Cambria is a Roman name for Wales, and is often used to describe Wales in the poetic sense.

George W. Byers of London England arrived in Stratford in 1856 and established himself in the stove and tinware business on Erie Street. One of his friends was an early Stratford builder and land developer who bought a tract of 18 acres bounded by Birmingham, St. David, St. Vincent and Cambria streets. He said the name of Cambria Street was in honour of Mrs. Byer's wife, who was from Wales. Mrs. Byres died in 1874, and Mr. Byers drowned while swimming in the Avon River. By: Stanford Dingman

Bruce Stapleton, war artist

Artist Bruce Stapleton was born on July 19, 1910. His parents were Archie and Helen Stapleton of 277 Cambria St. He moved to Toronto to study at the Ontario College of Art in his late teens. In 1938, Stapleton married Isobel Orr, and they moved their family to Vancouver, B.C., in the 1950s. He gained fame as an artist through his many portrait paintings. He considered the portrait of his father-in-law, R. Thomas Orr, (see Veterans Drive) to be one of his finest. It was exhibited throughout Canada and the United States.

Stapleton also is also remembered for his Second World War public support posters, and won an award of merit from the Association of Canadian Artists for his wartime contributions. He was working as a graphic designer for Rolph, Clark, Stone Ltd. in Toronto when he was excused for war service to create posters for the Red Cross. The sample of his work seen here was included in Marc H. Choko’s 1993 book, Canadian War Posters. Calendars featuring Stapleton’s illustrations of Red Cross nurses and other staff were sold by the thousands in Ontario to raise funds for prisoner-of-war parcels. He also lent his talents to the federal government agency in charge of selling Victory bonds.

When he died in 1981, Stapleton’s sister-in-law, Peggy Orr Willock, remembered him as “a kind man, with a wonderful sense of humour, and a man with great understanding.” Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Stratford-Perth Archives has copies of Bruce Stapleton’s war posters and several of his paintings.

Source: Bio and Bruce Stapleton Picture: Stratford Perth Archives: Red Cross Picture War Museum.

 * In 2004, he was honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star, which was placed on the corner of Cobourg Street and Waterloo Street North, by the Orr Insurance company.

Note: For the story of Bruce Stapleton's painting of Tiger Dunlop, that hangs in the Stratford Public Library, see Dunlop Place

227 Cambria St.  Photo Fred Gonder

Macdonald house 

James Macdonald , owner of the Macdonald Manufacturing Co. at 342 Erie St. (see Erie Street), lived here 227 Cambria St.

Architectural style: Gothic Revival Architectural description: two-story yellow brick with gable roof and three Gothic Revival gables that have elaborate barge board trim with finials at the peak of the each roof. First floor centre projection with large brick arch with door and segmentally arched side lights. Transom has three window, large segmentally arched window with brick voussoirs and six panes on either side of the entrance. There is the outline of a former verandah roof for a porch that was across the front of the house. On the second floor are two narrow segmentally arched three-paned windows in the centre gable, and an eight- paned segmentally arched window is in each of the other gables. Source: Stratford Heritage Properties

220 Cambria St.

The Trow house

The house 220 Cambria St., at the east corner of Shrewsbury Street, was built in 1893 for Thomas Trow, a conveyancer, the son of the noted politician, James Trow (see Trow Avenue). By 1911, Thomas was the director of Dominion Life Insurance Co. 

Built with Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque influences, it features a two-tiered porch with the Richardsonian elements most present in the rounded brick arch on the ground floor and the three rounded brick arches above. Patterned brickwork is evident on either side of the ground-floor arch. Stone has been used throughout for sills and lintels, banding, and more. A single shed dormer is centred above the midpoint of the arches. Segmentally arched windows match the brick arches above them. A domed roof covers the tower, and finials project from the roof peaks. Source: Stratford Heritage Properties

David Gunn Baxter, architect

David Gunn Baxter (see Grange Street) designed the house at 220 Cambria St. He was a local architect and son of a chief dispatcher of the Grand Trunk Railway, Joseph Baxter. David Baxter was noted as “a clever young man” whose roots in design started as a boy. His career began in June 1892 after training under Stratford’s Joseph Kilburn. Baxter's portfolio contained a number of local buildings including the Myers Block in 1893 (see Downie Street) on the north corner of Downie and Brunswick streets, and the opera house (now the Avon Theatre) for Albert Brandenberger in 1897 (see Downie Street).  Source: Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada

271 Cambia St.

Dr. Edward Henry Eidt, grandfather of the Stratford park system

Dr. Henry Eidt first lived on 271 Cambria St. (Vernons Directory 1910).

His dental office at the turn of the century (early 1900s) was on the second floor at 3 Market Square, in what is now referred to as Festival Square. The north end of Downie Street was called Market Square at that time. From that location Eidt could view on an almost daily basis the degradation of the Avon River. That kickstarted his interest in rehabilitating both the river and its shoreline park system.

Born in Wilmot Township in 1864, Henry Eidt came to Stratford in 1889, after completing his dental training. Eight years later, he began a 10-year run as a city alderman. A nature-lover by heart, he became a crusader out of what he deemed necessity, if Stratford were to revitalize its sadly decaying river and parklands.

He pushed hard for the creation of a board of park management. And when he prevailed in that struggle, he was given the job of creating the first board, in 1903, which he did by enlisting John Read, Daniel Dempsey, Alfred Roberts, H. M. Johnston, George Hess and R. Thomas Orr. They were carefully selected. Reed knew municipal affairs; Dempsey was a professional nurseryman; Johnston and Roberts were horticulturalists; Hess was a former MP; and Orr was a member of the Orr and Russell architectural firm. 

Eidt was 72 when he died on Aug. 16, 1937. At the time, he was in his sixth year as secretary-treasurer of the city's board of education. He had also been active with Stratford's agricultural and horticultural societies. But it was his dedication to the park system that set him apart. Upon his death, an editorial in the Beacon-Herald highlighted that dedication: "As far back as 1903, Dr. Eidt was an alderman with a vision of what nature, aided by man's handiwork, could do for his city. His cultural tastes found inspiration in the natural beauty of the Avon Valley. His forward-looking mind envisioned a matchless park system that would make the Classic City a community of health and happiness."

The four men most responsible for developing the park system were Thomas J. Dolan, a newspaperman and member of the parks board; George McLagan, a furniture manufacturer who donated money and land for the cause; R. Thomas Orr, a prominent businessman and original secretary of the board; and Dr. Henry Eidt, whose civic accomplishments are highlighted by his push for and creation of that board. In recognition of these men the city has T. J. Dolan Dr., and the T. J. Dolan Natural Area; McLagan Drive and the R.Thomas Orr Dam . The City has yet to honour Henry Eidt in such a fashion. Thanks to Dean Robinson  for the history of Dr. Eidt, taken from his book Not The Last Waltz and other Stratford stories.

See Flashback Article:  The park system: How Dr. Eidt saved the day!

Wilfred R. Eidt

Wilfred Eidt was the son of Dr. Edward Henry Eidt. Wilfred signed his attestation papers to volunteer for service in the First World War on Nov. 30, 1916. He was 19 years old when he enlisted with 64th Battey and trained in Guelph. After a month of training in England, he went to France and was a gunner in the siege  artillery. He fought in Passchendaele and was killed in action on Oct. 18, 1917. He is buried in the Bully Grenay Communal Cemetery at Pas de Calais, France.  Source: Stratford-Perth Archives 

Stratford-Perth Archives

dame Maggie Smith

Dame Maggie Smith

While performing for four seasons at the Stratford Festival, Maggie Smith lived at 220 Cambria St., on the northeast corner of the Cambria and Shrewsbury street intersection.

She was already an Oscar-winning star when Robin Phillips invited her to join the company in 1976, her last in 1980.

In Stratford, Dame Maggie gave some of the most memorable performances in the Festival’s history, including Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Rosalind in As You Like It, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Mistress Overdone in Measure for Measure, Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Lady Macbeth. For a list of her performances see Shakespeare in Performance.

She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1970 New Year Honours, and was raised to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to the performing arts.

A six-time Academy Award nominee, Smith won for best actress for her portrayal of an idealistic, unorthodox schoolteacher in the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and for best supporting actress for her performance in the 1978 film California Suite: Source: Wikipedia

Dr. David Smith, pictured here at age 89, of  175 Cambria Street was the second president of the Stratford Rotary Club and a founding member of the Ontario Society for Crippled Children. Source: Dean Robinson's A Century of Service, The Rotary Club of Stratford, 1922-2022, from Stratford Beacon Herald/Perth Archives. 

Dr. David Smith, outstanding Stratford citizen

Dr. David Smith (1873-1966) was regarded as the dean of the medical profession in the Stratford area, and an outstanding resident of the city according to the Stratford Beacon Herald tribute on Aug. 15, 1966, upon his death at age 93 in Stratford General Hospital.  

Dr. Smith lived in Stratford for more than 60 years. He was described as a person devoted to others who were "less fortunate than himself." A lifelong Rotarian, he was one of the founders of the Rotary Club of Stratford in 1922 (see McCarthy Road), and a man who indeed lived the Rotary Club motto of "Service above self" throughout his life.   

He was also one of the founders of the Ontario Society of Crippled Children in 1922 (now Easter Seals Ontario) and had an enormous impact on many, including the young Robert Bruce Salter, later a distinguished doctor, professor at the University of Toronto, and senior orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. (see Front Street).

When a seemingly routine delivery required a caesarian section, Smith saved the lives of Salter, his unexpected fraternal brother and their mother. Young Salter, who grew up in Stratford, was mentored by Dr. Smith. They remained lifelong friends, and in 1992, Salter expressed a public reflection his indebtedness to Dr. Smith:   

"The only way I can ever repay such indebtedness [to Dr. David Smith] is to be a mentor to others, something I have tried to do over the last 35 years as an academic orthopedic surgeon, scientist, teacher and administrator."

Dean Robinson has included  A tribute to Doctor Dave by Dr. Robert B. Salter in his Rotary club history, A Century of Service: The Rotary Club of Stratford 1922-2022, as well as additional research, photos and information about Smith's lifelong service to his community.(see Front Street).

Smith grew up on a farm in West Zorra Township and was an elementary teacher for four years before enrolling at the University of Toronto medical school. He graduated in 1902, worked first in Muskoka and Thamesford, then did post graduate work in England in 1904  before coming to Stratford. In 1905, he bought the practice of Dr. J. D. Monteith, who was about to start a world tour, and took over his office in the Metropolitan Block.  

Dr. Smith made house calls. That was the way of doctors in those days. He was still practising into the 1940s and delivering babies including me, Gordon Conroy, in 1943. Dr. Hugh Thompson, also a Rotarian, took over Dr. Smith's practice and home at 104 Brunswick St., and continued the dedicated service and the house calls of his mentor. The waiting room and offices were in the west side at 104 Brunswick, the doctor's residence on the right or east side of  the house.

Dr. Smith later lived, in retirement, at 175 Cambria St. In 1927, he had married Sarah Isobel Mickle (1893-1992); they had no children. He was honoured for his services by both the Rotary Club of Stratford and the Ontario Society for Crippled Children. Sources: Dean Robinson's A Century of Service: The Rotary Club of Stratford 1922-2022; also, "A Tribute to Doctor Dave" by Dr. Robert B. Salter, presented in its entirety in Dean Robinson's Rotary history book; Stratford-Perth Archives.  

* The office and home of Dr. Smith at 104 Bruswick St. is now part of a B and B called The Three Houses.

Dr. David Smith (left) of the Rotary Club of Stratford receives a citation for outstanding service from Clyde Heamon, president, Ontario Society for Crippled Children.  Source: Dean Robinson's A Century of Service, The Rotary Club of Stratford 1922-2022, from the Stratford-Perth Archives.   

Dr. David Smith's home later in life, at 175 Cambria St. built by Thomas Ballantyne Jr., 1921. (see below). 

Thomas Ballantyne Jr., cheese merchant and city treasurer

Thomas Ballantyne Jr., ( 1863-1938), cheese merchant and  City of Stratford treasurer, was the son of the Honourable Thomas and Mary Ballantyne.  (see Ballantyne Avenue). His brother ran Ballantyne Knit. (see Ballantyne Avenue

Thomas Jr. moved to Stratford with his parents from the family farm in Downie Township at the age of ten. He entered the family cheese business in 1881 at the age of 18. Thomas Sr., his father, had bought the cheese business in 1868 and even after his father's death in 1908, Thomas Jr. continued to run Thomas Ballantyne and Sons until he sold the business  in 1925. Thomas Jr. then was appointed City Treasurer. 

Thomas Junior's life of involvement in the city and community started  more than a quarter century before his appointment as City Treasurer.  Thomas Jr. was first elected a member of the City Council in 1897. He served on ten city councils and was a member of nearly every committee of the council. He was a member of the Public School Board for eight years and of the Collegiate Institute Board for one year. He was the prime mover in the building of Avon and Juliet Schools.

The photo on the left is taken from the photo of the 1933 Stratford City Council. It was posted on If you grew up in Stratford ...FB.

Thomas was a member of the council when plans were being made for the new City Hall (1899). (see Wellington Street). He was City Treasurer for ten years. Thomas was also heavily involved in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, (see St. Andrew Street), the Stratford Rotary Club, and the Board of Trade. He was also one of the small group of men who organized the first golf club in Stratford, the forerunner of the Stratford Golf and Country Club. (see Romeo Street). 

The house at 175 Cambria Street was built by Elizabeth (1861-1946) and Thomas Ballantyne Junior (1863-1938) in 1921 on a lot that was severed from the property owned by Thomas Newton, blacksmith, whose house was built in 1910 at 179 Cambria Street. 

Elizabeth was also deeply involved with civic responsibilities.  She was one of the first members of the Stratford Women’s Hospital Aid and a member of the Ontario Hospital Aids Association. She was also a member of the Stratford Old Age Pensions and Mothers’ Allowance Board. During both world wars she was a working supporter of the Red Cross Society. For twenty ­five years she was on the board of the Perth County Children’s Aid Society. She was also on the board of the Victorian Order of Nurses. Elizabeth was also a member of the Women’s Canadian Club. She was very active in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, filling many offices in women’s organizations of the church. Elizabeth was also a gifted pianist, being prominent in Stratford musical circles. She was a strong supporter of the Stratford Musical Festival.

Elizabeth and Thomas Junior had three children: Margaret “Margery” Clarke who died in early childhood; Thomas Whitson, who became a medical doctor and lived in Woodstock; and Emma Kent, who married Stratford­-born Ralph Chandler and moved to Port Arthur (Thunder Bay).

Both Thomas and Elizabeth died at home at 175 Cambria Street. Sources: Stratford-Perth County Branch ACO (Architectural Conservancy of Ontario) | Historical Plaque Properties ;  Thomas Ballantyne (1829-1908) - Find a Grave Memorial;  Thomas Ballantyne (1863-1938) - Find a Grave Memorial. 

Ballantyne and Sons, cheese merchants, were in business at 2 Ontario Street before 1900. Here on York Street, at the rear of 2 Ontario Street, cheese is being loaded. The Court House is visible to the right of the photo. Photo by W. J. Allan, photographer, in 1900. For further history of the building and the businesses, and the family, see Ontario Street and Ballantyne Avenue. Photo: Dave Schulthies from If you grew up in Stratford FB.  

Home of John Andrew. 174 Cambria Street. Built 1922. 

John A. Andrew, merchant and mayor

John Alexander Andrew was born in Scotland on January 7, 1864. He was the son of William Andrew and Elizabeth Adam and would not come to Canada until he was in his twenties about 1890 and would not arrive in Stratford until a decade later in 1900 after he was married. He gradually succeeded in business and later later became involved in civic life. Andrew was mayor of Stratford in 1928 and 1929, at the end of the good times and the beginning of the Great Depression after the stock market crash on Black Friday.  

John came from a farming family that worked acreage around Balgaveny, Forgue in Aberdeenshire. When he was six years old, John’s mother died at the age of thirty-two. Together with his brothers and sister, John helped their father work the farm until William died in 1885 at the age of sixty-nine.

In his early twenties with his parents gone and perhaps little prospects in Scotland, John made the momentous decision to seek a better life in Canada. Upon his arrival around 1890, he did not stray too far from his roots. Initially, he worked on a farm for a number of years in Elma Township before moving to Downie Township where he was employed on the farm of William Byers who would become his father-in-law.

On October 12, 1899, thirty-five year old John A. Andrew married Helen Cawston Byers in Stratford. She was born in Downie Township in March 1860, the sixth of nine children of William Byers and Anne (Annie) Murray. At the time of his wedding, John lived in St. Mary’s and listed his occupation as a Coachman on the marriage register. The couple did not have any children.

Marriage settled John from his migratory ways. The couple decided to live in Stratford where John worked with Helen’s brother as a Seed Salesman. However, by 1904, John appears to have gone into business on his own as he is listed as a Seed Merchant in the Stratford City Directory.  The directory also records the couple boarding at a residence on Water Street.

By 1911 the couple’s fortunes had continued to improve as John set up shop as a Flour and Feed Merchant at 68 Wellington Street. Around the same time they moved to a house at 53 Centre Street.

In 1920 John was able to retire from active business and went through a transformation to public life when he was first elected Alderman. At the time he and Helen lived at 101 Church Street when they purchased a vacant lot on Cambria St. and had plans drawn for a craftsman style house which was built in 1922.

John was a much respected politician having been elected twelve times, two of which as Mayor in 1928 and 1929. He retired from public life after his second term as Mayor but was coaxed into returning to Council in 1932 as Alderman because of his needed experience in dealing with the ravages of the Great Depression which were taking hold in Stratford. Illness forced him to take a leave of absence. He died on May 6, 1932.  Helen continued to live at 174 Cambria St. until her death in 1945. Source: Stratford-Perth County Branch ACO (Architectural Conservancy of Ontario) | Historical Plaque Properties