Dr. Robert Bruce Salter, preeminent surgeon

Dr. Bruce Salter  Stratford- Perth Archives

Dr. Robert Bruce Salter was born in Stratford, Ont., on Dec. 15, 1924, into a family originally from Nova Scotia. They lived at 56 Front St. from 1920 to 1930, then moved to 245 Water St. Robert and his two brothers attended Romeo Public School.

Robert Salter graduated in medicine from the University of Toronto in 1947 and joined the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto in 1955, where he stayed for 55 years. He developed a surgical technique for the treatment of congenital dislocation of the hip, and that technique has since been performed on millions of children worldwide.

He was a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, and in 1995 was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, which proclaimed him  "one of the most outstanding University of Toronto scientists of the 21st century." Source:  Stratford Blue Plaque Program

Dr. David Smith: mentor and friend of Robert Salter

Dr. David Smith (see Cambria Street) was a family doctor in Stratford, a friend of the Salter family and the man responsible for saving the life of Dr. Robert Bruce Salter at the time of his birth. He also saved the lives of his unexpended fraternal twin brother and the twins' mother when, on Dec. 15, 1924, he performed an emergency caesarian section at Stratford General Hospital, the building now known as Avon Crest (see Avoncrest Drive).  

Dean Robinson, in his book, A Century of Service: The Rotary Club of Stratford 1922-2022, has included a glowing personal reflection by Dr. Salter about Dr. Smith's mentorship to him and his impact on the Stratford community. When Dr. Salter wrote about Dr. Smith in 1992, he said, "On that December day in 1924, I met my mentor rather than my maker."

Dr. Salter retells, in greater detail, that his older brother's birth had been uneventful two years earlier. However, at the time of Dr. Salter's birth, when the birth of just one child was expected, the prolonged labour became deeply problematic . . . and the caesarian was needed, and it  saved the lives of all three. 

Dr. David Smith     Stratford-Perth Archives

Dr. Smith was a founder of the Ontario Society of Crippled Children, a founding member of Rotary in Stratford along with Dr. Salter's father, Lewis, and a man devoted "to those less fortunate than himself." Dean Robinson wrote that Dr. Salter's older brother was the first child born to a member of the newly formed Stratford Rotary Club in 1922. (see McCarthy Road).  

Dr. Smith made house calls to see the Salters, as he did for all his patients, and Salter remembered that he looked at Dr. Smith as a role model. When Salter was seven, and developed a serious ear infection, Smith arranged treatment in this pre-antibiotic era with a Stratford colleague, Dr. George Ingham, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist, who performed the necessary surgery. Dr. Smith visited almost daily. 

Dr. Salter remembered, at age nine he asked Dr. Smith's about teaching school lessons to his brother, who was ill with rheumatic fever, which in those days was treated with months of bed rest. He was advised to wait until his brother was better, which he did, and then taught him over the summer holidays so he did not miss a year of school. It was then that Dr. Salter decided to be a doctor "just like Dr. David Smith." 

When he told Dr. Smith about his plans to study medicine, Dr. Smith seemed "genuinely pleased, and in a sense 'adopted' me almost as a son." They maintained a close connection from then on. 

The Smiths had no children, and upon Dr. Smith's death, Dr. Salter was touched to receive Dr. Smith's gold pocket watch from his widow, "as a memento of our long and memorable friendship." 

The final words belong to Dr. Salter: "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." Source:  Dean Robinson in his book A Century of Service: The Rotary Club of Stratford 1922-2022 

Herbert Denroche

Herbert Denroche, veteran

In the early 1930s, Herbert Denroche, a senior officer in the Perth Regiment, lived at 90 Front St. In 1914, Denroche had enlisted in 1914 and was wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Though severely handicapped by his injuries, he re-enlisted  with the Perth in 1922 as an officer. He progressed through the ranks and became a lieutenant-colonel. He was appointed the regiment's commander, but his untimely death prevented him from assuming that role. His military funeral in 1933 is said to have been one of the largest and most impressive in Stratford's history.

The house at 90 Front was built in 1897, and  is an excellent example of the Queen Anne style of architecture in Stratford. Characteristic of this style are the varied and multiple rooflines, the complexity and variety of windows and door openings, the prominent brick chimney, and the use of decorative fish scale shingles on the front pediment.

The residence was likely constructed from the American copybook plans which were available to contractors at that time. Copybooks provided instructions to builders about all aspects of the dimensions of the house and its floor plans. Contractors or builders could then replicate the style and at the same time make slight changes to the floor plan, so that all the buildings would not be exactly the same. The plans could also be modified to be more affordable. This house, for example, is not a full two storeys, and lacks the turret or medieval tower that is usually found on Queen Anne residences. Source: Historic Places

90 Front St.   Photo by Fred Gonder

Dave Marsden  2014

Lower right: Dave Michie (manager) of The  Revols in 1957. Clockwise from bottom centre: Garth Picot, Ken Kalmusky, Richard (Beak) Manuel, Doug Rhodes and Jim Winkler. 

Dave Michie, radio personality 

Dave Michie, aka Dave Marsden, grew up in Stratford, and was a member of Gordon Scott’s junior choir at St. John’s United Church (see Waterloo Street) in the early 1950s.

While at Stratford Collegiate (see St. Andrew Street) in the late 1950s, Dave helped his parents run the Melroy Dairy Bar, at 56 Nile St. He also managed  the The Revols, a Stratford rock band included Richard Manuel (see Well Street), later of The Band; Ken Kalmusky, (see Queen Street), who played with Ian and Sylvia and the Great Speckled Bird; and, John Till, who formed, and played guitar in, Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band.

Michie quickly became one of Canada's pioneering rock radio disk jockeys, after joining Chatham's CFCO in 1963. Bored with the station's commercial easy listening music, he reportedly brought in some of his own records one night, breaking format and hosting in an uncharacteristically dynamic style. He was fired the next morning, but was quickly rehired after the station learned that his experiment had increased the station's ratings.

From CFCO, went to CKEY in Toronto, where he was called "the most controversial thing on Toronto radio" (Toronto Star 1963). He parted ways with CKEY after just five months, and became host of Music Hop on CBC Television in 1965, succeeding Alex Trebek. In the same year, he also started writing a column for the Toronto Star, and was the subject of a chapter in Marshall McLuhan's book Understanding Media, which lauded his non-stop unique manic patter about singers and songs. That style earned him a huge following.

As Dave Marsden, he joined Montreal's CKGM in 1967. His hosting style was much less manic and more relaxed, though still informal and unpredictable. He became program director in 1978 and in the 1980s created the first alternative radio station in Canada, with the slogan “the spirit of radio.”

Marsden worked for the CBC, launched another free-form modern rock station, Coast 800, later Coast 1040, in Vancouver, was later involved in the creation of Iceberg Radio, the first major Canadian Internet radio project, and returned to the airwaves as host of a free-form rock show on Oshawa, Ontario's CKGE-FM The Rock 94.9 in the early 2000s. It was known as The David Marsden Radio Program, or the as The Marsden Theatre. During his time on CKGE, Marsden was the only free-form D J on a commercial radio station in North America.

He created the subscription-based radio channel NYTheSpirit.com, which launched in September 2014. The station plays a mixture of music, concentrating heavily on the 1980s alternative scene, but with a free-form mentality that mimics Marsden's 1980s heyday at CFNY.

Marsden has been profiled in exhibits at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both for his on-air Dave Michie persona and for his role as program director of CFNY. He was featured in a 2015 documentary about radio D Js called I Am What I Play, directed by Roger King. Source: Gord Conroy and Wikipedia. 

J.F. Pearen

105 Front St.

Jonathan Fletcher Pearen, barber

Jonathan Fletcher Pearen was born in November 1873 in Chinguacousy Township which is now part of Peel Region. He was the son of Jonathan Fisher Pearen, a farmer in Peel region, and Mary Ann James. His grandfather, Joseph Pearen, a blacksmith, emigrated from England sometime before 1841 when he married Mary Modeland.


Jonathan was raised on the farm and attended elementary school in Norval, Hamilton County. Later, he paid his own tuition and board in Toronto where he went to serve an apprenticeship to become a barber. While serving his apprenticeship, a French instructor who could not manage the name Fletcher dubbed him “Bob”.  He was to be known as “Bob” by friends and clients alike for the rest of his life. 

In 1894 Jonathan Fletcher moved to Guelph and by 1896, he was working as a barber for William Coon in a shop on St. George’s Square. According to the Guelph City Directory, he was boarding in the Western Hotel at this time.


Jonathan Fletcher Pearen married Henrietta Welsh on July 16, 1900 in Guelph. At the time of her marriage, Henrietta was a clerk at Hills Brothers Bakery. 


In July of 1901 they moved to Stratford where Bob bought a barber shop on Ontario Street. Later, in 1927, he moved his shop to 11-13 Downie Street where he remained until his retirement in 1948. Bob saw the evolution of the barbershop from the 15 cent hair cut and 10 cent shave with a straight razor to the speed and efficiency of electric clippers.

Bob and Henrietta bought the new house at 105 Front Street in 1907. Here they raised their children, Frances and Alton. 

 Henrietta Welsh Pearen died in 1950. J F “Bob” died in 1967 at the age of 93.  Source: ACO Perth County

Barber Shop  11-13 Downie Street

233 Front St.

Alvin Joseph Steinacker, RCAF

Alvin Steinacker was the son of Andrew and Laura Steinacker, and husband of Audrey Jessie Steinacker. He lived with his parents at 233 Front St. During the second World War, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and flew as an air gunner on a Halifax V Lk647 bomber.

At 2305 hours on Oct. 8, 1943, his plane took off from Tholthorpe Airfield. While homebound from the mission, the plane was shot down by a German night-fighter  and crashed close to a military parade ground near Bad Fallingbostel, in the German state of Lower Saxony. The crew was buried there. Later, they were exhumed, individually identified, and re-buried ble in each case were consecrated in the Ohlsdorf British Cemetery in Hamburg, Germany.  

The 434 Squadron

Formed at Tholthorpe, Yorkshire, England, on June 13, 1943, 434 Squadron was the RCAF's 31st (and 13th bomber) squadron formed overseas. The unit flew Halifax and Canadian-built Lan­caster aircraft on strategic and tactical bombing operations. After hostilities in Europe, it was selected as part of “Tiger Force” for duty in the Pacific, and returned to Canada for reorganization and training. The sudden end of the war in the Far East resulted in the squadron's disbandment at Dartmouth, N.S., on Sept. 5, 1945.