Greatest private benefactor

Named in honor of George McLagan, McLagan Drive is a fitting tribute to the man who was the greatest private benefactor of Stratford's famous parks system. He chaired the parks board from 1909 to 1918. He paid for an architect to plan the original parks and donated 20 properties to the park system. Founder of the McLagan Furniture Co. in Stratford, he was instrumental in establishing the city as a major furniture manufacturing centre in Canada (see Trinity Street).

George McLagan spent his early years in and around Brucefield in Huron County, and it was there he learned the art of furniture-making. Grand Rapids, Mich.,was recognized as a leading furniture-manufacturing centre in the United States, and the young McLagan went there to learn everything he could about the business. By Stanford Dingman

The sizeable property at 210 Water St. was owned by William F. McCulloch, and came to be called The Grange. In about 1860, its ownership passed to James Trow, and then to George McLagan who tore down the original house and used the Trow foundations to put up the building that is there now. (see Trow Avenue). The McLagan replacement was eventually bought by the Perth Insurance Co. and Mutual Life of Canada, which, in the early 1950s put an addition on the back of the house. In 1984, the Perth County Board of Education bought the property for its offices, and dubbed it The Education Centre. That board has since amalgamated with its Huron County counterpart to form the Avon Maitland District School Board, and its headquarters are in Seaforth.

McLagan Park is named after George McLagan.

For Rev. William Corcoran, an iris garden

Since the dawn of recorded history, irises have appeared in royalty, religion, tapestries, magic, and medicine. In Stratford, the iris was chosen as the civic flower in January 1925, hybridized by Bill Miles in 1946, and registered as the City of Stratford in the iris registry.

Thanks to the generosity of Rev. William Tillman Corcoran (1889-1970) an avid gardener, iris grower and hybridizer, and his bequest of his iris collection to the horticulture society, as well as the efforts of many volunteers, the Stratford and District Horticultural Society still has the iris-filled memorial garden to Msgr. Corcoran on McLagan Drive.

Rev. Corcoran's City of Stratford Iris

Rev. William Corcoran

Born in London, Ont., on July 19, 1889, Rev. Corcoran was a beloved priest at Immaculate Conception Church (see Well Street), whose cornerstone was laid in 1905. That church was established after St. Joseph’s parish divided at the turn of the century. St. Joseph’s, with seating for 900, was opened on Nov. 8, 1868, by the Bishop of Sandwich.

Father Corcoran, as he was affectionately known, loved flowers, and his garden was open to everyone, regardless of faith. He took joy in growing and hybridizing irises, giving some of them to friends and acquaintances and donating some to horticultural societies. His City of Stratford iris found its way into the Royal Botanical Gardens in London, England; the spring garden of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton; the Montreal Botanical Gardens; and many other places.

After his death, the Stratford Horticultural Society planted a memorial iris gardens for the gentle Father Corcoran beside the Avon River. in Stratford. A plaque in his honour was dedicated in 1970. Sourced by Gordon Conroy from Floodtides of Fortune by Adelaide Leitch and from the Stratford and District Horticultural Society newsletter, May 2016.