Oak Street

From small acorns . . .

McLagan oak phonograph cabinet

Oak Street is a recent addition to the list of Stratford streets named for trees. Alexander Grant was a Stratford lawyer and mayor of the Town of Stratford in 1879-1980. He must have been interested in trees, in that he is credited with the idea of naming a group of Stratford streets for trees that were native to this part of Canada.

Oak Street was named in recognition of the Canadian oaks founded in and around Stratford. Most common among them were white, red, black, and the burr or scrub oak. The white oak is the most important member of the family and is probably the best known to most people.

Though oak trees are not common in Stratford, large quantities of oak lumber were shipped into the city to supply Stratford's furniture factories. A great deal of Oak furniture was produced at the McLagan furniture plant on Trinity Street (see Trinity Street). The company made everything from radio cabinets to dining room suites. Hundreds of thousands of board feet were installed in Stratford homes when it became fashionable to cover all the good old Canadian maple and pine laid by the pioneers for their floors.

Canada Company surveyor Samuel Strickland wrote about an oak tree he preserved in one of his fields in Douro Township, Peterborough County. It was split from top to bottom by lightning in the summer of 1838. Said Strickland, "I measured this tree correctly, and found the diameter, 24 feet from the ground, to be five feet, three inches. The length of the trunk was 48 feet up to the first branch." Mighty oaks, from small acorns, certainly did grow. But alas, oak lumber has never been plentiful in Canada. By Stanford Dingman