Huntingdon Avenue

John Sharman, a founding pioneer

Sharman house at 22o Hibernia St.

Huron County Museum

Though it was not yet named, the street now known as Huntingd0n Avenue appeared on the 1857 map of Stratford as the western boundary of the village. It ran through the John Sharman survey and also gave access to the Sharman farm, part of which became part of Stratford's agricultural grounds. The Briarhill subdivision, immediately west of those grounds, was also part of the original 100-acre Sharman farm.

Huntington Avenue was named for the town of Huntingdon in Huntingdonshire, England. In that country, it is due north of London, bordered by Bedfordshire on the west and Cambridgeshire on the east. It was probably John Sharman who named Huntingdon Avenue in Stratford. He and his family emigrated from Telford, Bedfordshire, England, and arrived in Stratford on July 10, 1834. He was the first blacksmith in the fledgling village, and destined to become an important member of the community.

Arriving in Stratford with about 100 pounds, he bought a lot on the west side of Huron Street, just over the bridge, where he opened his blacksmith shop. His services were immediately in demand, and he soon made enough money to build the Stratford Hotel which stood at the corner of Huron and Mornington streets.

John Sharman branched out into the foundry business and soon took over the A. B. Orr Foundry at the northwest corner of Birmingham and Worsley streets. Before long, the Sharmans were turning out threshing machines and other farm machinery. They built a fine brick home across Worsley Street from the foundry but fronting on Birmingham Street. It is still there, at 66 Birmingham St.

The Sharmans became one of Stratford's foremost pioneer families and, like the other prominent families, they acquired a considerable amount of land. One of their choicest properties was a large farm on the western outskirts of Stratford. Huntingdon Avenue was one of the main streets laid out in the Sharman survey when they developed the farm. The Sharmans also built the fine white brick house which still stands at 220 Hibernia St. Joseph Sharman was a leading industrialist in the town. At least one of his threshing machines remains, on display at the Huron County Museum in Goderich. Some cast-iron sections of a veranda railing on the house at 79 Norman St. are other creations that came from the Sharman foundry. The railing pieces were salvaged from the balcony of Central United Church, at 145 Erie St., after the church was destroyed by fire in 1959. By Stanford Dingman