The Golden Mile Beacon Herald Chronical vol 2:

L-R Stranford Dingman, Manager Dave Sherwood and assistant manager Sam Oglivie pose in front of 16 Packhan Road the day the Beacon Herald took possession of the building in 1976 once home of the Arrow Shirt Company.

The 1960s was a period of remarkable industrial expansion in Stratford. The railway shops were long gone and Stratford was still making furniture but there was a vision to add light and automotive manufacturing to the industrial base.

In 1953, the city purchased a huge chunk of property from Edith Gibbard and Bernie Humphrey. The parcel of about 100 acres extended from Lorne Avenue to the Embro Road on the western side of Erie Street and was purchased with an eye to future industrial expansion.

The land sat idle for a few years then things began to fall into place, largely in part to a group of local businessmen who headed up the Stratford Industrial Commission, the precursor of the city's economic development department. The mandate of this new group was to recruit and facilitate new industry and, be extension, new employment for the city. The commission was led by Doug "High Pockets" Seeth and other members of the committee included Wilf Gregory and Oliver Gaffney.

These volunteers were remarkably successful and garnered such high profile companies and employers as Dominion Chain, Fram, Samsonite and FAG. The newly acquired industrial park in the south end was called the Downie Business Park and was a blank canvas for the commission. It quickly went to work landing a remarkable list of industrial tenants for the new area. Reliance Electric and A.O. Smith landed here in 1961. Griffith Saddlery and Crane followed in 1962 and the area became known as The Golden Mile.

The Arrow Shirt company, or Cluett- Peabody as it was formally known, had a presence in Stratford dating back to 1946 when it had a factory at 136 Ontario St. That's where the Stratford Place condominiums and Chocolate Barrs store are now.There was a big expansion in 1952 and the company was churning out 900 dozen white dress shirts a week or over half a million a year.

That last property of the industrial park was a 10-acre parcel at the intersection of Erie Street, Embro Road and the recently named Packham Road. In January 1963, Cluett-Peabody purchased the property from the city to build its first all-new plant in Canada. It was front page news in The Beacon Herald as company officials posed with mayor C.H. Dutch Meier and the plans for the 25,000-square-foot building.

Arrow Shirt was going to quadruple the number of employees it had at its Ontario Street plant to 160. The company and the city were successful in getting a grant from the federal government to fund a special school on King Street in Stratford to train the successful applicants.

Like all things in Stratford, there was some controversy and it was centred around the stand of trees that is still behind The Beacon Herald building. News reports from city council show that there was great concern from the public that the small bush would be cut own to make way for the new factory. The Beacon Herald reported that the bush was know as "The Monteith Grove" and was a popular picnic spot for people. Cluett-Peabody promised to leave the bush alone and even modified the design of the building so it would "blend in."

Another news report said that "the building was designed with natural stone and muted greys and browns so that it would blend in with the surrounding trees and natural background."

There was a reflecting pool and fountain in front of the property and the building boasted eight-inch floor to ceiling win- dows that were to limit the natural light which was problematic for sewers and cutters. The building opened in December of that year but the grand opening was put in peril because a vicious snow storm almost prevented company officials from making it from New York City.

The grand opening and open house was clearly a big deal as the city ran free bus service from city hall to the factory. Downtown merchants decorated their store windows in recognition of the factory's big day and three stores, Gordon's, Hudson's and Ray Bennett Men's Wear, put Arrow shirts on sale. When the Arrow Shirt factory opened it boasted 160 employees and was set to produce 88,000 dozen (1,056,000) white shirts a year in just two styles. The shirts were priced at $7 and $8.

But remarkably, the euphoria was short lived. The city and Arrow employees were left stunned just six years later. In 1969, the company announced it was closing the Stratford plant and moving the remaining work to its Kitchener plant Meanwhile, downtown Beacon Herald print shop was getting too big to share space with the newspaper. The Fine Printing Division, formerly known as B-H Press, produced offset lithography and letterpress printing for commercial and industrial trades, and business was good. Fine Printing was churning out business envelopes, colour catalogues and even books.

When sales doubled from 1972 to 1973, the Dingman family, which owned the newspaper and the fine printing division, looked for a place to grow. In May 1973, The Beacon Herald began renting space at 16 Packham Road for the Fine Printing Division.The Beacon Herald wasn't a tenant for long. On July 31, 1976, The Beacon Herald bought the building for $280,000

The Beacon Herald made huge investment buying a state-of-the-art press from Sweden which meant a huge increase in capabilities of the fine Printing company a Pachham Road. There were significant renovations to accommodate the new press and printing of the newspaper that was shifted from downtown to the new plant in 1988. It operated for ten years when Sun Media bought the Beacon. In 2001 the new owners moved all operations to Packham.

When in 2008, the printing of the Beacon was shifted to a new state-of-the-art printing facility in Toronto the building was sold. Source : Beacon Herald Chronical vol 2: -