Vivian Line

Vivian McManus

First female bus driver

In 1947, Hamilton McManus (1888-1958) received his first school bus contract. He started with four Reo buses, which he parked at his house on West Gore Street. As the business grew, the big yellow buses overwhelmed his large yard house yard. He had always preferred living in the country, and in 1950 he bought 150 acres in North Easthope Township, at the edge of Stratford. He moved into a house on the property and later added a garage for the buses. His company, Stratford Coach Lines Ltd., was also known as McManus Coach Lines.

The first students bused to Stratford schools from the surrounding area travelled on McManus buses in the fall of 1947. Hamilton McManus pioneered school busing to Stratford schools. However, the real pioneering was done in the Mitchell area in 1939, when some of the first school buses in Ontario took the the roads. After a lapse during the Second World War, the Mitchell High School district for school busing was formed, in 1946, to make secondary school education more readily available to rural students.

St. Marys, Listowel, Milverton and Stratford followed the lead in Mitchell. School buses were here to stay and, as the McManus business expanded, more and more buses were purchased. There was plenty of room on the North Easthope property to accommodate expanding McManus fleet, which grew to a 36 buses driven and serviced by 40 employees. The McManus subdivision was developed in 1952 on part of that North Easthope property. Lots were sold on McManus Road and on the north side of Vivian Street. The subdivision was annexed by the city in 1969. 

Hamilton McManus named Vivian Street for his only daughter, Vivian McManus Thompson. Though Vivian lives just beyond the Stratford city limit, in North Easthope Township, she still says "I live on my street," because her house is the first one on the right after leaving Stratford on Vivian Street. She was the first woman to drive a school bus in this area, in 1956. She hadn't planned to be a bus driver, but her father was short of  driver at the last minute and asked her to help out. She volunteered, liked the job, and stuck with it. After 28 years, in good weather and bad, Stratford's first female school bus driver retired. When Hamilton McManus died in 1958, his four children continued to operate the family business. After 37 years in the the family, McManus business was sold to Sherwood Motorways of Goderich. By Stanford Dingman, Picture Beacon Herald

Minnie Thompson Museum

This steam musical calliope was a common site in parades and public gatherings in and around Stratford, Ont., for many years. Owned by the Minnie Thomson Museum on Vivian Street it could belt out old tunes that were heard for miles and enjoyed by  many. Though it has not made a public appearance for a number of years, it is still owned and stored by the Thomson family. Manufactured in 1897, it was for years the top attraction at Ontario's First Agricultural Museum steam show. In this photo, the smiling fireman is Duncan McDermott. The photo was taken in Milton, Ont., in September 1968. Source: Vince Gratton

The Minnie Thomson Museum was at 138 Vivian St. in Stratford, Ont. It opened on May 24, 1960, and was in operation until the late 1970s. In 1976 the Minnie Thomson Museum collection – nearly 3,000 agricultural artifacts – was acquired, and in 2001 the Stratford Perth Archives over 600 objects which make up the Perth Regiment Collection. The collection is as diverse as the community it represents: Canadian National Railways equipment, furniture, quilts, clothing, Depression glass, military objects, medical equipment, agricultural, industrial, and architectural artifacts, and much more. * See Minnie Thompson Memorial Museum Instagram Pictures Source: Stratford-Perth Archives