Viking ship, Oslo

A man from the north

The name Norman first appeared on the 1848 "Plan of the Town of Stratford" drawn by Donald McDonald, who had been brought to Canada by his uncle John McDonald. It is safe to assume the name for this street  was chosen because if its historical significance in Britain, France and Canada.  

Many of the earliest French settlers in Canada came from Normandy, though there was little French influence in the early settlement of Stratford. The Canada Company was British through and through, so iot would have been the British Historical Association that led to the naming of Norman Street. Norman derives from Northman meaning a man from the north, a Viking. Normans refers to those Vikings who founded what became the Duchy of Normandy in France. 

Norman Street was one of the first in Stratford to get wooden sidewalks. The Norman Street Free Presbyterian Church got a sidewalk on Mornington Street hill in 1856, Beacon publisher William Mowat asked, "Why not Norman Street?" The sidewalk was built, but only as far as St. James Church. By: Stanford Dingman  Picture: Viking Ship Museum  

Tom Patterson, 1953               Stratford Perth- Archives

132 Norman St.    Photo Fred Gonder

Tom Patterson, Festival founder

In his early days, Harry Thomas Patterson, lived at 132 Norman St. He was the founder of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, the largest theatre festival in Canada. He was also a veteran of the Second World War, and a journalist who wrote for Maclean's magazine in the early 1950s.

From the time he was a teenager, he thought his hometown of Stratford, Ont., should be home to performances of Shakespeare's plays. The town was suffering because of changes in the railway industry, on which it had long been dependent. With no experience with theatre, Patterson proposed the idea of a Shakespeare-based theatre festival. In 1952, he invited prominent British director Tyrone Guthrie (see Guthrie Avenue) to visit Stratford and help bring his idea of a Shakespearean theatre to fruition. When Guthrie accepted the offer to visit, national newspapers started to take notice. Patterson told the Globe and Mail he wanted to provide "Canadian acting talent the opportunity to work with top directors and actors without having to leave the country." Guthrie said he was interested in a venture that "offers a fresh advance in the production of Shakespeare."

With Guthrie supporting the festival idea, Patterson persuaded the city council to back it, and formed an enthusiastic committee of local citizens to help organize it. Guthrie advised him to hire a big name for the first production. So, Patterson received a small loan from the city council to bankroll a meeting with Alec Guinness, and extend to him an invitation to perform in the inaugural season. The festival has grown and expanded significantly since that time.

Patterson served as the festival's general manager in the first season and worked in other capacities until 1967. He also founded the touring company, Canadian Players, with actor Douglas Campbell (see Mornington Street) and took part in the establishment of a number of cultural institutions, including the Canadian Theatre Centre and the National Theatre School. Patterson was also the founder of the Dawson City Gold Rush Festival.

Patterson was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1967 and also awarded the Order of Ontario. He received honorary degrees from the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario. The new Tom Patterson Theatre is named after him, as is one of the islands in the Avon River.  He was also honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star, which is located near the Avon Theatre.

For more on Patterson, read his memoirs, First Stage: The Making of the Stratford Festival, co-authored with Allan Gould, published in 1986.   Source: Wikipedia

David Scrimgeour, pioneer

David Neal Scrimgeour (1844-1906) was born in Perthshire, Scotland. He was the son of Alexander Scrimgeour (1802-1871) and Janet Robertson (1798-1862). Alexander emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1848 and settled his family in Stratford. He was enumerated in the 1851 census as a carpenter. At the time, his family included his wife Janet and three children including 10-year-old David. 

As a young man, David spent eight years in California and British Columbia. He returned to Stratford in 1869 and joined his older brother, Alex Jr. (1833-1890), to form Scrimgeour Brothers Avon Planing Mill on the south side of Mill Street (see Douglas Street)

According to a city directory, they manufactured doors, sashes, blinds and mouldings. They also offered scroll sawing and turnings. As contractors and builders they constructed a large number of businesses and houses in Stratford. By 1888 the brothers were also making furniture.  

The Scrimgeour house at 93 Norman St. is a  popular Queen Anne Revival style, featuring an asymmetrical façade with a traditional sunburst-patterned pediment over the front entry and beautifully detailed porch pillars. Another feature of note is the decorative yellow brick over Romanesque windows, as well as the two-storey bay.

93 Norman St.  1896

In 1875, David Scrimgeour married Sarah Robinson (1848-1932) and they had two sons, George and William. As well as being a success in business, David gave many years to public service. He was a school board trustee and a councillor before becoming mayor in December in 1881 following the death of Mayor Andrew. W. Robb. In 1882, Scrimgeour was elected to the mayor's chair. He was later appointed the city tax collector and served in that capacity until his death in 1906. David and Sarah Scrimgeour are buried in Stratford's Avondale  Cemetery. Source: Historic Plaque

15 Norman St.

Thomas MacPherson house and the Free Church of Scotland 

In 1843, there was a major split within the Church of Scotland. Hundreds of ministers and congregations broke away from the established church to form the Free Church of Scotland. St. Andrew’s Church (see St. Andrew Street) found itself caught up in the debate when, in 1844, its minister and a majority of the congregation withdrew to form a Free Church. They outnumbered the parishioners who elected to stay with St. Andrew's, so they felt entitled to the building and the records of St. Andrew’s. It took a civil court decision to settle the issue in favour of the established church.

The Thomas MacPherson manse for the Free Church of Scotland that had split from St. Andrew's was on an elevated triangular site at the junction of Norman and Douglas streets, facing the Avon River. Built as the manse to accompany the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland at 37 Norman St., the MacPherson house was the first residence in the area. The manse and church set the pattern for development in the area.

The MacPherson House is associated with Rev. Thomas MacPherson (see McPherson Street), who lived in the manse of the first Free Church of Scotland built in Stratford. He was one of six missionaries sent to British North America in 1849 to help establish the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. During his 28 years in Stratford, he was largely responsible for the establishment of both the Free Presbyterian Church on Norman Street and Knox Presbyterian Church on Ontario Street (see Ontario Street). 

The MacPherson House, designed by local architect Peter Ferguson, reflects the Georgian Revival style. Georgian elements such as symmetry are demonstrated in the five-bay façade as well as six-over-six windows, intended to create the illusion of French windows. The entrance is also flanked by sidelights and a transom typical of Georgian style. Source: Canada Historical Places

 * McPherson Street  was named after Rev. Thomas MacPherson, 1811-1891 (see McPherson Street).