McCarthy Street is named in honour of John Augustus McCarthy Sr., illustrious pioneer

* His descendants, in the McCarthy family tree, are also notable.

John Augustus McCarthy Jr. 1894     Stratford-Perth Archives


John Augustus McCarthy Sr., first chief of police

John Augustus McCarthy (see McCarthy Road) was born in New South Wales, Australia, in 1811. At age four he was smuggled aboard the The Kangaroo (see story HMS Kangaroo ) on which his father was sailing with the 73  regiment. Bound for Ceylon, it departed April 18, 1815. He later said, at age 8, he saw the imprisoned French military commander, Napoleon Bonaparte, on the island of St. Helene in the South Atlantic Ocean. In about December 1817, the McCarthys returned to England. Upon his father's death in 1820, John was sent to Bowes Academy at Greta Bridge, in Yorkshire. It was a boarding school that he attended for three years. He later worked as a clerk at a Dublin (Ireland) bank managed by his great uncle, Nicholas Skottowe.

After the widespread failure of private banks, John went to France and adopted his mother's surname, McCarthy, and was dispatched to Perth County, Ont., by the Canada Company to assist the first settlers during a cholera epidemic. He decided to settle there himself. It was said he was heading for Lake Huron in 1832 when his wagon broke down in Stratford, and he spent the night in a log shanty on where the Lions swimming pool is today. In 1854 he bought the tract of land now bounded by Mornington, Britannia, Earl and Princess streets. 

He was one of the earliest settlers in the settlement of Stratford, and the first to build anything of substance north of the Avon River. His brick farmhouse still stands at 170 Mornington St. He laid out three streets on his farm in 1855, and named them Duke, Earl and Princess.

Eventually, he became the first chief of police in Stratford, from 1872 to 1876. He was also a farmer. He married Pauline Izard (1814-1878) in 1838 and they had 10 children. 

J. A. McCarthy was known to his friends as Mac. He had lived in Stratford for 66 years when he died at age 87 on Oct. 8, 1898. He was described by the Beacon-Herald as "the oldest link that bound Stratford to its pioneer past and to the days when the British Empire was being formed."  Source: Streets of Stratford 2004

John McCarthy

John Augustus McCarthy Jr., chief constable

John Augustus McCarthy Sr. and Pauline (Izard) had 10 children. The sixth of those was John Augustus McCarthy Jr. (1847-1913), who followed in his father's footsteps and became Stratford’s chief constable.  

John Jr. started his policing career as a county constable, and later became a town constable under his father. In 1883 he was employed as a detective on the Grand Trunk Railway and was known for his clever detective work. He was appointed the chief of police for the City of Stratford in 1888. 

At the jail on St. Andrew Street in 1894, John McCarthy and John Idington interrogated Amédée Chattelle, accused of brutally murdering Jessie Keith, a 13-year-old girl, near Listowel. With his brother Thomas, John Jr. escorted Chattelle to his trial, inquest and hanging.  See the full story The Trial and Execution of  Amédée Chattelle

Amédée Chattelle

Knox tragedy

During a storm, at about 12:45 a.m. on May 13, 1913, the landmark spire of Knox Presbyterian Church was struck by a bolt of lightning. The spire was set ablaze and resulted in a tragedy unlike any experienced before by Stratford's first responders.

When the fire burned down to the roof on the southwest corner of the building, a ladder was placed on the southeast end to enable a hose crew to get on the roof and try to contain the fire to the steeple. Before that could happen, the tip of the wooden ladder caught fire and Chief Hugh Durkin called for assistance to move it. All firefighters were occupied handling the hose lines, so police chief John McCarthy and Const. Matthew Hamilton jumped in to assist the chief, as they had done so many times before.

Funeral procession 1913. An estimated 16,000 lined the route to Avondale Cemetery. Stratford-Perth Archives

As they were bringing the ladder back, a large section of the burned-out steeple slid off the roof. Chief Durkin yelled, “Look out boys, get back.” But it was too late; burning debris fell on the men. Firefighters and volunteers quickly dug them out. Police Chief McCarthy and Const. Hamilton were killed instantly, and Fire Chief Hugh Durkin was declared dead upon arrival at Stratford General Hospital.

The entire city closed down and thousands went to the city hall for the combined public service. An impressive funeral cortege left city hall and proceeded to Avondale Cemetery, where all three were buried. A crowd estimated to be 16,000 lined the route to the cemetery, their silence broken only by the sound of the large fire bell tolling their last alarm. Source: Their Last Alarm by Robert Kirkpatrick

Thomas McCarthy Stratford-Perth Archives

Thomas Britiffe McCarthy, constable

Thomas Britiffe McCarthy (1842-1936) was the son of John McCarthy Sr. He was thought to be the first white child born in Stratford, and was one of the oldest pioneers of the district of Perth when he died in June 1936 at the age of 95.  He was the second-to-last lone survivor of the Fenian Raids. He joined the army at age 24 and trained in Windsor to fight the Fenian raiders. In 1875 he joined the county police force and became the high county constable for many years.

He  escorted Perth’s first murderer, Amédée Chattelle, from Listowel to Stratford after Chattelle had brutally murdered Jessie Keith, a 13-year-old girl . He single handedly faced an angry mob who wanted to lynch Chattelle and brought him safely to Stratford. See the full story The Trial and Execution of  Amédée Chattelle

Chattelle (middle) in front of the Perth County courthouse on his way to the train and the coroner's inquest. Sheriff John Hossie (foreround) walks slightly ahead. Flanking the prisoner is Const. Tom McCarthy. Stratford-Perth Archives

During a feud in 1880 that led to a lynching of the Donnellys , and a shooting party in Logan Township, the young high county constable, rifle slung across his saddle, rode into the thick of the trouble. He finally brought the trouble to an end, but no convictions resulted.  Source: Obit Windsor Star. McCarthy's name is in three episodes of  the 2007  TV series The Black Donnellys.

Thomas McCarthy home, 355  Romeo St.  Stratford-Perth Archives

Thomas Britiffe McCarthy (1841-1936) and family

Back row, from left: John Augustus (Jack), William Edward (Will or Bill), Elizabeth Goldie (Goldie), Henry Albert (Harry), Olive Mabel (Ollie), Frederick Richard (Fred) and Thomas Britiffe (Tom)    

Middle row from left: Emma Henrietta (Emma), Thomas Britiffe, Anne Weir (Annie), Elizabeth Ann (Weir), and Hazel Gay (Hazel). 

Front row from left: Gordon Earl (Gord), and D'Alton McNab (D'Alt). 

Thomas B. McCarthy, 53, and Joseph Sharman, 53, both born in 1842, as the first children of Stratford.                                         Photo 1894 Bill Donaldson . . . FB

Fenian Raid award 1866

This medal was awarded to Augustus McCarthy Jr. in 1867. He fought with two brothers, Thomas Britiffe and Albert McCarthy. The three sons served in the Stratford Rifle Company, created to resist threatening Fenians. The picture attached is Albert and his twin sister Victoria, who were born in 1844. She died in 1870 and is buried in St James churchyard. Source: Diane Newell Batting . . . FB

Thomas McCarthy (1837-1921) Stratford-Perth Archives

Fred McCarthy, 1908 Olympic bronze medal winner  Wikitree

The McCarthy brothers, cyclists

William E. (Bill) McCarthy (1883-1973) lived at 134 Douro St. Until he was 85, he owned and operated a bicycle shop at 71 Wellington St. He was also one of Stratford's best bicycle racers.

He and his brothers Tom, Fred and John were sons of Thomas B. McCarthy (see Romeo Street), one of Stratford's most illustrious pioneers, and first police chief of the village of Stratford. Const. John McCarthy, Thomas B. McCarthy's brother, who had the same name as his son, lost his life in the Knox church fire of 1913 (see Ontario Street).

Bill, Tom and Fred were associated with the city’s first cycling club, founded in the late 19th century. Fred McCarthy won a bronze medal at the 1908 Olympics in London England. He was a member of Canada's four-man entry in the team pursuit, a track event. His three teammates were William (Doc) Morton, Walter Andrews and William Anderson. It was not until 1984, in Los Angeles, that Canada would win another Olympic medal in cycling.

Fred was classified as a professional in 1910 after he competed for cash prizes in New Jersey. In the same year, he raced in a six-day event in Boston and finished eighth. He continued to race as a professional through 1914, though he never experienced the same distinction as he did as an amateur. He was still competing as late as 1926. When not cycling, he earned his living as a candy-maker. 

More detailed family information can be found here. Frederick Richard Napoleon McCarthy Sr.

Bill McCarthy began racing bicycles at age 16 and raced them for 16 years. He created a sensation, if not a record, by riding around Stratford on a penny-farthing, a bike with with a huge wheel in front, and a small one at the back. He built the high wheeler, which is now on display at the Stratford Perth Museum.   

In 1919, Bill McCarthy and his wife Edith bought a 30-acre property at 2941 Forest Rd. from the Grand Trunk Railway, a mile east of Stratford. In 1871, the Grand Trunk Railway had moved its repair shops from Toronto to Stratford. So steam locomotives made pit stops at the pond on the property to fill up with water. A pipeline was built from the pond to the repair shops in Stratford to supply water for the steam engines there. Eventually, the pumping of water to Stratford was abandoned, which is why the McCarthys were able to buy the property from the GTR. 

They turned it into a stunning natural woodland by planting 23,000 trees, among them pine, oak, walnut and ash. The sizeable pond came to be known as McCarthy’s Lake. In honour of the family, the water feature is now officially named McCarthy Lake. It's the largest of the four ponds at the eastern edge of the city, known as the Little Lakes complex. The many trees and McCarthy Lake made a stunning setting for the Forest Motel and Woodland Retreat. The Forest Motel main building burned in January 2021. Spring fed, McCarthy Lake is the start of the Upper Thames River watershed, and its water flow through Stratford and down to Lake St. Clair near Detroit. The Avon Trail starts at McCarthy Lake. Source: Gord Conroy

McCarthy Lake, Forest Road

Rosalind Rosenberger, flower girl 1939

The Queen was presented with a bouquet by nine-year-old Rosalind Goldie Rosenberger, the young girl in the photo. It was said she stepped gracefully before the Royal couple, curtseying first to King George and then to Queen Elizabeth, and handed to Her Majesty a lovely bouquet. "Thank you very much,"  said the smiling Queen to the pretty little flower-bearer. She was the granddaughter of Thomas Brittiffe McCarthy.

Sports Wall of Fame

The city's Sports Wall of Fame is at 353 McCarthy Rd W., in the Stratford Rotary Complex. The Sports Hall of Fame committee was established to recognize individuals and teams whose athletic abilities brought fame to  themselves and for the City of Stratford.

* Click on categories below to view the lists of sports figures, teams and builders honoured over the years with YouTube videos. See samples below. Source: Stratford Wall of Fame

Sample Videos: * Click below

    Ingrid Newbery