George IV Portrait by Sir Thomas Laurence, 1816 

Gorgeous George

King George IV was not living in 1832, the founding year for Stratford, but he had been the reigning monarch in Britain in 1824, the year the Canada Company was formed. It was King George IV who appointed the commissioners to travel to Upper Canada to value the lands to be purchased by the Canada Company. They were accompanied by John Galt and Simon McGillivray of the Canada Company. On Dec. 29, 1824, they received instructions from Lord Bathurst, the British secretary of state. The commissioners reached Upper Canada by midwinter, 1825, and by June they were back in England. While their report was being studied, an act of

parliament was passed "to enable His Majesty (King George IV) to grant to a company, to be incorporated by charter, to be called The Canada Company, certain lands in the Province of Upper Canada."

His Majesty could substitute other lands for the lands called clergy reserves. "Rev. John Strachan returned from Upper Canada to England, strongly objecting to the sale of the clergy reserves, which were under his control as head of the Church of England in Upper Canada. Instead, the British government granted one million acres in the territory lately purchased from the Indians in the London and western districts , the area which became known as the Canada Company's Huron Tract." The Canada Company was now in business.

On Sept. 4, 1826, John Galt wrote from Canada House to Wm. Dunlop, Esq. saying, "I am instructed by the court of directors of the Canada Company to state that you were this day appointed warden of the Company's woods and forests in Upper Canada." Dunlop and Galt were responsible for choosing the site of Stratford, and when the first Canada map of the village was drawn up in 1834, George Street appeared as one of the original street names. The village was called Little Thames. The role King George played in giving his royal assent to the bill that granted the Canadian Company charter was commemorated by the naming of George Street. By Stanford Dingman    

George IV was considered one of the worst kings of England. More on George IV  Wikipedia

McLeod  Milling Co.

Alexander C. McLeod came to Stratford in 1901 and entered the milling business by purchasing the Hodd and Cullen Milling Co. at 55 George St. W.  The business grew quickly and by 1913 McLeod had a new delivery truck.

By 1918 the mill was sold to the Canadian Cereal and Flour Mill Co. Ltd., which operated a number of mills throughout the province. McLeod became president of the entire company and moved the head office from Toronto to Stratford.

This truck, the first sold in Stratford, was delivered to the city on a railway flatcar to the McLeod Milling Co., a flour milling operation. Apparently, the driver, Charlie Grace, didn't read the owner's manual, and didn't know how to shut the darned thing off . . . so he just let the engine run out of gas. Charlie is the man on the left; the other gentleman was not identified. This photo, taken in 1913 on East Gore Street. Picture Beacon-Herald,  Source: Brian Wendy Reis . . . FB

McLeod Milling Co., 1922  Stratford-Perth Archives

Though associated with Canadian Cereal and Flour Mills, the Stratford  operation retained its own brands of flour “McLeod’s Special” was a blend of Manitoba and Ontario flours manufactured for families or general use. “Our Chief” was a high-grade flour from Manitoba and the “Classic” was a pastry flour made from Ontario wheat.  

In 1922, McLeod repurchased the Stratford mill from the national company and changed the name to McLeod Milling Co.

When he advertised in the Vernon’s City of Stratford Directory, he included two phone numbers: "PATRONIZE HOME INDUSTRY BY ORDERING . . . Our Chief . . . McLeod’s Special . . . Classic . . . Flour and Rolled Oats . . . Coarse Grain and Chicken Feed. Phone 89 and 421."

By then, the McLeod family was living at 159 Douglas St., having moved there from Albert Street. McLeod’s sons, Ross Alexander and Charles, also worked for the company. Alexander and his wife, Edith (Miskelly) also had a daughter, Nora. 

Active in the community, Alexander was on the Stratford General Hospital board and the city's board of  education, and was also a member of the Rotary club.

The flours made in Stratford had widespread appeal, not only in Canada but in Great Britain, Asia and Africa. McLeod retired in 1935 and died in 1955 at age 83. Source: Stratford Perth-Archives Reflections article by Cindy J. Sinko

Residence: 21 George St. E. 

James Wood, heritage home

James P. Woods (see Woods Street), was a barrister and Perth County judge from 1887 to 1897.

He built the house at 21 George St. E., and also its twin at 17 George St. E., (now demolished).

Their lack of ornate detail, and their close proximity to the Grand Trunk Railway operation, suggests the houses were likely built for railway workers. The railway played a pivotal role in the development Stratford at the time the these houses were erected.

The house at 21 George St. E. is a good representation of the Gothic Revival style. Typical of this style is the pitched roof and gable with finial. Horizontal clapboards cover the exterior. The Romanesque rounded arch window on the lower level was added in about 1905. The property was designated by the City of Stratford in 1999 for its heritage value. Source: Canada Historic Places

James Woods

The Studio Theatre, 34 George St. E.  Photo Fred Gonder

The Studio Theatre

The Stratford Festival began renting the disused Avon Theatre in 1956, and bought it in 1963. Tanya Moiseiwitsch was hired to guide the interior renovations. Another major remodelling, in 2002, included a new facade and lobby.

In 1971, the Festival began leasing the former curling rink and Avon Casino dance hall on the south side of the Avon River (see Lakeside Drive) for theatrical productions. Since 1955, the Festival had been renting the Casino in the summer months for use as a concert venue and exhibition hall. 

In 1982, with a new stage designed by Desmond Heeley and seating for 410 people, those premises became the home of the Shakespeare 3 Company and its successor, the Young Company. In 1991 the venue’s name was changed from the Third Stage to the Tom Patterson Theatre.

In 2002, the Festival added a fourth venue, the Studio Theatre. Created in what had been the Avon Theatre’s scene shop (relocated to premises on Brunswick Street), the Studio contains a smaller, modified version of the Festival Theatre’s thrust stage, with a pillared balcony and seating for 260 patrons. Source: Stratford Festival Time Line