Queen Victoria

House of Hanover

Brunswick Street appeared on the 1848 map of Stratford. Brunswick and Albert streets were likely named as a pair, for the House of Brunswick in honour of the Queen Victoria, and for  Prince Albert.

Actually, the formal name of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, was the House of Hanover . The House of Hanover, whose members are known as Hanoverians, is a German royal house that ruled Hanover, Great Britain, and Ireland at various times during the 17th to 20th centuries. 

The house originated in 1635 as a cadet branch of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, growing in prestige until Hanover became an Electorate in 1692. 

George I became the first Hanoverian monarch of Great Britain, in 1714. At Victoria's death in 1901, the throne of the United Kingdom passed to her eldest son, Edward VII, a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The last reigning members of the House lost the Duchy of Brunswick in 1918 when Germany became a republic. By Stanford Dingman

77 Brunswick St. Photo Fred Gonder

An artist's cottage

Tucked behind a white fence and surrounded by trees and vegetation, this small 1866 yellow frame saltbox, provides a working artist with both a living and work place. A Greek Revival-style home, painted in original colours, it is a designated heritage home, documented as the McDonald-Creasy House.

Gerard Brender à Brandis, the cottage owner, is a well-known wood engraver and creator of limited-edition handmade books. The former dining room of the cottage is his workspace. The parlor, his informal exhibition space, is filled with finished wood engravings, as well as watercolors and oil paintings. His subjects have been native plants, historic buildings, garden flowers and all flowers and musical instruments cited by Shakespeare.

Gerard collaborated with his sister, Marianne Brandis, a writer, to produce Under This Roof, a tribute to the house.

The book combines detailed wood engraving, handmade booking making, and library writing to tell the story. It includes descriptions of what Gerard found when he crawled under the floor to inspect the joists as well as material from the restoration of the house in the 1980s, one of the first such projects in Stratford. Thanks to Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay for text from their book Stratford for All Seasons.

Architectural Description: storey-and-a-half frame house covered in clapboard; gable roof at front and saltbox roof in rear; one red brick chimney with a hood on either end of the roof; front façade three bay with centre door and rectangular six-over-six paned window on each side of entrance; window frames with eared trim; elaborate Greek Revival porch with round Doric columns; paneled architrave above columns; flat roof with dentils under fascia; picket fence quite detailed with urn finials on top of the intermediate square posts This house belonged to the Creasy family, known for their community service work. Jim Anderson, city archivist, (see Anderson Drive) owned this house at one time. Source: Stratford Heritage Designated Properties

Note: This house is on the Stratford Audio Walking Tour titled: The Last Remaining "Greek" in Stratford. 

Erected in 1866, this house is the last remaining example of the Greek Revival style in Stratford. Doing most of the work himself, archivist Jim Anderson took what was originally a ramshackle cottage slated for destruction and fully restored it selling it a couple of years later at a loss. He considered his restoration project his "contribution to charity and the city". The house was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act by Mr. Anderson in 1985. Source: Stratford Audio Walking Tour : Click on  Audio Tour       For more on its history see (History of Homes: Brunswick Street)

Gerard Brender à Brandis "Sketching at Lake Victoria"

Gerard Brender à Brandis, artist

Gerard Brender à Brandis was born in Holland, and came to Canada with his family when he was five. After living in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, he eventually settled in Stratford in 1991.  

Gerard’s first address in Stratford was 249 Ontario St and that was where he first had his “open to the public” studio.  He moved to  to Brunswick Street in 2005. 

He opened his house and studio to the public for six months a year with a display and sales area. The public was also welcomed into his studio so that he could show them how he made books. By this time, he had added other book arts to his repertory: typesetting, printing on a hand press, spinning and weaving flax into linen book covers, and papermaking. In addition to his handmade letterpress editions of books, he worked on trade editions, mostly with The Porcupine's Quill, frequently collaborating with his sister Marianne  (see Water Street).

He closed his "shop in the house" in September 2019, but continues to do wood engraving and book arts in his heritage house in Stratford.

Gerard Brender à Brandis is a member of the Wood Engravers’ Network, and has produced hundreds of drawings, wood engravings and watercolours of plants, landscape, buildings and musical instruments.

His work is represented in the collections of many galleries, including the Art Gallery of Ontario Library, the University of California (Santa Barbara) and the McMaster University Library and Archives. They are also found among the collections of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ont., the Missouri Botanic Garden, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Hunt Botanical Library.

Photo: from the book  A Gathering of Flowers from Shakespeare, May 2006, by Gerard Brender à Brandis and F. David Hoeniger. For more information see 

Gerard Brender à Brandis

Thanks to Gerard for the text and Marianne for the photo.

John Way, historic place

The house at 129 Brunswick St. is associated with John Way, a prominent Stratford shoemaker and businessman who had it built in 1880. Way owned a boot shop at 15 Market St., where he had nine employees. His family owned and lived in the house until 1926.

This residence  is also associated with William J. Madge, another prominent citizen of Stratford. He worked for many years as a finisher at the McLagan Furniture Co., but is best known for establishing a bake shop and confectionary store in Stratford.

The house here is a fine architectural example of the Gothic Revival style. Typical of that style are the steeply pitched gables on the façade. The residence has a decorative covered veranda with an entrance detailed with sidelights and transom. Also of note is the large bay window on the first storey. 

The house is now the Abercroft B and B .  Source: Canada Historic Places 

129 Brunswick St.      Photo: Fred Gonder

 Photo: Vince Gratton 

The Baker electric runabout

Dr. George Reginald Deacon and his wife Jeannette lived at 101 Brunswick St., where he also had his medical office.

She drove a 1910 Baker Model V Electric Queen Victoria Runabout long after the photo on the left was taken in 1929 in front of their house.

The little car was the pride and joy of its owner, who drove it regularly in good  weather until close to the time of her death in 1967. The car has remained in the Stratford area.

The Baker Electric was built between 1895 and 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio. This model, with the optional top, cost an amazing amount, under $2,000 new. Thomas Edison's first car (see Grange Street) was a  model just like this one, and it was his company that manufactured the batteries for the car. The Baker Electric was advertised as the "Aristocrat of Motordom." 

Dr. Deacon owned the vehicle parked behind the Baker in this photo. It was a 1929 Studebaker Eight (see Deacon Street). Source: Vince Gratton: 1910 Baker Model V Electric Queen Victoria Runabout

Dr. Shaver's family home at 109 Brunswick St. is now Allison's Brunswick House B and B.  Stratford and District Historical Society FB

Dr. Peter Shaver's family home 

Peter Rolph Shaver, one of the leading physicians in the area, was the Perth County coroner. He was born near Hamilton, Ont., on July 27, 1829. He built what is now Allison's Brunswick House B and B, at 109 Brunswick St. Dr. Shaver also had 13 children so, in 1878, he built the 19th century Italianate house next door.

Shaver's grandfather, a United Empire Loyalist from Pennsylvania, was in the war of the colonies, and his father, John Shaver, a native of the county of Wentworth, was in the war of 1812-14, and the rebellion of 1837-38. Peter's mother was Catharine (Hess).

He received most of his literary education at Victoria College, Cobourg, where he spent three years in the art department . Then he studied medicine for four years at McGill University, Montreal, from which he graduated on May 9, 1854, as a doctor of medicine and master of surgery (MDCM).

After graduation, Dr. Shaver came directly to Stratford, where he practised for 25 years.  It was noted in the Beacon-Herald's centennial edition in 1932 that Dr. Shaver always had a good reputation both for his skill and care of patients, and had made his profession his exclusive study, and a success.

A year or two after settling in Stratford, Dr. Shaver was appointed county coroner, and surgeon for the county jail. He was also a town councillor for a short time, but it was mentioned in the Beacon-Herald that he avoided civil offices as much as he could, consistent with his duties as a citizen, and the press of professional business. He desired to keep "read up" in medical science, as well as in the news of the day.

An adherent of the Methodist Church of Canada, Dr. Shaver was a man of noble impulses, and kindly and humane feelings. He carried to the sick chamber a cheerful disposition, which, in addition to medicine, has healing power.

As a member of Tecumseh lodge, No. 144, A F and A M, G R C, he was one of the oldest Freemasons in Stratford.

Dr. Shaver's wife, Eliza Jane, was the eldest daughter of James Sheppard Ryan, a hardware merchant in Toronto, and a native of Dublin, Ireland. The doctor and Eliza Jane married in June 1856. It was noted that Dr. Shaver drove one of the finest teams of sorrel horses and was justly proud of them. He died in Stratford in 1892. His wife continued to live in town until her death in 1900. Sources: Stratford and District Historical Society; Stratford Beacon-Herald,  July 27, 1932, centenary edition.

Bruce Woods

Bruce Woods, author of a Stratford memoir of the 1930s and 1940s

Bruce Alexander Woods (1931-2022) was born in Stratford and lived his first 16 years at 156 Brunswick Street before moving to London. He became a minister and lived much of his life in the Hamilton area including in the little town of Ancaster. He always had a smile and a firm handshake but he never forgot his home town and the people of his growing up. 

Between Two Women: A Stratford Story was self-published in 2007, and tells Woods' growing up story with humour and nostalgia. It focuses on his world of friends, relatives and events of those days in the 1930s and 1940s in Stratford and the relationship between his mother and grandmother, the two women of the title who shaped his life.  

Forty short chapters present a personal focus on real events and people that creates the charm for the story, such as "The pre-war years," "War comes to us", "The great snowstorm of 1942,"Victory Day celebrations 1945"," The soap box derby ", "Shenanigans", "Stratford high", "Army cadets and "Stratford is still the best." 

156 Brunswick Street dates from the 1860s. Author Bruce Woods lived here from 1931-1947. The house belonged to his grandfather, Alex Gillatly, who worked at the CNR shops.   

A growing up memoir of Stratford in the 1930s and 1940s.

There are memories of Eaton's catalogues arriving before Christmas and jumping from the Waterloo Street bridge into the Avon and being met by the local police and about being kicked out of the Classic theatre for pretending to "swoon" at a Frank Sinatra movie. There are memories of the Jumbo ice cream parlour and high school teachers and teen adventures and the retelling of  complaints by adults when a cup of coffee went up to ten cents. 

As Woods himself says," I am a hopelessly unrepentant romantic...it's about a kid who grew up in Stratford...and loved every minute of it....and the facts are at least 97% true."  Sources: Books: Between Two Women: A Stratford Story   available at library;  Bruce Woods Obituary (1931 - 2022) - Legacy Remembers 

Dr. John Hyde (1819-1889) in later years. Photo: Stratford Perth Archives. 

Dr. John Hyde, a man of 'firsts...'

Dr. John Hyde (1819-1889) was a doctor in Stratford, but he was mlre than that. he was a man of many 'firsts' for the little settlement that had been known as Little Thames. 

Hyde was the first coroner for the village, its first medical officer of health and its first county jail surgeon.  He was later the first school superintendent and first chairman of the Mechanics Institute, the forerunner of the public library. He was the first president of the Perth Mutual Fire Insurance Company  formed in 1863, and instigated the formation of Stratford's first Medical Society around 1972, and helped draw up a schedule of fees. 

In 1860 Dr. Hyde (see Hyde Road) built his new brick home at 91 Brunswick Street which was on the south side very near Waterloo Street.  His house was very near the Congregational Church of which he was a founding member. The close proximity of the church was not by accident. It was built on Hyde's land.  

When he built his home, Hyde was already becoming a noted figure in Stratford's medical community and  and as noted he would play a prominent role in educational and business developments in the growing settlement.  He lived in Stratford  during a key part of its early history before it became a village in 1854 and after it became a town in 1859 and a city in 1885. 

Hyde was born in Northern Ireland, studied medicine at Glasgow University in Scotland  with David Livingston, of African fame,  as a classmate, emigrated to Embro in Upper Canada (later Ontario),  1840, and arrived in Stratford in 1848. He was just 29 years old. 

However, Dr. Hyde was not the first doctor in the settlement that had been first known as Little Thames. Dr. J. H. Moore was already working in the hamlet in the mid 1830s with an office on the second storey of a small log shack on Downie Street. (see Downie Street).  Patients who could not pay would clear trees off another lot the doctor owned or could offer a little nip of whisky that could settle the bill. 

And even before Dr. Moore, itinerant doctors travelling on horseback had served the small hamlets as travelling preachers did. 

What was Stratford like in 1848?  According to Mary Ellen Burt, in an article in The Stratford Beacon Herald in 1955, "There were two hotels, three stores, three churches, and a log schoolhouse.."  (see  Sargint  Street and St. Andrew Street).  The first church had been built in 1830, for the "Auld Kirk" on St Andrew's Street, the Shakespeare Hotel in 1832 and the first schoolhouse in 1843 on what is now the front lawn of the Stratford Public Library. 

Adelaide Leitch in Floodtides of Fortune points out that according to W.H. Smith's Gazetteer of 1844-1845, there were actually two physicians, including Dr. Moore,  working in the settlement when Dr. John Hyde arrived. It is not known for certain if the second doctor was an actual medical doctor or a quack who had come to a backwater settlement to earn a living. 

History of 91 Brunswick Street, Dr. Hyde's house. 

John Hyde and his wife,  Jean Michie Hyde, (1820-1904), lived at 91 Brunswick  after building the house in 1860. Their twin daughters continued to live there until 1936 when it came into possession of the Murray family. 

The house was considered to be a reflection of Dr. Hyde's character. It was "...a simple dignified structure with little of the ornamentation common to houses built in the 1860s. ." The taste of Dr. Hyde was so good that the exterior of the house as seen in in the pictures remained virtually unchanged for more than 150 years. 

When Mrs. Suzanne Murray moved into the house in 1936, she found many letters and clothes from the past. She also discovered that the furnace was a very small hot-air one and  warmed only the downstairs.  The upstairs was heated by a wood stove in the large hall. The holes from the stovepipes were decorated with ornamental mouldings. There was extensive walnut paneling chosen by the Hydes throughout the house.  The windows sunk into the thickness of the walls were also cased in walnut.  The ceilings were 13' in height. 

The Murray family refurbished the house with new heating and new floors retaining the history and high ceilings until it was sold circa 1956 to become the McMane -Gilbart Funeral Home. The funeral home is listed in Vernon's Stratford City Directory in 1957 at 91 Brunswick  Later tenants before demolition in 2020 included upper level apartments, a credit union, a trading card business and a computer store. Sources: Stratford Beacon Herald, "Pioneer Doctor was a Leading Citizen" by Mary Ellen Burt, November 26, 1955: Adelaide Leitch, Floodtides of Fortune; City of Stratford Directories; If you grew up in Stratford FB.

91 Brunswick in the 1930s. Unchanged from the construction of the house by Dr. John Hyde in 1860. Photo: Susan Moffat. If you grew up in Stratford, FB. 

91 Brunswick in 2016 before demolition in 2020. At this point in its history, 91 Brunswick was McMane-Gilbart Funeral Home.