Part of Queens Park Drive  was renamed in honour of Richard Monette in 2021. The part renamed is the oval that runs from the entrance to Upper Queens Park from Parkview Drive closest to the Festival Theatre.

Richard Monette, artistic director

Richard Monette was born in Montreal, the son of Florence M. (née Tondino) and Maurice Monette. He was a student at Loyola High School (Montreal) and Concordia University.

In 1992, he was named artistic director designate of the Stratford Festival. in 1992, and subsequently named artistic director in 1994. During his tenure, he not only staged every Shakespearean play, he showcased big-production musicals such as My Fair Lady and Anything Goes. Though critics argued the musicals were too populist, Monette erased the Festival's considerable financial deficit and brought in new audiences. His other legacies at Stratford include the Birmingham Conservatory acting school, a $50-million endowment fund, and the opening of a fourth theatre, the 260-seat Studio Theatre.

His many awards include honorary degrees from Concordia, the University of Windsor, and the University of Western Ontario; a Dora Mavor Moore Award for his outstanding direction of Saint Joan; and a Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. He was a Member of the Order of Canada, and received the Herbert Whittaker Drama Bench Award for outstanding contribution to Canadian Theatre from the Canadian Theatre Critics.  Source: Wikipedia

152 Richard Monette Way   Photo Brilliant Images

"From the air the gardens look like a butterfly . Perfect for peace garden"  Now, I will treat myself to a  Mint Smoothie at the candy store on Albert Street. Maybe someone there knows where the mural is.

Ted Blowes memorial peace garden

In 2017, Stratford’s Communities in Bloom committee created The Ted Blowes Memorial Pollinator Peace Garden. It was a Canada 150 project which recognizes the contributions of Ted Blowes, a former mayor and one of the founding members Communities in Bloom. The garden features native pollinator plants and has attracted many pollinators since it was established. It helps the pollinators by providing valuable habitat, and educates its many visitors as to how they too can help. Thanks to Brilliant Images for the picture and text.

The garden was planted under the Confederation Bridge in a butterfly wing shape. The bridge was used by walkers to cross the railway tracks which have long since been removed. The structure is now called "the bridge to nowhere." 

Ted Blowes, Mr. Stratford

Ted Blowes was affectionately known as Mr. Stratford. He was the son of the late Jean (Gibson) and Stan Blowes who operated a gift shop on Wellington Street. 

He was a secondary school educator for 34 years, and retired as head of the geography department at Northwestern Secondary School. Previously, he had  taught in Parkhill, London, Whitby and the Stratford Collegiate. 

He was active as a volunteer with several organizations for 49 years. His life was personified by his endless promotion of the City of Stratford. He served six terms on the Stratford city council, two as an alderman, the last four as mayor (1978-1988). He was on the board of the Organization of Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM) and was a past chair and honorary member of OSUM and its annual trade show. 

He also worked with St. John Ambulance, Community Living, Communities in Bloom, Winter Lights and Winterfest. He was a senator of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. 

He received many awards and accolades over the years including a Paul Harris fellowship from the Rotary Club of Stratford, the Queen's Silver and Diamond Jubilee medal,  Man of the Year and Senior Volunteer of the Year for Stratford. He died in 2013 at age 76. 

* He was also honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star in 2016. It has been located at the city hall and titled Mr. Stratford.

Ted Blowes  Photo: City of Stratford 

Plaque near the Festival Theatre   Photo Fred Gonder

Tom Patterson plaque (1920-2005)

The plaque reads:

A native of Stratford, Ont., Tom Patterson grew up during the Great Depression and dreamed of plans that might revitalize his community. After serving in the Second World War and completing university, he worked as an associate editor for a trade publication in Toronto. During the early 1950s, Patterson began discussing plans to establish an internationally renowned Shakespearean festival in his hometown. Although considered a risky venture by some, Patterson gained encouragement from Mayor David Simpson and the local council, and from British Shakespearean director Tyrone Guthrie. 

Through determination and perseverance, Patterson was able, in less than two years, to turn his dream into reality. The Stratford Shakespearean Festival opened in July 1953 with a production of Richard III, and created a new standard for North American theatre. Remaining with the Festival until 1967, Patterson was also founding director of the Canadian Theatre Centre and founding president of the National Theatre School. He received numerous honours for his work, including Officer of the Order of Canada (1977).  Source: Ontario Heritage Trust 

He was also honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star in 2002, placed at the Avon Theatre and titled Founder of the Stratford Festival

Kiwanis bandshell

In 1986, the We Build committee of the Kiwanis Club of Stratford proposed the club take the leadership role in building an open-air thrust stage and bandshell on the south side of the pavilion in Upper Queens Park. Club members hoped it would attract local and visiting musicians and “provide a new and exciting venue for Stratford's artistic community.” The board of parks management, the Stratford Festival and many area musical groups agreed the stage would boost the city's cultural atmosphere. The Club pledged $35,000 of the $70,000 price tag and proposed to raise the rest from the provincial government and private donors. The city council approved the project at a meeting in August 1986. Dances, concerts and other events were held to help raise the funds, and construction began in June 1987. The Kiwanis pavilion stage was completed in the spring of 1988, which marked the first year Kiwanis members organized and provided funding for bands performing in the bandshell. Since then, attending the Wednesday and Sunday night concerts has become a summer tradition for residents and visitors.  Source: Kiwanis International

In 2019, Kiwanis Club of Stratford president David MacLennan presented local musician Tim Adair with the Mel Osbourne Fellowship for his efforts toward building the Upper Queens Park bandshell in 1986, and for organizing the club's Concerts in the Park series over the past 32 years.  Source  Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald

The Stratford Concert  Band often play here at the Kiwanis bandshell                                            Photo Fred Gonder


The Revols

First they were the Rebels, in 1957. The name fit. They were into their rebellious teens, and so were we, their friends and fans. We had James Dean. Little Richard. Elvis. And The Rebels.

But the Rebels name was taken, by Dwayne Eddy and  his band. So the Stratford Rebels became the Revols. Sounded just about the same. At times they were known as the Rockin’ Revols. And rock they did.

It all started in the basement of Ken Kalmusky’s parents’ house on Queen Street. In 1957, they made a demo tape (see below) at CKSL Radio in London, Ont. 

They were “revols,” revolutionaries in a real way. They gradually gathered followers. They played dances in semi-darkness at The pavilion in Upper Queens Park, which was renovated in the late 1980s. (see Kiwanis Bandshell). Teens were drawn there by the hundreds.

The Revols, with Richard Manuel (see Well Street) on piano and vocals, John Till on guitar, Ken Kalmusky on bass, Doug Rhodes on vocals and Jim Winkler on drums ,were just 14- and 15-year-old kids at the time Ronnie Hawkins came calling and, together and individually, they made music history in the years to come. Till, 15, was reluctant to quit school and was replaced by Garth Picot, of Goderich, Ont.

As the Revols gained popularity in Ontario, one of their first gigs was opening for Hawkins in Port Dover. The next time Hawkins came to Stratford, the Revols were on the bill, but this time they followed Hawkins.

In 1984, four original Revols -- Kalmusky, Manuel, Rhodes and Till -- reunited at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival Theatre as the Revols, opened for The Band at two sold-out performances. It was billed as The Band/Revols Reunion Shows. Dean Robertson features the story in his book Not the Last Waltz, and other Stratford Stories. Not long after that memorable weekend, family members and band members carried Richard Manuel's casket out of his funeral service at Knox Church (Ontario Street), after his death on March 4, 1986.

*  Click on  The Revols Studio Demo to hear there first recoding     

“When the Revols came on, Richard sang Ray Charles's Georgia on My Mind, and brought down the house. (see Well Street) That did it, as far as the Hawk was concerned. Rather than compete with the Revols, he hired 'em.”   Source: Levon Helm, This Wheel's on Fire. 

On Aug. 4, 2008, the City of Stratford dedicated the bandshell in Upper Queens Park to the Revols. A plaque that bears the band's name and the names of its members was unveiled. After the ceremony, there was a concert by Plum Loco (Kalmusky and Till's band) followed by Ronnie Hawkins and his Hawks. Source: The Revols

In 1994, Manuel was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Band. In 2015, he was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame.

Kalmusky died in Stratford in 2005. He (posthumously) and Till each were honoured with bronze stars in 2020 by the City of Stratford. Manuel had been so honoured in 2004. Their portraits are found in Allen’s Alley (see Wellington Street).  Source: Prepared by Gord Conroy