Stratford’s Old Boys’ Re-union August 1 to 8, 1914 by Vince Gratton

We were only into the 20th Century for a just over a year when our sovereign Queen Victoria died on January 21 1901. This event would usher in what would be known as the Edwardian era. A time of great optimism and peace. Edwardians were learning to enjoy the social and leisure time that was available to them. Communities organized and held what were called “Old Boys Reunions”.

The purpose of these Reunions was to invite and bring together as many of the past and present citizens of Stratford that could be contacted. Invitations were sent locally and mailed out all over North America notifying former residence male and female to come home to Stratford to take in a full week of activities, hospitality, and fellowship.

Arrangements were made with the GTR to offer reduced rates for train travel back home. Extra scheduled trains were added during all the days of the reunion. It was a time for locals to show off how much Stratford had grown and improved since they were last home. That was evident as soon as they arrived at our newly opened Prairie Styled railway station.

Many of our streets had just been paved with macadam or brick, sidewalks and curbs were constructed with concrete. Electricity newly supplied by Ontario Hydro was in abundance and we were ready to show it off with Illumination events on the main streets and surrounding Lake Victoria. With a population of 13000 and high employment with good wages paid there was an abundance of new homes to be seen. Many now built with brick replacing old pioneer frame and log houses.

The older Stratfordites present were the last living pioneers from our areas founding. They gathered for photographs and sharing their memoires. There were band concerts, parades, boat regattas, and swimming contests. Sporting competitions were organized for baseball, lacrosse, and horse races. The travelling circus midway set up on the main streets offering, tarot card reading, fortune telling, freak shows and a travelling Zoo. The most beautiful baby contests were held for newborn boys and girls.

Churches held special services, local theaters offered stage plays and vaudeville acts. Music and dancing were in abundance. Hotels were open for dining and drinks. Locals opened their homes and welcomed old friends and family back. For many it was their first visit home in years. One can only try to imagine the good times that must have been had by all. Or we could just read this postcard that sums it all up for us that was sent by Dave Logan to a friend Mrs. Will McLeod.

“Having a whale of a time”

Minnehaha is a Native American woman documented in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. Why here?

Photos: Vince Gratton