Milestones of Growth

1826. Incorporation of the Canada Company, August 19.

1827. Dr. William "Tiger" Dunlop first European at site of Stratford, Wednesday, July 11.

1828. “Tavern To Be" marked on a Canada Company map. Settlement begins. 

1832. Building of the first sawmill, gristmill and hotel (the Shakespeare Hotel). Huron Road is passable.· Thomas Mercer Jones, an agent of the Canada Company, names the village "Stratford" and renames the portion of the Thames River running through it the "Avon River."  

1833. First sawmill erected by D. Ford and  John Sebring  followed in 1834 by a grist mill erected by the same men. 

1834. Townsite surveyed for 35,000 people. The community has a tavern, sawmill and grist mill

1835. Post Office established.

1840. First church built, for the “'Auld Kirk" of St. Andrew's. 

1841.  Population 200. In 1871 population is 4,313, the largest percentage increse in population ever for Stratford.

1843. A log school is built. (See St. Andrews Street)

1845. Racial riots. Formation of first boat club, with one boat.

1849. First weekly newspaper: Perth County News. Shakespeare Hotel burns.

1850. Perth established as a provisional county Jan. 1, with Stratford as county seat.


1853. Perth a full county.

1854. Stratford a village, Jan. 1. (Enabling legislation: Sept. 23, 1853.)  Population 1,400.


1855. One acre acquired for a “market building" - with strings attached.

1856. Stratford becomes a railway town with Grand Trunk and Buffalo-Lake Huron railways. First train and train station.

1858. First meeting in new Market Building and Town Hall, May 10. Population 2500. 

1859. Stratford a town, Jan. 1. (Canada Statutes: July 24, 1858.) March 31, closing of the Canada Company agency.

1860. Prince of Wales visits. Later King Edward VII.

1862. Names of Shakespearean wards appear for first time on the assessment rolls.

1863. Frame buildings banned as fire hazards downtown, in first stab at redevelopment of the centre core.

1864. Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebrations. The 17-year-old American telegraph operator Thomas Edison briefly lived at 19 Grange Street.

1867. Canadian Confederation, with great hoopla in Queen's Park.

1869. Death of J. J. E. Linton.  (see Linton Avenue)

1870. First park, Avondale, established.

1871.  Population is 4,313.  By 1881, it would grow to 8,239. Locomotive repair shops attract influx of craftsmen. (Second wave of Grand Trunk workers in 1889.) (town's major employer by 1901

1876. Gas lighting in the town for first time in January. Gas Works Company incorporated 1874. 

1877. First steamboats on the river.

1881.  Population is 8,239. By 1891, it would be 9500. 

1883. Telephone exchange in operation.

1885. Cityhood, effective March 30, (Ontario Statutes 1885, of same date.) Population 9,000

1886. With arrival of George McLagan, furniture industry on its way.


1887. The second and current Perth County Court House opens; it is praised for its High Victorian architecture, with several Queen Anne features, and Richardsonian Romanesque elements.  First electricity, July 14.


1888. First electric street lights.

1891. Population is 9,500. By 1901, population is 9,959.

1897. Market Building burns.

1898.  The massive red brick town hall, in the Victorian "Picturesque" style, with a prominent clock tower, is completed.

1900. First council meeting in new City Hall, Jan. 3.

1901. Population is  9,959. By 1911, population is 12, 946. 

1903.  The first public library opens, built with $15,000 of financial assistance from American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

1904. Parks Board established.

1905. C.P.R. launches a losing battle for the river.


1908. Stratford is one of 12 original signees with the Hydro Electric Power Commission.  The Stratford Normal School opens to train teachers; from 1953 on, it is called the Stratford Teachers' College. The school trains nearly 14,000 teachers before closing in 1973.

1909.  The GTR (later CNR) locomotive repair shops building is completed; it is 16,800 square meters (182,000 square feet) in size

1911.  Population is 12, 946. By 1921, population is 16,094.  

1913. Present day train  station built by GTR

1918. The swans arrive on the river, a gift from J. C. Garden .

1920s. Stratford is already a major furniture manufacturing centre; nearly one-sixth of all the furniture made in Canada is shipped from here. (All such manufacturing will have ceased by 2006.) 

1921. Population is 16, 094. By 1931, population is 17, 742. 

1922. Cenotaph unveiled Nov 11 designed by Walter Allward.  Rotary Club formed. 

1925. Lions Club formed.  United Church of Canada created. 

1927. Y.W. C. A. building completed. 

1931. Population is 17,742. In 1941, population is  16, 923...the only dcrese in Stratford's history 

1932. Lions Club outdoor pool built. 

1933. Troops called out during strike of the furniture workers and chicken pluckers. This is the last time the military is used to quell a strike in Canada.

1934. National Stadium opened. 

1936. The Shakespearean Gardens are created, primarily through the efforts of R. Thomas Orr.

1937. Dam breaks. Worst flood in Stratford's history. 

1939. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit Stratford. 75,000 cheered their brief visit. 

1941. Population is 16,923. By 1951, 18,785.

1942. HMCS Stratford launched in Toronto Bay. 

1951. Population  is 18,785.  By 1961, population is 20,467. 

1953. Stratford Shakespearean Festival opens through the efforts of a Stratford journalist, Tom Patterson.

1956. Stratford District Labour Council chartered.

1957. The Festival moves into its first permanent structure, the Festival Theatre.

1961. Population is 20,467. In 1971, population is 24, 508. 

1964. City launches redevelopment in earnest, starting with City Hall. CNR shops close, laying off numerous workers. 

1965. New coat of arms for the city.

1971. Population is 24,508. By 1981, population is 26, 262. 

1972. Parks system spans the city with purchase of last link along the Avon.

1976.  The Stratford City Hall is designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

1978. “The Fireproof Block" becomes Festival Square.

1981. Population is 26, 262. By 1991, population is 27, 666. 

1982. 150th anniversary of the founding of the settlement.

1991. Population is 27,666. By 2001, population is 29, 676.

1992. Stratford Armoury is recognised as a Federal Heritage building on the Register of the Government of Canada Heritage


1993.  Stratford's former Canadian National Railways (VIA Rail) Station is designated a Federal Heritage building.

1997. Nations in Bloom crowns Stratford the "Prettiest City in the World."

2001. Population is 29, 676. By 2011, population is 30, 886. 

2003. The Stratford Festival of Canada celebrated its 50th season, welcoming 672,924 patrons to 18 plays. This was a record

 number of play goers during the 50 seasons. The Avon Theatre realised a complete renewal and the Studio Theatre, a fourth

 theatre space seating 250 people, was added. 

2021. The new Tom Patterson Theatre opened.