Jarvis Street

The Shakespearean Oak

Peter Jarvis 1894 Stratford-Perth Archives

Jarvis Street first appeared on the 1879 map of Stratford, along with all the other streets in the William Gordon survey. It was a survey presented in 1874 in the area bounded by what are now Lorne Avenue and St. Vincent, Erie and West Gore streets. Gordon named 15 streets in his survey after his friends and business associates (see Gordon Street). 

Jarvis Street was named for Peter Robinson Jarvis, a businessman and aristocrat who, for the Town of Stratford  was its deputy reeve (1861-1862), mayor (1863-1867) and reeve (1873-1875). He was the mayor in 1867, when Canada was declared a country and in a special ceremony that year he and his townsfolk recognized the importance of William Shakespeare in Stratford's history by planting a tree dubbed the Shakespeare Oak. While the citizens may have embraced the mayor's tree-planting idea, they were not happy about the rainy weather, and standing in mud under umbrellas on the sloping grounds known at the time as Shakespeare Square. That site, now known as Memorial Park, was not far from the Albion Hotel.

Out of his pocket, the mayor had paid a $25 fee to cover expenses, and in spite of the weather, he was determined the show would go on.  So, the town constables and militia were impressively lined up, and the mayor, standing proudly in the rain, expressed the hope that, "as from acorns great oaks grow, so may Stratford-on-Avon, now in its infancy, become not only a great and prosperous commercial city, but also the seat and home of literature and science."

Mayor Jarvis would be happy to know that Shakespeare is still much present in the Stratford of today, thanks to the Stratford Festival.  By Stanford Dingman

Townspeople gathered under umbrellas to watch the mayor plant the Shakespeare Oak.