In addition to being learned and a true academic, McGregor was known to the boys in their school as a fair and understanding man. In winter, he ignored their sleigh runs from the schoolhouse down to the river. However, his turning a blind eye to those runs did not sit well with Dr. John Hyde, (see Hyde Road), who tried to end them. The boys dubbed the worthy doctor, “Old Mercury,” a name that stuck rather unfairly, for years.
Apparently, the headmaster was not a man to cross. Adelaide Leitch tells this story in the book Floodtides of Fortune: "It was his habit to return to his home over a footbridge across the Avon. At one end was a piece of square timber laid angle-wise over a ditch, and the right of passage went, as a matter of course, to the strongest. One day a particularly loutish young man caught Mr. McGregor right there and did not offer to retreat. Scarcely missing a stride, the master dumped the fellow into the mud and continued on his way."
In 1855, the log schoolhouse was replaced on the same site by a new Central Common School. (see Central School, St. Andrew Street). In 1926, the site of those schools was marked by a stone and plaque in a ceremony on the library lawn, at the same time as the library addition was celebrated.
McGregor remained schoolmaster for some years, but after he retired, for some unknown reason, he moved to Texas, where he lived until his death in 1892.
Footnote: In 1855, another MacGregor, unrelated to Alex, a Scottish-born Charles John MacGregor (1833-1904), was hired as the first teacher at the new grammar school, the "high school" on Norman Street. He was a teacher, but also a customs clerk, and, in 1886-1987 the first mayor of Stratford after the city separated from Perth County.
In the first written report on this school by the inspector to Egerton Ryerson, dated March 1855, there was an assessment of this young MacGregor’s prospects: 'The master is mild but firm, seldom using the rod. He is young and inexperienced but, as he is willing and winning in manner, he is likely to succeed."
MacGregor succeeded well enough to still be there in 1882, as headmaster at the "new" high school, known as Stratford Collegiate, which had been 1878 on St. Andrews Street when young Cam Mayberry (see Mayberry Place) came to Stratford, also young, inexperienced and willing. Mayberry was hired first as the classics master, in 1882, and eight years later, in 1890, became principal at the Stratford Collegiate (see St. Andrew Street). Source: Adelaide Leitch: Floodtides of Fortune. Compiled by Gord Conroy