Richard Wellesley

The duke's older brother

Mornington Street runs north up the hill from Huron Street. just before the Huron Street bridge. At Britannia Street, it takes a 45-degree turn to the east and then a 45-degree turn to the north just beyond James Street. It then continues in a northerly direction to the city limit. Mornington Street is also Highway 19 leading to Milverton in Mornington Township and is named for the township to which it leads.

John Chalmers and his three sons were the first settlers to arrive in Mornington Township in 1843. They came from Scotland by way of Brockville, and there are many Chalmers descendants still living in this area. Mornington, Elma and Wallace townships were north of the boundary of the Canada Company's Huron Tract. They were Crown Lands and part of that area was known as The Queen's Bush. They were the last townships to be settled, and the last to become part of Perth County.

When the county was established in 1853, Mornington was first included as part of Ellice Township, because  Mornington Township had not yet been organized. Though settlement of Mornington began in 1843, the township was not surveyed until 1848, and confusion over early lot lines near persisted for many years. Mornington was established as a separate township in 1854, but the name Mornington had been used to describe that area since the first settlers arrived. The name appears on an 1847 map of the proposed county when it was called Peel. Peel was later changed to Perth.

The name Mornington honours Richard Colley Wellesley, also called 2nd Earl of Mornington (June 20, 1760 -Sept. 26, 1842). He was the eldest brother of the famous Duke of Wellington, England's military hero. His title was taken from the Village of Mornington in the County of Meath, in the Free State Ireland. This earl was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1821 to 1828 and in 1933 and 1934. He enlarged the British Empire in India, and attempted to reconcile Protestants and Roman Catholics in his bitterly divided country. Despite his own achievements, he displayed an ever-increasing jealousy of his younger brother, Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington. Richard Colley Wellesley died before the first settlers arrived in Mornington Township in Perth County.

On the 1857 map of Stratford, the part between Britannia and James streets was shown as Mornington Street but beyond James, it was shown as Wellesley Street, probably in honour of Richard Colley Wellesley (2nd Earl of Mornington), but it could also have been for his brother Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington and England's greatest military leader.

In the early days of Stratford, the streets were paved with mud and were without sidewalks. In 1856, Mornington, Erie and Norman were the first three streets to get wooden sidewalks. The first sidewalk was several boards wide, with the boards laid end to end on wooden sleepers or ties. The walk ran from the Huron Street corner, up the Mornington Street hill (on the east side only) to end at St. James Church.

William Frederick McCulloch (see McCullock Street), businessman, aristocrat and Stratford's largest landowner, provided the large triangle of land for St. James Church, almost as a gift. He owned all the land between Mornington Street and the Avon River, as far as James Street. Whether or not McCulloch had anything to do with the new sidewalk to St. James Church is now lost to history.  By Stanford Dingman  Picture: Wikipedia

41  Mornington St.  Photo Fred Gonder

 St. James Anglican Church

This designated heritage site is at 41 Mornington St. From its hilltop location, St. James Anglican Church sits on a triangular lot and overlooks the city of Stratford. The church fronts Mornington Street and Hamilton Street runs along its west side. Nearby is the former rectory, built in 1876 and now a private residence.

Also on the property is the former St. James cemetery, in which some of the area's first settlers are known to be buried. The grounds also hold a number of other unidentified bodies, some of whom were prisoners from the once-nearby jail. The last burial here took place in 1871.

The first Anglican services in Stratford took place in one of the first buildings in the new settlement, the Shakespeare Hotel, built in 1832. 

Rev. William Bettridge travelled from Woodstock to Stratford to deliver services. In 1843, the parish of St. James received its first incumbent, Rev. William Hickey. Two of the congregation's previous churches have been located on this site. The first was a wood-frame structure built in 1840, and the second built in 1855. 

Designed by prominent architects Gundry and Langley, the present church was built between 1868 and 1870. Bishop Benjamin Cronyn (1802-1871), the first bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Huron, opened the church on March 20, 1870. In 1876, the parish of St. James helped spread Anglicanism in Stratford by opening a mission church, called Home Memorial, at the opposite end of town. It was the predecessor to St. Paul's Anglican Church, which opened in a new building in 1905. St. James is also associated with parishioners Robina and Kathleen MacFarlane Lizars (see Hamilton Street), who co-authored the novel Committed to His Charge: A Canadian Chronicle (1900), which described life in Stratford and St. James Church. In 1906, William Battershall (see Battershall Crescent) donated money to the church for a set of bells, which provided incentive to build the bell tower, which was completed in 1909. Source: Canada's Historic Places  See also History of St. James | About | St. James Anglican Church ( 

Addendum: To listen to the bells of St. James, click here.  The Bells of St. James' - YouTube 

To learn more about the history of the bells and  the bell tower, click here. The Bells of St. James | Ministries | St. James Anglican Church ( 

Note: In the Shadow of Thy Wings, the Story of St. James’ Church, Stratford, Ontario, Canada – Thelma M. Morrison — Published to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the church, the book provides an interesting look back at the history of the church, and the congregation.

Publication Date: 1990 — Stratford Public Library

Alec Guinness, actor

While in Stratford, Alec Guinness stayed at 108 Mornington St. He played Richard III in the first year of the Stratford Festival, 1953. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations, Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in  The Bridge on the River Kwai (for which he won the Academy Award for best actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia (1965), and Professor Godbole in A Passage to India (1984).

Guinness is most remembered for his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor.

 In 1959, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts. In the 1970s, Guinness made regular television appearances in Britain, including the role of George Smiley in the serializations of two novels by John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People (1982). In 1980 he received the academy honorary award for lifetime achievement. He was one of three British actors, such as Sir Laurence Olivier  and Sir John Gielgud who made the transition from Shakespearean theatre in England to Hollywood immediately after the Second World War. Guinness died on Aug. 5, 2000, at Midhurst in West Sussex, England.  Source: Stratford River Walk  

* He was honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star on July 1, 2002. It is located in front of the Avon Theatre.

Douglas Campbell, actor

During his time with the Stratford Festival acting company, Douglas Campbell stayed at 90 Mornington St. He was invited to Canada in 1953 by Tyrone Guthrie, who had just been appointed the first artistic director of the fledgling Festival. Campbell played Hastings in the opening production of Richard III in 1953, and King Oedipus in the stage and screen production of Oedipus Rex in 1954. 

He appeared many times at Stratford in the 50 years that followed, drawing great acclaim in the role of Othello in 1959, and in many appearances as Falstaff (see Falstaff Street). In 1947, he married Ann Casson, actress and daughter of Sir Lewis Casson and Dame Sybil Thorndike.   

Campbell founded the Canadian Players in 1954, and was artistic director at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in 1966 and 1967. He was awarded the Order of Canada on April 17, 1997. He received a Governor General's performing arts award, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts, in 2003. 

Douglas Campbell was in 24 plays and directed 11 others. See the list Shakespeare in Performance. Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia 

* He was honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star in 2014. It is near the stage door of the Avon Theatre.

** Two of his sons were Benedict and Tom Campbell (see below).

Douglas Campbell    Photo Stratford Festival

90 Mornington

Benedict Campbell                                      Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia

Benedict Campbell, actor

Benedict Campbell is the son of Douglas Campbell and actress Ann Casson. He studied at the Bristol Old Vic and performed in England before joining John Wood and the National Arts Centre acting company. 

For 11 seasons, beginning in 1991, he performed with the Stratford Festival, and also with Canadian Stage, Factory Theatre, and the Grand Theatre in London, Ont. In 2015, he played King Lear in a co-production by Theatre Calgary and Bard on the Beach. From 2003 to 2017, he acted in the Shaw Festival. He has also worked extensively in television and film.

* For a  list of his performances see Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia.

Tom Campbell, artist

Tom Campbell was born in Westminster, London, England, to Douglas Campbell and Ann Casson. He is the third of their four children, and grandchild of Sir Lewis Casson (Wales) and Dame Sybil Thorndyke (Rochester, Kent).

Working in sculpture, oil paint, and pastel on paper, Campbell depicts human actions within grid-like urban landscapes. He began his artistic studies in England at the Camden Art Centre, London. He received a bachelor of arts degree in painting, sculpture and etching at the Camberwell School of Art in London, England. After working on sets, and special effects for theatre and television in England and Denmark, he returned to Canada in 1982. 

He has been exhibiting his paintings and sculptures since 1975, and has been represented by the Bau-Xi Gallery since 1985. His works are in public, corporate and private collections in Canada, the United States, Italy, Denmark and England.


He was instrumental in the rebirth of the Toronto School of Art, and serves on the new Toronto School of Art board of governors and steering sommittee.  Source: Bio and pictures Tom Campbell website

 *  Go to Tom Campbell Works to see his art

Tom Campbell sculpture

46 Mornington St.  Photo: Fred Gonder

Heritage home

This heritage home, at 46 Mornington St., is associated with several prominent Stratford citizens. Colonel W. F. McCulloch (see McCulloch Street) originally owned the land on which the home was built. He was instrumental in the development of Stratford by building many of the first mills and commercial properties on the north side of Ontario Street.

In 1853, architect Peter Ferguson bought the property from McCulloch and built the original two-storey structure that would eventually be the rear of the house. Across the street, was the first Perth County Courthouse, which Ferguson designed and is considered his prized work. 

In 1863, Ferguson sold the house to Thomas J. Birch, who hired Thomas Orr, a local builder and architect, to build a one-storey cottage addition on the front of the original structure. Birch operated a local hardware store and was active in town affairs including the founding of the town's first fire department. He was one of the first deacons of the Ontario Street Baptist Church, which he had helped to establish.

The original, and now rear, section of the present house is a two-storey red-brick structure supported by cedar beams found nowhere else in the home. It was one of the earliest brick buildings in Stratford. Originally, it had three small rooms on the first storey and three small rooms on the second, with an extremely narrow staircase leading to the second storey. 

The front and newer section of the house was added in 1863 and is an excellent example of the Regency Cottage architectural style. Typical of this style is the symmetrical facade with buff brick quoins and frieze below the roofline. The original double-hung, six-over-six windows are still in place with buff brick surrounds and shutters. The main entrance is decorated with sidelights, transom and lantern. A small Greek Revival portico with Doric columns, pilasters and arched copper-clad roof was added in 1948. Source: Canada's Historic Places

Barbara Reid

Barbara Reid, Stratford Festival publicist and author

Barb Reid was born and raised in Stratford and worked as a volunteer during the Stratford Festival’s first season, after hearing Tom Patterson talk about his vision for the theatre while he was paying his bill at Orr Insurance (see Cobourg Street).  She quit her job and joined Patterson without knowing if she would ever be paid for her work with the new venture. That was the fall of 1953, when she was named the assistant to the publicity and public relations director. She held that position until the fall of 1966 when the Festival loaned her and her services to Expo ’67 in Montreal. There she worked as the head of press releases for the world exposition.

She then worked in publicity for the National Arts Centre, until 1969, before returning to Stratford, where she worked for the Stratford Beacon Herald for 17 years. That’s where she met city-side reporter Thelma Morrison, who pulled together all the stories and interviews and quotations Barb had compiled before her death, for a wonderful book about how the Stratford Festival got started.

The book is A Star Danced: The story of how Stratford started the Stratford Festival. The legend is, when a star dances, something extraordinary happens. And the Festival story is extraordinary. Barb’s book tells the personal stories of all the great people who worked tirelessly to make the Festival a reality.

(Materials from A Star Danced, which was published in 1994 by Robert Reid, a retired Supreme Court justice, in memory of his sister, Barbara) Sourced by Gord Conroy