Picture: Louis Le Breton, British Maritime Museum

Battle of the Nile

Nile Street first appeared on Donald McDonald's 1848 map of Stratford. When the Grand Trunk Railway came to town in 1856, its main line crossed Nile between Shakespeare and Guelph streets. It was a popular place for railway stations. When the Port Dover and Lake Huron Railway arrived in 1876, its station was built near the intersection of Falstaff and Nile streets.

Nile Street had been named for Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, who was created Baron Nelson of the Nile, and of Burnham Thorpe, by the British House of Commons, in honor of Nelson's brilliant victory against the French Revolutionists at Aboukir Bay in the Battle of the Nile.

It was the greatest British naval victory since Sir Francis Drake shattered the Spanish Armada in 1588. Nelson became famous as 'the hero' of the British people and their allies around the world. He had spent four years chasing the French fleet around the Mediterranean. He had lost the sight in his right eye at Calvi in 1794, and his right arm was amputated following the Battle of Teneriffe in 1797.

Now, at last, on Aug. 1, 1798, Nelson was off the coast of Alexandria and had Napoleon's fleet just where he wanted it, in a defensive formation at the mouth of Aboukir Bay. The French had anchored their ships about 500 feet apart, and captain Foley of the British fleet, slipped boldly through the French line and attacked from behind. Four more ships followed him through the line. The British fleet then sailed down the French line and battered one ship after another into ruins by attacking from the front and rear at the same time. The Battle of the Nile lasted from sunrise to sunset.


There was an estimated 895 British killed or wounded, and between 2,000 to 5,000 French killed and wounded. Nelson biographer Thomas Southey described the victory as "the most complete and glorious in the annals of naval history."  By Stanford Dingman  

Stratford's third railway 1861-1870. The Prince of Wales arrived at this station in 1860 on a cross-Canada visit.(see Shakespeare StreetPhoto: Nancy Musselman 

Stratford's third Station, its first union Station, 1861 

In 1861, the city's third station was built near the intersection of Nile and Shakespeare streets. Dean Robinson notes in Railway Stratford Revisited that it was a joint effort by the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) and the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway (B and LH). It was the city's first "union station" in that it served both railways, until 1870. 

The location was chosen because it was at the junction of the two campanies' tracks. Dean Robinson also points out in his book that a few days after the new union station was erected, at Guelph and Downie streets, in July 1870 (see Guelph Street), "the first union station was flattened with a yard engine and a block and tackle."  Source: Dean Robinson, Railway Stratford Revisited

Stratford had six train stations during its history. For a map and timeline of the stations see Station Timeline

Thomas Marquis

25 Nile St.

Thomas Guthrie Marquis, author

Thomas Guthrie Marquis came to Queen’s University in Kingston, where he graduated in 1889 with a bachelor of arts degree, certification as a teacher and the reputation of a great football player. As of the 1891 census of Canada, he is working as a law clerk in Kingston where, in July 1892, he married Mary Adelaide King, the daughter of a local druggist. The young couple made their way to Stratford, where Thomas was an English master at the Stratford Collegiate Institute, and joined local hockey and lacrosse teams. 

In 1895 the couple moved into a newly built house at 25 Nile St., but their stay there was brief. They returned to Kingston and then went on to Brockville, where Thomas was appointed principal of the collegiate institute. He retired from teaching in 1901 and settled in Toronto, where he was well known for what was to become his life's work and which would make him prominent in literature circles in Canada and other countries.

Thomas Guthrie Marquis became a full-time author and editor. His first book, Stories of New France, was published in 1890 before he embarked on his teaching career. Several other history works followed, as well as historical novels, biographies, poetry and children’s books. He was an ardent supporter of Canadian literature, encouraging his fellow writers and frequently expressing a longing for the time when Canadian writers would be free of the overwhelming influence of England and British imperialists.  

A review of his writings demonstrates his enduring interest in early figures in Canada’s history, such as the voyages of Jacques Cartier, the Jesuit Martyrs, Canadian soldiers who fought in the Boer War, and a comprehensive selection of other military events. He also featured Canadian prime ministers, American presidents, native Canadians, and educators and scientists. For a short time he was the editor of the Ottawa Free Press. He was a historian, poet, writer and teacher. Source: Historical Plaque Properties  

*   For a list of his books see Wikipedia

Corner of Ontario and Nile streets  Stratford Directory 1880-81

Mirebah Mineral Springs, best water in Canada

The 1880-81 Stratford Directory claimed, "We cannot refrain from telling what we consider will prove a most important discovery to Stratford, which was made three or four years ago, and one which may in time lend additional interest to the town by securing for it a prominent position in the list of popular watering places. 

"We refer to the Meribah Mineral Springs, on the corner of Ontario and Nile streets. This water, which was found by sinking a well for ordinary drinking purposes, was observed to possess a slight peculiarity of taste which led to investigation and experiment, and after its being tested a few times it was found to produce a very exhilarating effect, and the parties thus benefited recommended it to others who seemed to require it, to test its virtues. 

"The proprietor of the well felt satisfied that its water contained remedial virtues sufficient to warrant the expense of an analysis. An analysis was accordingly made by the celebrated Canadian analyst, Prof. Croft, of Toronto, which resulted in the water being pronounced the best in Canada; thereupon the proprietor felt it to be a duty to make provision for participation in its salutary influences by the general public.

After consultation with prominent citizens, and others whose opinions were considered valuable, it was resolved to erect baths of all descriptions for applying the water externally and also drinking fountains for the enjoyment of its healthful and invigorating properties when taken internally. 

In the meantime, the water continued to be used both with and without professional direction, and the result has been that now when the water is ready to be utilized in the form of baths of every description, as well as in the way of beverage, an array of testimonials to its extraordinary virtues as a remedial agent have accumulated, placing it at once in the first rank of health-promoting agencies of its class." Source: Stratford Directory 1880-81

Lucy Cartright, proprietress of Meribah

A first-class entrepreneur, Lucy Cartwright was the wife of Dr. Calvin Cartwright, a Stratford dentist. She was also proprietress of the Meribah Mineral Springs. While sinking a well on their property on the southwest corner of Nile and Ontario streets in the late 1870s, the well yielded more than expected. The water had an unusual taste and produced an exhilarating effect. Chemist H. H. Croft of the University of Toronto found seven minerals in the water, and he declared it “the best in Canada.” 

By 1880, the Cartright house had become the Meribah Mineral Springs. It contained baths and drinking fountains and was opened under Lucy’s direction. According to her publicity, the water could cure 26 diseases. The list included colds, congestion, ague, nervous diseases, kidney diseases, and of course "all female complaints." The Meribah Mineral Springs with its astonishing waters lasted only a few years and then passed silently into Stratford history. Source Stratford & District Historical Society 

Dave Marsden in 2014

Lower right:  Dave Michie (manager) of The Revols in 1957

Dave Michie, radio personality and The Revols 

Dave Michie, aka Dave Marsden, grew up in Stratford, was a member of Gordon Scott’s Junior Choir at St. John’s United Church (see Waterloo Street) in the early 1950s, helped his parents run the Melroy Dairy Bar (56 Nile St.) and acted as the manager of The Revols while at Stratford Collegiate (see St. Andrew Street) in the late 1950s. The rock band included Richard Manuel (see Well Street) and later of The Band; Ken Kalmusky, who played with Ian and Sylvia and the Great Speckled Bird; and John Till who formed, and played guitar in Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band.

Michie quickly became one of Canada's pioneering rock radio disc jockeys, after joining Chatham's CFCO in 1963. Bored with the station's commercial easy-listening music, he reportedly brought in some of his own records one night, ignored the format and hosted an uncharacteristically dynamic style. He was fired the next morning, but was quickly rehired after the station learned that his experiment had increased the its ratings.

He was then hired at CKEY in Toronto, where he was called "the most controversial thing on Toronto radio." (Toronto Star 1963) He parted ways with CKEY after just five months, and became host of Music Hop on CBC Television in 1965, succeeding Alex Trebek. In the same year, he started writing a column for the Toronto Star and was the subject of a chapter in Marshall McLuhan's book Understanding Media, which lauded his non-stop unique manic patter about singers and songs. This style earned him a huge following.

As Dave Marsden, he joined Montreal's CKGM in 1967. His hosting style was much less manic and more relaxed, though still informal and unpredictable. He became program director in 1978 and created the first alternative radio station in Canada under the slogan “the spirit of radio” during the 1980s.

He worked for the CBC, launched another freeform modern rock station, Coast 800, later Coast 1040, in Vancouver, was later involved in the creation of Iceberg Radio, the first major Canadian internet radio project, and returned to the airwaves as host of a freeform rock show on Oshawa, Ont.'s CKGE-FM The Rock 94.9 in the early 2000s. It was known as The David Marsden Radio Program, or the as The Marsden Theatre. During his time on CKGE, Marsden was the only freeform DJ on a commercial radio station in North America.

He created the subscription-based radio channel NYTheSpirit.com, which launched in September 2014. The station plays a mixture of music, concentrating heavily on the 1980s alternative scene, but with a freeform mentality that mimics Marsden's 1980s heyday at CFNY.

Marsden has been profiled in exhibits at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both for his on-air Dave Michie persona and for his role as program director of CFNY. He was featured in a 2015 documentary about radio DJs called I Am What I Play, directed by Roger King in 2017.  Source Gord Conroy Wikipedia. 

Duggan Place heritage inn

Jeremiah Duggan, a prominent merchant, owned and operated the largest department store this side of Toronto, J.A. Duggan Ltd., from 1883 until his death in 1936. He built this house at 151 Nile St. in 1891, and it remains today (2022), now as a heritage bed-and-breakfast operationDuggan Place Heritage Inn

14 Nile St.

Peter Jarvis heritage house

The home at 14 Nile St. was erected in 1874 by Peter Robinson Jarvis, the member of a prominent third-generation United Empire Loyalist family. He was an extraordinary tea merchant, who also was active in the public affairs of his community, which included a term as town mayor (1863-1867). He (1824-1906) and his wife Marion (Neilson) had 10 children. Jarvis Street was named after him.  

Gilbert Price's medals

Gilbert Frederick Price, DCM

Sgt. Gilbert Frederick Price DCM 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles and former company sergeant major 110th Canadian Expeditionary Force, Perth Battalion, originally lived at 192 Nile St. The family moved several times during the First World War. 

Sgt. Price was  awarded the Commonwealth's second highest honour for gallantry in the field, the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his actions on April 21, 1918, specifically "for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty."

During a raid on the enemy trenches he led a section of the raiding party, penetrating the position to a depth of some 350 yards, where he successfully rushed a machine gun post, killing two of the garrison and scattering the remainder. Although severely wounded, he directed the retirement of his party, with much skill, and himself carried a badly wounded comrade back to our lines. 

His courage and resource were responsible for the success of his portion of the enterprise." After a successful trench raid and a discovery by a German machine gun position (which he neutralized) Sgt. Price was to carry a wounded fellow Sgt 350 yards through enemy lines and across no mans land to his own lines receiving gun shots wounds to the leg and buttocks during the crossing. Source: Bill Donaldson FB

Names of the soldiers of the 110th Expeditionary Force 

111 Nile St.

Frank Kenneth Morley, RCAF

Flying Officer Frank Morley's  parents were John Gordon Morley and Dorothy Ena (Low) Morley. They lived at 111 Nile St. 

On Aug. 26, 1944, Frank Morley, as part of a seven-member crew, flew from Kirmington, England, in a Lancaster lll LM652 with the 166 Squadron headed for the Baltic area to drop mines. Their load incuded was three Mk VI mines and two Mk IV mines.

At 03:16 hours on Aug. 27, it was reported from the lighthouse at the island of Sejrø that an aircraft had gone down in flames. At 03:20 hours Unteroffizier Rupp of (see below) claimed a Lancaster in the waters surrounding the northern end of the island of Samsø.

It is believed that Lancaster was LM652 on its return flight, because the body of the pilot, F/O Royden G. Bradley, RCAF, was found washed ashore in Begtrup Vig Bay on Oct. 4, 1944, and was laid to rest in Tved Cemetery, Denmark, on Oct. 6, 1944. Source: Air War over Denmark Royal Airforce Command and Canadian Rememberance

Frank Kenneth Morley flew in nine missions before his last. He died at age 19. He is  commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial Surrey, United Kingdom.

He is also commemorated on Stratford's Veterans Banners on Remembrance Day month.

Friedrich (Frieder) Rupp was a Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during the Second World War. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. After Rupp was shot down on May 15, 1943, over the North Sea, he was posthumously promoted to Oberleutnant. During his career he was credited with 52 victories, 50 over the Eastern Front and two over the Western Front.

The Forbes house, built in 1873 at 131 Nile St. Jennie Forbes married Dr. James Robertson. Their son Dr. Lorne Robertson was born in this house in 1876. 

Dr. James Robertson, physician and surgeon  . . . and father of Dr. Lorne Robertson

John Forbes, who  immigrated to Canada from Scotland with his wife Elizabeth (Patton) and their young family, appears to have been the first owner of 131 Nile St. He was the original owner of the Queens Inn (see Ontario Street), and a successful Stratford businessman. Two of his sons, John and Robert, owned several livery stables in town (see Ontario Street). Robert built the house at 4 Waterloo St. N., which eventually became the home of renowned Canadian actor William Hutt. (see Waterloo Street). John died at age 40, on Jan. 9, 1865, and the house lot was left to his wife Elizabeth (1819-1875).

Elizabeth and John Forbes had four sons and a daughter. In December 1874, their daughter, Jennie Elizabeth (1853-1943), married Dr. James A. Robertson (1845-1924). It was shortly after his graduation as a doctor from Trinity College, University of Toronto, in 1875, that they moved into the new house at 131 Nile St. It was Elizabeth Forbes who had the house built, but she never lived in it. 

Jennie and James had two children, Lorne Forbes (Oct. 4, 1876-October 1952) and Pearl (1878-April 28, 1893). Like other doctors of his day, James Robertson may well have used the house on Nile Street for his practice. While there, he had two employees living at the house: Annie Armstrong, a domestic helper, and her sister Mary, a nurse. As the Robertsons had, the Armstrong sisters had emigrated from Scotland.


During his career-long practice in Stratford, James Robertson was extremely well regarded in the community. He was a doctor who visited hundreds of homes on his errands of mercy and healing. He served as doctor to Stratford's Grand Trunk Railway operation, and as the city’s health officer. He was president of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. By 1899, he and his wife had built a new house, that came to be called The Elms, at 55 Albert St. (see Albert Street). After his death on Nov. 4, 1924, Dr. Robertson was described in a newspaper as being of noble character and a leading citizen of Stratford.


Dr. Lorne Robertson followed in his father's footsteps. Like his dad, Lorne Robertson became a physician and surgeon, and member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He earned post doctorate degrees in England, Edinburgh and the United States. Well known in southwestern Ontario as a colourful figure, Dr. Lorne, as he was called, was part-time coach of Stratford's senior hockey team. Rumour has it he was intimately involved in advancing the career of a well-known Mitchell and Stratford hockey player named Howie Morenz. (see Morenz Drive).


There is a doctors Robertson story about father and son on vacation together. While away, they needed someone to tend their Stratford practice. From the University of Toronto, they were given the name of a promising young physician, Norman Bethune (see William Street), who indeed came to Stratford to cover their practice. After that experience, the Robertsons invited Dr. Bethune to establish his own practice in Stratford but Bethune chose instead to join the navy.


Dr. Lorne Robertson married Jesse Winnifred Munroe on April 30, 1920. They had no children. She died  on March 10, 1938 at age 52. Jennie Elizabeth (Forbes) Robertson was 83 when she died on June 28, 1943. Her attending physician was her son Lorne, who died in October 1952. Source: Stratford-Perth County Branch ACO (Architectural Conservancy of Ontario) | Historical Plaque Properties 

Edward Oscapella

Edward Oscapella was born of Polish and Ukrainian immigrants in 1915. He grew up on a farm in Milton, Ont., and though farm responsibilities occupied a great deal of his time, music was always his calling. He studied violin, participated in music festivals and  when the Second World War broke out he found himself landing on the beaches of Italy. He was in great demand as a performer for the troops. After the war, he completed his musical studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music. In 1950 he married Elisabeth Groh and soon after joined the Stratford Festival Orchestra. 

In Stratford, the Oscapellas lived at 74 Nile St. Elisabeth worked in the costume department at the Festival, where she sewed costumes for the likes of Christopher Plummer, Bruno Gerussi and Douglas Campbell.

They had two sons, Edward Jr., and Eugene. In 1960 the family moved to Oshawa, where Edward Sr. became a full-time music teacher. In 1983, Edward Jr. married Ann Tanner in Toronto, and in 1992 they moved to Victoria, B.C. Eugene became a lawyer and practised in Ottawa.

Edward Sr. died in 1989, Edward Jr. in April 2001 , and Elisabeth in 2018.

Musicians: L-R.  Gordon Scott, Cam Trowsdale, Ed Oscapella, Audrey Conroy in Twelfth Night,  In the foreground, Lloyd Bochner as Orsino and Siobhan Mckenna as Viola. Photo by Peter Smith, Stratford Festival Archives. 

Edward  had a role in Twelfth Night 1957. He is seen sitting down playing a flute.

To see the story of the four musicians click  Four Musicians