What's In a Name?
There is a lot in a name. This is particularly true when it comes to the names of the "Streets of Stratford". When the directors of the Canada Company in London, England, sanctioned the name Stratford for this river-crossing on the Huron Road in 1832, they set in motion a pattern that has greatly influenced the history and development of Stratford.
Tiger Dunlop Stratford-Perth Archives
Dr. William (Tiger) Dunlop, the Canada Company's warden of the woods and forests, was the man on the spot when and where Stratford was founded. A literary man, he probably had a lot to do with the naming of Stratford's streets. The first Canada Company superintendent was the Scottish novelist John Galt, whose successor was Thomas Mercer Jones. They may also have had something to do with the naming of Stratford. Both are commemorated by Stratford street names today. But no one deserves more credit for the founding of Stratford than Dr. Dunlop whose name appears on a street connecting Lorne Avenue East with Griffith Road West in the most southerly corner of the city. Not only did Tiger Dunlop blaze the trail for the Huron Road through Stratford, but he was one of the most fascinating and influential characters in the early history of the Huron Tract. While several books have been written about Dunlop, an author himself, the stories of his exploits would fill several more.
Many street names in Stratford flow from the original naming of the city. While not all of them have equal significance, many do reflect our heritage. This exploration of our street names, their origins and meanings, is by no means a definitive work, but rather a beginning towards a greater understanding and appreciation of this heritage.
The settlement of Stratford began with the surveying of the Huron Road by the Canada Company in 1828. In December of that year and January of 1829, their agent, William "Tiger" Dunlop, planted his surveyor's stakes around the area that was to become this beautiful city. The Canada Company had been formed in 1824, when the government of Upper Canada was granted a million acres of land to settle. The district was known as the Huron Tract and included what is now Stratford and most of Perth County.
Stratford began to take shape in 1832 when Thomas Mercer Jones, a Canada Company director, gave a picture of William Shakespeare to William Sargint, the owner of the Shakespeare Hotel. A stone marks the site of this hotel, near 70 Ontario St. Jones gave the village the name Stratford and the creek, which had been known as Little Thames, was renamed the Avon River. In 1834, surveyor John MacDonald created the town plan. He placed the geographic centre of town at the point where four townships met, not far from where Erie and Ontario streets intersect today. He then created four main roads radiating from the centre and three of these roads were named for the Great Lakes to which they lead: Huron, Erie and Ontario. Following that, more streets steadily grew out and around those three streets. By Stanford Dingman
John Mercer Stratford-Perth Archives
The history of the streets is taken in part from a series of articles written by Stanford Dingman over a four-year period in the 1980s for the Stratford Beacon Herald. His articles are used from his weekly columns. Only out-of-date references were edited. There was also a sequel published by the Beacon Herald in 2004 which added new streets. For this online publication, places and people of interest were also added to the streets.