George I

The House of Welf

Guelph Street is one of the original streets on the 1834 Canadian Company map. The name of Guelph was chosen by the Canadian Company in recognition of the British Royal Family.

Guelph was the baptismal name of the Royal family and goes back to the names of two political parties in medieval Italian politics, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. Guelph was derived from the German House of Welf.

Descendants of the leaders of the Guelph party ruled as crowned heads of many small German states, and eventually one of those Princelings, George Lewis, Duke of Brunswick, Lunenburg, and Zell, Elector of Hanover, became George I, King of England from 1714-1727. King George IV (1820-1830), who gave Royal assent to the Canada Company charter in 1826, was also a Guelph.

The Guelphs continued to rule until the First World War, when the Royal family name was changed to Windsor because of the German connotation attached to the name Guelph.  At about the same time, and for the same reason, Berlin, Ont., changed its name to Kitchener.

George Lewis, the Hanoverian Prince destined to become King George I of England, was said to have the typical characteristics of the Guelph dynasty. He and his father, Ernest Augustus, had the same limited interests — horses and women. They also inherited the Guelph appetite, and the consumption of vast quantities of food was a major preoccupation. By Stanford Dingman

Dominion House, 3 Guelph St., now gone

Dominion House, a working man's hotel.

William Stanfield, born in 1833, bought 3 Guelph St., site of the Dominion House in 1858 for 225 pounds. It is believed Stanfield was at that time a tavern keeper at the Jackson House, the hotel on the corner of Guelph and Nile streets, owned by John Allcock and called the Junction House.

Stanfield built a hotel on the Dominion House site and operated t as the Union Depot until 1862, when he leased it to Mrs. Sarah (Barker) Pitts (1829-1897) for five years for $100. Stanfield then suddenly disappeared, under mysterious circumstances.

Mrs. Pitts ran the hotel for a while and then married Robert Gladders, a locomotive driver for the GTR. At that time there were eight guests one dog, one cow and one pig at the hotel, which for a time was known as the Stanfield House. By 1869, there were 16 guests and the hotel had doubled in value to $1,200. It is safe to assume an addition was built in the summer of 1868.

In 1871, Gladders widow, Sarah, married John Worth, a butcher and cattle-buyer. There were several hotel proprietors over the next several years, including John Pierce, William Pethick, William Ogle, James Murphy, Daniel Begley, and Martin Sullivan and Mrs. Martin (Catharine Finucane) Sullivan. The name Dominion House appears for the first time in the 1876 city directory.

 In Stratford's early years there were many hotels. It is said, one could walk from Huron and John streets to Erie Street and pass 14 places where alcoholic beverages were available for purchase. The 1876 Stratford city directory 31 hotels. By 1905-1910, there were only 14 hotels listed.  By 1972, there were just six in Stratford, one of them the Dominion House.

In the late 1800s, one could rent a room in the Dominion House for $1 a day. Because of its proximity to the raiway station, it provided accommodation for both railway workers and travellers. 

In 1903, Dennis Hurley bought the Dominion House from Mrs. Sullivan after working for her for several years. But he died in July 1904. Over the next 42 years, several members of the Hurley family operated the hotel. Many of its patrons were employed by the railways and the city's furniture factories, and the Dominion House was known as a working man's hotel.

In 1947, Edgar and Clementina LaBelle bought the Dominion House  from Raymond Wilson who had owned it for two years.  The LaBelles' son, Rene, bought it in 1956 after his parents died and operated it until he sold it to William Hartsburg in 1958. Greg Matthews purchased it in 1965, Stephen Rastall in 1968, and John Adomauskas in 1972.

In December 1975, Rick Quinn, Vic Hayter, and Max and Greg Matthews bought the Dominion House. They put an addition on the east side of the building in 1976. After Max and Greg Matthews had died, and Hayter had bought the Arden Park Hotel, Quinn became ther sole owner of the Dominion House in 1996. In 2004, he sold it to Gerry Reynolds, who upgraded the interior, added new wooden flooring and new tables and chairs. It became more of a family destination, known as the D H. Source: text and picture Stratford Beacon Herald, May 2004. Special thanks to Lynda Quinn for her history. 

Postscript. For many years there was entertainment in this hotel on Friday and Saturday nights. One of the entertainers was Credwyn Till, who played honky-tonk piano. In the early 1970s, when renovations were being made, the carpenter needed a small piece of wood so he took a piece of walnut from the piano and used it. In that the owner at the time didn't want the piano, it was given to John Till, Credwyn's son. 

John was honoured by the city with a Bronze Star for his musical career with The Revols (see Richard Monette Way) and Janis Joplin (see Queen Street and St. David Street). 

The Dominion House is to the left of the oncoming locomotive. At right is the former Grand Trunk Railway union station, built in 1870. It was the second GTR station in Stratford, the fourth in Stratford's history, (see below), at the corner of Guelph and Downie streets. It served both the GTR and the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway. The photo is looking west.  Photo: Nancy  Musselman  

Farewell memorabilia 2004. 

In 1870, Stratford received its second union station, built at Guelph and Downie streets. At the the same time, the Grand Trunk Railway was also erecting major locomotive repair shops in the city. The depot served both the GTR and the Buffalo and Lake Huron railways. The view of the station is looking east from Downie Street. Source: Dean Robinson's Railway Stratford Revisited; Stratford-Perth Archives. 

Stratford's 4th train station, 1870, built by the GTR 

In 1870, the GTR erected a new station, Stratford's fourth, this time at Guelph and Downie streets. This depot was also to be a union station, built to service the increased traffic created in that year when "the GTR erected major motive power repair facilities." 

Dean Robinson notes in his book that a few days after the new union station was erected in July 1870, "the first union station was flattened with a yard engine and a block and tackle." 

Again, the city fathers wanted to open the building with a celebration, on July 11, but when they invited Charles John Brydges, general manager of the GTR to take part, he flatly refused. He sent an armed guard to the station to ensure there was no celebration on July 11. Instead, without company sanction, local railway employees held their own celebration at the Grand Trunk Hotel. 

Stratford's fourth train station (and second union station), which was  built in 1870 by the GTR, was in use for more than four decades. It was directly across from the Dominion Hotel. Dean Robinson mentioned that around the turn of the century, it was handling more than three dozen trains a day and passengers could be carted to and from the station in two-horse buggies (which came to be known as "station-wagons" for a fare of 25 cents. Te fourth station was demolished in 1913 when the present GTR station, the city's 6th, was built, at 101 Shakespeare St. 

* A map and timeline of Stratford's six train stations can be seen at Station Timeline.

A lineup of cabbies in the late 1880s, wait for the next passenger train to come in to the Grand Trunk Union Railway station. 

The man by himself, on the second rig from the left, is Thomas Johns, father of Billy Johns, who was a long time taxi operator in Stratford. Thomas was the first carriage service operator in Stratford. Billy was on the job until he retired in 1973, and I believe spent his last days in a nursing home in Tavistock. Those of you who remember Billy, will also remember his business partner, Mary.  

This GTR station was also retired and torn down in 1913, to be replaced by the present station.  Source: Brian Wendy Reis, If You Grew Up in Stratford . . . FB.  

This is a southeasterly view of the GTR's board-and-batten station and freight shed (to the left) that were built in 1870 near the intersection of Guelph and Downie streets. Offices were also located there for the railway's dispatchers and telegraphers. 

The photo is from a newspaper clipping attributed to the Stratford Perth Archives. This station was the fourth built in Stratford. Beyond the station, in the far right of the photo, is the Dominion House hotel and tavern.

This photo was taken from the GTR smoke stack, in the railways yards west of Downie Street and north of the tracks.on the . Downie Street runs north-south in the foreground of this photo. Source: Nancy Musselman, If You Grew up in Stratford . . . FB and Stratford-Perth Archives.

July 11, 1870: opening day for the new GTR Stratford Union Station, on the southeast corner of Downie and Guelph streets. It was an impressive building that served Stratford for 43 years. By the turn of the century, it was handling more than three dozen trains a day. Passengers could be carted to and from the station in two-horse buggies for a fare of 25c.  Vince Gratton photo