived here for most of his life . He was well-known Stratford printer, employed for 28 years by the Stratford Beacon as its mechanical superintendent. After The Beacon and The Herald amalgamated, he operated his own print shop at 22 Erie St., until his retirement in 1942. He was a member of the International Typographical Union and the Independent Order of Foresters.

George (Tip) Miller lived here from 1949 to 1951. He was a prominent baseball player for the Stratford Nationals and managed the team in 1934 when it won the Intercounty and Ontario Baseball Association SeniorA champoionsips. Source: Stratford-Perth Archives

Elizabeth Baird

Elizabeth Baird, cookbooks

Born in Stratford, Ont., Elizabeth (Davis) Baird is a graduate of the University of Toronto with a degree in modern languages and literature. A teacher for more than 20 years, it was her love and passion for cooking that prompted her to successfully change careers. In 1975, she published her first cookbook, the best-selling Classic Canadian Cooking. In 1987 she became food editor then the executive food editor of Canadian Living magazine, post she held for more than two decades.

She has written and edited more than 25 cookbooks, has been honoured with a plethora of awards which has cemented her identity in the fabric of Canadian food culture. An avid gardener, she was also one of the Canadian Living editors who founded Breakfast for Learning, a national non-profit organization dedicated to child nutrition programs in Canada. She has served on its board as well as on the board of the Stratford Chefs School. Her mountain of chritable commitments includes working for the Hospital for Sick Children and the role of historic cook at the Fort York National Historic Site. 

In June 2013, she was awarded the Order of Canada for her “contributions to the promotion of Canada's diverse food heritage, as an author and former food editor.”

In Stratford, Elizabeth Baird lived at 77 Britannia St.

The circus parade

Personal note: I lived at 75 Britannia St., next door to Elizabeth Baird (see above). One of the advantages of living on this street was that it was on the main route from the train station to the the fairgrounds. Each year, in the 1950s, we would sit on the veranda with an ice cream soda and watch the circus caravan pass by, to and from the fairgrounds. There were elephants, camels, lions and beautifully coloured wagons carrying the tents and circus people. How could it get much better than that? Now, unfortunately the elephants and travelling circuses are gone.  By Paul Wilker

See Feedback article: Barnum Brings Circus Spectacle to Stratford by Lynda Greve, Stratford-Perth Archives


Photo: Fred Gonder

Churchill Circle Gardens

Churchill Circle is roundabout at the intersection of John and Britannia streets.  Wartime houses in the neighbourhood were constructed to accommodate service personnel returning from the Second World War (see Somerset Street).


Harry Palmer, a city alderman, (see Palmer Square) was the visionary who saw the traffic circle as a traffic-calming measure to help make streets safer.