Haig Street

Douglas Haig, commander-in-chief

Douglas Haig Stratford-Perth Archives

Haig Street was part of a subdivision plan laid out on the north side of the Avon River and registered in 1920. It was called "Avon Heights" and William Street was extended to Queen Street North (now Guthrie Avenue). Previously, this part of William Street had been only a footpath, with Delamere Avenue the Heights' main access road.

Avon Heights was registered by about a dozen Stratford landowners, including Dr. Lorne Robertson, Alfred B. Neal and Lt.-Col. Thomas Gillmor Delamere. As a young man, Col. Delamere had served with the Canadian Mounted Rifles during the South African (Boer) War in 1899-1902, and he was later commissioned in the Perth County Militia, then known as the 28th Regiment. He volunteered for service at the outbreak of the First World War and went overseas with the First Division. He was wounded in action in France in 1915.

Promoted from the rank of captain to major, Delamere was invalided home and began organizing recruits for the 110th Bat-talion of Stratford in 1916. He was transferred with the rank of lieutenant-colonel to command the Speedwell Military Hospital in Guelph. He retired from active military service in 1919 and returned to Stratford.

Haig Street was named for Douglas Haig, 1st Earl (1861-1928), British Field Marshal and commander-in-chief of the British forces in France during most of the First World War (1914-1918). Born in Edinburgh, he attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and he served in the Nile campaign (1898) in the South African War.

Col. Delamere (see Delemere Avenue) was also in South Africa as a young soldier, but probably didn't know anything about Haig at the time. However, when Delamere was wounded in France in 1915, Haig was commander of the 1st Army, and later commanded the British Expeditionary Force in France. It was natural that Delamere might want to honour General Haig by naming a street after him. At the end of 1916, King George V announced Haig's promotion to field marshall, and the former British war minister, Lord Haldane, told Haig he was almost the only British military leader with the power of thinking.

When General Philippe PĂ©tain succeeded to the French command, he appealed to Haig to bear the brunt of the fighting while the French army was reorganized. The bitter fighting of Passchendaele was the result, in 1917, and the 18th Battalion (which forms part of the fighting history of the 28th Perth Regiment) was in action in November in the muddy horror of Passchendaele. By: Stanford Dingman