Duke of Wellington

The Duke

Wellington Street first appeared on Donald McDonald’s 1848 Canada Company plan of the town of Stratford. The name had been written on his 1839 plan based on the 1834 survey by his cousin, John McDonald.

Those early plans also show a stream passing through what is now Market Square and a sawmill on the present city hall site. Later known as Romeo Creek because it originated near Romeo Street, water still runs underground through the Romeo brick arch, which drains into the Avon River. The arch crosses under Wellington Street near its intersection with St. Patrick St.

The McDonalds were instrumental in establishing the street plan of Stratford. It was no coincidence that the cousins had the name “Wellington Street” on their earliest maps. Their instructions probably came directly from Canada Company officials.

Wellington Street was named for Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

When Canada Company officials were naming the first streets of Stratford, they made a special effort to honour Britain’s heroes. Foremost among their street names were Wellington and Waterloo. Wellesley Street also appeared on the 1848 map, and Mornington Street was named in honour of the 2nd Earl of Mornington, the duke’s older brother.  By Stanford Dingman

The Duke of Wellington, soldier and statesman, was showered with titles, honours and public adulation to an extent that is almost impossible to to comprehend today. It has been said the only modern equivalent coming close to the Wellington phenomenon in recent history was Sir Winston Churchill. Queen Victoria wrote of Wellington, "He was the greatest man this country ever produced." Source: Streets of Stratford 2004

The blocks

The blocks, in 1898 from the left: Worth Block, (not visible), Brandenberger Block, Cabinet Hotel, Royal Hotel (Easson Block), Shakespeare Block and Mowat Block on the corner of Market ( Downie) Street.    Stratford-Perth Archives

As they were in 1860s        Source:  Stratford City Directory  1896

Worths Hotel

Royal Hotel

Cabinet Hotel

Shakespeare Block

Wellington  Street benefitted from being near the city hall and the railway stations, yards and shops. Three blocks of buildings were named for their owners: the Easson Block (1872), the Brandenberger Block ( 1873) and the Worth Block (1889). All were hotels at one time, an indication of the importance of Stratford's commercial base and the impact of the railways.   Picture: Nancy Musselman

The Easson Block, 28‐30 Wellington St.

In 1849, a young Thomas Holliday left his home in Beeford, Yorkshire, England, to travel to Stratford, Ontario,  in the early 1860s. Here he found work as a butcher with William Worth, the hotelier built the Worth Block at what is now 42 Wellington St., just west of the Easson Block.

The hotel business, which was flourishing in early Stratford, was not lot on Thomas Holliday. In Stratford, travellers could now access the railway services provided by the Buffalo and Lake Huron line and the Grand Trunk Railway. In 1867, Holliday opened the Corn Exchange Hotel in a small frame building adjacent to the east side of the Easson Block on Wellington Street. He subsequently engaged a prominent local architect, Alexander Hepburn (see Ontario Street), to design a much larger and more well-appointed facility on the property, which he named the Royal Hotel. For many years, the Royal, with its prominent site on Wellington Street, was known as one of Stratford's finer hotels. That building was destroyed by fire in 1964, and the street-level businesses that are there now are Sinclair Pharmacy (12 Wellington St.) and Wuerth Shoes (16 Wellington St.) Source: Historical Plaque Properties

32-34 Wellington St.   Fred Gonder

Photo: Fred Gonder

 The Brandenberger Block  28-34 Wellington St.

In 1872, Swiss-born William Brandenberger (1826-1873) built his large yellow-brick building on Wellington Street to house a new hotel run by his wife Caroline (Heer), also born in Switzerland (1835-1913), and a grocery business. William Brandenberger was one of the early pioneers to Stratford with his wife Caroline and had brought his country’s cultural traditions with him from his home country. He was a musician who also made sausages, and his wife Caroline, carried on the business after he died. 

The block was built in the high Victorian style. John Lloyd, produce dealer, and Albert Brandenberger’s tin shop were the first tenants of the new building. Albert (1868-1924), one of the Brandenbergers' six children, later built the Albert Theatre (see Downie Street), now the Avon Theatre, either named after himself or Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, or both. Theatre Albert was luxurious and impressive, with its 1250 seats, and opened in 1901 with a performance entitled, The Female Drummer.  Theatre Albert was Stratford’s first opera house and legitimate theatre, as noted by Adelaide Leitch in her history of Stratford, Floodtides of Fortune.

Throughout the 1890s, numerous merchants rented the street-level stores in the Brandenberger BlockThrough the years, the section of the Brandenberger block at 32 Wellington housed a variety of tenants such as stove dealers, ladies’ clothing stores and shoe stores. It is now the home of Blowes & Stewart Travel Group. William Brandenberger’s wife Caroline added the second bay during the 1880s at 34 Wellington which is now where Blowes Stationery & Office Supply resides. 

In July 1953, Stratford citizens lined up by the hundreds to purchase tickets  for the new Stratford Shakespearean Festival at Stan Blowes Book and Gift Shop. Tickets ranged in price from $1.00 to $6.00.  A single copy of Maclean's magazine that year cost 15 cents; a year's subscription was $3.00. Photo: Stratford Beacon-Herald.  

The Blowes Family Business at 32-34 Wellington

In 1949, the first Blowes store opened called Stan Blowes Book and Gift Shop in the historic Brandenberger building. The store also offered office supplies along with a travel service. 

Stan Blowes originally purchased Kenner's Book Store, that had opened in Stratford in 1890, which sold all different types of books, including the textbooks needed by students for each school year. Many in Stratford will remember that Kenners' and then Blowes was the special shopping place for books and school supplies and long lines when the first days of September rolled around.  It was exciting. 

Stan’s son, Bob, was the man who later ran the business for many years. Currently, this location on Wellington Street is where Blowes Cards & Gifts is now found.  

In 1953, when the Stratford Shakespearean Festival began, Tom Patterson needed a downtown Stratford location to sell tickets locally. That location was Stan Blowes’ store. Tom Patterson mentions in his book, The First Stage, The Making of the Stratford Festival, that “Stratford’s citizens by the hundreds lined up for tickets” outside the store after opening night. The season ended with over 100% sales. But how is that possible? The canvas of the tent theatre was stretched to accommodate fuller houses. Stan’s son, Ted Blowes, who was an usher that first year at the Festival, and swept out water after heavy rain storms along with a team of ushers, later served Stratford first as alderman and then mayor for a decade from 1978 to 1988. 

Inside the stores today, the present members of the Blowes family proudly display the history of this heritage building and note on their website: “The original wooden squeaky floors and tin ceilings could tell some stories!” 

Sources: Adelaide Leitch, Floodtides of Fortune; Tom Patterson, and Allan Gould, First Stage, The Making of the Stratford Festival , Stratford Perth- Archives; Blowes History Site. Special thanks to Nancy Musselman and Fred Gonder.  

Note: In 1949, Stan Blowes opened his first store, Stan Blowes Book and Gift Shop and decided to preserve its history. Seventy plus years later, the family is still on site and have preserved the building carefully through the years. It is now a Stratford heritage site.  For further detail s and photos, see Blowes History Site .

Photo: Fred Gonder

John Luke Poett, Vet in the Saddle

Plaque (cast 1979) reads:

Brandenberger Block: (Left 1881- Right 1870). Erected by W. M. Brandenberger included amongst the people and businesses here was John Luke Poett, first veterinary surgeon of the North West Mounted Police.

John Luke Poett, Stratford vet with NWMP

The mounted police force, enacted by legislation in 1873 to police the Northwest Territories, "marched" west from Toronto in June 1874, by train, accompanied by 244 horses under the care of John Luke Poett, a veterinary surgeon from Stratford. Poett, an 1860 Edinburgh graduate, had practised in Ontario since 1869, first in London, Ont., then in Stratford. One of the first veterinary surgeons in the Territories and the first graduate veterinary surgeon of the force, Poett served under a commission (1874-77 and 1884-95), latterly as a staff sergeant. 

This is the story of John Luke Poett, the first Veterinary Surgeon of the NWMP. He located his last private office in this building in the Brandenberger Block, Wellington Street .   Read his story at Vet in the Saddle

Book  issued 1978

Further History of Poett and the NWMP. The North West Mounted Police Veterinary Service was separate from the RCAVC, but in a para-military copy of the British military model, Canada had the North West Mounted Police (NWMP), the precursor to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The NWMP employed John Luke Poett as their first veterinary surgeon and who was possibly the first qualified veterinarian in the Northwest. Here too the British influence can be seen, as he was a graduate of the Class of 1860, Edinburgh Veterinary College (popularly known as the “Royal Dick”). After a brief engagement with the British Army and private practice in  both London and Stratford Ontario, he was appointed to the NWMP on 29 April 1874. As a mounted para-military organization, it travelled great distances, relying on Poett and subsequent veterinarians to care for the horses that were fundamental to the NWMP’s duties. As we all know, the horse is still an iconic image of the RCMP, as honoured in the Musical Ride.  Source: Stratford and District Historical Society FB. 

Stratford-Perth Archives

Part of the Easson Block, on Wellington St.  The building housed the office of Dr. John Luke Poett, veterinary surgeon., whose story is told in Vet in the Saddle.   

From the left: The Brandenbergers' German Shop, the owner was a sausage maker from Germany. Their Son Albert Brandenberger built the Albert Theatre, now the Avon. Mrs. Brandenberger's hotel directly beside it was a very successful venture and later they built a three story building beside it. The Great Western Railroad office is next and then the Cabinet Hotel. 

Vince Gratton added  a connection to today. The building to the right of the German House is today the home of Blowes Travel. Number 28 Wellington has not had extensive changes and is still today quite recognizable. The Easson Block still stands today although its face was re-bricked in a red veneer years ago (c.1930) The Mansard roof was altered to a matching third floor front which is now a part of the re-bricked face. The outer buttresses are still recognizable. On the left of the centre door is today the Butcher, the Baker number 24. and to its right number 22.

Vince Gratton. Source Stratford and District Historical Society FB

Wellinton Street from Market Square showing the Blocks in the 1930s. Photo: Stratford-Perth Archives

The Worth Block  

The Worth  Block was the creation of Charles L. Worth in 1889-1890 when he was in his mid-30s.  He was the son of William Worth, who had been a hotelkeeper at the same address from 1868 to 1884. Stretching from 38 to 46 Wellington St., the block was designed to provide retail outlets on its street level, while its upper two storeys were more for offices, living quarters and meeting halls. Among the first occupants were brokers W. G. Mowat and Alex Dow. There were others who sold liquor, cheese and music supplies.


In 1897, when Stratford’s first city hall was destroyed by fire, the mayor and his councilors moved their municipal headquarters to rooms in the Worth Block. The Stratford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was born in the same building. At some point, the Worths filled their third floor with a ballroom. Beginning in 1929, and for much of the next four decades, that ballroom – 44 stairs up from the street, was the city’s best-known dance place.


It began as The Classic Gardens. About a decade later it became The Royal Ballroom, then The Blue Room (1939-1951), The Melody Mill (1952-1954), The Blacksmith Shop (1955-1957), The Festive Lounge (1957-1959), the German-Canadian [Teutonia] Club (1959-1965) and Club 42 (1965 to March 1969). At least once during The Blue Room years, and a few times in the days of Club 42, there was roller skating on the ballroom’s hardwood. At other times, there were dozens of bingo nights, and euchre parties. There were political rallies and receptions and an art gallery. In the first two years of the Stratford Festival, founder Tom Patterson used the big room to welcome dignitaries and members of the media prior to his theatre’s opening-night performances.

42 Wellington      Fred Gonder

In 1952, after the death of Charles Worth and his wife, the Worth Block was sold to Herbert Wellington Gregory who owned and operated the Rexall Drug store at 46 Wellington St. He sold the building in 1972 and in the years since, its ownership has changed a few times. Source: taken from Dean Robinson's book 42 Wellington- The Music and Memories 1929 -1969.

The 200 page book by Dean Robinson details the fascinating history of the Worth building. It is called 42 Wellington- The Music and Memories 1929-1969 and is filled with pictures and stories of musicians who played there

City Hall, 1 Wellington St.  Art by Rick Thistle

Queen of the Square auditorium

City Hall, the  Queen of the Square

Stratford City Hall is a late 19th-century picturesque municipal building, representative of an era when growing cities sought to express their civic pride and ambition in impressive civic buildings. 

The first town hall was destroyed by fire in November 1897. It had been built in 1858 and held its first council meeting that year. The meetings and offices to run the town were on the second floor. However, it was not just a town hall. It was also a Market House. Businesses and the market occupied the first floor.  As well, the building  housed a large concert hall and the town's first library. The police and fire departments also operated from there..  It was a multi-use structure. (see Market Place). When Stratford graduated from town to city in 1885, the town hall became the first city hall.  

The cornerstone for a new city hall was laid in November 1898 and the building was opened in 1900. (see Market Place). The new city hall, on the site of Stratford's former town hall, marked a notable addition to the streetscape. Under threat of demolition in the 1960s, and again in the early 1970s, the building was saved by a citizens group. 

Here is a brief summary of the key events. 

In 1967, Mayor C. H Meier put forward a proposal to demolish the building and replace it with a ten-storey hotel surmounted by a revolving restaurant. In 1969, city council agreed to demolish the building  but received a petition from the newly formed "Save the City Hall League" to retain it. By 1972, the plans for the hotel were withdrawn. Some members of "Save the City Hall League" would go on to form Heritage Stratford, the city's heritage committee. 

Dean Robinson in his book, Not the last waltz, and other Stratford stories, recounts the whole controversy and the ultimate saving of the building in dramatic detail in a major chapter entitled, "The saving of city hall, a 10-year odyssey.

In 1974, Stratford City Hall was renovated and remains in municipal use today.

The building was designated a National Historic Site in 1976 and in 1982, the City of Stratford designated its city hall under the Ontario Heritage Act.  The city hall is considered one of the finest examples of Queen Anne Revival architecture in Canada. It was nicknamed Queen of the Square soon after it opened. 

Designed by prominent Toronto architect George King and local architect John Wilson Sidall to a neo-Jacobean design, and built by contractors John Lant Young and Edmund Cawsey, this red-brick building with sandstone trim and a St. Mary's limestone plinth was fitted to an irregular triangular site. It was reputed that sandstone was used because local brick makers were unable to supply a consistent colour of white brick.The two side and apex façades are similar in design using a variety of round-  and square-headed windows with decorated gables that pierce the line of the eaves at regular intervals. Decorative features include tin brackets and finials. The apex façade contains the main entrance to the building and is approached by a substantial flight of steps. The entrance comprises a double door under a semi-circular arch with banded voussoirs, flanked by pilasters supporting decorative strap work. The building is distinguished by a hexagonal clock tower.   Sources: Ontario Heritage Trust; Stratford City Hall - Wikipedia;  Dean Robinson, "The saving of city hall, a 10-year odyssey," Not the last waltz, and other Stratford stories.

 A key feature of the building is the spectacular auditorium, originally designed for community events, travelling entertainers and cultural activities. The Queen of the Square Cinema, a state-of-the-art screening venue was installed in the auditorium.  The name Queen of the Square Cinema pays tribute to the building’s rich heritage.  For many years the Kiwanis Music Festival was held in this Auditorium. * See Kiwanis Festival below.

*  The timeline of mayors who presided in the city hall is here: Heads of State  Sixteen Streets have been named after mayors. The city's most recent mayor is Martin Ritsma, as of 2023.

Dan Mathieson, five terms as mayor

Dan Mathieson grew up in Stratford and has worked and has always lived in the city. In 2022, he completed his fifth term as mayor, after which he retired. He was been a member of the municipal council since 1995. He served two terms as deputy mayor before becoming mayor in 2003. During his tenure he was on numerous boards and committees in the areas of health care, municipal affairs, law enforcement, athletics, not-for-profits, universities and colleges.

Across five elections, he gained a reputation as a popular civic leader, soundly defeating all challengers with not less than 68 per cent of the vote for mayor in any given election.

He said he was pleased with the growth of the Stratford Festival and the development of the new Tom Patterson Theatre (see Lakeside Drive), of bringing GO transit to Stratford, and of clearing a path for  redevelopment of the Cooper site, with the Grand Trunk Community Site Master Plan. As well, he was at the helm for the revitalization of Market Square, which was tied to the creation of the city bus terminal on the Cooper site.

His greatest challenge as mayor, he said, was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Another challenge for him and his council was the attempt by a Chinese company to build a $400M glass plant on Stratford’s outskirts. The public backlash to the proposal and the administration's secrecy surrounding that issue prompted the company to abandon the plan early in 2022.

The past and present boards of which Mathieson has been a member and/or chair include the Ontario Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), Kings University College at Western University, the Stratford Police Services Board, Festival Hydro and Rhyzome Networks, the Stratford Festival, the Advisory Board of the University of Waterloo-Stratford Campus, I-Canada, the Advisory Board for Walsh University - Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community.

In November 2015, he was awarded the alumni award of excellence from the Master of Public Administration, Local Government program at Western University. He was also the 2016 Western University, Public Administration Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, and lectured on governance and innovation in public institutions.

In 2012, he was chosen by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, which paid tribute to community leaders whose endeavours set them apart as technology innovators.  As well, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for public service.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Guelph and a masters of public administration degree from the University of Western Ontario (now Western University). 

 Kiwanis Music Festival was held in the city hall auditorium for many years. 

The Kiwanis Festival


In 1926, William B. Rothwell, the music master at the Stratford Normal School, joined with Cora B. Ahrens (see Hibernia Street) and Margaret Stevenson, later Margaret Stevenson Grant, who were key members of the Perth County Music Teachers Federation to establish the Stratford Musical Festival as a way to encourage interest in music. Rothwell served as president and director of competitions from the first festival, in 1927, to 1930, and then returned to those positions from 1940 to 1957. 

Since 1927, thousands of amateurs have performed at the Stratford Kiwanis Music Festival in what has become one of the longest-running music festivals in Canada. The Festival developed in size and popularity throughout the 1930s and 1940s, giving people of all ages an opportunity to perform live music and receive encouragement to continue in their artistic studies. John Boyden (see Waterloo Street)  and Barbara Collier (see Murray Hill Road) are two noted international singing stars who got their start in the music festival under the tutelage of Gordon D. Scott (see Waterloo Street). 

In the early 1950s, the Kiwanis Club of Stratford became the Festival’s major sponsor, and assumed is administration. Today, the music festival includes classes in dance and performance arts, as well as all traditional music disciplines. During a 15-day celebration each spring, as many as 7,000 musicians, dancers and speech artists perform for live audiences and receive adjudication by professional musicians, dance instructors and drama teachers. The music festival is now held at seven venues. See: Venues

Allen's Alley

Jim Allen came to town in 1915 to operate a fruit market and confectionary business with wife Josephine. After his death, at age 46, his brother-in -law, Michael Bomasuit, stepped up to help run the business.

In 1988, the city centre committee restored the alley, whose original purpose was allowance easy passage from Wellington Street to stables behind the Wellington Street hotels. The new-look alley was dedicated to the Allen family because their  market was adjacent to the alley, at 56 Wellington St.

In 1998, three male youths vandalized the alley walls with graffiti. They were caught and sentenced to clean the walls.

In 2007, city councillor Chris Rickett suggested using the alley walls as a canvas and adorn them with art that celebrated Stratford.

In 2015, artist Carla Coles and her husband Scott restored the portraits, which are of musicians who have made an impact on the musical heritage of Stratford. To help deter vandalism, the restored works are now covered by a graffiti-resistant coating. 

Members of the Bomasuit family, because of their connection with the Allens' fruit market, were on hand when the refurbished murals were unveiled.

The musicians honoured on the alley walls include: Richard Manuel, Ken Kalmusky, John Till (see  Well Street), Colin Fisher and Jason Hammer, Dave Fisher (a.k.a. The Blue Pig), Louis Applebaum (see Queen Street), The Wheezing Dogz John Boyden (see Waterloo Street), Soylent Green, The Otto Henderson Band, Jack Hayter, Dayna Manning, Loreena McKennitt (see below), the Black Swan, and the Perth County Conspiracy.

Jim and Josephine Allen in front of their fruit market in 1915. Stratford-Perth Archives

Click on "Slides" below to view art                                                                                      Click on Musical History to Enlarge


"Hu, there is lot of talent here but no Bill"    I think there is another alley called O'Higgins  on Downie Street. Worth a try. If Bill's picture there I will need to click on it to entre a draw for a prize.

Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennitt’s ‘eclectic Celtic’ music has won critical acclaim worldwide and gold, platinum and multi-platinum sales in 15 countries across four continents.  

She is a composer, harpist, accordionist, and pianist, who writes, records and performs world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. McKennitt is known for her refined and clear soprano vocals. She has sold more than 14 million records worldwide.

McKennitt was born in Morden, Man., in February 1957. In Morden she developed her love for music, influenced in part by the musical traditions of the local Mennonite community.      * Click picture to hear Mummer's Dance

McKennitt enrolled at the University of Manitoba to become a veterinarian. While in Winnipeg, she discovered folk music, as well as an interest in Celtic music. She visited Ireland to hear it live. As he passion for Celtic music grew, she learned to play the Celtic harp and began busking at various places, including the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto to earn money to record her first album. In 1981, she moved to Stratford to join the Stratford Festival acting company, and she has stayed. 

In 2000, McKennitt bought the recently closed Falstaff Public School, and transformed it into the Falstaff Family Centre (see Waterloo Street). It was a response to concerns identified by the community. The centre focuses on the needs of families and children in Perth County.

McKennitt is a member of the Order of Canada (2004) and the Order of Manitoba. In 2002 and 2012 she was a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, and in 2013 she was named a Knight of the National Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France. She holds honorary degrees from the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg), Sir Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo), Queen’s University (Kingston) and George Brown College (Toronto).  Source: Wikipedia  

*  In 2009, she was honoured with a Stratford Bronze Star, which was placed near Knox Presbyterian Church at 142 Ontario St.  A list of her recordings, and other information, can be found at: Loreena McKennitt  

Dayna Manning, singer

Dayna Manning was born in Stratford in April 1978. She is a Canadian folk and pop singer-songwriter, as well as producer and sound engineer. As a teenager she released her first album, with featured musicians, including Sean Lennon and Melanie Doane. A single from the album reached No. 15 on the MuchMusic top-hits chart in Canada, and she was nominated for the 1998 Juno Award for best new artist.

She performed at the first Lilith Fair, in July 1997. Her second album, Shades, was released in 2002 to positive reviews. After releasing her third album Folkyo, Manning joined the folk trio Trent Severn in 2011, with Emm Gryner and Laura Bates, who was later replaced by Lindsay Schindler. 

In 2013 they released their debut album, Trent Severn, and were nominated for two 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards. Trent Severn has released two follow-up albums, Trillum (2015) and Portage (2017), both produced and engineered by Manning. Trillium made the Longer List for the 2016 Polaris Music Prize. Source: Wikipedia

Click to hear her YouTube production called “You, You, You” in 2020, set in various locations in Stratford.  

88 Wellington St.

Olin Brown Candies

In 1857, Lot 299 on Wellington Street was owned by Thomas Mayne Daly, the son of John Corry Wilson Daly, who was one of Stratford's first settlers. In 1867, Henry Baker bought the south part of the lot, on which he established a blacksmith and wagon-building shop.

In 1878, John Idington (see William Street) bought the rest of the lot. He was a barrister, the Crown attorney for Perth County, and later member of the Supreme Court of Canada. He also built the Idington Block, now part of Festival Square.

As for his property farther south, he divided his part of Lot 299 into two sections. He kept the one adjoining the blacksmith shop and sold the north part to W. C. Currall, a grocer. After Currall's death in the following year, that piece of land changed hands several times until, in in 1889, brothers named O'Brien bought it. On that lot they put up a building and opened a confectionery shop, which they operated until 1898, when they rented it to William G. Brown.

In 1897, Idington had put up a building next door, at what is now 88 Wellington St. It was built in the Victorian Gothic style. He then rented the new digs to John Fisher, a grocer, and John Caslake, a tinsmith and plumber. In 1902, William Brown, who had been running his confectionery next door, at what became 86 Wellington St., moved his candy shop to 88 Wellington St. where he replaced tenants Fisher and Caslake.

Brown’s establishment was highly respected.  He made candy for wholesale as well as for the retail market, and also sold groceries: fruit, nuts, cereals, canned and bottled goods, and tobacco-related merchandise. The store was also an ice-cream parlour and restaurant, offering “good meals at all times.”  In 1908 he bought the building from Idington. 

From 1924 to 1950, the Brown family continued to run a restaurant at this address. But in 1951, William's son, Olin G. converted the business back to a candy store called Olin Brown Candies. It was from Olin Brown that Rhéo Thompson (see Albert Street), a Brown employee from 1959 to 1969, learned the art and craft of confectionery.

The Brown family lived on the second floor at 88 Wellington St. William remained there until he died in 1938. From then, until Olin Brown sold the business in 1973, the six rooms on the second floor were rented out as lodgings.

From 1975 to 1985 the street-level part of the building housed a Mac’s health food store, followed by Modern Amusements, a tattoo parlour, and a pool hall.

In 1989, the city bought and renovated the building, which included the installation of big windows, which have remained a notable feature. Then, until 2000, it housed offices for the chamber of commerce, the city centre committee, economic development and Stratford Tourism Alliance. 

The building was empty for a couple years until realtor John Wolfe bought it in 2002 for his Remax offices                       Source:  Text by  Marianne Brandis 

The Brown candy boxes were supplied by the Stratford Paper Box Co. (see St. Patrick Street)

Historic metal building on Wellington 

At 258 Wellington St., on the southwest corner of Wellington and Cambria streets is a three-storey, metal-clad industrial building that was built in about 1914.

It was used as a flour, feed and seed mill by Oliver Henry (1875-1945). He owned several other businesses in Stratford,  notably the Mansion House at 101 Wellington St.

Harry Shapiro, founder of Hudson's Men's Wear also used the building, as a warehouse. He operated stores in Stratford, Woodstock and London.

The box-like building is a good example of an early 20th century industrial building which has evolved through time. It was originally designed as a mill with a post and beam skeleton and horizontal wood cladding. It is now covered by a corrugated metal skin. Many of the original six-over-six sash windows remain. Source: Canada's Historic Places

Lloyd Robertson Garden at 1 Wellington St.

Lloyd Robertson speaks after being honoured in Stratford, Ont. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011.    Photo: Lloyd Day

Lloyd Robertson Garden

In 2011, Stratford created the Lloyd Robertson Garden as a part of its revitalization of the area in front of the city hall. The plaque reads:

Lloyd Robertson was born on January 19, 1934 in the city of Stratford, Ontario. Robertson began his broadcasting career in 1952 at hometown CJCS Radio, later joining CJOY in Guelph in 1953. Robertson moved to television in1954 with CBC in Windsor, then spent four years with CBC Winnipeg (1956-'60) and two years in Ottawa (1960-'62). Robertson went on to anchor CBC's National News from 1970 to 1976. Robertson joined CTV in 1976, where he spent 35 years of his 60-year broadcasting career. He became CTV's Chief Anchor and Senior Editor in 1983. Throughout his illustrious career, Robertson guided Canadians through some of the most significant events in recent history. In 1998, Robertson became a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2007, was the first journalist inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

He became widely known for his baritone delivery and his iconic signoff, "And that's the kind of day it's been." One of the longest-serving national television anchors in history, Robertson embodies his father's principle: "Never forget your roots." He maintains close ties with his hometown as an active member of the community. * Lloyd started his broadcasting career with CJCS (see Albert Street).

He delivered his final newscast as chief anchor and senior editor of CTV News on Sept. 1, 2011, and the City of Stratford declared the same Sept. 1 Lloyd Robertson Day in Stratford. His memoir is called The Kind of Life it's Been Source: Gord Conroy

That’s the kind of Stratford it’s been

As Stratford radio station CJCS approaches its 100th anniversary in 2024, broadcasting legend Lloyd Robertson chats with Craig Thomas, also a CJCS alumnus, about his remarkable career and his ongoing love affair with his hometown.  A podcast by Stratford Slice

James Alexander Macdonald

James Alexander Macdonald

James Alexander Macdonald was a lawyer, politician and judge who grew up in Stratford, where he also first practised law, with John Idington (see William Street)

Macdonald was born in 1858, probably in Tuckersmith Township (Huron County) in Upper Canada. In 1890, he married Mary Richardson in Stratford. In 1896, he moved to British Columbia where he was involved with the law, politics and his role as a judge. He died in 1939 in Victoria.

James Macdonald grew up in Huron County and moved with his family to Stratford where, in 1876, his father established the MacDonald and MacPherson Co. (see Erie Street), maker of the famous Decker Threshing Machine. His two brothers joined their father in managing the company. 

James also worked at the foundry, casting metals, from age 20 to 25, when he chose to pursue higher education. In 1880, he was boarding on Wellington Street, near his family's house on Cambria Street. (see Cambria Street).

Macdonald studied at Stratford Central School and the Stratford Collegiate Institute (see St. Andrew Street). Starting in 1883 he attended the University of Toronto and then Osgoode Hall law school. He did legal work in Stratford with the lawyer, John Idington, from 1884. He was called to the bar about 1890 and practised in Toronto until 1896. That year he moved to the booming mining town of Rossland, B.C., which would reach a population of some 7,000 in 1897. One of about 50 lawyers who had relocated to the burgeoning city to make their fortunes, he would work with various partners (and briefly on his own in 1903) until 1909 as a barrister, solicitor, and notary public.

Macdonald was admitted to the provincial bar in British Columbia in 1897, appointed King’s Counsel in 1905, and elected a bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia in 1907. 

He was active in the provincial Liberal Party and elected MLA for Rossland City’s first seat in 1903. That same year, former premier Joseph Martin resigned as Liberal leader, and Macdonald succeeded him. Macdonald was re-elected in 1907 after slamming the Canadian Pacific Railway. Macdonald was described in his biography as being tall and thin, a keen and vigorous debater, but lacking in charisma.

Macdonald accepted an appointment by the federal Liberal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier as chief justice of the newly created British Columbia Court of Appeal on Nov. 30, 1909. 

James Alexander Macdonald retired from the court in 1936 and died three years later after a long illness. His entire estate was valued at $13,743.37.  Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography: 

8 Wellington Street then

and as it is in 2022

Sinclair Pharmacy

In the late 1940s,  John Sinclair began working as an apprentice at H. M. Harwood Drugs while attending The Ontario College of Pharmacy, now part of the University of Toronto. When John graduated in 1951 there were seven drugstores in Stratford’s downtown area. By 1960, he had made the decision to venture out on his own. He bought 8 Wellington St., formerly Rayner’s jewellery store.

Sinclair Pharmacy opened March 17, 1960, with two store clerks, and two delivery boys who delivered prescriptions on bicycles after school. It was the first pharmacy in Stratford with an open dispensary. As the business grew, John continued to impress upon staff the importance of customer service. Through the years the delivery methods have changed but the dedication to personal service has not.

In March 1970, he opened a newer and bigger store at 12 Wellington St. Rheo Thompson (see Albert Street), previously employed at Olin Brown Candies ( see above), sublet the basement for candy-making and operated an eight-foot candy counter in the pharmacy. Rheo Thompson Candies continue to be offered at Sinclair Pharmacy.

During a break-in on June 14, 1974, a stack of flyers were set on fire and a temporary dispensary was set up in the vacant Tamblyn drugstore, currently in Festival Square. On Aug. 21 that year, Sinclair Pharmacy re-opened and continues to provide service to Stratford’s residents..    Source: Sinclair Pharmacy History

                                                         *    Click below to watch YouTube video of the Sinclairs