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
Text on the war memorial plaque
Walter S. Allward
War memorial plaque Photo Fred Gonder
Walter Allward, 1911 Stratford -Perth Archives
Barbara Storey I Erie St.
Bumbly Bee Barbara Storey
Barbara L. B. Storey, fine art photographer
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
Top of Erie Street Stratford-Perth Museum
Champion Marvin Thomas at the wheel of Miss Canada
Stratford Perth Museum
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.
Jennie Trout, first female physician
The MacDonald Manufacturing Co.
Picture provided by Mathieu Moody.
MacDonald Manufacturing plant 342 Erie, 1876
342 Erie St. today, the Jennie Trout Centre
Decker steam tractor. Image: Nancy Musselman
The gas works
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
1 MO TYM
39 Casino Band Hear them play "12th Street Rag" below
Jack Hood School Supplies
Stratford Bridge and Iron Works
91-97 Erie St.
Stratford Bridge and Iron Works Stratford-Perth Archives
Dr. William Norrie Robertson
Dr. Robertson, cyclist and Yukon author
* 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 spent...buy a cycle, use it with discretion, and secure health, happiness and long life.
Dr. Robertson bicycled everywhere he could to visit his patients.
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
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
Avon Dairies brings back horses, wagons and home delivery in the 1990s
The Dunsmores' full-service automobile hospital
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 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
Stewart Bell at work at his City Service gas station in 1956. The car is a 1953 Buick Special Sedan. Vince Gratton
Dr. J. P. Rankin and his house at 256 Erie St.
Dr. James Palmer Rankin, coroner
The coroner's inquest of Jessie Keith
The swampy woods in which the body of Jessie Keith was found
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
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.
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