Erie Street

Iroquois for "cat"

Erie Street was one of the original Canada Company streets and was shown on the early maps as running to the south bank of the Avon River. There was a proposed continuation in a straight line on the north side of the river, known as Wellesley Street, to line up with what is now Mornington Street, also called the Mornington Road. On at a map of Stratford today, Erie Street still lines up in a straight line with Mornington Street beyond the James Street intersection. The proposed Wellesley Street between there and the north side of the river was never built.

The part of Erie Street between the York Street apartments and Ontario Street was originally called Shakespeare Place. On April 23, 1864, the town fathers planted the Shakespeare Oak to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, on April 23, 1564. The tree was planted on the hillside, across from the retail property at what is now 54 Ontario St. In those days, that hillside was in Shakespeare Square, which has since been renamed Memorial Park. 

Shakespeare Place and the Shakespeare oak have long since disappeared. However, but there remains a photographic record of the planting of the oak. It is one of the oldest known photographs taken in Stratford, and features local dignitaries doing the honours, surrounded by townspeople standing on the hillside under umbrellas.

The name Erie first appears on the 1848 map of Stratford, drawn by Donald McDonald. It is marked Erie Road, and there are seven bridges crossing the Erie Creek between Cambria and St. Patrick streets. There is another bridge just beyond Cambria and two more farther out.

In the early days of Stratford, Erie Creek snaked back and forth across Erie Road to cause all sorts of problems for early travellers. The mud was sometimes knee deep. The creek was eventually straightened into a ditch along the east side of the road and it still flows there today but in an underground arch. It joins the Romeo Creek arch near the St. Patrick Street intersection, and the two underground streams flow through the collegiate arch (formerly the Sharman Creek) under the collegiate flats and into the Avon River. Today, on the site of the former collegiate, is the Stratford Intermediate School. 

Erie Street takes its name from Lake Erie because it leads in that general direction. Lake Erie took its name from the Iroquois word meaning "cat.” The name is thought to have come from the number of cats in the region. With notes from Stanford Dingman

1 Erie St.  Photo Fred Gonder

Unveiling ceremony Nov. 11, 1922 Stratford- Perth Archives

L0wering the bronze statues in place, 1922  Stratford- Perth Archives

The cenotaph

Discussions on a suitable war memorial, led by the local chapter of the IODE (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire), started almost as soon as the First World War ended in 1918. By 1920, some citizens had come together to form the Soldiers War Memorial group. Working with the Stratford Chamber of Commerce, they collected from the people of Stratford, and North Easthope, Downie and Ellice townships, $19,000 of the $25,000 needed to build a cenotaph. The rest of the cost was covered with grants from the municipal councils.

The memorial committee commissioned Canadian sculptor, Walter S. Allward, (see below) to design the monument. He was a world-renowned sculptor who also designed the national monument in Ottawa, and the Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge.

When the memorial design was announced in the local paper it was described as “imposing and highly artistic . . . The central idea of the memorial is the supremacy of right over brute force. On either side of the figures will stand pylons, and the figures are of two men, one representing spiritual man, head high in the air, triumphant after his conflict with the figure representing brute force, who is shrinking down an incline to the valley.

The original site of the memorial was at the junction of Erie and Ontario streets, the location chosen because it marked the spot where the old boundary lines of the townships of North Easthope, South Easthope, Downie and Ellice met. The memorial was removed in the fall of 1961 to its present location not far from the boathouse and the Avon River.

Maj. Gen. Sir Edward Morison (see Morison Drive), a former resident of Stratford, unveiled the memorial. He said he was proud to address such a gathering, which included the mothers, fathers and children of the brave ones who made the supreme sacrifice.

After the post office building at 60 Ontario St. was demolished, and its services moved to a new building on Waterloo Street South, there was space available for the war memorial within the nearby park system. So it was moved to the north side of Ontario Street.

The memorial bears the names of 344 men and one woman from Stratford and its three bordering townships who died in the First World War. The names of Stratford soldiers killed in the Second World War and in the Korean War were added in 1955, on the 10th anniversary of V-E Day (Victory in Europe), by bolting bronze plaques into the original sculpture. Source: Stratford Perth-Archives

Text on the war memorial plaque

This magnificent sculpture by Walter S. Allward  (1875-1955) depicts the supremacy of right over brute force and was unveiled 0n 6 November 1922 to honour the soldiers from Stratford and the surrounding counties who fell in the First World War. It was designed in 1921 as Allward prepared the models for the towering and majestic monument at Vimy Ridge in France.

Both sculptures show the same dedication to technique, to inventive composition, and to the use of classical figures in dramatic settings.

The upright figure, representing spiritual man, turns his back on the parting figure of brute force. “They broke the sword and brought peace to our land” is inscribed on the base.

The sculpture was commissioned by Stratford's War Memorial Committee (William Preston, Chair) in 1920 and committee member R. Thomas Orr championed the project and Allward's poignant powerful vision for it.

Walter S. Allward, long considered one of Canada’s greatest artists, was designated by Canada as a “Person of National Historic Significance” in 2002.

Walter S. Allward

Walter S. Allward designed the Stratford War Memorial. He is best known for the Vimy Memorial in France but also designed and created war memorials and sculptures across Ontario in the years leading up to and following the First World War, including Stratford's. Peterborough was the only other town of similar size to Stratford to have a war memorial designed by Allward.

A project to shed light on the connection between the Stratford cenotaph and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial was undertaken by Nancy Stotts Jones of Stratford and Lorna Harris from British Columbia. They contacted staff at the Stratford- Perth Archives and asked local artist Scott McKowen (see his studio Downie Street) to design and cast an artificially aged plaque informing visitors and residents of Allward's connection to both the Vimy memorial and the overall war memorial movement in Canada following the First World War. Source: Stratford-Perth Archives

War memorial plaque  Photo Fred Gonder

Walter Allward, 1911  Stratford -Perth Archives

* See Reflections: Stratford-Perth Archives article  Treasured correspondence opens a window to Stratford's past to learn more about  Walter Allward's connection to Stratford.

The cannons

Mayor Peter Robinson Jarvis wanted to get a cannon from the Canadian government as a symbol to inspire patriotism in Stratford youth.

So, in 1864, Stratford asked the lieutenant governor for one or more of the cannons captured by the British and French from the Russians in the Crimean War. The government agreed to one.

On Dec. 12, 1864, the Russian cannon arrived at the railway station. Weighing 12,000 pounds, it was shipped from Montreal free of charge, thanks to the largesse of Charles John Brydges, general manager of Grand Trunk Railway operations in Stratford. William Easson (see Easson Street) paid $5 for moving the cannon from the station to Market Square and for later moving it to Shakespeare Square. He also paid $21 for maintainence of the cannon.


The cannon, made in 1845, has a deep gouge on left side of its muzzle, probably inflicted by a direct hit by allied (British/French) artillery fire. 

The double-headed eagle symbol cast into the body of the cannon was a symbol of Imperial Russia from about 1474 to 1918. The double-headed eagle had been created by the Roman Empire in the 4th century. At that time, the Roman Empire had split, and the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) adopted the symbol to indicate that its presence was covering two parts of the world. 

In 1453, Russian emperor Ivan III married Sophia, the only niece of the last Byzantine emperor, and because of that marriage, Moscow came to be known as the Third Rome, the last remaining Christian empire in Europe. Not long after the marriage, the double-headed eagle became the Imperial Russian symbol, and remained so until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Sources: Stratford and District Historical Society

Barbara Storey    I Erie St.

Bumbly Bee  Barbara Storey

Barbara L. B. Storey, fine art photographer

Barbara Storey is a Stratford-born fine art photographer and digital artist now a resident of Stratford after living in the United States, Italy and Germany.


As an artist, she is primarily self-taught, and has found experimentation the best path to follow. She finds her inspiration in the natural world in whatever style she chooses to work: realistic photography or abstracts created from imagination applied to nature.


Her first full exhibition, Transformations: Art/Artist Evolving, was at Factory 163 in Stratford, and featured her photography, digital art, and pattern designs. One of her abstract works, Bumbly Bee, was part of an exhibition in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2016, at the My Chelsea Hotel in London. Her work was also featured in two curated art exhibitions at the York Lane Art Collective in Stratford: Creative Nature and Pride Art Show. She was featured at the Stratford Public Library in its community art program, and one of her pieces, O'Higgins Alley, placed third in the photo show at Agora Gallery, Stratford, Nov. 23 to Dec. 22, 2019.


Her work is in various private collections in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.  Source: Barbara Storey Fine Art Photography

* Barbara Storey Art Photography is located in the York Street apartments, 1 Erie St. 

The soapbox derby

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Optimist Club's annual soapbox derby was a social and sporting highlight in Stratford. The races began at the north (high) end of Erie Street, and the straight-line course ran as far south as the fastest entry.

It seemed the entire population of Stratford turned out for this event. There were parades and floats and soapbox race cars that came in many shapes and sizes. Children decorated their tricycles and bikes with colorful crepe paper and were given prizes for the best design. Women decorated their buggies and dressed their babies for the event. The Optimists gave each soapbox entrant a silver dollar, which was serious cash for a kid at that time. The soapbox cars sped down a  large ramp built at the north end of Erie Street, and each hoped to coast the farthest. 

There was fierce completion among several families who went to extraordinary lengths to design the best machine.  Source: Paul Wilker

Stratford brothers Gary and Marvin Thomas spent time at the Optimist Club boys' workshop, but when they entered the soapbox derbies they were riding in 90- per-cent steel-constructed cars built by their father, Harold Thomas, a machinist in the Canadian National Railways shops. In 1948, Gary, the elder brother, began what would become an annual event for the boys by driving the Hamlet Special, named after the school attended by both boys and their mother, Pearl. That year, Gary drove to victory in the 10-and-older category.

In 1949, there were 96 entries, with the Thomas brothers finishing first and second, and Gary claiming the city championship. From the head of Erie Street, behind the war memorial's original site, he zipped down the runway and travelled 1,550 feet, almost to Riehl Motors at 180 St., just shy of the CNR overpass. Marvin finished just 50 feet behind his brother. Bill Strawbridge finished third at 1,240 feet. In 1950, Gary won again, that time over 121 other entrants. He won his fourth straight city title in 1951. At age 14 he had his name on the Jack Hood Trophy four times, and announced his retirement as a driver. It was in his last year that he drove Miss Canada, also built by his father. Then is was Marvin's turn, and he drove Miss Canada to three straight wins, in 1952, 1953 and 1954. The 1954 derby was his last.

Top of Erie Street Stratford-Perth Museum

Champion Marvin Thomas  at the wheel of Miss Canada

Stratford Perth Museum

Marvin reminisced about driving Miss Canada almost all the way to Cambria Street. When asked what made his car travel so much farther than the others, he said the secret was all in the wheels. His father built the car using a set of official soapbox derby wheels that he had won from the Optimist Club. But there were other secrets as well, he said. Source: Stratford-Perth Archives

In 1957, the derby was moved from Erie Street to Upper Queen’s Park on Snake Hill and was held on September 21st rather than on

Labour Day. James Delafranier was fortunate to win the official derby wheel category that year, and for several years afterwards. His

soap box was 6 feet long, made of metal, and resembled a torpedo. In 1958, the annual Labour Day celebrations, not including the soap box

derby, were sponsored by the Stratford & District Labour Council. For many years afterwards, the Optimist Club continued to sponsor

the annual soap box derbys, holding them on Victoria Day.

But such derbies are still going strong in many small towns in  Canada and the United States. Source: Paul Wilker   

 * For more pictures and description see Flashback: Soap Box Derby Races

Stratford Hotel. Built 1875 at 107 Erie St.  Fred Gonder

The Stratford Hotel, built in 1875 at 107 Erie St. 

The Stratford Hotel is at 107 Erie St., on the east side of Erie Street, south of Ontario Street. The two-storey buff brick building was constructed in 1875. The property was designated by the City of Stratford in 1985 for its heritage value.

The Stratford Hotel is associated with several prominent local citizens and businesses. Formerly called the Daly Terrace, it was originally a row of townhouses built by Thomas Mayne Daly (see Daly Avenue). Daly was best known for his skills as a contractor. He built many Perth County roads, and did contract work throughout the county, Canada and the United States. Daly was also a successful politician. Over the years he served as the district councillor for Downie Township, the reeve for North Easthope Township and Stratford, Perth's member in the provincial leglslature, Stratford's mayor, and a federal member of Parliament in 1872.

The townhouses were home to many tenants who contributed to the early development of Stratford. Significant tenants include George A. Mills, a Stratford taxi driver; A. C. Jones, a dentist; and Alex Vivian, a furniture dealer.

In 1939, the third storey was removed and the building was converted from residential to commercial use. As a commercial space it was home to many different business and organizations including the Williams-Trow Knitting Co., which operated a glove-making department from 1943 into the 1950s, the Shakespearean Festival Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, Apcot Products, and Scott Real Estate Ltd in the 1960s. 

When the Stratford Festival wasa a tenant, early in its history, the front of the building held administration offices and the box office, while the rear was used for wardrobe and props. 

Since the 1960s, it has been used as a hotel.  All of the original hardwood flooring, high ceilings, and country elegance remains in the quaint 12 rooms now occupying the former Daly Terrace.

The property reflects the townhouse style of the late 19th century. It was constructed on a fieldstone foundation and made of solid-buff brick. Typical of the period in which it was built, the windows are slightly arched with double-hung sashes of six-over-six panes with decorative voussoirs and keystones. The original entry doors of the townhouses were surrounded by pilasters and headers complimentary to the windows. Also of note is the dentil decorating the roofline. Source: Canada's Historic

Footnote: One of the most colourful hotel and bar operators at this address was former Hell Driver Neal Lucky Lott. Dean Robinson

125 Erie St., 1950  Stratford-Perth Archives

109 Erie St.

Williams-Trow Knitting Co. Ltd.

 Williams-Trow Knitting Co. Ltd.began operations in 1912, at 125 Erie St. Benjamin M. Williams, a Welshman, came to Stratford and beginning in 1888 worked at the Dufton Woollen Mills (Shakespearean Gardens today) as a foreman. He eventually became vice president and manager at Avon Hosiery before forming his own company with George Trow.


The factory here always had three floors and 18,000 square feet of floor space, which allowed for considerable expansion. Its Bentro Knit goods were known across Canada and the company helped bring acclaim to the made-in-Stratford claim.


Like Avon Hosiery, Williams-Trow produced comforters, woollen gloves, socks, sweaters and sweater jackets for soldiers during the First World War. Similarly, local architect Thomas J. Hepburn prepared an addition to Williams-Trow in 1916, despite its significant floor space, which included the addition of a freight elevator.


When George Trow died in 1918, he was succeeded by Lt. Col. Ralph M. Trow, who had served in the First World War. As it did in that war, Williams-Trow stepped up for the Second World War with its production of knitted goods.


In 1944-45, Williams-Trow expanded again, this time establishing a branch plant just down the street at 109 Erie in a building that had been constructed in 1875. It was fitted with “the most modern facilities and the equipment then available.” Production at the new plant concentrated on woollen gloves. However, Williams-Trow's operation at 109 Erie St. was short-lived with the onset of postwar competition from Japan.

Williams-Trow then consolidated production at its main plant, at 125 Erie St., and stuck to gloves and mitts, albeit on a far smaller scale. In the 1950s, about 50 people still worked in the plant and another 40 were homeworkers. Women comprised about 60 percent of the workforce.


Williams-Trow became Kraven Knit sometime between 1965 and 1971. As the textile industry declined in Stratford, the original factory at 125 Erie St., was then demolished and replaced by a retail plaza.

Source: Stratford History, Stratford-Perth Archives - Trade and Railway, Report of the War Purchasing Commission Volume 2, 1917, various Vernon's city directories 

Jennie Trout, first female physician

The building on 342 Erie St. is called the Jennie Trout building.

Jennie (Gowanlock) Trout was the first female physician licensed to practise medicine in Canada. She received her licence from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario in 1875.

In 1860, she moved to Toronto to attend the the Normal School for Upper Canada. The Normal School, a teachers college, was the only advanced school in Canada that accepted women at the time. After graduating in 1861, she returned to the Stratford area and got her first job as a teacher. She taught elementary school between 1861 and 1865. On 25 August 1865, she married businessman Edward Trout in Stratford. They settled in Toronto, where, in 1875, she opened a medical practice in Toronto with her friend, Dr. Emily Amelia Tefft. Tefft was a fellow graduate of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. At their clinic, they specialized in treatments for women, including electrotherapy.

In 1877, Trout and Tefft expanded their practice and opened the Medical and Electro-Therapeutic Institute on Jarvis Street (Toronto). There they used electricity and galvanic baths in their treatments for women.

In 1882, the demands of Trout's job took a toll on her health. Later that year, she retired as a doctor at age 41. After her retirement, Jennie Trout grew interested in Bible study and became involved in Christian mission work overseas. She was also involved in the temperance movement, and served as vice-president and later president of the Women's Temperance Union. She was also the vice-president of the Association for the Advancement of Women.

She died in 1921 in Hollywood. In 1991. Canada Post released a postage stamp in her honour.  Source: Canadian Encyclopedia

* She was honoured by the City of Stratford with a Bronze Star in 2001. It was placed on Downie Street, near the CIBC branch.   

The MacDonald Manufacturing Co. 

Alex MacPherson, a good mechanic, and John P. MacDonald, a bookkeeper from the firm of Glasgow, MacPherson and Co., Clinton, Ont., decided to manufacture threshing machines and chose Stratford for the location of their factory.

Lacking in capital, they appealed to John P. MacDonald's brother James to sell his farm and go into partnership with them. The firm, known as MacDonald and MacPherson Co., built and sold without difficulty the 30 machines they made in 1877. The early success of their machines generated increased sales prosperity for the company. 

The Decker Threshing machine, the firm's specialty, was recognized as the leading thresher on the market and found its way into almost every part of Ontario, the North West and British Columbia.  

Besides threshers, the company manufactured wind-stackers, baggers. barley scourers, dust collectors and other farm-related tools and machinery.

The threshers were of the conventional apron or canvas type, with a side-shake shoe. In about 1880, they adopted an end-shake shoe four years later had it on the market. It was the first of their deck-type separators.

Alex MacPherson had a short life, and after his death, the two MacDonald brothers carried on as the MacDonald Manufacturing Co. 

Peter MacDonald attended school in Stratford for two years and then went to the Grand Trunk Railway shops as an apprentice machinist. In addition to learning his trade, he developed a deep and lasting interest in steam engines. A few years later he and his brother, John K. MacDonald, joined their father and uncle in the threshing machine business. Peter's training and interest was toward the mechanical, while his favoured working with wood.

In the early 1880s, John P. MacDonald's failing health and other interests resulted in his leaving the business. James and his two sons carried on the business. James MacDonald died in December 1911.  Source: Farm Collector

For more see:  Railway Avenue 

Picture provided by Mathieu Moody. 

MacDonald Manufacturing plant 342 Erie, 1876

342 Erie St. today, the Jennie Trout Centre

MacDonald 20 horsepower thresher, 1908

Decker steam tractor.    Image: Nancy Musselman

The gas works

Before the days of bottled liquid propane, and piped-in natural gas, most Stratford residents burned coal for heat. However, there were several homes, businesses, churches, etc., that burned gas that was manufactured here in Stratford. The Stratford Public Utility Commission had a gas works plant that stretch over both sides of Wellington Street, and extended back to the north block of Nelson Street (now called Cooper Street). 

The plant was created in 1875 by the Stratford Gas Co., which was incorporated in 1874. In January 1876, it showered the town with its first gas lights. The company was taken over by the PUC in 1926, and was shut down in 1953. This Beacon-Herald photo was taken in 1952, from the upper level of the Canadian National Railways locomotive repair shops, likely the erecting shop.

The fuel produced by the gas works was commonly called "coke gas," or  "coal gas," and its manufacture involved baking coal in a special oven, storing the resultant gas, and then piping it underground to users.  The numbered buildings are 1, the retort house where the coal was baked in ovens; 2, the scrubber room where the gas was partially cleaned; 3, the purifying house where the gas was completely cleaned (this building was retained and is now part of Festival Hydro); and 4, the gas house, where the gas was stored. The gas house was demolished in 1955 to make room for the new PUC building, whose construction was completed in 1959. After the gas was baked in the retort house, what was left was called "coke." If memory serves me correctly, one could buy the coke from the PUC, for burning in a household stove. The site is now occupied by the PUC administration building at 187 Erie St.  Source: Brian Wendy Reis . . . FB

* Hayden Bulbrook, in an article in the Stratford Times in October 2022, noted that in 1889, the Stratford Natural Gas Co. was incorporated with James Trow, member of Parliament, as president. The company began drilling in 1890, on "untamed land," but with no success. Drilling to a depth of 2,386 feet, resulted in only salt water. The site chosen was on the west side of Brunswick Street at College Street, near where Juliet Public School would be from 1913 to 2004.

Stratford Gas Works. Wellington Street west of St. Patrick Photo: Stratford Beacon-Herald 1952. 

Jack Hayter Stratford-Perth Archives

Mural of Jack in Allen's Alley

Jack Hayter and the 39 Casino Band


Jack Hayter started in the Boy’s Band in 1933 and graduated to dance bands in 1936 and then played with local dance bands Hap Corman and Herbie Fink. 

He joined the army in 1941 and eventually went overseas as a member of the Canadian Armoured Corps. The need for bands and entertainment groups was apparent to the upper echelon and he was fortunate to join the Royal Canadian Artillery Band. 


Further good fortune followed when they were selected to broadcast on BBC in London to the troops on the continent. Seven broadcasts a week which kept them out of the pubs. They also toured Italy, France, Belgium Holland and Germany playing parades, dances, church services, and concerts for residence and troops. Returning to Stratford he joined the Skyliners Band and played with Johnny Kostigan and Leisure Lodge for 15 years.


He laid down the sax for a while and got a job at the Canadian National Railway shops, and then later worked at Bradsaw's. But the saxophone’s seductive siren call eventually lured him back. Hayter returned to playing with a vengeance, forming, with his brother Bob, the 1939 Casino Band, which was named after Stratford’s famous old dance hail. Jack was instrumental in starting the HMS Rassamajazz  boat jazz concerts in the summer up and down the Avon river with his 39 Casino Band.  He was recognized driving around Stratford by his licence plate " I MO TYM ".  Source : Cover Jacket of 39 Casino Band Cassette

 Jack Lived on 260 Eire Street. He passed away in 2005.

For more on the  Band and their music click 39 Casino Band 

39 Casino Band   Hear them play  "12th Street Rag" below

12th Street Rag.mp3
Copy of Figity Feet.mp3

Jack Hood

Jack Hood School Supplies

In 1939, Jack Hood started his million-dollar business in school supplies in the basement of his house at 244 Cambria St. before moving it to 91-99 Erie Street. He was known as a hard-nosed school supplies businessman, but also as a salesman par excellence. He was described as a “gregarious gentleman,” eccentric, audacious and a lover of parties. He parlayed maps, pens and pencils into a $1 million business.

Hood's huge warehouse at 91-99 Erie Street, in the former Stratford Bridge and Iron Works Co. (see below) building, was the centre for his shipping of books and supplies throughout Ontario and Canada. It was also the location where Stratford youngsters saw more books on shelves from floor to ceiling than they ever thought existed. Hood diversified into the cattle business in 1956, breeding Aberdeen Angus on farms outside Stratford. In the late 1950s he ventured into horse racing, one of his true passions. He quickly became well-known and successful in the world of thoroughbreds and the Ontario Jockey Club. 

During the 1950s and 1960s, Jack Hood School Supplies grew and prospered as a school supply company and library book distributor. In 1969, the company was purchased by Harlequin Enterprises, the romance book company and the two merged under the name Scholar's Choice.  Prior to 1976, when the Erie Street building was demolished, Scholar’s Choice had relocated to the former R. M. Ballantyne knitting factory (50 Ballantyne Ave.), and in 1979 moved to 703 Douro St.

Jack Hood (1912-1984) was a business success, but he is better remembered as a horseman. In 2013, he was inducted posthumously, as a builder, into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame/ Jack Hood. Source: Gord Conroy

Stratford Bridge and Iron Works

91-97 Erie St.

Until 1969, for more than 20-plus years, Jack Hood School Supplies was located in a Stratford industrial building on the northeast corner of  Erie and St. Patrick streets. The Stratford Bridge and Iron Works was founded in 1882 by William Wesley Cowan, and by the turn of the century was operated by Thomas Halliday with Cowan as superintendent. The company made steel bridges, windmills, grinders, and lift and force pumps. Improved roads had created a demand for steel bridges, and at its peak the factory employed 50 men.

In the 1970s, conservationists tried unsuccessfully to save the building, with its two storeys of handsome double six-over-six-pane windows. But the building was declared “structurally unsound" and demolished in December 1976.

Stratford Bridge and Iron Works     Stratford-Perth Archives

Dr. William Norrie Robertson  Stratford-Perth Archives

Dr. Robertson, cyclist and Yukon author 

Dr. William Norrie Robertson was born on Feb. 18, 1858, in Downie Township, Perth County, Ont. 

His parents, William Robertson and the former Jessie Webster Norrie were born and raised in Scotland. They married and had two children, George and Susan, before immigrating to Canada. In Perth County they had three more children, Margaret, William Norrie and Alexander. William received his primary education in the village of Monkton (Perth County).

In 1875, he graduated from Pickering College and took a teaching position in Collingwood Township, (Grey County) for a short time, before becoming a bookkeeper for five years. In 1884, he graduated from Trinity Medical College, and in the following year took post-graduate courses in Edinburgh, Scotland. He then became a ship's surgeon on a steamship that travelled between Liverpool, England, and Bombay, India.

By 1891, he was living and practising medicine in Stratford, Ont.

On March 30, 1892, Dr. Robertson married Jane Anne Monteith in Downie Township. She had been born on March 21, 1858, in Downie, a daughter of Samuel and Annie Jane (Nelson) Monteith. She was the fifth of six children, a sister to Elizabeth, Francis, John (died in early childhood), Margaret (died in early childhood) and Samuel Jr. 

Dr. William Norrie Robertson, champion cyclist. Nancy Musselman

Dr. William and Jane Anne Robertson had a son, William Nelson Robertson, born in Stratford May 6, 1895.

Dr. Robertson was known to be practising medicine in Wallaceburg in 1897. While living in there, the Robertsons had another son, Albert Norrie Monteith Robertson, on April 26, 1897. He died on March 11, 1899, in Stratford and was buried in Avondale Cemetery in Stratford.

Dr. Robertson travelled to the Yukon during the gold rush, and years published a book titled Yukon Memories: Sourdough Tales of Chaos and Changes in the Klondike. He was in the Yukon between in 1898-99. 

Dr. Robertson was an avid cyclist and held a number of Canadian cycling records. In his obituary in the Canadian Medical Journal (April 1934), it mentions that, “He held the 100-mile road record, having covered the distance in five hours and 50 minutes; and the 24-hour record of 255.5 miles on the road, and the Toronto-Sarnia record of 209 miles in 18 hours and 20 minutes.” Dr. Robertson published a book in 1894 called Cycling, in which he extolled the health benefits of riding a bicycle (see below).

In 1901, Dr. and Mrs. Robertson and their son William were living at 33 Erie St., according to Vernon's Stratford City Directory. In 1911, Dr. Robertson was the medical officer for the northern section of the Canadian Northern Railway. He, his wife and their son were listed on the Algoma East census.

Dr. Robertson died in St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto on Feb. 19, 1934. His wife died on Nov. 29, 1936. At the time of her death, she was living with her son at 124 Hiawatha Rd. in Toronto. Dr. and Mrs. Robertson are buried at Avondale Cemetery in Stratford. Their son, William Nelson Robertson, became a lawyer.  He died in 1958. Source: William Norrie Robertson 

* Dr. Robertson's book on cycling published in 1894 can be read online at Cycling!: Robertson, William Norrie: Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming:  Internet Archive 

Addendum: The admonition on the frontispiece reads as follows: Gold that buys health can never be ill a cycle, use it with discretion, and secure health, happiness and long life.  

Dr. Robertson bicycled everywhere he could to visit his patients. 

Postcard photo in front of the Robertson house at 33 Erie St. (later renumbered to 96) in 1907, courtesy of Vince Gratton.  He noted the photographer used the house as a backdrop, with the family and their proudest possessions in front for all to see. This postcard was sent to families in Europe and elsewhere to let others see how they were doing in Stratford.  Stratford-Perth Archives

Dr. Robertson's house, at 33 Erie St., in 1919 aerial photo (see air view) Photo: Vince Gratton 

Aerial photo of the Robertson house in 1919

This 1919 photo, is a partial view of an aerial shot of Stratford that was part of a series that, for the first time, documented what Stratford looked like from the air. The shots were taken by two famous First World War flyers, Billy Bishop and Will Barker, who had formed a flight and photography business after the war. 

The four images of Stratford from the air, and the background story, are  documented by Vince Gratton as a Feature Article. (see air view)

In the photo to the left, Erie Street runs north and south, top to bottom. The cross street is St. Patrick Street. Kalbfleisch Bros. (see St. Patrick Street) is on the northwest corner of the intersection. The Stratford Paper Box Co. (see St. Patrick Street) is on the northeast corner. Bentro (see article on this page) is on the southeast corner.  

Dr. Robertson's house at 33 Erie is next to Avon Hosiery (see article this page) just north of the Kalbfleisch Bros. garage and car dealership.

Avon Dairies, early 1930s, at 177 Erie St. Photo: Maxine Donaldson, If You Grew up in Stratford . . . FB.  In this photo, Maxine Donaldson's father, Avon employee Joe Donaldson (in the suit) is standing beside the second horse and wagon from the left. 

Avon Dairies . . . horses, wagons and the good-ol'-days

It was 1930 when Avon Dairies arrived at 177 Erie St. Fred Mannan (1891-1960) was president and manager.  At that time, Silverwoods was the other major dairies in Stratford, at 189 Ontario St., with livery stables behind, on Albert Street. By 1940, those two operations were joined by Wake’s Dairy at 90 Earl St. and the Melroy Dairy at 56 Nile St.

Avon Dairies took over buildings that had been the home of the Stratford Flour Mills from 1922 through 1929. In 1920 and 1921, the 177 Erie St. had been vacant. As early as 1909-10, however, it had been occupied by James Coghill and his Coghill Tailoring.

 Many are the fond memories of the good ol' days with horses, milk wagons and home delivery. Maxine Donaldson posted the above picture of the Avon Dairies delivery wagons and their horses and drivers lined up on the east side of Erie Street in front of the dairy in the early 1930s. The dairy was on Erie Street just north of St. David Street and the Canadian National Railways overpass, in the block south of St. Patrick Street. The circular roof on one of the Gas Works buildings is in the background, directly behind the word "Avon" on dairy sign. Apartments were available for rent on the second floor of the dairy.

Maxine Donaldson’s father, Joe Donaldson, worked for the dairies beginning in 1930. He is in the suit beside the second horse on the left. She says Avon Dairies kept their horses in stables behind the dairy. She thinks there were more than six wagons and horses in the delivery fleet.

“My dad worked there from when he came over to Canada from Scotland in 1930 until the mid 1960s," she recalled. Then he went to the Stratford arena, now the William Allman Arena (see Morenz Drive) until he retirement in 1976. He lived across the street from the dairies, where the gas station is now. Riehl Motors was there in the 1950s and '60s. Brothers Roy and Harold Riehl had a Morris dealership and Supertest gas. When my dad met my mom (Victoria), they bough a house at 60 Mowat St. Avon Dairies had a  had a great dairy bar, which served lunches and, of course, sodas and ice cream."

Larry Ladd remembered “as a child going to the snack bar at Avon Dairies and asking for day-old donuts. It always had lots of A and P (grocery store) employees there during their breaks and lunch.” 

 Avon Dairies truck in floodwaters on Erie Street in 1937.  Zion Lutheran Church is in the background, behind the CNR overpass at St. David Street.  Photo : Bob Meldrum  

Bob Meldrum’s Aunt Joan was the business manager for Avon Dairies. His father also worked there during the Depression, when the flood of 1937 destroyed the dam, washed away the pergola and caused great damage in Stratford. It's his father waving from the side of the Avon truck caught in the waters rising on Erie Street.

Home deliveries continued into the late 1960s and '70s, though vans gradually replaced the horses, by which time grocery stores with “special” prices on milk had made home delivery unprofitable.

But it was not over yet, at least not in Stratford. In the 1990s something remarkable happened. Avon Dairies resurrected home delivery with wagons and horses, a comeback that lasted until at least 2003.

Avon Dairies brings back horses, wagons and home delivery in the 1990s

Bob Marran and his wife Doris were behind the environmentally friendly, throwback to the good ol' days of home delivery for milk. Bob Mannan (1932-2017) was the son of Fred Mannan the original owner and manager of Avon Dairies. He had worked for his father, as assistant manager in the family business which was the last horse delivery dairy in Canada before striking out on his own. Bob left the family business to become operations manager of Culverhouse Foods, located in Vineland. He was also manager of the Canadian Equestrian Jumping Team which won the Gold Medal in Mexico in the 1968 Olympics, and also the Gold Medal in the 1971 Pan-Am Games in Cali, California. before he returned to Stratford and re-established Avon Dairies in the 1990s.

Bob and Doris  (1935-2022) chose to use horses with bells, wagons, and glass bottles. Customers loved the glass and complained when they tried switching to cartons. They offered delivery six days a week. Many seniors appreciated the personal delivery and conversation, which reminded them of the old days. 

The Marrans even hung buckets from the wagons for . . .  guess what? If you guessed pooper-scoopers, you would be right. In year one they had 1,200 customers. By the next year, 1,800. The horses knew the routes well. They stopped and moved down the street from one house to the next without direction, as the milkmen made deliveries. Residents didn't mind waiting for a horse to move, but surely would complain if a truck blocked a driveway. 

It was great service and great fun. Some people still used the old milk boxes by the side or back door for the deliveries. Empty bottles were placed there with a note about what was needed and the delivery was made, and probably paid for once a week. All houses had milk boxes when they were built in the early 1900s, and many a child climbed through when a house key was forgotten. Kids loved to see the dairy's horses and sometimes shared a carrot or apple with them. Some even got a ride in the wagon. More than one lost child was returned home by horse and wagon.

Betty Brodhagen remembers it this way. “There were six kids in our family and when the milkman came to our door we would go out and ride in his wagon or on his horse to the end of the street. Ah, the good old days! Why did it end?  I always wondered, because I would absolutely love to see it come back. I suspect it wasn't sufficiently profitable? So how could we, as consumers, support it?"

Maxine Donaldson has a possible answer: “I think I heard that there was just too much traffic on the larger streets and not room for the wagons, and the horses were not impressed by the traffic! Runaways?  Probably some public health thing about unrefrigerated milk too, which is nonsense; they still keep their milk on the grocery shelves in Scotland.” Sources: Vernon's Stratford city directories Finding Aids and Digitized Collections - Perth County; If you grew up in Stratford . . .  FB;  Robert "Bob" Charles Marran | Obituary | Stratford Beacon Herald  Compiled by Gord Conroy

The Dunsmores' full-service automobile hospital

By the mid-1920s the automobile had evolved into a reasonably dependable and affordable item to own. The upsurge in vehicle sales had the oil companies looking for the best way to get their products to the consumers.

Imperial Oil was quick to act and was building gasoline outlets in every city across Canada. It was here in Stratford in 1927 that they built a gas and oil outlet on property at the northeast corner of Erie and West Gore streets.

Fred Dunsmore and his wife Laura signed on to be the first franchise owners of this new Imperial outlet located at 329 Erie St. Not to stand still, they were quick to add tires, batteries and all forms of confectionery, soft drinks and tobacco products to serve the motoring public.

By 1932, the Dunsmores had purchased the large frame building next door to their gasoline outlet, at 326 Erie St. That building was originally a hotel and, with some new and creative updates, they turned it into their home, with some rooms to rent to overnight travelling guests.

What was still lacking was a one-stop place to get a car serviced. In 1937 the Dunsmores addressed that need with a new building between their tourist home and the gas kiosk. Then they hired a knowledgeable staff of mechanics to do repairs and maintenance, and keep cars in good and safe running order.

By the late 1930s, they had expanded into auto body repair and painting, as well as vehicle towing. In 1946, the Dunsmores decided to step back from the business and sold the operation to Clarence Brodhagen. 

The Dunsmores had developed what could be called an "automobile hospital," where no matter your motoring or vehicle's needs, they could supply the parts and repair it all in one handy location. Source: Vince Gratton

The Dunsmores' Imperial Oil kiosk and gasoline pumps, 1935 

A damaged 1936 Hudson Terraplane towed to Dunsmores' repair shop

The gas kiosk with updates in 1939 

The converted hotel building with its added auto shop in 1940 

Gene's Restaurant, from 35 Erie  to 81 Ontario

Gene's Restaurant was founded by Larry and Rae Gene in 1970. They took over a popular restaurant, the Erie Bar-B-Q  at 38 Erie St. 

They wanted to open their restaurant on the birthdate of their son, Ken, but they were a few days late for his eighth birthday and their opening was June 6. Ken now owns and operates the restaurant, at 81 Ontario St.

Ken Gee remembers that his parents made the Erie Bar-B-Q into a 35-seat dining room, with takeout as well. He also remembers the off-track betting shop that was their next-door neighbour to the south. And Lee Littel's Classic Art store to the north, near Ontario Street. Canadian Tire was directly across the street, and Riehl Motors was a block farther to the south on Erie Street. Also to the south were a few stores beyond the still-functional bank parking garage that belonged to Victoria and Grey. It's now owned by Scotiabank.

Ken says, the Genes truly had a  "mom and pop small business. My parents were the cooks. My brother Wayne and I were always there helping out by mostly washing dishes by hand, and maybe doing something with vegetables. I recall the opening weekend we had a promotion where the takeout customers got a free case of coke with their order. I think the coke was the larger glass bottles and maybe a case of four or six bottles. Anyway, I recall a big stack of cases of coke like you would see for a display at a supermarket. We had a busy opening weekend and those cases of cokes were all gone!"

Ken also remembers his parents hired a couple of waitresses at that time and soon hired a Chinese cook out of Toronto during the second or third year. The restaurant also expanded into the building that had housed the off-track betting shop..  The cook lived there, and at the same location Ken's mother grew her own bean sprouts. 

In 1975, Gene's Restaurant expanded to its present location at 81 Ontario St. That had been the location of the former Centre Restaurant that had a fire in the late 1960s, and before that was home to the Rankins, who were well known for their fine food, ice cream and candy. Source: Stratford and District Historical Society

Gene's moved to 81 Ontario St. in 1975  Photos: Ken Gene and the Stratford and District Historical Society.

Interior of Gene's at 81 Ontario St.

Ken Gene, present owner of Gene's Restaurant at 81 Ontario St. 

520 Erie St. - a string of gasoline outlets 

For several years it was the family headed by Walter Lyle Murray his wife Lorna (Dunseith) who ran the service station and rented tourist cabins on the property officially known as 520-524 on the west side of Erie Street, between Linton Avenue and Corcoran Street. 

The Murrays also lived there and sold generic gas. In 1951 the  Oklahoma-based Cities Service Co. built a new gas station on the property, and from then until 1958 its franchisee was Stewart Bell, who lived at 154 Glastonbury Cres.  

The station operators who followed Bell included Joseph McEwen, 1959-1961; Joe Cawston and Wally Gaul, 1962-1968.

Stewart Bell at work at his City Service gas station in 1956. The car is a 1953 Buick Special Sedan. Vince Gratton

In 1968, Wally Gaul became sole proprietor of the gas station, which by then was a BP outlet because of a nationwide corporate  buyout. He stayed with BP until 1981, when Petro Canada became the new owner of BP. Petro Canada put their own employees in place to operate its stations until 1994, when the company stepped back from retail sales.

The building here is still in use, now as a sales and distribution centre for Heritage Memorials of Perth County. Vince Gratton

York Apartments . . . a Stratford gem built in 1928

York Apartments-a Stratford gem built in 1928 The York Apartments, viewed from Victoria Park. Cobourg Street is on the left in this photo with York Lane to the right.           Photo: If You Grew Up in Stratford, posted by Dave Schulthies 

The York Apartments building at 1 Erie St. was built in 1928, opposite what was known then as Victoria Park, above the boathouse. That park is now named Cenotaph Park and is home to the city's war memorial War Memorial. (see Cenotaph above).

The York Apartments face the parkland at the bottom of Cobourg Street and York Lane which runs behind the businesses on the north side of Ontario Street. They were built six years after the war memorial was unveiled at the junction of Erie and Ontario Streets, on Nov. 6, 1922. Officially, the apartments are at 1 Erie St., though many Stratford residents unofficially considered the road they were on to be the River Drive or Lakeside Drive (now Veterans Drive). 

They were not the first apartments in town. Most others were above stores. The Albion Apartments were at 117 Ontario St., and the Falstaff Apartments farther east at 294-296 Ontario St. The Avon Apartments were at 16 Wellington St. and the Mack Apartments at 6 Wellington St. The Majestic Apartments were at number 93 Downie St., and the Romeo Apartments at 195-197 Waterloo St. S. 

The York Apartments, however, were different. They were in a modern, new building, and they were upscale luxury apartments close to downtown amenities, right behind the rock gardens at the back of the post office (see Ontario Street) and beside the beautiful park system along the Avon. In 1929, there was a noteworthy addition to the park, a shell-shaped bandstand built on the south shore of the river, thanks to the efforts of R. Thomas Orr (see Cobourg Street and  Lakeside Drive). Concerts in the bandshell could be heard or accessed easily from the apartments. 

The new apartments represented what was modern and cosmopolitan. In 1928, architects were starting to design apartment buildings that were sophisticated and stylish. In the year the York Apartments  were constructed, almost one quarter of all residential construction costs in Canada were for new apartments. The York Apartments had elements of the art deco style, with the accent on simplicity and geometric repetition. They had a clean, streamlined look. They were not for everyone, but some appreciated the freedom to come and go independently, without the responsibilities of house ownership.

York Apartments under construction in the summer of 1927. To the north is Victoria Park, above the boathouse, and a rfegatta on the Avon River. The war memorial now graces this park. Stratford-Perth Historical Society.

York Apartments (left) on the north side of York Lane. Centre and right are the rock garden as it looked in the mid-1930s, and the west end of a west-east  block of commercial buildings on the north side of Ontario Street. The trio in the foreground: Audrey Whiteside (see Water Street) is on the left with two friends, Elsie Bailey and her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Vivian Bailey. Gord Conroy   

The York apartment complex cost $75,000 to build and contained 18 suites in its four storeys. Stratford's J. L. Youngs was the contractor for masonry and carpentry work. The design was by Baldwin and Greene of Toronto. Baldwin was an important but underrated architect who opened his own office in 1921. He can be credited with introducing innovative designs in the art deco style to more than 30 residential and commercial architecturally significant buildings in Toronto and throughout southern Ontario, among them the York Apartments in Stratford. This Baldwin-Greene firm was the result of a 1924 partnership between Lawrence Counsell Martin Baldwin (1891-1968) and Gerald E. D. Greene, an engineer.

At the time of their building, the apartments were considered luxurious. Vernon's Stratford City Directory for 1929 lists their residents as a cross-section of business managers, engineers, a pilot, a doctor, a single female normal school teacher and a widow. Thomas Webster Orr, son of R. Thomas Orr settled in the building in 1930. Through the years, several medical doctors and dentists lived in the building and also had their offices there. As well, the building attracted young married couple and single females living on their own or sharing an apartment.  

How were apartment dwellers looked upon in the early 1900s?

“Apartment houses may be considered as a deviation from the North American ideal of single-family, owner-occupied homes.” So said historical geographer Richard Dennis, a professor at University College London (England), with reference to the gradual appearance of apartments in cities in the early 1900s. 

York Street Apartments as viewed from the north. Posted by Dave Schulthies, If you grew up in Stratford . . . FB 

In some cities, such as Toronto, apartments attracted substantial criticism and anti-apartment bylaws were introduced as early as 1912. The apartment buildings were condemned as “unsanitary, anti-family, and a threat to established property values, undermining ‘cities of homes’ both morally and economically.”

It was even thought that the layout of individual apartments was morally suspect because “living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms were ‘promiscuously’ mixed together on the same level,” and with the higher density of people in multi-storey buildings, apartment living was regarded as "morally and sanitarily suspect.”

However, Dennis also noted the positive view that some people had of new apartment buildings. They were “evidence of modernity and cosmopolitan sophistication, praised for their efficiency and appropriateness for new types of households leading new lifestyles . . .  They offered scope for a modern lifestyle, less oriented around large families, less dependent on married women confined to domestic roles, more focused on consumption and recreation." 

Nancy J. White agreed. In her 2009 article in the Toronto Star, she pointed out how important apartments were to the growing social and economic independence of women and cites. Her piece included this, from Dennis: "In apartments, women could set themselves up as a household, with control over their own lives, not supervised by a boarding-house keeper or hostel manager. They were much more independent."

Sources: Dictionary of Architects, Richard Dennis, Urban History Review, abstract for “Apartment Housing in Canadian Cities, (1900-1940). Nancy J. White,Freedom for women came with apartments. Hayden Bulbrook, “Changing Perception of apartments through the years,” Stratford Times, June 2022; If you grew up in Stratford . . . FB; Vernon's Stratford city directories.

202 Erie St.,

Zion Lutheran Church

 Zion Lutheran Church, at 202 Erie St., is one of the largest churches in Stratford, with a sanctuary, chapel, auditorium, classrooms, meeting rooms and offices all under one roof.

The church was built in 1908 mostly by German immigrants who had been swept up in the old country by Martin Luther's Reformation, and who had subsequently joined his church. Services in the new church in Stratford were frequently held in German. (There is still a Christmas Eve service at the church each year in German.)

The Lutheran service has a set form of worship and it is followed each week. It includes scripted dialogue and responses between minister and congregation, a  result of the influence the Roman Catholic church had on Martin Luther. 

An addition was put on the Erie Street church in 1965, which added classrooms, a shuffleboard room, offices, and the chapel in which once-a-month services are held for the elderly who are unable to walk to communion on Sundays. Source Beacon Herald; Wiki: Martin Luther

Ontario House Photo: Original from Irene Schellenberger to the Beacon-Herald and posted by Brian Wendy Reis on FB

Ontario House "parking" for 80 horses, 128 Erie St.

The Ontario House, one of Stratford's memorable landmarks, was built in the horse-and-buggy days, a hotel in the days of an open bar and crowded barns. It was a hotel that provided "parking " for 80 horses in its stables.

Louis Eickmeier (1881-1973) operated the hotel for 37 years, and retired in 1945. He recalled more than 100 horses "parked" in the hotel barns on a busy Saturday. The barns disappeared about a decade before the hotel was down in March 1967.

But what about the buggies and the wagons? Where were they put if the horses were housed in the stable? "The  customers  just left their buggies and wagons on both sides of the street. We didn't have any parking or traffic worries then," said Louis Eickmeier in 1967, by which time he was 86. "It wouldn't be possible now to leave a vehicle unattended on the traffic lane. "

During his time as proprietor, there was a "dry" vote, to decide the city's policies on the sale and consumption of alcohol.  "One day we were operating a bar," said Eickmeier, "and the next day we made it a restaurant (a booze-less restaurant)." 

The Ontario House was on the southwest corner of the intersection of the Erie and St. Patrick streets in the early to mid-1900s. Eventually, it was sold by owner Stewart McDonald to Henry G. Kalbfleisch in 1967. Kalbfleisch arranged for demolition of the building so the property could be used as a parking lot for the Kalbfleisch Bros.' Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler car dealership, which was on the north side of St. Patrick Street, at 114 Erie St.

From Brian Wendy Reis: "In case you might be thinking all our forefathers did was sit around drinking milk and eating bread from all those dairies and bakeries (see Ontario Street), in the photo above the Ontario House at the corner of Erie and St Patrick streets (128 Erie St.) undergoing a paint job early in the 1900s.

The photo was loaned to the Beacon-Herald by Mrs. Irene Schellenberger, whose husband Earl is the middle of the three men on the truck. E. G. Yousie is holding the horse's bridle  and the man next to him is the Ontario House owner, Louis Eickmeier. "After the Ontario House was sold in 1945, it was painted red," said Brian Wendy Reis. "Some in Stratford remember that very well. It was also a barbershop, a vacuum repair shop and a restaurant." John W. Bain remembered Charlie Halstead operating the barbershop. "I got my first haircut from him," he said. "He later moved down the street to a house near Erie Street and Cambria Street."

Patricia Cole Robinson remembered that, "Bill Ellison had his vacuum business there, and Charlie and Connie Trafagander had the little restaurant."  Helen Ellison remembered having her "first pizza in that building. It was the best pizza I have ever tasted. Connie's mom used to make them, and she sold them in the restaurant before anyone else in town had them." Source: If you grew up in Stratford . . . FB; also,  William Cole, photo below and London Free Press article, from March 1967, on If you grew up in Stratford . . . FB

Charles Halstead barbered in the same room for 30 years at the Ontario House. Here, Donnie Harloff, 10, a member of the Stratford all -star squirts, gets a haircut before going to a hockey tournament in Brampton. The hotel at Erie and St. Patrick streets was torn down and the property became a car lot for Kalbfleisch Bros.

342 Erie St.   Stratford-Perth Archives

The Brass Works

Tom Patterson's father, Harry Paterson was President of the Stratford Brass Company.

       To learn more take the Stratford Audio Tour 

Personal Note: My father Walter Wilker work here in the early 1940 polishing brass door knockers for 80 cents an hour. Paul Wilker

Stratford-Perth Archives

P.U. C 1959 at 187 Erie Street.  In 2000, Festival Hydro.

P.U. C. now Festival Hydro

In 1959, the P.U. C. built at 187 Erie Street and moved there after the sale of their site at 1 Ontario Street to British Mortgage and Trust Company.  (see Ontario Street).  The original circular two-story building was designed by Gordon Richie and modelled on the Stratford Festival Theatre. The main floor was open and spacious, welcoming residents, and intended for the general public. The second floor was used by employees, for metering and services.  The mostly yellow brick building remained unchanged except for a small addition in the 1990s. 

Michael Wilson 

In 2000, Festival Hydro took over the P.U. C. services to Stratford as a result of changes in government regulations.  In addition to electrical distribution and billing, Festival Hydro is also responsible for water billing and streetlight maintenance.  After a feasibility study in 2017 and 2018, it was determined that modernization of the building would proceed.  Michael Wilson, a Stratford-based architect, designed alterations for the building which began in 2021. In 2024, Wilson received  a bronze medal for his work at the International Design Award. Source: The Beacon Herald, Feb 2, 2024. "It's a historic gem," said Wilson, commenting on the original historic building. Source: Stratford Beacon Herald Feb. 2, 2024.

See Micheal Wilson  International Design Award site.