James McCulloch


James Street runs north from William to Mornington and first appeared on the 1857 map. James Street was the eastern boundary of a large survey laid out by Col. William Frederick McCulloch in 1851. He named James Street after his eldest son, James Alexander McCulloch, who was 16 in 1851, the year of Canada's first census. James was the eldest of 11 children born to William McCulloch and Elizabeth Hamilton.

The first seven children were born in Ireland, the last four in Stratford. James was born near Omagh, the county town of Tyrone County, Ulster, in Northern Ireland.

Col. McCulloch and his wife both were both of the Irish aristocracy and they brought a considerable fortune with them to Stratford. James' mother was said to be descended from the Duke of Abercorm. Born in 1836, James was about eight years old when the family came to Stratford in 1844. 

He attended the Stratford Grammar School,on the south side of Norman Street, near John Street, and was the forerunner of the Stratford Collegiate. James was apparently a good student and "proceeded to study law with Mr. John Stewart, who later moved to Chicago." Having passed a successful examination, he entered into partnership for the practice of law with J. A. Carrall, and after Carrall's death, with Alex Grant. Carrall and Grant became mayors of Stratford and both married sisters of James McCulloch. Carrall was the first husband of Margaret Jukes McCulloch, whose second husband was William Gordon, builder of the Gordon Block.

Col. McCulloch, father of James, was the first reeve of the Village of Stratford and one of the first Mayors of the Town. Known as the richest man in Stratford, he was a large landowner and a pioneer developer. James took his work as town councilor seriously and became mayor of the town in 1871 and 1872.He was only 35 but his health was already beginning to fail and he died in 1878 at the relatively young age of 42.  His name survives today as one of the oldest streets north of the river.

One of the main distinguishing features is the large residential estate at 45 James St. One of the largest residential properties surviving in Stratford, it was originally the private domain of John Idington Q.C who built the house in 1873 and later became a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Following Judge Idington's departure, his large Italianate villa situated deep in spacious grounds, surrounded by large trees and spacious lawns sloping down to Idington Creek, became the site of Ancrum Brae, a private hospital for the treatment of nervous disorders.

James McCulloch's father, Col W.F. McCullock was the original owner of the property which he bought from the Canada Company and was said to be the Canada Company’s largest purchaser of land in Stratford. W. F. McCullogh was the original owner of the property which he bought from the Canada Company, Col. McCulloch was said to have been the Canada Company's largest purchaser of land in Stratford. By: Stanford Dingman : Picture, Stratford-Perth Archives

A 1956 planning meeting of Stratford Festival pioneers in the living room of Alf and Dama Bell.  Clockwise from left: Amelia Hall, Bruce Swerdfager, Gratien Gelinas, Dama Bell, Bill Hutt, Douglas Campbell, Mary Ellen Squires, Richard Easton, Robert Christie, David Gardiner, Alf Bell. Image credit: Peter Smith (Stratford Festival Archives) Source: Theatreville

Dama Bell, founder

Dama Frances Lumley Bell, longtime Stratford, Ont., resident, championed the founding of the Stratford Festival Theatre and was a tireless advocate for its formation. She and her husband, Alf, opened their Stratford home to the Festival founders, who had many preliminary discussions for what would become one of the world's foremost Shakespearean festivals. Supporting the festival became the major focus of the Bells' lives. Between 1953 and 1977, Ms. Bell traveled thousands of miles across Ontario, her car jammed with costumes and props. She gave lectures on the backstage workings of the theatre in more than 150 locations. In her later years, she acted as an unofficial agent for the sale of design sketches from festival productions, arranging private viewings in her home. Dama and Alf lived at 57 James St.

She was a member of the festival's board of governors from 1966, and its honorary secretary from 1966 to 1967. She served as a Stratford Festival Senator. In 1979, she and her husband were jointly named as Members of the Order of Canada.      Source:  Playbill Obit  

* Dama Bell was honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star on July 1, 2008. It was placed near the Avon  Theatre. 

Tanya Moiseiwitsch 1956 Festival brochure

Tanya Moiseiwitsch 

Tanya Moiseiwitsch (1914-2003) was a pioneering figure of theatre design whose career spanned more than 50 years. 


After studying at the Central School of Art and Design in London, England, she joined the Old Vic as a scene-painter during Tyrone Guthrie’s first season, in 1933. She went on to become the designer of numerous productions for Guthrie at the Old Vic, the Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and on Broadway. She was also a designer at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin (1935-39), where she designed more than 50 productions.


In 1953, Guthrie invited her to design a new theatre for the inaugural festival in Stratford, Ont., which would have a thrust stage. Working with Guthrie, she developed her trademark design for the thrust stage, which she further refined at the Guthrie Theater (1963) and the Crucible Theatre (1971). She also created costumes for productions in the first four seasons of the Stratford Festival.

Aside from her work with Guthrie, she designed productions at the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera (New York) and on Broadway. At one point in her career, there were five productions she had designed running in London at the same time. In Stratford, Ont., she stayed in the home of Dama Bell (see above). Tanya Moiseiwitsch died in May 2003. Source: Wordville  

Festival theatre stage 1953