The evolution of Ontario Street 

"Take a scroll in time to see the evolution of Ontario Street"

Note:  Click the names of places in blue and underlined to read their history.

Ontario Street is the oldest, longest and widest street that 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. 

1878  This text was a footnote on the etching. This wood cut was enlarged from an illustration on a map of the town of Stratford prepared on order of the municipal council in 1878. The The view shows the buildings on the southside of Ontario Street, looking west. The small building at the left was Paeckert's gunsmith shop, which no longer survives. Next was the huge four-story Albion Hotel, which shows people standing on the balcony over the main entrance. It was referred to as the New Albion, because there was another Albion hotel down the street. Ellam's restaurant and Ontario Jewelers now occupy the only remaining portion of the New Albion. The next building housed the offices of the Stratford Herald, which was a forerunner of the Beacon and Herald. It was this building that was destroyed in the recent fire in the Commodore Restaurant, Greenburg's Ladies Wear and Rickert's Shoes. The remaining buildings are still occupied today as stores with the bank of Nova Scotia at the corner of Downie Street. There is an old frame building on the side of the present Gordon BlockAcross Erie street is a three-story building only part of which now remains. The old Knox Church steeple later destroyed by fire may have provided a vantage point for the the artist.  The brick ornament in the foreground what is the top of the Forbes Livery Stable on the northside of Ontario Street. This building still stands and is the present location of the Uptown bowling alley. At the extreme right of the picture Church Street can be seen with a building near the site of the present in Perth Court House. Source: Beacon Hearld "Downtown Stratford 100 years ago in 1878".  Photo: Stratford-Perth Archives

1890 The Beacon is the first building on the right .   The tall pointed roof on the left is the Bank of Montreal.       Photo: Stratford-Perth Archives Text : Gord Conroy

Circa 1890:  Looking west. The man with the grader is at the corner of Waterloo and Ontario Streets . Knox Church is just out of the photo  on the right.    Photo:  Vince Gratton. 

Circa 1900 . Looking west from the  the Court House. In the foreground on the left, the north side of Ontario Street are many businesses listed in Vernon's Stratford Directories for 1900-1902. The first building at 2 Ontario, was occupied by Wm. Watson, tailor and Mar Vong, laundry. 

Then we find  at 4, J. C .Anthony, shoemaker, at  6 M. O’Brien, baker. The next building was vacant. At 12, there was  R.W. Roberts, pianos, at  14 J. M. Fraser, dry goods, at 16 A. MacLennan, tailor as well as M. Colter, jeweler. At  18 Ontario, we find Wm Macklin, dry goods, at 22 Jas Bremner, fancy goods, at 26 Joseph Rankin, confectioner.  

James Lloyd, wholesale fruits, shared the premises and soon moved to 2 Ontario. Rankins later moved to 81 Ontario. Then came at 28 G. J. Waugh, drugs, at30 Frank Garuse, fruits, as well as  T. Lawson, boots and Chas Carter. pianos . At 32 Alex Beattie & Co, grocers, at  34 Hudson and Trotter, barbers as well as Singer Manufacturing Company and Wm Smith, insurance. At  36 Mrs. E M Dalton, fancy goods, at 38 Allan Portrait Co as well as D B. Fraser, M D..  At 38 G. K. Maitland, photographer and at 40 J H Kenner, book seller.  Ontario Street then intersected with Erie, as Lakeside Drive was once know.

 The clock tower of the Old Post Office is visible then  just further west.  The Post Office also housed Customs and Inland Revenue. And further west still is the spire of Knox Presbyterian Church, destroyed in the fire of 1913. 

On the right, in the foreground, on the south side of Ontario Street, we see  1-5 Hepburn & Nicholas, furniture, at 7 Cardigan Overshoe Company as well as Ballantyne Dairy Supply Co, at 9 Wm Codd, pork dealer, at 11 Alex Ballantyne, undertaker, at  13 R J. Stevenson, grocer as well as Mrs. Piltx, dressmaker, at 15-17 Alex Smith, plumber, at 19 Jacob Pauli, butcher as well as Wm Casson, painter.  21 Ontario was vacant while at 33 Wm McMillan, painter. Erie Street then intersected Ontario Street.

Across Erie Street, in the Gordon Block, with the pointed cone roof, was   W. J. Ferguson, dry goods. Next door at 33 was vacant and at 35-39 was the Bank of Montreal.  That corner was later occupied by Standard Drugs and is now home to Festival Place. 

See 1910 photo, for a view looking west from the Old Post Office.      Compiled by Gord Conroy

1903       In this picture , Forbes Livery Stable at 99 Ontario Street is seen in the right foreground on the north side of Ontario Street.  The visible conical tower on the right is the  Post Office at 45 Ontario Street.  On the left or south side at 79-85 Ontario is the new Albion Hotel. The building in the left foreground remains intact to this day. See  2019 photo below.     Photo:  Vince Gratton:

1903.  Original photo by Mrs. Edward Mitchell taken from the lawn of the present day Public Library looking east.. In 1902, the building on the left at 2-4 Ontario Street, was occupied by  William Watson, tailor,  Mar Yong, laundry and J. C. Anthony, shoemaker. 

By 1904, James Lloyd  was there, having moved from 28 Ontario Street and sold fruits and vegetables. (see Lloyd Court and Ontario Street). In 1902, at 1 Ontario Street (see One Ontario Street) directly across the street in the right foreground was Hepburn and Nicholas Furniture. By 1904, the site was occupied by Stratford Wholesale Grocery. It would later house the Stratford PUC Hydro Shop beginning in the 1920s and  later the building was demolished to build The British Mortgage and Trust Company in 1959. It later became Victoria and Grey Trust Company and is now Scotiabank.  See 1963 photo.  From the Vince Gratton Collection

1910   The Bank of Montreal 35-39 Ontario Street is on the left in Gordon Block at the corner of Downie.  The Old Post Office with its clock tower is on the right. The horse in the right foreground is entering Ontario Street from a short street no longer there from Riverside Drive beside what was once Brown's Clothing store and now is Pazzo Pizzeria and Taverna.   Kenner's Bookstore is the building next to the Post Office occupying the ground floor with Maitland Photography on the second floor. It was later Northway's and then Wade's Flowers.  It was then painted white. See 1961 photo.    Photo: Vince Gratton. 

1910  Looking east.    Jarvis Block first commercial building on the right foreground. Photo: Vince Gratton

1913     An estimated 16,000 lined the route to  Avondale Cemetery to watch the funeral procession for  Police Chief McCarthy, Constable Matthew Hamilton and Fire Chief Hugh Durkin  who were killed in a fire at Knox Church.     Photo:  Stratford-Perth Archives

1913      Facing east from the front of the post office.   Photo: Vince Gratton.

1914     Decorated for the 1914  Old Boy's Reunion   Photo : Vince Gratton                                                                                                                                                                                   

1918  The elegant windows of the "new" Albion Hotel can be seen on the left. Only four windows remain today.     Photo: Vince Gratton. 

1920  Again, the windows and roof line of the "new" Albion Hotel structure which was destroyed by fire can be seen clearly on the south side of Ontario Street to the left in the foreground.   Photo:  Stratford-Perth Archives.    

1928   Wong's Café at 107 Ontario Street can be seen on the left.   It was later  The Commodore Restaurant      Photo: Vince Gratton

1932 Old Boys Reunion Parade   The line of Avon Dairy horses and wagons pass by the corner of Erie and Ontario Streets.   The sign for the BA Service Station can be seen in the left foreground. The service station later became the Information Bureau. See 1967 Photo.  Photo: Stratford-Perth Archives. 

1940   Looking east. The PUC Hydro Shop was demolished to build British Mortgage and Trust  in 1959. Beyond, on the south side still, we see Erie Street entering Ontario beside the Gordon Block.  The Old Post Office with the clock tower is opposite.    Photo: Vince Gratton.

1948   On the right, the north side of Ontario Street,  at 100 Ontario Street, is the Stratford Café.  Next to it at 94 Ontario is Ackers Furniture Co.   On the left of the photo, on the south side of Ontario, is the sign for Lincoln Shoes.  

1950      At 1:30 p.m. , September 24th on a Sunday a blackout occurred due to fires in Alberta    Stratford-Perth Archives

1952   The Jumbo Ice Cream Parlour is the small white building in the right foreground.  On the left, Grafton's can be seen in the foreground.      Photo: Vince Gratton.

1954   Canadian Graffiti ?     On the right is Pop Tsaltis  popcorn stand in front of IDA Drug Store                             Photo: Vince Gratton

1959   Parallel parking replaced angle parking in 1959.  Ted's Sporting Goods beside The Commodore Restaurant on the left was a popular hobby and sports shop. The Stratford Beacon Herald building is on the right with the elaborate windows.. Spackman and Ross Pharmacy further along the north side of Ontario toward the Old Post Office.   Photo: Vince Gratton.

Circa 1961. The Stratford Beacon Herald sign can be seen in this photo on the right. The Post Office is now  no longer part of the streetscape. It was demolished in 1961.  The clock and bell from the Post Office  is displayed at the Perth Museum. 

1963. Looking east from the Court House. The car in the left foreground is turning onto Huron Street. Church Street is seen in the right foreground.   The British Mortgage and Trust building in the right foreground later Victoria and Grey Trust and now Scotia bank once housed The PUC Hydro Shop.  See the original building in the 1903 photo above. The Old Post Office is no longer part of the streetscape. It was demolished in 1961. The conical tower on the right is the Gordon Block and opposite would be Brown's Department Store under the conical tower on the north side of the street.  Photo: Stratford -Perth Archives.

1966  Looking west. Brown's department store can be seen clearly under the conical tower on the north side of Ontario Street. Wade's Florist's resided in the white building on the corner of Ontario and the River Drive that was formerly Northway's, fashions for women. Greenberg's Ladies Wear sign can be seen on the south side of the street.  Photo: Stratford -Perth Archives.

1967   The Chamber of Commerce information centre was formerly a BA service station which was owned and run by the Woodward family in the 1950s.    Photo: Vince Gratton