Princess Street

John McCarthy Sr. Stratford-Perth Archives

John Augustus McCarthy Sr., police chief

The oldest part of Princess Street was laid out on a plan developed by John McCarthy Sr., who also was the first police chief in the village of Stratford.

The name Princess Street is not what McCarthy intended. He called it Princes Street on his registered plan in the Canada Company survey. That name also appears on the 1857 map. But his chosen name was deemed too difficult to pronounce, and it soon became Princess Street.

His sons, John McCarthy Jr. and Thomas McCarthy also were police officers. Thy were involved in the capture of Amédée Chatelle, who butally murdered 13-year-old Jessie Keith. For that full story see The Trial and Execution of Amédée Chatelle

Percival Franklin Spencer

Percival Franklin Spencer was a bricklayer. Percival and his father, Henry, built the house at 82 Princess St., which was completed in early 1916. Ownership of the house was in Percy’s name, suggesting it would become his principal residence. Whatever the plan, it was derailed by the clouds of war, and the house became an income property.

On April 4, 1916, Percy enlisted in the Canadian Army and was dispatched to England. His first big engagement was the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The Canadian Corps was assigned to dislodge German forces from the ridge which commanded the Arras Valley. That task had already cost the French army more than 100,000 killed and wounded, and had resulted in failed attempts by other Allies.

The Canadian Corps commander, Julian Byng, who would become Canada’s Governor General (1921-1926), and Sir Arthur Currie planned the Vimy operation down to the platoon level using new techniques of warfare, which proved successful. Some historians argue that Canada was born as a nation on the bloody fields of Vimy. Percy Spencer was in the thick of the battle, in which more than 10,000 of his comrades were killed or wounded. He somehow survived.

His next major battle was Passchendaele, where the Canadian Corps, now under the command of Currie, were tasked with relieving the Australian and New Zealand forces, who had suffered high casualties but had failed to dislodge the German forces. Through some bitter fighting under horrible conditions the Canadians were successful in removing the Germans. The casualty list of Canadian dead or injured numbered 15,654. Corp. Percival Franklin Spencer was killed in action on Aug. 7, 1918. He is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery at Vimy Ridge. Source: Historical Plaque Properties

Flying officer Bryce Calcott

Bryce Calcott, Second World War pilot

Born in 1922, Stanley Bryce Calcott (known as "Cal") was a lifelong resident of Stratford and served in the Second World War as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was in the RAF Ferry Command, and flew all types of planes into the theatres of war from Europe to the Middle East and Australia.

He trained in Harvards and Tiger Moths. After graduating from the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) in Manitoba, he joined RAF Ferry Command, a unit that flew planes across the Atlantic when long-range flight over hostile seas was still new and dangerous. After the war, he was discharged as a first lieutenant (flying officer). He was awarded the 1939-1945 Star and the Atlantic Star.

After the war, he was the last instructor of apprentices for the Canadian National Railways in Stratford, and was co-founder of Hendrickson Manufacturing (Canada) Ltd. in Stratford.

Bryce Calcott died on Aug. 17, 2012, at age 90. At a tribute to him, family and guests gathered to watch a Harvard flyover as a parting salute. The Harvard, flown by Marc Thomson, was from the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, based in Tillsonburg.

Harvard salute to Bryce Calcott, 2012