Wilson Court

  • Alex Wilson

  • Shootin' Jimmie Wilson

Wilson Court is named after Alex Wilson, founder of Dufferin Park.

Alex Wilson Stratford-Perth Archives

Alex Wilson

City Council named Wilson Court as a tribute to Alexander (Alex) Wilson, who not only conceived the idea of establishing a park for the people in the southeastern part of the city, but worked with determination to make it a reality. Alex Wilson was the founder of Dufferin Park.

Wilson Court is a cul-de-sac running north from Maple Avenue just south of Dufferin Park. The park is located in the triangle of land formed by Dufferin, Oak and Maple streets, with Wilson Court projecting in from the south side.

Born in Belleville in 1868, Alex Wilson came to Stratford with his parents as a boy. As a young man he entered an apprenticeship at the Grand Trunk Railway shops and qualified as a machinist. He lived for many years at 125 Dufferin St., just up the street from an open field which he thought would make a fine park for people in the southeast part of the city.

Queens Park was too far away, particularly for the neighborhood children. In 1909, Alex Wilson and D. Monteith appeared before the Stratford Parks Board which was then only five years old, having been formed in 1904.

The board was sympathetic to their proposal and asked city council to submit a bylaw for $10,000 for parks purposes. Part was to be used to purchase property for a southside park. A bylaw was submitted to the ratepayers. It was defeated, and the project was shelved. But Alex Wilson did not give up. He was appointed to the parks board in 1910 and served until 1918, when William B. Osborne succeeded him as representative for Shakespeare Ward.

125 Dufferin St.

Alex Wilson never missed an opportunity to promote his project, and in early 1913 the parks board named a committee to look for a sight in the Shakespeare Ward.

George McLagan, board chairman and one of the main benefactors of the river park system, advanced money to buy Dufferin Park. Wilfred A. (Wink) Wilson, son of Alex, helped to lay out the first baseball diamond. The Tigers were the first Stratford baseball team in inter-city league play at Dufferin Park. Wink Wilson was member of that team, beaten 11-1 by Kitchener Dominion Rubber. In 1919 the Stratford Factory Baseball League used the Dufferin Park diamond. During the summers in the early 1920s, the Great War Veterans' Association and the Grand Trunk Railway Band provided a series of band concerts at Dufferin Park.

An open-air skating rink was in use for the first time during the winter of 1920. During its formative years, the parks board provided some funding and the people in the neighborhood gave generously of their time. Alex Wilson was elected president of the new city baseball league and the Beacon-Herald described Dufferin Park as having the best baseball diamond in the city. Howie Morenz, one of Canada’s greatest hockey players, played baseball at Dufferin Park for the Grand Trunk Railway apprentices (see Morenz Drive). A Stratford resident for 80 years, Alex Wilson (1868-1952) married Emma Elizabeth Mallion (1868-1945) in 1894.

Cpl. James (Shootin' Jimmy) Wilson won 125 prizes for marksmanship and was a highly respected member of Stratford's first militia, the Stratford Volunteer Rifle Company. Mary Jane Lennon, A Stratford Album. Photo Stratford-Perth Archives

James (Shootin' Jimmie) Wilson

Alex Wilson's father was Cpl. James (Shootin' Jimmie) Wilson (1829-1914). He was born in Edinburgh and came to Canada in 1852. A crack marksman, James acquired the nickname Shootin' Jimmie. He won 125 prizes, some of them medals and cups, with his Enfield rifle, He was also was awarded medals for service in the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870.

He lived in Belleville before moving to Stratford. In 1910, When Cpl. Wilson attended an "old boys" celebration in Belleville, he rode in a carriage with his old friend, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Canada's prime minister in 1894-1896.

Five generations of the Wilson family have lived in Stratford. Donald Wilson, a past president of the Stratford Hockey Club, is a grandson of Alex, and a great-grandson of Shootin' Jimmie.

In 1966, Ald. Alex C. (Dan) McKenzie suggested the name for Wilson Court because, he said, "Alex Wilson played a prominent part in the development of Dufferin Park."