Centre Street

"Popey" MacGregor

63 Centre St. Photo: Fred Gonder

Centre Street was named in 1864 by an early Stratford land builder, John Holmes, who bought a tract of 18 acres bounded by Birmingham, St. David, St. Vincent and Cambria streets for $100 an acre. The other half of Centre Street, between St. Vincent and John streets, ran through the centre of a survey by William McEwan somewhat later.

According to H. Brosius's bird’s eye view of Stratford in 1872, there were only three houses on Centre Street. One of them was the house at 63 Centre St., long the residence of Chester and Diane Misener. He was a lawyer and judge before retirement. A previous owner of the property, J. Morgan Riddell QC, had also been a lawyer. Another of the previous owners was A. J. McPherson, a furrier.

The house was built for Charles J. MacGregor (see Queen Street) in 1864, the year Centre Street opened. He was the first principal of the grammar school on Norman Street in 1856. It was the first secondary school in Stratford. In 1879, he became the first principal of the new collegiate, on the site of what is now the Stratford Intermediate School, a pubic school for for grades 7 and 8.

MacGregor was fond of wearing a small cap, resembling those favoured by Roman Catholic dignitaries. His students referred to him"Popey" MacGregor. He retired as an educator in 1879 and in 1885 became a member of Stratford's first council as a city. In 1886 and 1887 he served as the city's second mayor. With notes from Stanford Dingman

Centre Street Garden

Centre Street Garden is at the intersection of Centre Street and T. J. Dolan Drive (see Dolan Drive), east of John Street. If travelling south on John Street, the garden is the first left turn after crossing the Avon River bridge. There is ample parking on T. J. Dolan Drive and Centre Street. 

Centre Street Garden is just a short walk from the Catharine East and Father Corcoran Iris gardens. The garden is an attractive feature of the nearby residential neighbourhood. Centre Street Garden began as a memorial to Clifford Biggin, who died in 1982. His wife, Lorna, requested memorial donations to Stratford and District Horticultural Society, of which she was a long-standing member.

Architect Terry Marklevitz designed the garden in the late 1980s to simulate two ponds with a rocky stream tumbling between them. The basic design remains, though plantings have changed over the years. The garden is maintained by members of Garden Stratford (Stratford and District Horticultural Society).

Lorna lived for many years after Clifford’s death.  When she died in 2010, the Biggin family commissioned a memorial bench to honour both of them. The garden was an appropriate memorial because Clifford and Lorna had a long-standing pattern of nightly walks that nearly always passed the site. Source: Stratford Gardens