One of Stratford's oldest, longest and widest streets, Ontario Street, was originally part of the old Huron Road, which led into the Huron Tract from the east and continued through to Goderich on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. The trail was first blazed by Dr. William (Tiger) Dunlop, who brought a survey party through in May, 1827. Ontario, Erie and Huron streets were named for the lakes to which they led.
Ontario Street was well named, because the Huron Road was the main route from Stratford to Lake Ontario settlements. Ontario Street derives its name from Lake Ontario and the name is believed to be a corruption of the Iroquois Indian phrase "Kanadario."
According to an early traveller in Ontario, Father Louis Hennepin, the word means "sparkling or beautiful water," and was used by the Indians to describe the beautiful lake now known as Lake Ontario. Another source says the name Ontario means "rock standing high or near the water," probably referring to the Niagara Escarpment, but we will stick with the "sparkling water" school. By Stanford Dingman
1 Ontario St., a storied past
Scotiabank with its sleek, modern look at 1 Ontario St., now dominates the junction of Ontario, Church and Huron streets across from the Queen Anne Revival-style courthouse (see Huron Street) and has since 1997. To some in Stratford, it seems to have been a part of the city fabric forever. To others, there is more history.
The building itself has been there since 1962, commissioned by British Mortgage and Trust. (For early history as British Mortgage and Loan see Corcoran Drive) Some may remember the architect who raised many an eyebrow with the brilliant but radical design that changed the Victorian streetscape. He also designed the Stratford Festival's permamnent theatre. Robert Fairfield was his name and his story can be found here (see Fairfield Drive).
It's the story of the site, 1 Ontario St., that is our focus. In the early settlement days of the 1830s, the site was occupied by the Monteith general store. It was a wooden building that, like many of its era, have given way to multi-storey Victorian stone and brick structures. The building at b1 Ontario St. housed furniture builders and sellers, undertakers, another grocery business, and for many years the Public Utilities Commission offices, before financial institutions dominated the corner. Many will remember British Mortgage and Trust and its dark days of 1966, and the advent of Victoria and Grey Trust, before Scotiabank took over the site.
The story of 1 Ontario St. is presented in a Feature Article (see 1 Ontario Street).
Brooks factory Stratford-Perth Archives
The Brooks' Steamer, "the gentle giant of motion"
Developed by an American financier and based largely on an American model, the Brooks Steamer was built in Stratford, Ont., from 1923 to 1929.
This was an unusual venture. By the 1920s, the era of the steam-powered automobile, which was never very popular at the best of times, was drawing to a close.
That reality didn’t deter the smooth-talking, personable Buffalo, N. Y., promoter Oland J. Brooks. He plunged into the steam-car business in 1923, though subsequent events suggest he was more interested in building his personal fortune that he was in building cars. Oland moved to Toronto in 1920 to set up a finance company. By the early 1920s, gasoline-powered vehicles were much more common than those powered by steam. Regardless, Brooks bought a defunct threshing machine factory in Stratford, Ont., retro-fitted it, and in 1923 established Brooks Steam Motors Ltd. Brooks was a shrewd money man; Stratford assumed "a $50,000 mortgage on a $55,000 building."
For Brooks, Stratford was a wise choice because it was at the intersection of three railways, which would merge and become the Canadian National Railways. It was, therefore, a major maintenance centre for steam engines, and had an excellent pool of workers skilled in steam locomotion.
The Brooks' Steamer, produced only as a sedan, had a standard wood frame. But its body was made of a leather-like fabric called Meritas, which consisted of wire, canvas and artificial leather. Meritas was produced in Walkerville, Ont., home of the Ford Motor Co.'s Model T factory. The Brooks' steam car, though easier to drive once it was moving, took a long time to get started and then could reach a maximum speed of only 56 km/h (35 mph). Compared to the similarly priced, gas-powered Cadillac, which could reach a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) or more, the Brooks Steamer was a hard sell.
Steam engine Stratford-Perth Museum
Brooks Steamer Stratford-Perth Museum
A Brooks Steamer returns home
Stratford Place, mural paintings
Rich Thistle, visual artist
The majestic post office
This impressive federal building stood proudly on the north side of Ontario Street from 1882 until it was demolished in 1961. Its strong 19th-century design became a prototype for post office buildings across the country. It was designed by Thomas Seaton Scott, who designed the first parliament building. Memorial Park now occupies this site. The city fathers, in their great wisdom, tore it down.
Personal Note: In the early 1950s, my father joined the Stratford RCAF Ground Observer Corps. Once a week, he had to take his turn at night to stand on the roof of the Stratford Post Office, and look into the skies for possible bombing raids from Russians. The old post office was a beautiful stone building; it would have been a shame to have it hit by a bomb. Who would want it to be destroyed?
Post office bell. The building of the Ontario Street post office was completed in 1884, shortly after the installation of this bell, which was cast in the Henry McShane Foundry in Baltimore. When the post office was torn down, the bell survived, and it now hangs at the entrance of the Stratford Perth Museum.
This two-part glass clock face came from the Stratford post office that was demolished in 1961, and it was restored. Scenic painter, Kevin Kemp refurbished the glass and repainted the numbers using archive images of the post office. Jeremy Cox built a frame to hold the heavy clock face, recreated the original hands and designed the clocks lighting. Greg Bride, master electrician at the Avon Theatre, helped to deliver light and electricity to the clock, which now keeps good time.
Rankin's, 81 Ontario St. Stratford-Perth Archives
Rankins Soda Fountain
"Boy that was good"
The "old " Albion Hotel
The "new" Albion Hotel
The "new" Albion Hotel on the south side of Ontario Street
In 1939, "New" Albion Hotel is still part of Ontario Stretscape. Photo taken by Bob Meldrum's father on June 14, 1939 after he climbed to the roof of Knox Church. Looking southeast toward City Hall showing south side of Ontario Street. Source Bob Meldrum Family Collection.
"New" Albion Still part of 1939 Streetscape
In 1939, the full street level front of the Albion Hotel was still in place but only two stories of the original four stories remain. The rest had been destroyed in the fire in 1936 and taken down. Note the open space behind. Businesses right to left -111 Cast Cleaners 113 Superior Shoe Repair 115 vacant 117 Albion Apts. 119 Trethewey & Thomas Radios 121 Ontario, Floral 123, Johnston & Fletchers, 125 Wheal Restaurant. Today  only the four second story windows and the two stores at street level to the right are left. Wong's Cafe became the Commodore and it and the double building to the right were lost to fire in 1978. (see Greenberg Place ). Vince Gratton
Source: If you grew up in Stratford FB.
This modern streetscape of the south side of Ontario Street shows the location of the six remaining windows from the original "New" Albion Hotel from 1881. Photo: Bob Toleff on If you grew up in Stratford... FB.
Knox Church before the 1913 fire
Knox Church after the 1913 fire
New church with proposed addition
Knox Presbyterian Church
Funeral procession down Ontario St. turning on to Huron St.
Funeral procession passing City Hall on Wellington St.
Funeral procession down Ontario St. passing Court House Photos Vince Gratton
Ontario Street Baptist Church
The Ontario Street Baptist Church, a substantial red-brick structure at 230 Ontario St. was built in 1889 at a cost of $12,000. It was not the first meeting place of Stratford's Baptists. In 1857, Thomas Birch, a newcomer from Brantford, gathered about a dozen others of the faith, and for some months they held prayer meetings in the village's log cabins.
On April 3rd, 1869, 16 charter members formally organized Ontario Street Baptist Church, with Thomas Birch and George Larkworthy (see their houses below) its first deacons. One of the earliest members of the congregation was a woman who had been a slave in Kentucky.
For a time, the parishioners met the town hall, with students from the Baptist Literary Institute of Woodstock conducting services. Plans for a church building, at the corner on Front and Albert streets were approved on Jan. 26, 1860. At that time a resolution was passed urging each member to set aside at least one cent a week for missionary purposes.
In May 1861, when the frame building opened for worship, it had 41 members. Rev. R. McClelland was the first minister. Following him, in 1862, was Rev. C. J. Shrimpton, whose annual stipend was $400. During 1862, the congregation members agreed to set aside six and a half cents a week to pay off the church debt.
A decision was made in 1866, to tear down that church, and rebuild on the former Ontario Street site of Stillman's Creamery, on the northwest corner of Nile and Ontario streets, which the congregation bought for $400. When construction began in 1868, the church refused to supply whisky for the workmen, as was the custom of the day, so the men refused to work. As a result, the Baptists started the job themselves. Deacon Birch described proceedings as follows:
"We lifted until we saw stars, but the frame did not go up. We felt something slipping and knew, if it fell, someone would get hurt. Suddenly there was a roar by an unfamiliar voice and the frame went up as if by magic." A group of Perth County farmers had come to the rescue.
The first pastor (in the new church) was Rev. John McLaurin, who departed the following year to become a missionary in India. The church was torn down in June 2019 because of a dwindling congregation and to make way for a condo development. Plans for that development have been enacted.
Dick and Karen Rigg compiled a history of the church. The History of Ontario Street Baptist Church Sesquicentennial Celebrations 1859-2009 Stratford, Ontario: The Ontario Genealogical Society Collections Source: Church History
The historic Larkworthy House
The Larkworthy House, at 248 Ontario St. (north side of Ontario Street), is just east of the former Ontario Street Baptist Church, which was on the corner of Nile and Ontario streets. The two-and-a-half-storey red-brick house was built in 1926.
It was designed by prominent local architect James Simpson Russell (see Shrewsbury Street), whose work is evident throughout Stratford. Some of his notable projects include St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Zion Lutheran Church, Avon Public School, Falstaff Public School and the Masonic Temple. The house is named to honour George Larkworthy, a Stratford butcher, a member of Ontario Street Baptist Church, and the first resident of the home.
248 Ontario St. Photo: by Fred Gonder
The Larkworthy House incorporates a variety of architectural styles popular at the time of its construction in 1926. Edwardian Classicism is most prevalent on the exterior. Typical of this style is the simple composition, massing of form and large fenestration. Though missing the Edwardian detailing, Tudor influences can be seen in the half-timbered gables and clipped roof ends. A large Prairie-Craftsman-style veranda adorns the front of the house. Source: Historic Places
Daisy Macklin, one of the first female doctors
196 Ontario St.
Alexander Hepburn Stratford-Perth Archives
Alexander Hepburn, architect
Alexander Hepburn was an architect whose office was above the Waugh Drug Store (see below) at 36 Ontario St.
He was a remarkably prolific architect who lived and worked in Stratford, Ont., from 1855 until his death in 1902. He was a dominant force in the architectural profession in Perth County for more than 30 years, and his prodigious output included more than 120 buildings throughout the region. They included commissions for commercial, industrial, institutional, ecclesiastical and residential builds throughout Perth County. The legacy of the Hepburn family of architects includes his son Thomas J. Hepburn, who trained under his father, and was the successor to his father’s practice after 1902.
Born in Dufftown, Moray, Scotland, in 1830, Alexander Hepburn was educated there, trained as an architect in the city of Aberdeen. He immigrated to Canada in 1854, and by December 1855 had settled in Stratford, Ont., where he worked as a carpenter in the building trades. He began to style himself as an architect in December 1867, and a local paper commended Hepburn for having proven himself to be “as good with the pencil as at the (carpenter's) bench.” In 1868, he had taken on new architectural commissions, but was still sought after by other architects for his carpentry skills.
The London, Ont., architect William Robinson secured Hepburn for the woodwork contract on St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church and the Toronto firm of Gundry and Langley obtained Hepburn's services on the interiors of the new St. James Episcopal Church.
His major commissions in Stratford include the Royal Canadian Bank (1868), Romeo Ward school (1873-74), and the Phoenix Block (1875). Among his signficant works ion nearby Mitchell, Ont., were the Royal Block of stores and hotel (1872-74), the Hicks House hotel and stores (1872-73), and the Oddfellows Hall block (1875). After 1880, Hepburn became the city engineer in Stratford, and was joined in his architectural office by his son Thomas J. Hepburn.
Thomas Hepburn, architect
George J. Waugh, druggist
Old Boys Reunion parade, 1928. Looking west on Ontario Street, with Erie Street, at left, running south Stratford-Perth Archives
102-104 Ontario St., 1907
The Beacon building
The Beacon building, at 102-104 Ontario St., was built in 1907. Through the years, in addition to newspaper and fine printing operations, the building also housed a book bindery.
* The Beacon building is now a hotel and restaurant. Mercer Hall
The front of the building in 2022
A memory: My great grandfather, William Mark O'Beirne (1854-1921) was the proprietor and publisher of the Beacon from 1891 to 1921. He built the original Beacon building on Ontario Street in 1906, mostly to increase its office space. In 1923 the Beacon merged with the Herald (which was at 15 Market Pl.) to form the Beacon-Herald. In the former newspaper building on Ontario Street now is Mercer Hall, a hotel and restaurant. Tim Robertson: If You Grew Up in Stratford . . . FB
Perth Mutual Insurance at 160 Ontario Street dominated the northeast corner of Waterloo and Ontario Streets opposite Knox Church and the Queen's Hotel before it was sold and demolished in 1960 after attempts to sell and refurbish failed. Photo: Stratford- Perth Archives.
* The building was offered to the city for $10,000. Source: Nancy Musselman post on If you grew up in Stratford...FB.
Perth Mutual Insurance
Perth Mutual moves to 210 Water
The Queen's Arms Hotel, on the southeast corner of Ontario and Waterloo streets. Though modernized, the basic structure has been retained
Queen's Arms Hotel, since 1858
Robert Johnson built the original Queen’s Arms Hotel in 1858 on land he purchased from the Canada Company. Named in honour of Queen Victoria “the graceful frame building” provided free transportation for guests to and from the railway station and stabling for close to 100 horses. John Forbes, who lived at 131 Nile St. (see Nile Street) was an original owner of the hotel.
John Corrie bought the hotel in March 1866, and it remained in the Corrie family for almost half a century. John Corrie was an member of Stratford society and, according to the 1879 Perth County atlas, the Queen’s Arms became the preferred headquarters of county councillors and politicians. John operated the hotel for a number of years and then retained managers until his son Fredrick John Corrie assumed responsibility for the hotel about 1892.
Fred Corrie was born on Jan. 21, 1862, in St. Marys, Ont., the second child of John Corrie and Mary Ann King, who both had emigrated from England and were married in Stratford on Feb. 23, 1860.
Fred Corrie began running the Queen’s Arms in 1904 and immediately rebuilt it as “The New Queen’s Arms,” which opened in 1905. The new hotel was constructed in the Neo-Classical Revival Style, characterized by the cupola on the angled corner of the building that includes a doorway that led to the original tavern. That tavern, according to contemporary newspaper accounts, had "the finest bar in the province . . . built of massive quarter-cut oak.” The hotel was lit through by a combination of electric and gas lamps. The restaurant was decorated in an oriental style, fashionable at the time, and the second- and third-floor hallways were carpeted in red velvet. There were bathrooms and lavatories on each floor, with hot and cold running water. In the 45 spacious guest rooms were Belgian carpets. The rooms rented for $1.50 to $2 per day. Fred sold the hotel in 1914. Source: Stratford-Perth Archives
Queen's hotel livery
Photo by Fred Gonder
Diana Olson, Balzac's
The president and founder of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, Diana Olsen, found her passion while at university studying French literature. She discovered a kindred spirit in Honor De Balzac and his genuine passion for coffee.
After graduating, she spent a year and a half in France, immersing herself in authentic French culture. She passed many enchanting afternoons in the grand cafés of Paris, which inspired her to bring such sophisticated celebration of coffee and social tradition home to Canada. But San Francisco was her next stop, in 1993, to learn the craft of coffee roasting and bean selection at the West Coast Specialty Coffee Training Institute. In 1996, the first Balzac’s café was opened at 149 Ontario St., in Stratford, Ont., and now there are 16 locations across the province. Source: Women of Influence
Diana left Balzac's in December 2020 to start a new venture called Inner Beach. It sells beach-oriented products online and out of its store in Port Credit.
To hear about Balzac's history click below.
Three Bradshaw generations involved in Bradshaw's China Hall. A fourth generation now own and manage Watson's Chelsea Bazaar, honouring the owner from which J. L. Bradshaw purchased stock.
Watson's Chelsea Bazaar
Peter Watson is the man honoured by the contemporary business Watson's Chelsea Bazaar. In 1896, after Watson's death, L.J. Bradshaw, great-grandfather of the present owners, purchased Peter Watson's china stock and thus began the Bradshaw China business that has served Stratford for four generations.
46 Mornington St.
Thomas Birch house, historic place
In 1853, architect Peter Ferguson bought what is now 46 Mornington St. from Col. William Frederick McCulloch and built the original two-storey structure that would become the rear of the house. The property was across the street from the first Perth County Courthouse, which Ferguson also designed and is considered his prized work.
In 1863 he sold the house on Mornington 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 local fire company. He was also one of the first deacons of the Ontario Street Baptist Church, which he had helped to establish.
218 Ontario St.
William Joseph McCully
Born in 1876, William Joseph McCully left his native Seaforth, Ont., at an early age to go to Black Creek, where where he worked in a cheese-making factory. He later went to a Strathroy school to take a short course for dairymen. When he came to Stratford, he managed Thomas Ballantyne's cheese-making plant in the Edington Block on Erie Street. After two years, McCully and a partner built a creamery on Erie Street.
The Avery House
The Rapid Transit Company
The the wooden four-wheeled conveyance in this photo was Stratford's first public transportation vehicle. Operated by John Stevenson, it is parked in front of the Stevenson house at 330 Ontario St. Known as The Rapid Transfer Company, for most of its well-dressed passengers it was likely their first ride in a bone-jarring motorized vehicle. Early in the 1900s, these people movers were built on chassis supplied by firms such as Packard. They were termed forward-control power-chassis that also were suitable for use as trucks, buses and delivery vehicles. Text and photo: Vince Gratton
The Fowlers lived at 511 Ontario St. The house was demolished shortly after this photo was taken in 2016.
Edythe Patricia Fowler
Kenneth Walter Fowler, veteran
Kenneth Walter Fowler was born in Stratford in 1924. He was a veteran of the Second World War, in which he saw active service with the Royal Canadian Air Force, in support of the Royal Air Force, based near York, England. As a member of 77 Squadron, he completed 38 missions over enemy territory as a tail gunner in a Halifax bomber (1942-1945).
Vogue Theatre and the Saturday matinee
A personal remembrance. It seemed every kid in Stratford went to the Saturday matinee at the Vogue Theatre. at 168 Ontario St. We had to because we did not want to miss the next episode of the cliffhanger serials. Did Batman really go over the cliff in the Batmobile? Also, there were great John Wayne and Roy Rogers westerns, the Three Stooges, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello and cartoon marathons, and popcorn. The Vogue was torn down to create (what else?) a parking lot. By Paul Wilker
The Vogue Theatre 168 Ontario St.
The Supertest station at 356 Ontario St. in 1931. Vince Gratton
Tudor Supertest station
Jasper and Weber Vince Gratton/Doug Jasper
This house, at 352 Ontario St., in 1910, was owned by Thomas Johns and family. His son William (known as Billy) entered the family's service-centre business as a young man and operated it until the mid-1960s out of this house. He was a pleasant man and a classy operator. His taxis were always black and spotless. In the hands of Thomas, and then William, their business had a long run.
In 1959, the original Tudor gas station and the Johns family home were leveled and replaced by a larger and more modern Supertest building. After extensive renovations, the building today houses a UPS store. Source: Vince Gratton
Stillman's Creamery . . . later Silverwood's, just east of the Queen's Hotel
Stillman's Creamery, 185-187 Ontario St., 1926. Stillman employees, from left: Harold Brodhagen, Irwin Ellah, Frank Milson, Doug Oliver, George Wright, J. Poyner, Joan Meldrum, Lillian Maslen, George Ford, George Burton (butter maker and superintendent), Charles W. Stillman, Ervin Elliott, William Drown, Russell Mann, Martin Graver, Harry Kingsley, Jack Coonan, Alex Cowan and Wesley Coulter. Photo courtesy Brian Wendy Reis . . . FB, from Stratford-Perth Archives, originally donated by Mrs. John R. Bell from the Beacon-Herald.
Silverwood's Dairy . . . delivery to your milk box, a Stratford institution
Silverwood's Dairy delivery men in a photo dates 1948. But is that the correct year? Check the "van" photo below for a clue. Originally, dairy products were delivered by horse and wagon, and later by van and trucks. Two pictures show the two methods of delivery but both seem to have been taken for archive purposes on the same day. Clue: the movie Sentry is listed on the Vogue Theatre's marquee in both photos. So is the word “cool,” which was great news for those seeking relief from the summer heat courtesy of the theatre's new-fangled air-conditioning system.
* "It was one of our duties as young boys and girls back then, to beg for rides in the horse-drawn milk and bread rigs. One of the easiest marks, and everyone's all-time favourite guy, was Silverwood's Danny Fooks. He was such a cheerful, friendly guy, and I'm not sure if he ever had a bad day in his life. " Source Brian Wendy Reis . . . FB
"Pasteurized" on milk labels
Doug Wilson and his sister on Blake Street. Posted by Bob Meldrum on FB
Tickets often were used instead of cash.
Albert Edward Silverwood and one of his most beloved products for youngsters -- and it came with a wooden "spoon."
Ad courtesy of Nancy Musselman from the 1932 souvenir centenary edition of the Beacon-Herald.
What about the Silverwood's stable?
There is an answer to that question and the research comes from Vince Gratton who provided both the photograph and the brief explanation.
In 1904, this building that you see in the picture was moved to the north side of Albert Street just east of Waterloo Street. "After this building was settled, it would over time become the livery stable for Silverwood's, with its entry on Albert Street." Source: Vince Gratton
A memory. "My husband's grandfather, W. J. Atchison used to store his horses in the Silverwood's barns. He used to deliver merchandise to various businesses with his wagons. He also would help clear Ontario Street of snow in the winter. They would load the snow onto wagons, then drive the horses and loaded wagons to the Avon River, and dump the snow into the river. " Source: Maggie Muggins on If You Grew Up In Stratford . . . FB.
Dempsey's Creamery, 2 Ontario St. in 1900.
This industrious scene from 1900, shows men unloading milk containers at the York Street side of Dempsey's Creamery, at 2 Ontario St.
Daniel Dempsey operated his creamery at this address for five years and then, after partnering with William McCully, moved to Erie Street.
Upon Daniel Dempsey Sr.'s death, his son Daniel managed the creamery business.
Before this time, in 1876, 2 Ontario Street was the business of McPherson and Farquharson dealers in Groceries, provisions, China Glassware and Seeds. D. R. McPherson lived at 56 Daly Terrace. John Farquharson lived on Elizabeth Street beween St. George (Mornington Street between Huron and Church) and Mary (Waterloo). This Ontario Street building was later home to Lloyds Wholesale (see Lloyd Court) and still later Canadian Tire. (See story below) In this photo, posted by Dave Schulthies on If You Grew Up in Stratford...FB, the Perth County Courthouse is visible across Huron Street to the right.
The building has now been refurbished and is a small hotel. Source: Brian Wendy Reis. If You Grew Up in Stratford . . . FB
Children's Aid Society building, 1945. Photo: Brian Wendy Reis, originally published in the Beacon-Herald.
Children's Aid Society
Classic Palm Garden, 1914-1917, and a casualty on the home front
The Classic Palm was run by Mrs. Harriet Saunders and her three sisiters who are seen in this newspaper photo. Photo: Brian Wendy Reis.
2-6 Ontario St.: heritage ties from Stratford in the 1860s to today's Perth County Inn
Perth County Inn, newly restored in 2018 as seen here, facing Huron Street, has a new address of 4 Huron Street but is the same building known since 1868 as 2-6 Ontario Street. Photo: Perth County Inn - Hotels - 4 Huron St.
Lloyds Wholesale 1905. Later moved to a building where Park Towers is today (35 William St.). Photo Nancy Musselman . . . FB
Canadian Tire in the 1950s. Looking east on Ontario Street from the Perth County Courthouse, by then a street revitalized. Phot0: If You Grew Up in Stratford . . . FB
Canadian Tire Store 2-6 Ontario St. in about 1946. Photo: Don Thompson, posted by Brian Wendy Reis . . . FB
Canadian Tire, a beginning at 2-6 Ontario St.
George Thompson was a man on the move. And when he moved, he took his Canadian Tire store with him. His first store was at 29 Ontario St., where he set up shop in 1938. In 194o he moved across the street and re-settled at 16 Ontario St. Five years later, he moved west, to 2-4 Ontario St., across from the Public Utilities Commission offices and within shouting distance of the Perth County Courthouse. In 1959, he bought a building at 45 Erie St., where today there is a city parking lot. At that address Thompson built a new store, which opened in 1960. Upon his retirement in April 1973, the store management passed to his son Don. It was Don who built the current store, at the east end of Ontario St. (1093 Ontario St.).
Let us not overlook Don's brother, Ken, who met customers with a smile and an offer to help. He could lead one to any item in the store, regardless of the changing product lines and the store's size. Source: Brian Wendy Reis, If You Grew Up in Stratford . . . FB
Canadian Tire catalogue 1956 photos: Betty A. Petrie De Vos . . . FB
Forbes Livery Stables
Forbes Livery beside Knox Church
The importance of livery stables in Stratford in the 1800s cannot be overstated. They were dotted throughout Stratford. Here is information about Forbes Livery on the north side of Ontario Street beside Knox Church. The church can be seen at the top right of the photo behind the tree. Forbes owned several stables in Stratford.
The Livery Stable, earlier Forbes Livery, Knox Church and the Perth Mutual Fire Insurance building. c 1900. The photo is looking east along the north side of Ontario street to the corner of Waterloo and Ontario Streets. Source: Stratford Beacon Herald from Brian Wendy Reis.
John and Robert Forbes were owners of Forbes Livery as seen in the 1876 Stratford Street Directory. They boarded and sold horses and livery equipment. By 1900-1902, it is Rankin and Easson Livery and Cleland's blacksmith shop just east and situated there in 1876 is now Barresdale and Parker blacksmiths.
The stable is seen here to the left of Knox Church. This photo dates from c 1900 before the fire at Knox in 1913 that took the lives of three from Stratford [see below] and destroyed much of the church including the steeple. The Perth Mutual Fire Insurance building no longer in existence is seen beyond Knox Church on the north east corner of Waterloo and Ontario Streets. (see separate articleson Ontario Street for the history of both Knox Church and the Perth Mutual).
The following is a memory from Brian Reis. "As a bit of a follow-up to the posting about the livery stable that became Stillman's Dairy, here's two photos, separated by several years, of another nearby Ontario Street livery stable that catered to everyone's mode of travel in the "good old days;" the horse.
Looking at the first photo, [ to the left], I'm sure most of you will recognize it, because you may have either bowled or been a pin-boy in the second-floor bowling alley; Stan and Earl Craig's, "Uptown Alleys."
The main floor morphed through several tenants, but I imagine most of you remember it as Cluett and Peabody's, "Arrow" shirt factory.
The building to the immediate left of the stable (empty in this photo), had replaced a previous board and batten structure that had been Cleland's blacksmith, saddlery, and builders hardware shop, [ see picture and painting by Rich Thistle above] and to the left of that building, was a wagon shop.
The building to the right of the stable is of course Knox Presbyterian Church. This was before the fire that toppled that beautiful steeple that killed then Police Chief, John McCarthy Jr., Fire Chief, Hugh Durkin, and Police Constable, Matthew Hamilton. There were other livery stables in Stratford, and another one that comes to mind, was once Vern Tuer's "Bowlmor Lanes" on Waterloo St. Note also the wooden sidewalk in the photo." Sources: Brian Wendy Reis, If you grew up in Stratford...FB. Finding Aids and Digitized Collections - Perth County
Note: Despite efforts to save the building, it was demolished in the 1980s. Stratford Place now occupies the site.
A& P 1952 Photo: Vince Gratton
1939 -1961, 69-71 Downie Street
1962-1971, 145 Erie Street, Owner W. McDonald
1972 t0 1987, 925 Ontario Street, Owner Ronald Sandham
159 Ontario Street. Then and Now series (2023). Bob Toleff Photos: If you grew up in Stratford...FB.
Stratford Steam Laundry
We think of Stratford Steam Laundry in this heritage building at 159 Ontario Street on the couth west corner of Ontario and Waterloo Streets directly across from Knox Church. It was run by members of the Chowen family until George Lindsay bought it in 1935 after the death of Edward Thomas Chowen in 1934. Before Ontario Street, the business was located at 55 Wellington Street. John William Chowen (1861-1926) was the proprietor as noted in the Stratford City Directory of 1896. It moved to 106 Ontario Street as recorded in the 1905-1906 directory and was run by the Chowen Brothers. By 1907, it was situated at 159 Ontario Street with E. T. Chowen (1871-1934) as the manager.
This picture on the left shows a photo dating from circa 1905 of the building that dates from 1882. We then see the building today as photographed by Bob Toleff as part of his Then and Now series posted in If you grew up in Stratford...FB.
In the original photo, it looks as if there was a large sign painted on the side of the building. This is not true. Local historian, Nancy Musselman, discovered in her research that the original photographer superimposed the image on the photograph. It did not exist as shown but the sign itself did exist.
And there is an explanation.
The photo below from Vince Gratton shows the authentic original sign set back in the portico entrance to the building. Mystery solved courtesy of Vince and his extensive personal postcard collection of Stratford history.
Stratford Steam Laundry. Photo: Vince Gratton Collection. We are looking south on Waterloo Street from Knox Presbyterian Church with the mother and daughter, we presume, approaching the church entrance. The Queen's Hotel is seen on the left across Ontario Street. The original fire hall and bell tower can be seen at the corner of Albert Street. The recessed authentic Laudry sign can be seen in the setback of the entrance to Stratford Steam laundry off Ontario Street.