William Street

Col. W. F. McCulloch

Colonel William Frederick McCulloch, founder

Stratford's leading aristocrat and wealthiest landowner, Col. William Frederick McCulloch, owned all the land between Mornington Street and the Avon River, extending from Huron Street to beyond James Street. In 1851, he laid out a street plan for his property, naming the streets for members of his immediate family.

James Street was named for his eldest son, James Alexander McCulloch, who was then 16 years old. He was later mayor of the town, in 1871 and 1872. The colonel, who had an earlier turn in the mayor's chair (1860-1862), named William Street for his third son, William Frederick McCulloch Jr., who was then 14. His second son, John, was left out of the name game because Stratford already had a John Street, in honour of  John Galt. 

McCulloch named Elizabeth Street for his eldest daughter, who was 11 years old. The part of Waterloo Street between the river and Mornington Street, was originally called Mary Street for his second daughter, Mary McCulloch, who was then eight years old. But after the Waterloo Street wooden bridge was built in the early 1870s, Mary Street became part of Waterloo Street, and the name Mary disappeared. Hamilton Street was named for Mrs. McCulloch, the former Elizabeth Hamilton. According to an old family record, she was connected to the Duke of Abercorn. 

With 11 children, the colonel and his wife needed a large residence, which he had built "The Grange," the city's largest property, It included the land north of Ontario Street to the river between Front Street to just west of what is now Arden Park. The Grange house, erected in the 1840s, was at what is now 210 Waterloo St.  James Trow next owned that house. In 1907, George McLagan had it demolished and replaced with the house that is there now. Eventually, it became headquarters for the Perth Insurance Co., and later the Perth County Board of Education. (see Water Street) Source: Perth-County Archives, Streets of Stratford 2004

Duke of Abercom

The part of William Street between Huron and Hamilton streets, was St. Michael Street on the 1848 map. Stratford's Little Potentate, John Corry Wilson Daly, always the individualist, marked his copy of the 1839 Canada Company map with the name "St. Paul's Place." Neither of those names stuck, and this first block soon became part of William Street. The triangle of land now occupied by St. James Anglican Church, was marked by Daly, "Reserve for a burying ground and church," and the 1848 map was marked "English church ground." The part of Mornington Street between Huron and Britannia streets, was marked Church Street by Daly because of the Church reserve designation. The official name chosen by the Canada Company was St. Georges Street in honour of the patron saint of England and because of the English church ground.  

The first courthouse

McCulloch made an important contribution. In 1851, for consideration of the sum of " 20 pounds" he sold a large block of choice land, sloping from Elizabeth Street down to William Street and bordered on the west by Hamilton Street, to the Provisional County of Perth as the site of the first courthouse. The first gaol (jail) and land registry office were also built on that property. The walkway over the Avon River dam was named Court Street on the (see  1857 map). It was the route favored by the town barristers as they made their way to the new courthouse. It was a handsome building in the classical tradition, but architect Peter Ferguson was not given sufficient funds, and the fine façade contained a less-than-adequate interior. After only 35 years, it was replaced by the present courthouse, in 1887. On July 1, 1852, the foundation stone for the first courthouse was set in place. More than 1,000 town and country residents watched officials march through the village, led by the Stratford band. They marched across the wooden bridge and up McCulloch's hill.  By Stanford Dingman

The first courthouse, 1853, on McCulloch's hill, William Street Beacon Herald 

Sir John Cunningham McLennan 

 After graduating in physics from the University of Toronto in 1892, McLennan worked as a demonstrator, and in 1898 went to the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge, England. In 1900 he received the first doctorate in physics from the University of Toronto. He spent his career at that university, bringing his physics laboratory to the forefront of research in radioactivity, spectroscopy and low-temperature physics.

During the First World War, McLennan was scientific adviser to the British admiralty. In 1915, he was elected to the Royal Society of London (receiving its gold medal in 1928) and in 1917 received the Order of the British Empire. After the war, he returned to the University of Toronto but spent each summer in Britain, where he was president of the scientific section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1923.

As president of the Royal Canadian Institute in 1916, he helped found the National Research Council and was a member of the Ontario Research Foundation (established 1928). He resigned from the University of Toronto in 1932 and moved to England where he continued his pioneering research in the use of radium to treat cancer. He was knighted in 1935. Source: Canadian Encyclopedia

A  Plaque  is located on the river path behind his house at 203 Williams St. It reads:

"An outstanding Canadian scientist, McLennan was born in Ingersoll and moved to this house in 1883. He attended the University of Toronto where he later became Head of the Physics Department. His research and publications brought international recognition to the University's physics laboratory, which bears his name. A leading advocate of close ties between science, industry and government, McLennan was instrumental in founding the Advisory Council on Industrial and Scientific Research, later the National Research Council. His work in England on the magnetic detection of submarines and the use of radium in the treatment of cancer, his explanation of the yellow-green light in the spectrum of the aurora borealis and his success in liquefying helium, contributed to his worldwide reputation. He was knighted in 1935." 

Photo Fred Gonder

203 William St.    Photo Fred Gonder

 John Cunningham McLennan lived in this house, at 203 William  St. 

The street is associated with Col. William F. McCulloch, who owned much of the land in this area of Stratford, including the land on which this house was built. McCulloch was instrumental in the development of Stratford; he built many of the first mills and commercial properties on the north side of Ontario Street.

Built in 1877 as a rental property, this house is associated with the McLennan family. David McLennan, a produce dealer, became a tenant here in 1883 and the owner in 1888. McLennan's son, John Cunningham McLennan, became an outstanding Canadian scientist, whose research and publications brought international recognition to the University of Toronto's physics laboratory. The McLennan family owned and lived in the house until 1950.

Their house is a good example of the Italianate architectural style. Typical of this style are the large ornate brackets, protruding bay windows and asymmetrical design. The gables feature wooden bargeboards. The asymmetrical design strayed from the balanced and symmetrical design of the earlier Gothic style, popular in Stratford, and indicated a change in building trends.  Source: Canada's Historic Places

More information on McLennan's life  can be found here:  Physics University of Toronto

Cam Trowsdale with his violin, made by Xiaodong Guan (see below) at Galiano Island in British Columbia.


Campbell Trowsdale, violinist

Campbell Trowsdale (1933-2022) was born in Stratford. He was a viruoso violinist and teacher in Stratford in the early 1950s.  At that time, he lived at 192 William Street though his later life was spent in British Columbia where he was a professor of music and cconcertmaster for the CBC orchestra. 

In the late 1950s, he became a member of the Hart House Orchestra and played occasionally in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed in 1961 to the faculty of education at the University of British Columbia, from where he retired as professor emeritus in 1988. He joined the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra in 1964 and became its concertmaster in 1967. He also became concertmaster of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra in 1977, and continued to hold both positions in 1990. 

He performed as soloist and as a chamber musician in Vancouver and on CBC Radio, his repertoire reflecting his interest in contemporary music. He is heard in a performance of Jean Coulthard's The Bird of Dawning Singeth All Night Long with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, conducted by Mario Bernardi (see below). Since his retirement from the University of British Columbia, he was mostly engaged in consulting and performing. He served as music and educational consultant to the Langley Fine Arts Elementary School. Source Canadian Encyclopedia.  

Cam returned often to Stratford and kept in close contact with other musicians in Stratford including Audrey Conroy, (see Water Street), Gordon Scott, see (Waterloo Street), and Charlie Trethewey. (see St. David Street).

He wrote a comprehensive paper on the History of W. F. Freeland and the Freeland Fountain, which is in Stratford. 

*   He had a violin made in Stratford by Xiaodong Guan a luthier (maker of stringed instruments, such as violins and guitars). Guan won the international Violin Bridge Competition in 2021. (see bel0w)

  * Click below to hear a preview of Trowsdale playing  The Bird of Dawning Singeth All Night Long.

Winning violin bridge

Xiaodong Guan, luthier

Xiaodong Guan is a luthier with more than 30 years of experience. He graduated from the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in 1988, after which he studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Since the late 1990s, he has been working in Ontario, Canada, and currently owns the Stratford Violin Studio. He makes violins, violas, and cellos, and also works on instrument restorations for musicians across Ontario. 

He won the International Violin Bridge competition in 2021

Xiaodong Guan

Ancrum Brae Hospital 300 William St.

Patient's room in the Ancrum Brae Hospital, 300 William St.

This log cabin was typical in the pioneer days. This one, on the Downie Road, a mile from city limits, was built by David Hislop in 1859. It was the birthplace of the Hislop sisters who ran the Ancrum Brae private hospital. This photo was take in 1906.

Mansion on the hill

This house, at 300 William St. (now 45-47 James St.), was known as the Mansion on the hill, or the Wyatt home, because J. Harold Wyatt and his wife were residents there for many years. Wyatt was president of the Kroehler furniture company. 

With its original entrance off James Street, this large Italianate mansion was built on four acres by local architect Alexander Hepburn in 1873. The Italianate Villa Tower featured in this picture has a different roof than is typical for the style and was demolished in the 1930s. The mansion was first owned by John Idington, a judge on Canada’s Supreme Court. The creek in front is known as Idington Creek. In 1909, Chief Justice Idington (see below) sold the mansion to the Hislop sisters who converted it to a hospital. 

Ancrum Brae Hospital

After 1909 and until 1929, two Hislop sisters used this house as a private hospital, Ancrum Brae. They called it a sanatorium and claimed it was particularly adapted to restore impaired nerves, and tired brains and bodies. In today's terms, this would have been classified as a spa or retreat. It was probably named after Dr. Michael Ancrum, a late-1800s doctor, and brae, Gaelic for a hillside or riverbank. The hospital went bankrupt in the 1920s but more recently the building, minus its magnificent tower, housed a bed and breakfast business called Alexandra Inn and Spa. Source: Stratford Walks

As it is today

John Idington  Stratford-Perth Archives

Judge John Idington

With his law books in two black satchels slung over his shoulder, he strode to work each morning across the Waterloo Street bridge to an office in a building he built in downtown Stratford. It came to be known as the Idington Block. 

Today, the use of his name to identify that building is long gone. However, the local architectural advisory conservation committee (LACAC) revived the name when it placed a plaque on the building to denoting its historical significance.

Henceforth, the building may again be known as the Idington Block which, with the Gordon Block forms the major part of the Festival Square redevelopment. (see Downie Street

John Idington was a prominent lawyer in Stratford and the Perth County Crown attorney for 40 years. Eventually, he was named a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Until the naming of the Idington Block, virtually no evidence of his name in Stratford remained. A street is not named after him, only the little-known Idington Creek bears his surname. The stream flows by Mornington Street, under Delamere Avenue, through the grounds of the estate he built in 1873 and into Lake Victoria. The house, at 45 James St., was later owned by Wilfrid P Gregory and Sam Douglas. The creek now flows under a small bridge in the lane leading to the front of the house, on about four acres, far fewer than the 60 acres the judge bought in 1870. 

Idington was chief prosecutor in the sensational trial and execution of Amédée Chattelle, who brutally murdered 13-year-old Jessie Keith in 1894. Chattelle was hanged in the Stratford jail.  See The Trial and Execution of Amédée Chattelle, Stratford 1895

Idington was city solicitor in the latter part of the 19th century, prominent in Reform (political) party politics, a partner in a law firm with Robert McFarlane, and later others. He was a Queen's Counsel at the unusually young age of 36, and three years later, the Crown attorney for Perth County. Idington lived in the city from 1864, the year he was called to the Ontario bar, after graduating as a gold medalist from the University of Toronto at age 24. When he left Stratford, he left for good reason. In 1904, he was named a judge on the Supreme Court.


The judge's house, at 300 William St. (now 45-47 James St.) was sold to Hislop sisters (see Wyatt Street ) in 1909. They used the house for a private hospital/sanitorium, which they called the Ancrum Brae Hospital. See Mansion on the hill, above. Idington died in Ottawa in 1927 at age 87. Source: Al Zabas, Beacon Herald 1978  

Norman Bethune

342 William St.

Norman Bethune, doctor

The quaint cottage at 342 William St, with its stone chimney, seems a little out of place among the larger homes of the area. It was the summer residence of one of Stratford’s most prominent doctors, Lorne Forbes Robertson. Dr. Robertson spent his summer months in this cottage far from the hustle, bustle and smells of downtown Stratford (see Albert Street). 

He was born in 1876 on Nile Street. His father James (see Nile Street) was also a surgeon and physician who practised in Stratford. His grandfather, John Forbes, had been a successful man of commerce, and owner of the Queens Inn (see Ontario Street). 

One of the young interns who came here for several summers in about 1919 to relieve Drs. Robertson was the now-renown Dr. Norman Bethune. Dr. Bethune set up the first mobile blood transfusion service in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and saved thousands of lives. In turn, he created a model for the later development of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units. He joined the Chinese communists in their struggle against the Japanese in the Second Sino-Japanese War and performed emergency battlefield surgical operations on war casualties. All the while, he was establishing training programs for doctors, nurses and orderlies. 

He did not distinguish between or among casualties; he treated wounded Japanese prisoners as well as the Chinese. Bethune died on Nov. 12, 1939, of blood poisoning from a cut he received when performing surgery in the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War. He is one of the few Westerners to whom China has dedicated statues. In fact there are several in his honour throughout the country. He is buried in the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China. Source: Stratford Walks

Stratford honoured Bethune with a bronze star on July 1, 2012. It is in place near the city hall.

For more on Bethune see Feature Article Norman Bethune Stratford Connection

* Both Dr. Robertson and Dr. Bethune worked at Ancrum Brae (see     above). 

219 William St.

David Priest

David Priest, jazz pianist

The Priest family lived at 219 William St.

David Priest (1940-2022) was well known as a jazz pianist in Ontario, where he performed for several years before moving to Vancouver in 1989. There  he produced his first compact disc, SMILE. In Vancouver, he formed a jazz trio that was invited to play in the top jazz clubs in the city as well as at the Vancouver Jazz Festival for seven consecutive years. Priest returned to London in 2010, where he and his new trio continued to perform for audiences in London and area. From the age of five, he studied with Audrey Conroy (see Water Street) and credited her with supporting his improvisation and love of jazz while drilling him on classical technique and fingering. It set him up for success.

Hear his music from his album Smile on YouTube

J. Theo (Ted) Priest, music teacher

Ted Priest, was David's father. He was a school music teacher and director 1930-68, organized and led, with violinist Henry Clark, the Civic Orchestra (1945-64), an amateur ensemble made up of school music students and interested community members. His son, David (see above), learned and played cello as a teen in the orchestra. Several of the churches used small instrumental groups for regular services as well as special events.

During the 1930s, Priest and Newman O'Leary directed the annual musical operettas at the Stratford Collegiate with huge success. In the 1940s, Priest switched to elementary schools, and for more than two decades, he travelled with his violin from school to school and class to class playing and teaching music and singing to all the students. Thousands of them came to better appreciate music because of Ted Priest’s dedication and support. In the 1950s and into the 1960s, he directed musical operettas once again, this time with elementary school students, but with two full casts so more young people from across the city could be involved. The performances played to enthusiastic and sold-out audiences in the city hall.  Source Gord Conroy

Ted Priest, David's father, in   1939.

Newman O'Leary 1939

Ted Priest (sitting, left) with Newman O’Leary and their with operetta cast of The Falcon in 1936

Alex Smith seen here at the site of the original Festival Tent in June 1953 with daughter Lori lived at 149 William St. just west of Waterloo St. 

Alex Smith, CJCS radio, actor 

Alex Smith who lived at 149 William St., worked in Stratford before becoming a radio announcer. 

When the Stratford Festival began in 1953, Tyrone Guthrie wanted some local amateurs to appear on stage, and he asked Alex to be involved. He was a natural because he was an announcer with CJCS, Stratford’s radio station, and he had a strong, sonorous voice. He had attended Upper Canada College and later studied at Oxford. Smith played Lord Grey in Richard III and a Lord in All’s Well That Ends Well.  

His daughter Lori and son Alex grew up in Stratford and also loved all things that had to do with the Stratford Festival and Shakespeare. Hi son returned to Stratford in 1998, after a long and successful career designing lighting for notable architectural landmarks, to lend his talents to lighting his neighbours' gardens. 

His sister, Lori, later recalled some big names coming to dinner at the Smith house, Douglas Campbell, Michael Bates and Douglas Rain among them. 

Sources: Laura Cudworth, London Free Press, July 12, 2015. Alex Smith | Obituary | Stratford Beacon Herald (remembering.ca) 

Lions Club Pool, built 1932.

What an audacious idea. Build a pool in the midst of the Great Depression. But that’s what happened.

The Lions Club of Stratford realized about 90 years ago that the city needed a pleasing, safe, clean facility in which residents could learn to swim, and enjoy swimming under the warm summer sun. There was no doubt about the need, but what about the money? Eventually, however, the Lions rounded up $16,000, including a $7,000 Province of Ontario grant. And on July 6, 1932, 3,000 people gathered for the official opening of the “Lions Club swimming pool.”  Source: Gord Conroy

* For more history see: Lions Club pool 50th anniversary

First Photo  1932  Stratford- Perth Archives

Before the pool . . .

This first photo directly below and the one on the right are more than 100 years old. The first is taken from the walkway beside the dam on the Avon River, looking east. The accompanying photo on the right is taken from the William Street shore looking south. Part of the walkway and dam area are visible on the right of the photo.  Note the ornamental triple street lights. Both show young people enjoying a cool dip in Lake Victoria on a hot summer day. With no public pools or air conditioning, it must have been a wonderful fun day for all.  By  Vince Gratton

1918   Photo Vince Gratton Loooking east. The Waterloo Street Arena is visible on the right. 

1928   Photo Vince Gratton. From south side of the Avon River (William Street). Change rooms ...right foreground. Boat house opposite on north side of Avon. 

1918, looking south. Boathouse in the background  Old Post Office extreme left. Gordon Block tower is seen just to the right of the Old Post Office. (see Ontario StreetPhoto Vince Gratton

Dolly Dolson: NHL goalie with 10 shutouts for Detroit in 1928-29. He also played for Stratford. He lived on William Street.

Dolly Dolson, unsung star

Clarence Edward (Dolly) Dolson played 41 games for the Stratford Nationals in the Canadian Professional Hockey League in 1927-28, and posted a 1.21 goals-against average. Numbers like that don't go unnoticed in the sporting world, and for Dolson they led to 95 games in the National Hockey League, all of them with the Detroit Cougars/Falcons. In those days a balcony seat in an NHL rink sold for about 75 cents.

Born May 23, 1897, Dolson was a Hespeler native who moved to Galt in 1903. Diminutive in size, he had a talent for net-minding. Detroit boss Jack Adams never wanted a goalie called Dolly, but in 1928 he drafted him from the CPHL and signed him to a pro contract with his Cougars (later to become the Falcons). In 1928-29, his rookie year, Dolson posted 19 wins and nine ties in the Cougars' 44 regular-season games. Ten of those wins were shutouts. He lost both playoff starts that season. He managed just a tie in five NHL games in 1929-30 and spent the rest of that season on loan to London in the International Hockey League. In 1930-31, the Cougars became the Falcons, and Dolson again played all of their 44 regular-season games. He won 16 (six with shutouts) and tied seven. In that year, the Cougars didn't make the playoffs.

His 1.37 GAA in 1928-29 remains a Detroit record. His 10 shutouts in a season was also a record until Terry Sawchuk bettered it.

In 1931, the Ottawa Senators folded and their players were dispersed around the league. Detroit quickly secured the services of star goalie Alex Connell. He played only the one season in Detroit, but Dolson was relegated to the minors, and played sparingly from 1931-1933 with the IHL’s Cleveland Indians.

Before the NHL Dolson played for an outstanding Galt squad out of the old Queens Square Arena, where the present-day library is located. He played for Galt in 1914-1915 in the OHA Junior Northern Hockey League (NHL). That team, said the late Abbie Kilgour, was the best junior team the city of Galt ever put on ice, and brought home its the first junior NHL and amateur titles.

At the time, Galt had a population of about 10,000, yet 3,000 fans tried to squeeze into the Queen Square Arena for the championship game. Dolson, said teammate Bill Vrooman, was the best goalie in the league, but was passed over for the all-star team.

Goaltender Dolly Dolson, second from left, was one of the last surviving members of the Galt 1914-1915 junior championship team. Speedy Oliver (centre right) was a teammate. Also in the photo is manager Abbie Kilgour, far right.

In 1915, Dolson went overseas with the Canadian Armed Forces and was decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal. When he returned, he joined the senior Galt Terriers of the Big Six League. With the boys of summer, he was a good catcher who could hit, so he baseball played with Galt's intermediate and senior Terriers.

Like others who showed athletic promise, Dolson was offered a job with the Canadian National Railways in Stratford, which he called home for the next 54 years. In the Ontario Hockey Association, he moved easily from the Galt Terriers to the Stratford Nationals, and was with the Nats for their season in the Can-Pro League. After leading the Can-Pro circuit with 25 wins and helping the Nationals win the league crown, Dolson moved to the NHL.

He was at his peak in those years. In 1927-28 at Stratford he played in 41 games, posting a 1.21 GAA. He picked up where he left off when he moved up to the NHL the next season. In the big show, he played against many of the best ever, among them Howie Morenz, Hap Day, Busher Jackson, Lionel Conacher, Dit Clapper and King Clancy. Dolly Dolson died in Stratford on Aug. 19, 1978.

 For his contributions to sports he was inducted into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame. Clarence (Dolly) Dolson - Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame   Sourced by Gord Conroy

Terry Griggs

Terry Griggs, author 

Terry Griggs writes adult and youth fiction. She and her family live in Stratford.

In her teens, she moved to southern Ontario from her birthplace, near Little Current on Manitoulin Island. After studies at the University of Western Ontario (now Western University), where she met, worked with and was influenced by Stratford writer James Reaney (see Caledonia Street), she ultimately settled in Stratford. One childhood writing influence was Lewis Carroll whose Alice books were "...a thrilling discovery., so funny and verbally rich."

Griggs works at home, in her office, at her mother's antique desk. She loves the Stratford Public Library and the endless resources of the Oxford English Dictionary. She has created a wide variety of works. Thought You Were Dead, for example, is a hybrid, a mystery (of sorts) with elements of farce and satire. Quickening (1990) is a book of short stories that was chosen as a finalist for the Governor General's Award. In 2002 she received the Marian Engel Award for her writing. In 2010 she was honoured with the installation of a Project Bookmark Canada plaque in Owen Sound. 

"I love the freedom that comes with a writing life...exploring the undercurrent of meaning and emotion that flow through people's lives." Terry Griggs

Recent works include The Discovery of Honey (2017), hailed as tremendously original and riotously funny, and The Iconoclast's Journal (2018). It is set in the rough-and-tumble late 19th century backwoods, and is described as "wildly kinetic, a madcap picaresque and comic anti-romance by one of the most inventive writers at work today."  In 2023, she is working on a novel set in the 1960s in Yorkville. 

Griggs is also the author of young adult books, including the Cat’s Eye Corner Trilogy, comprising Cat’s Eye Corner, The Silver Door and Invisible Ink. All all have have been nominated for multiple children’s writing awards.  

Stratford gets a mention in Rogue's Wedding and is the setting for a new novel yet in manuscript.  Sources: Terry Griggs - Wikipedia  and From the Archive: Titles Gone Rogue with The Iconoclast's Journal and Biblioasis' ReSet Series | All Lit Up ; april_001.pdf (stratfordtimes.com) 

 * Read an interview with Terry Briggs here:  Meet Terry Griggs | Stratford authors 

Regatta showing the building housing Queen Tailoring behind the  Change Rooms  for those enjoying swimming in the Avon River. St. James Church is seen behind.  Photo: Stratford Perth Archives. 

George Queen, tailor and The Queen Tailoring Company on the Avon

This building on the north bank of the Avon River at 35 William Street below St. James Church was once home to The Queen Tailoring Company run by George Queen, tailor. He arrived in Stratford in 1907 from Toronto with his wife and family. His business occupied the second and third floors of this building in the photo from 1909-1912. He apparently arrived in Stratford in 1907, and operated his business at various locations before he left Stratford for retirement in Florida. He is no longer listed in the Stratford Vernon Directories after 1925.  

This four story building on the south side of William Street is one that many associate later with Lloyds Fruits and Vegetables who were earlier located at 2 Ontario Street (see Ontario Street and also Lloyd Court). Now the William Street site is occupied by Park Towers. 

The picture shown above from the Stratford-Perth Archives was used on a poster as part of a publicity campaign to defeat the proposal by CPR to build a rail line by the river. When a city plebiscite was held in March 1913, the proposal was defeated by a mere 127 votes. (see Flashback article under More, “The park system: How Dr. Eidt saved the day!”).  The message on the poster reminded people that if the plebiscite was not defeated all those people standing “…in the foreground of the picture would be trespassers on railway property if they attempted to reach the water’s edge.”

The picture above also shows the bath house immediately in front of the Queen Tailoring Company, as well as pleasure boats and bathers. To the left of the photo is the site of the Lions’ Club outdoor pool which would be built in 1932 during the Great Depression. (see Lions’ Pool article above). A miniature Golf Course was located on the pool site before the building of the pool. A game cost 10 cents. 

The picture here dates from 1932-1937. It shows a similar view after the building of the outdoor pool in 1932 along with the dam and pergola also built in the 1930s. Both the dam and pergola were destroyed by the great flood in 1937 but the Lions’ Club outdoor pool survived. See Vince Gratton’s article and photos for further details.  

Rick  Thistle, a Stratford artist, has also created a painting of the pergola in 1936 before its destruction which can be seen on a mural on Ontario Street at Stratford Place. 

The boathouse can be seen in the foreground. The new Lions’ Club Pool is to the left and the Pergola also constructed during The Depression covers the walkway from the dam to the Avon River bathing area. It was still popular into the late 1940s and swimming in the river was free. 

George Queen’s offices for the Queen Tailoring Company at 35 William Street were located on the second floor of the factory; his workrooms were on the third floor. The details about his up-to-date business included here come from the June 1911 issue of Magazine of Industry. This magazine reviewed the historic, industrial and financial interests of Perth County.

According to the magazine, the workrooms were outfitted with the latest of modern conveniences such as Singer power machines. Queen employed expert workers, and customers were able to find a range of the most fashionable domestic and imported clothes.  

The business was mainly wholesale with a brisk mail order sideline. All the garments were shaped by hand and the company stood behind all their products.

Queen operated his business in Stratford for 18 years beginning in 1907.In 1909, he is listed at 109 Downie Street; in 1909-1912, at 35 William Street; in 1916-1922 at 32 Downie; in 1923-1925, at 30 Downie.

George Queen was born in Scotland in 1857 and came to Canada with his parents about 1858. He married Ida Orr in her hometown of Georgetown in 1889 and first lived in Toronto where at least five children were born before coming to Stratford about 1907. Ida died in Stratford in 1918; George seems to have left Stratford after 1925 and died in Daytona Beach in 1936. Both are buried in Avondale cemetery. 

Sources: Stratford Beacon Herald, Stratford and District Historical Society FB, Stratford-Perth Archives, Find a Grave, Avondale cemetery.  Find a grave

90 William Street was built in 1859 by Uzial Clark lee, a banker. The tower and bay windows were added in the 1880s.  Photo: Brian Wendy Reis, If you grew up in Stratford...FB

90 William Street, then and now

This residence at 90 William Street graced the one and a half acre property for a century. It was the home of the Bank of Montreal mnanager in Stratford for more than half of that time. Now two apartment buildings occupy the site.

The photo and a memory of the house came from Brian Reis who grew up in Stratford and remembered the house with fondness."

"What a shame this place had to come down! This house, situated on one and a half acres at 90 William St., was built in 1859 by Uzial Clark Lee, a banker, and for many years was used as the residence for the local manager of the Bank of Montreal. Former Stratford-Perth Archivist, Jim Anderson, commented that the tower and bay windows were an addition to the home in the 1880s. If you're wondering what's at this address now, think modern apartment buildings." Source: Brian Wendy Reis, If you grew up in Stratford... FB

This early scene taken from the south bank of the Avon River shows the house that would become known as the Bank of Montreal house at 90 William Street at the right of the photo. The First Registry Office is at the left and the First Court House built in 1853 on McCulloch's Hill (see article above) is seen in the centre behind Easson's Mill. ( see Easson Street).The First Court House was just east of the present day Hamilton Street and occupied the land between Elizabeth and William Streets.  Photo:: Stratford-Perth Archives. 

The House Interior. Vince Gratton shared a memory of the interior in the 1950s. "I was in this home at the time that William & Iza Kalbfleisch were the residents. Bill was the manager of the Bank of Montreal and a founding board member of the Shakespearean Festival. The home had a huge living room with fireplaces at both ends." 

The property at 90 William Street almost became home for Knox Church in the 1950s .

"In the early 1950s, Knox Church (see Ontario Street) was condemned (bricks from the old tower were falling on the street) and the plan was to build a modern church (a la Knox Church in Goderich) on the site of this house at 90 William. Congregation voted to go with Plan B, take down the tower and re-point the brick on the rest of the church at 142 Ontario."  Source: Angus John Franklin Sinclair, If you grew up in Stratford...FB 

Early history of the residences for Bank of Montreal managers. 

The Bank of Montreal was established in 1817 and came to Stratford in 1860 ( see Downie Street).  The first Bank of Montreal manager to live at 90 William Street was  E.P Winslow beginning in 1900. In 1876, the Directory for the City of Stratford notes that James Hogg, the manager of the Bank of Montreal at 32 Downie Street, lived on Douglas Street near John.  Hogg was the manager into the 1880s but in the Directory for 1896, Thomas Plummer is the manager, living at 340 Ontario Street. This may have been temporary. In 1898, E. P. Winslow who moved to 90 William as the manager in 1900 was living in the Douglas Street house. 

When the Bank of Montreal bought out the Merchants Bank, there was some shuffling of bank leadership in Stratford. In  1920-21-22  when the bank of Montreal was situated at the corner of Ontario and Downie Streets,  Edgar Duthie was the manager residing at 90 William Street.  In 1921. R.L Whitman was still listed as manager of Merchants’ Bank and lived at 186 Church. He remained there in 1922, but is now manager of the Bank of Montreal. He moved to 90 William Street in 1923.

The last manager of the Bank of Montreal to reside at 90 William Street was K. Ross McNaughton in 1958.  By 1959, the new manager W. R. Wallace lived at  103 Delamere not 90 William Street. Subsequent managers had their own houses on different streets.

Apartment Buildings replace century Home. 

By 1963, the first of two apartment complexes had been established on the property at 90 William Street. In 1963 Avon View Terrace Apartments are listed at 84 William Street and by 1967,  Maple Manor Apartments are listed at 98 William Street. Sources: Vernon's Stratford City Directories

A Connection to Sheriff Moderwell at 89 William St. 

In a 1967 edition of the Stratford Beacon-Herald, Nancy Hood, who wrote for the paper, interviewed and did an article on Robert Moderwell, seen in the photograph in front of his house at  89 William Street.  Moderwell's family were early settlers in Stratford. An earlier namesake,  Robert Moderwell,  his grandfather, was the first sheriff of Perth County, and served in that role from 1853 to 1872. (see Moderwell Street).

What follows is a memory by Brian Reis combined with excerpts from the Beacon Herald article by Nancy Hood from 1967.

"I did not know Mr. Moderwell, but I recognized his house from the photo, as it was not too far from my alma mater, Falstaff School. I only recounted a few of his memories here, but I thought how close they were to some of my own experiences, and no doubt the memories of many of you who were products of the late 1930s, early 1940s. 

"Mr. Moderwell was born in the same house he lived in, at 89 William St. The midwife who assisted at his birth was a native Indian lady who lived on William St. Sheriff Moderwell, the first sheriff of Perth County was his grandfather, and his successor, Sheriff Hossie, was his great-uncle. (see Hossie Terrace). 

"Mr. Moderwell (aged 74 at the time of the article), recalled the wooden sidewalks, the mud roads, the horse troughs in front of most hotels, and the various drinking fountains with the common cup on a chain. 'The keystones of life in those days were the home and the church,' said Mr. Moderwell... I remember the kitchen range was called a 'Happy Thought,' with a huge oven and a warming oven. All the happy thoughts that came out of that kitchen, what with the bread making, and the pie making....For our baths, the water was heated on this stove, and poured into a wooden tub about four feet in diameter, which was set on the kitchen floor

"Sunday was a day of respect. We went to church in the morning, Sunday School in the afternoon, church at night. And, after evening church, we went to the young people's meeting. Then, before we went to bed, one of us would read a passage from the Bible....

"In summer, most of the city's life centred around the Avon River. I always thought that river could write a book. For a few years, the old bandstand that used to be at Erie and Ontario Streets was moved onto cedar posts in the middle of Lake Victoria. It was lit at night, and the CNR band played while the canoes circled around... 

"When a man asked a girl out in those days, he always presented her with a box of chocolates when he called for her. That was a must. It was understood we had to have her home by 10 o'clock at night, and God help you if you weren't. Frog catching was big business for kids in Stratford around the turn of the century. We'd get the flat bottom boat out early on Saturday morning and head up the Avon to Idington Creek with our frog nets. The creek was marshy and full of frogs...We used honey pails to pack them in....a layer of frogs legs, a layer of salt until the pail was full. Then we'd take them to Jack Hagerty at the Commercial Hotel (where the Bank of Montreal is located).  He gave us $2 for a five-pound pail. 

"There's more, but that will give you an idea; a different time, a different culture."  Source:  Brian Wendy Reis, If you grew up in Stratford...FB.