Cam Mayberry  Stratford- Perth Archives

Dean of Ontario principals

Mayberry Place was named in 1966 after Charles Alexander (Cam) Mayberry (1856-1938), principal of the Stratford Collegiate for 37 years, from 1890 until his retirement in 1927. 

Said the Beacon-Herald, he was "the dean of all collegiate institute principals in Ontario." He was retiring "after a lifetime of service devoted to the educational interests of this city and the province."

The Stratford Board of Education, in recognition of the contribution made by Mr. Mayberry "and as compensation for his years of service, unanimously agreed to a pension of superannuation of $1,500 per year."

The Beacon-Herald said, "Almost like a bolt from the blue will thousands of citizens and former students receive Mr. Mayberry's decision to retire from the position in which he has so long been honored and esteemed. It came in the nature of a complete surprise. With it came the realization that at last the board was to lose a great teacher and the man, who, respected and honored by all, had carried throughout each succeeding year the responsibility that the position of principal entailed. "

Board chairman Harry Wigglesworth paid tribute to the man who for 37 years had guided the destinies of the Collegiate Institute. "Just 45 years ago Mr. Mayberry came to Stratford, fresh from college, strong, virile enthusiastic about his work. Forty-five years have passed and in that intervening space of time hundreds of boys and girls have gone from the Stratford Collegiate Institute. Throughout it all, Mr. Mayberry has remained an inspiring teacher, a sincere friend to all who knew him, a wise counsellor and a just administrator."

One of his outstanding students was John Cunningham McLennan (see William Street), in his day recognized as one of the greatest scientists in the world. A physicist, McLennan (1867-1935) was knighted in the same year he died. Another of Mayberry's distinguished students was Agnes Macphail (see below), who in 1921 became Canada's first female member of Parliament.

Mayberry was a commanding figure on the streets of Stratford. He was tall, erect, silver-haired and projected strength of purpose in his countenance. Bruce Stapleton (see Cambria Street), a Stratford artist, painted  Mayberry's portrait. He was another of Mayberry's students. By Stanford Dingman  Photo Stratford-Perth Archives.

Footnote: Cam Mayberry's second wife, Helen St. Clair Coates  (1871–1953), was an art instructor at the Stratford Normal School from 1908 to 1938. She was described as colourful and statuesque, and an art teacher par excellence. She drilled her class on basic rules, then launched them into the free form art she favoured.

 Agnes Macphail, 1934.   Photo by Yousuf Karsh

Agnes Macphail, first female member of Parliament

Agnes Campbell Macphail (March 24, 1890 – Feb. 13, 1954) was an Ontario politician who became Canada's first female member of Parliament. She was first elected to the House of Commons in 1921, the same year in which women were allowed to vote in Canada. She served as an MP until 1940, then moved to provincial politics. From 1943 to 1945 and from 1948 to 1951, she was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario representing the Toronto riding of York East. Active throughout her life in progressive Canadian politics, she worked for two parties and, through opinion column, activist organizing, and legislation, she promoted her ideas about equality, equal pay and social reform for ordinary people.

Macphail was born in 1890 and lived in a log house with her parents and siblings in Proton Township in Grey County. She completed four years of study in two at Owen Sound Collegiate. Though she did well, she transferred to Stratford for her final year of high school (senior matriculation). She then attended Stratford Normal School (see Water Street) in 1909-1910 so she could complete her studies to be an elementary school teacher. While in Stratford, she boarded with her Aunt Maggie and Uncle Dan McGregor on Brunswick Street.

Her family name, originally spelled McPhail, appeared in the school normal school yearbook as McFhail, as reported by Dean Robinson in his 2011 book, Hardly Normal, The Stratford Normal School and Stratford Teachers College 1908-1973. 

Agnes Macphail as she looked in about 1920.                                      Photo courtesy of Grey Roots Archives

Agnes graduated in 1910 with a second-class teaching certificate and worked as a rural school teacher in Grey County. She joined the United Farmers of Ontario and ran as a Progressive to win her history-making seat in the 1921 election.

She was also a pacifist who fought for disarmament. In 1929, she was Canada's first woman delegate to the League of Nations and attended the Geneva Disarmament Conference that year on Canada's behalf. She was also a staunch advocate for common people, for social welfare, equal pay and penal reform. She was a major catalyst in the establishment of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Toronto, an organization which aids women in conflict with the law. In  1951, she championed the first equal-pay legislation. 

In 1990, Canada Post issued a 39-cent stamp in Macphail's honour. The commentary accompanying the stamp notes she championed rural rights and women's rights. See below. Source: Text and Picture Wikipedia   

* Agnes Macphail was designated a national historic person in June 1985, and honoured by Stratford with a bronze star on July 1, 2013. It is positioned near the city hall.

Canada Post Corporation saluted the many achievements of Agnes Macphail by issuing a commemorative stamp on the centennial of her birth. As Canada's first female member of Parliament, and a respected public speaker, she devoted much of her energy to rural issues and women's rights. The stamp, designed by Eskind Waddell, combines a portrait of Macphail in the 1930s, with a colourful background collage of the Parliament Buildings. Canada Post Corporation. Presenting, 1990. 

Watch seven-minute YouTube video Telling Times - Agnes McPhail