Gregory Crescent

Gregory Crescent is named in honour of William Herbert Gregory

Walter Herbert Gregory Stratford-Perth Archives

Walter Herbert Gregory came to Stratford in 1907, and involved himself in the community as a lawyer, businessman, alderman, member of the Public Utilities Commission board, the Stratford board of education, the library board, and the Masonic Lodge. An avid gardener, he worked in his garden at 98 Douglas St. for more than 50 years. After two years as an alderman (1919, 1920), he was mayor for two years (1921, 1922). He died in 1969 at age 84.  Source: Streets of Stratford 2004

This heritage house at 98 Douglas St. has many interesting features, including the hipped roof with small brackets, the bulls-eye window with four keystones; and the Neo-Classical rounded verandah with second-floor walkouts.

Wilfrid  Palmer Gregory

Walter Hebert Gregory's son, Wilfrid Palmer Gregory (1912-2010), was the city mayor in 1955 and 1956.

He graduated from the Stratford Collegiate, Victoria College and Osgoode Hall. He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1936. He saw active service in Europe with the Highland Light Infantry of Canada and at 9th Brigade headquarters. In addition to serving as mayor, he was on city council before the Second World War (1937-1941) and after (1946-1954). He also held other municipal appointments.

In 1957, he became general manager and later president of the British Mortgage and Trust Co. through 1965. He then returned to the practice of law until retirement at the end of 1996. He was a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada from 1951 through 1966, and president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. He was vice-president of the Canadian Bar Association for Ontario (equivalent now to president of the Ontario Bar Association) and a member and some time president of the Perth County Law Association. 

Wilfrid P. Gregory   Stratford-Perth Archives

He was named King's Counsel in 1952. He was board member and president of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival and a member of the Canada Council. He was also president of the Perth County Liberal Association and later of the Ontario Liberal Association, as well as vice-president of the National Liberal Federation. He was a long-time member of the Stratford Country Club, and the Rotary Club of Stratford. He died in Dec. 22, 2010. Source: Beacon Herald obit

Wilf Gregory was greatly respected in Stratford. A captain in the army overseas in the Second World War, a graduate of the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall, he had a successful law practice in his native city until 1957 when his father, Walter Herbert Gregory, retired as managing director of British Mortgage, and Wilfrid was appointed to take his place. In 1963, Wilfrid succeeded his father as president. Wilfrid held leading positions in the Canadian Bar Association and the Dominion Mortgage and Investments Association. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, and had been a director of 10 industrial and financial organizations, as well as chairman of the Stratford Industrial Commission and of the Ontario section of the Trust Companies’ Association. In 1965, he he was made a member of the Canada Council.

It was often been said that Wilfrid Gregory has done more for Stratford than anyone in the city’s history. His friends claim if he hadn't had wealthy and influential out-of-town connections, whom he involved in the Shakespearean Festival as directors and promoters, the whole Festival idea would have remained Tom Patterson's dream. They said Gregory became Stratford's mayor in 1955 and 1956 for the sole purpose of getting action on the theatre and rousing interest in it among apathetic townspeople. 

Wilfrid Gregory headed a committee for the improvement of Stratford. As a city parks commissioner, he promoted a scheme to beautify the land along the Avon River, to which British Mortgage donated $10,000. Also, at Wilf Gregory's instigation, B M and T contributed $5,000 for a redevelopment plan to make Stratford's main streets attractive with benches and trees. 

When the Canadian National Railways locomotive repair shops closed, and Stratford lost a major source of its income, Gregory, travelling at his own and B M and T's expense, was responsible for bringing several large new industries to the city. In these many ways the president of British Mortgage implemented company policy of helping to build its community: if Stratford’s people were prosperous and happy they would make B M and T prosperous and strong. On June 7, 1965, Wilfrid Gregory reported in a quarterly letter to B M and T shareholders an increase of nine million dollars in assets, bringing the total to more that $120 million. He predicted that the splendid growth of the company would in the future become even greater. 

Just over a week later, the financial world was shaken by the announcement that Atlantic Acceptance Corporation, considered a successful finance company, had defaulted when it could not make payment on some short-term notes. Wilfrid Gregory resigned from the board of directors of Atlantic and of Commodore Business Machines Ltd., a company that had, reportedly, been associated through interlocking directors with Atlantic. He then resigned his position with British Mortgage and Trust in July 1965. Many of the shareholders lost their savings and blamed their loss on Wilf Gregory. For the full story see Stratford's Dark Day .

The signal corps of the 1930 Army cadets at Stratford Collegiate and Vocational Institute. They are gathered around the signalling trophy they won that year. Wilf Gregory is standing in the middle row and wearing the officers hat. Standing, from left: B. Morrow, D. Nichol, J. Sealy, L. Fraser, E. Bruce, W. Gregory, M. Campbell, J. Anderson, G. Kropf, G. Burton, John Gregory and M. Duff. Seated, from left: E. Cosford, D. McCaul, K. Gregory, S. Johnson, Cameron A. Bryan (teacher), H. Nichol, W. Oman. Source: Brian Wendy Reis . . . FB