William McCulloch

Church founder

Hamilton Street is on the original 1834 Canada Company map but did not appear again until later. Hamilton Street was named for Stratford's major early land developer, Col. William Frederick McCulloch (1813-1870) in honour of his wife Elizabeth Hamilton (1812-1894). Irish aristocrats, they came to Canada in 1842 with five children and considerable money. They had at least another eight children in Canada.

They settled on Lot 46, Concession 2, in North Easthope Township, a lot that was annexed to Stratford when it became a town in 1859.

William McCulloch was the settlement's reeve in 1854 and 1855. He was also the Town of Stratford's second mayor, in 1860 and 1862.

In areas of the town he developed, he named a few streets after family members, Elizabeth and Hamilton streets among them, in honour of his wife and eldest daughter.

The McCullochs were members of the Church of England, and played a significant role in the founding of St.James Church beside Hamilton Street. By Stanford Dingman

The Lizars' house at 11 Hamilton St.

The Lizars sisters' home

Kathleen and Robina Lizars were daughters of Scottish-born Judge Daniel Home Lizars and his wife Esther (Longworth). It was in this stately house that the Lizars sisters wrote their anecdotal, semi-fictional histories, Day of Canada Company (1896) and Humors (1897), as well as the more scandalous Stratford roman a chef about a certain Anglican rector in Slowford-on-the Sluggard (Committed to his Charge). Their father was the Perth County Crown attorney (1853-1864) and county judge (1864-1886).

Their house (with an altered front door) has a flat-featured, rather puzzling quality. One looks in vain for an organizing principle, but the point here is more the impressive range of materials deployed by the fin-de-siècle builders: standard red brick, decorative brick, sandstone, two kinds of shingles, two kinds of planking, stained and clear glass. Source: Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario

Kathleen MacFarlane Lizars

Educated in Toronto and Scotland, Kathleen MacFarlane Lizars (1863-1931) collaborated with her sister, Robina Lizars Smith, on two works of history and a novel.

The sisters, of a prominent family in Stratford, Ont;descended from Irish naval and military men, as well as Scottish professionals and men of letters.

The Lizars sisters' historical works were praised for the quality of writing and the infusion of wit and humour into a frequently dull genre. Committed to their Charge, their local-colour novel, is set in the expressively named Slowford-on-the-Sluggard. Kathleen wrote a third history on her own in 1913, The Valley of the Humber 1615-1913.

For a time, she served as private secretary to John Robson when he was premier of British Columbia. As part of her extensive travels through Europe, she travelled with him to England, where she also summered for much of the 1920s.

She lived in the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto for 25 years. She died a stroke in 1931, and is likely buried at the Lizars family plot in Avondale Cemetery, Stratford. Source: Simon Fraser University

* You can read their books online or download them. Committed to Their Charge go to Internet Archive. In the Days of the Canada Company go to Internet Archive.

Robina Alison Lizars

Like her sister, Robina Alison Lizars (1850-1918), known sometimes as Ruby, descended from Irish naval and military men, Scottish professionals, and men of letters. Her father, Daniel Lizars (1822-1894), rose from barrister to judge of the Perth County Court.

Robina married a widower, a brilliant jurist, Robert Smith (1838-1885), in 1876. Upon accepting an appointment as judge to the Supreme Court of Manitoba, Robert went west, while Robina remained in Stratford to care for the couple's two young sons, and Robert's three children from his first marriage.

Six months later, when Robert suddenly died of tuberculosis, Robina returned to her family home with her boys. She then collaborated with her sister, Kathleen Lizars, on two works of history and a local-colour novel. In the Days of the Canada Company (1896); Humours of '37: Grave Gay and Grim (1897); Committed to His Charge: A Canadian Chronical (1900).

Considered to be an organist of great ability, Robina served for a time on the executive of the Ontario Music Teachers' Association. She died after a short illness in 1918. Source: Simon Fraser University

* See: Flashback article: Committed to His Charge Stratford-Perth Archives

Daniel Home Lizars

Daniel Home Lizars, a Perth County judge, was born in the County of Renfrewshire, Scotland, on Feb. 11, 1822. When he was 11 years old, the family immigrated to Canada, and settled at Goderich, in Huron County.

He was educated in the Goderich Grammar School, studied law in that town with John Strachan, was called to the Bar at Hilary term in 1853, practised in Goderich and Stratford in company with Mr. Strachan for five years, was appointed Perth County attorney in 1858 and the county Judge in 1864, but still holding the former office. He was also the master in chancery and deputy registrar. When Stratford became an incorporated town, friends of the judge urged him to be a candidate for the first mayor. He consented to run, but he lost to Col. J. C. W. Daly in a close vote. He said he was never an office seeker.
The Home Memorial Church was built on land donated by Judge Daniel Lizars in 1876. St. James Anglican Church is on that site now.

Powys Thomas, actor

Powys Thomas was a British-born actor who played an important role in the development of theatre in Canada.

He studied at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon from 1951 to 1956. He came to Canada in 1956 and worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He was one of the first actors at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the first director for the actors' workshops there. With Michel Saint-Denis, he founded the National Theatre School of Canada in 1960 and was artistic director for the English section until 1965. He also founded the Vancouver Playhouse school.

From 1957 to 1974, he was in 16 productions in Stratford. Memorable were his performances in The Three Musketeers, Waiting for Godot and Lorenzaccio. See List

Thomas can be seen as Hudson in The Last Voyage of Henry Hudson, below, a role to which he gives Shakespearean dimensions, black and white (Educational Film Board of Canada) on YouTube. He played Henry Hudson.

There is a plaque honouring him in the Shakespearean Gardens in Vancouver's Stanley Park. Thomas was 51 when he died on June 22, 1977. Source: Wikipedia

Plaque reads: This oak is shared with all by the extraordinary Powys Thomas Actor / Teacher / Mentor 1925-1977

Bronze sculpture of Powys Thomas at the Monument National Montreal

(sculpture by Jules Lasalle, assisted by Annick Bourgeau; photo: GLC)