Well Street is named for Wells Street in Toronto but why without the "s"?

Well Street is part of the John Arnold and James Lukin Robinson survey which was laid out just prior to the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856. The two Toronto developers hoped to cash in on the anticipated housing boom, and opened up a number of streets between 1835 and 1855. Well Street was one of them; it appeared for the first time on the 1857 map. 

Wells Street in Toronto had been named after Col. Joseph Wells (1773-1853), army officer, politician and university official who had come to York (later renamed Toronto) in 1821. He was a member of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and served on the executive council from 1828 to 1836. He then resigned "in protest, with his colleagues, against the policies of  Sir Francis Bond Head, the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada." Wells became the first bursar of King's College (now the University of Toronto) in 1827. Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography     

Richard Manuel, musician

Richard Manuel was born in 1943 and lived at 138 Well St. His father was a mechanic, his mother a schoolteacher. Richard and his three brothers sang in the Ontario Street Baptist Church choir. Richard took piano lessons, beginning when he was nine, with Audrey Conroy (see Water Street). She taught him progressive chording techniques, but after accomplishing that, he dropped the lessons within a year. He continued to learn by playing piano at home and rehearsing with friends

In early 1959, when he was 15, he joined The Rebels, a local Stratford band featuring guitarist John Till. With Manuel on piano and vocals and his friend Jimmy Winkler on drums, the band was rounded out by bass player Ken Kalmusky. (see Queen Street)  In short order, the group changed its name to The Revols.

Manuel first became acquainted with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks in the summer of 1960 when The Revols opened for Hawkins at Pop Ivy's dance hall in Port Dover, Ont. Manuel was 18 when he joined Hawkins' backup band, The Hawks. It was Manuel who sang most of the songs on the Hawks' set list.

In 1965, Bob Dylan tapped the Hawks to tour as his band when he was "going electric." During that time, Richard taught himself how to play drums. The early months living in Woodstock, N.Y., allowed him to develop as a songwriter. 

After a series of hit songs, the album Music from Big Pink was released with the group's name given as simply "The Band." While reaching only No. 30 on the Billboard charts, the album had a profound influence on the nascent country rock and roots rock movements. 

Richard went on to play with The Band until he died in Florida in 1986 at age 43. He is buried in Avondale Cemetery.

Manuel's singing alternated between a soul-influenced baritone that drew frequent comparisons to Ray Charles and a delicate falsetto. Though The Band had three vocalists sharing lead and harmony parts, Manuel was often seen as the group's primary vocalist.

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. Stratford honoured him with a Stratford bronze star in 2004. There is also a memorial bench next to the Avon River dedicated in his honour.  Source: Wikipedia

*  In May 2022, the City of Stratford recognized Richard Manuel's childhood home at 138 Well St. with a special heritage designation. Source: Stratford home of The Band's keyboardist recognized with Blue Plaque | The Sarnia Observer 

Members of the Manuel family, the Till family and the Kalmusky family joined Jamie Hewitt and Oliver VonWitzenhausen, the current occupants at 138 Well St. in Stratford, to officially recognize the house as the childhood home of famed rock composer, keyboardist and singer Richard Manuel with the presentation of a blue plaque from Heritage Stratford and the City of Stratford, 2022. (Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald) 

Casimir Gzowski

Casimir Gzowski  Wikipedia

When Sir Casimir Gzowski opened his Grand Trunk Railway through to Stratford in 1856, the building boom along the tracks had been anticipated. In the years between 1853 and 1855, Toronto developers John Arnold and James Lukin Robinson had been busy laying out the adjacent street plan. The sizeable block of land they owned in the town's east end extended south from Ontario Street, crossed to the south side of the GTR tracks, and stretched east from Front Street to beyond Romeo Street. They called Romeo "Main Street," hoping to draw attention to this newly opened part of the town. The Arnold and Robinson Survey still stands among the largest land development projects ever to take place in Stratford. They owned about one-quarter of the available land, which soon encompassed three railways.

It was the prospect of the Grand Trunk line from Toronto that attracted Messrs. Arnold and Robinson to Stratford. They also borrowed all their street names from Toronto. Well Street was named for Wells street in Toronto. The “s” was dropped in transition to Stratford as it became Well Street on the 1857 map.

 Wells Street in Toronto was named for Col. Joseph Wells (1773-1853) who lived in York (later renamed Toronto) as of 1821. He was appointed to legislative council of Upper Canada in 1798. By Stanford Dingman

Rev. William Tillman Corcoran

A native of London, Ont. and the son of Irish and German parents, William Corcoran was among the first ordained graduates from the then new St. Peter's Seminary in 1912. After his ordination in St. Peter's Cathedral, London, he served as curate at Holy Angels Church in St. Thomas for 11 months and as curate for five years at St. Peter's Church.

He was a chaplain with the Canadian Army for a short period in the First World War and was Roman Catholic chaplain of the Royal Canadian Legion, Stratford Branch No. 8, and of the Perth Regiment Veterans' Association.

Msgr. Corcoran's first pastorate was at Carmel, which included a mission church, St. Peter's, eight miles away. His pastoral work entailed travel by horse and buggy in summer and horse and cutter in winter. By the end of his 14-year stay at Mt. Carmel, the automobile had arrived.

 In 1955, Msgr. Corcoran he was appointed dean of the Stratford deanery and named to the board of diocesan consulters. In September 1959, he was made a domestic prelate. He also served as a member of the Stratford Separate School Board.

Clergymen from many parts of the Diocese of London and elsewhere, and friends, filled St. Joseph's Church for a high mass to mark the 50th anniversary of holy priesthood from Rev. Corcoran who retired in 1960, after serving for 25 years as parish priest for Immaculate Conception (see below).


At the close of mass, Msgr. Corcoran received a papal blessing and, in turn, by cablegram from Vatican City, permission to bestow the papal blessing upon all attending the mass. A cablegram of congratulations was also received from Bishop Cody (see Cody Drive) of London, Ont. Source: Stratford-Perth Archives  and  the Stratford and District Horticultural Society. 

* A garden in memory of Msgr. Corcoran is on McLagan Drive. It is filled with many varieties of irises, including the official City of Stratford Iris that he developed. 

Immaculate Conception Church

Monsignor Daniel Egan  Stratford-Perth Archives

The main landmarks on this street are associated with the Roman Catholic Church and separate school. The new parish, Immaculate Conception, was established in 1905 to serve the growing number of Roman Catholics in the east end of the city, those who lived too far from St. Joseph's Church.  The founding pastor was Rev. Daniel Joseph Egan. (Egan Circle is named after him) In 1950, Pope Pius XII made him a domestic prelate of the papal household under the title Monsignor.                               By Stanford Dingman

Immaculate Conception Church at 50 Well St.