Woods Street

James Peter Woods, Queen's Council 

Andrew C. Brown, film and video producer

Woods Street is named for Judge James Peter Woods 

James Peter Woods    Stratford-Perth Archives

The Woods house at 62 John St. in 1882

The house at 62 John St. as it was in 2022

James Peter Woods, Judge

Woods Street runs west from Birmingham, crosses John Street and curves in a southerly direction to rejoin John Street past Dingman Place. Though the western section of Woods Street is very new, its origins stretch back more than a century.

Woods Street was laid out by William Gordon and named by him for James Peter Woods, Queen's Counsel, and a Perth County judge 1886 to 1897.  By Stanford Dingman

James Peter Woods was born on April 2, 1840 in Torrington, a market town northwest of Exeter, in Devonshire, England. He was the first child of James Woods, a wheelwright, and Ann Vanstone. In 1842, after the birth of daughter, Mary Elizabeth, the Woods immigrated to Canada and settled in the new-born community of Stratford.

James Jr. was a student in the small 20 by 30foot log school built in 1841 on what is now the lawn in front of the Stratford Public Library. Alexander McGregor was his schoolmaster (see McGregor Street). 

According to Adelaide Leitch, in Floodtides of Fortune, young Woods was a spirited lad, and often a trial for schoolmaster McGregor. He was also a trial for Andrew Monteith, the county treasurer. Monteith had a store at what is now the Scotiabank building at 1 Ontario St. (see Ontario Street). The steps at the front of his store made for an irresistible launching pad for the adventuresome Woods and his sleigh. With a decent launch, the boy attempted to ride his sleigh all the way to the Avon River.


As of the 1851 Canada census, James Woods Sr. was a tavern keeper. After Stratford became a village, in 1854, he was nominated for a seat on the municipal council, but he was not elected. He did, however, become one of  Stratford's first school trustees. By the 1861 census, James Sr.’s occupation was farmer. Also by then, James Jr. had completed his time in the Stratford and Goderich grammar schools, and was a law student.


Before the advent of university law schools, aspiring lawyers learned their profession by working with established law offices. James Jr. worked in the office of Daniel Home Lizars, who served as the Perth County judge from 1864 to 1886. In 1863, James Jr. was called to the bar and began a prosperous practice in Stratford. By 1879 he was a partner in the firm Woods, Fisher and McPherson, which in that year was listed as a patron in the Illustrated Historical Atlas of Perth County.


In 1870, James Jr. married Maria Caroline Grey Hodge, whoi had been born in St. Thomas, Ont., on Jan. 2, 1850. Her parents were Thomas Hodge, a merchant, and Caroline White. Thomas was of Scottish origin and Caroline English. By 1870 the Hodges, including Maria, had moved to the United States and resided in Evanston, Ill., near Chicago. It is likely James and Maria were married in Evanston.

Five years later, to reflect his increasingly prominent position in Stratford and to accommodate a growing family, James acquired a two-acre property on the hill at 62 John St., north of the Avon River, and on it built a fine house set back from the street. He named the house Woodville, in that it was surrounded by large trees and sloping lawns. There he and Maria raised four daughters and three sons.


In 1886, James Peter Woods was appointed the country's deputy judge. Upon the retirement of Judge Lizars, Woods became the court judge in January 1887. The impressive new Perth County Courthouse opened in mid-1887 and Woods became the first judge to preside over hearings in the new courtroom that fall.


James Woods stepped down from the bench in 1897. An ardent promoter of Stratford’s interests, he was for some years president of the Stratford Water Supply Co. and of the Stratford Gas Co. His death, at age 70, in his John Street home on Oct. 28, 1910, made the front pages of both the Stratford Daily Beacon and the Stratford Daily Herald. Maria died at age 74 in 1924 and is buried with her husband in Avondale Cemetery.  Source: Historical Plaque Properties

Andrew C. Brown, film and video producer

Having spent his career in film and video production in Toronto, Andrew moved to Stratford in 2018 and joined the Stratford & District Historical Society in its inaugural year, 2019.

A multi-award winning director/editor, his experience spans a wide range of projects, including nationally broadcast commercials, television specials, feature films, and documentaries. 

As a volunteer with the Stratford & District Historical Society, Andrew has directed a variety of videos. One notable example is his involvement in a series of short format documentaries titled "Historically Speaking." This initiative allows him to contribute his skills and expertise to the Society's mission of preserving and sharing the region's history through engaging visual content.

See  Andrew C. Brown  website for his work.

 See   Stratford District Historical Society  to view  Youtube videos