Stratford is a city on the Avon River in Perth County in southwestern Ontario, Canada with a population of 30,461, according to the 2006 census.
When the area was first settled in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England, of Shakespearean fame. It is the seat of Perth County. Stratford was incorporated as a town in 1859 and as a city in 1886. The first mayor was John Corry Wilson Daly and the current mayor is Dan Mathieson. The swan has become a symbol of the city. Each year twenty-four white swans and two black swans are released into the Avon River.
The town was originally a railway junction
. Furniture manufacturing became an important part of the local economy by the twentieth century. A 1933 strike by furniture workers in Stratford, led by the Communist Workers' Unity League
, marks the last time the army was deployed to break a strike in Canada.
The city's economy took a major turn when the Shakespearean Stratford Festival started in 1953. The annual festival now brings hundreds of thousands of theatre goers and tourists to the area. Celebrities such as Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, Peter Ustinov, Dame Maggie Smith, and William Shatner have performed at the festival. The world-renowned festival takes place in four theatres throughout the city; the Festival Theatre, the Avon Theatre, Tom Patterson Theatre and the Studio Theatre.
Notable past and present residents
A number of famous Canadians make their home in Stratford including CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge and his wife Cynthia Dale, as well as actor Colm Feore and former NHL hockey player Tim Taylor.
Several celebrities hail from Stratford, most notably the singers Loreena McKennitt and Richard Manuel. Canadian news anchors Lloyd Robertson and Tony Parsons both got their start in broadcasting at local radio station CJCS, Robertson in 1952 and Parsons in 1957. Thomas Edison briefly worked as a telegraph operator for the Grand Trunk Railway at Stratford's railway station and the assistant architect of the United States Capitol, Michael G. Turnbull, was born in Stratford and lived there until the age of eleven, when his family emigrated to the United States. Stratford is often credited as the home of hockey superstar Howie Morenz, who was actually from nearby Mitchell. William D. Connor, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin from 1907 - 1909, grandfather of former Congressman and Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird, and great-grandfather of Jessica Laird Doyle, wife of Governor James Doyle of Wisconsin, was born near Stratford on a farm.
Dr. Norman Bethune made Stratford his temporary home in the early part 1917. He worked as a physician at a home on Albert Street (now demolished). The two stone dogs from this residence now stand guard outside the entrance to Queen's Park at the end of Parkview Drive. His sister Janet and her husband Thomas Stiles were host to the newlyweds Norman and Frances in 1924, when they stayed at Janet's home (335 Cobourg Street) for several months.
Historically, the city was a railway junction. Today, Canadian National Railways, and the Goderich-Exeter Railway provide freight links, and VIA Rail Canada is the passenger carrier. While not on the Ontario freeway system, it is at the junctions of Highways 7, 8, and former 19 (Now Perth Road 119), and is connected to Highway 401 by expressways from Kitchener. Greyhound Canada provides daily service between London, Ontario and Kitchener. Cherrey Bus Lines provides bus service from Stratford to Wingham. Within the city Stratford Transit provides the local bus service. The Stratford Municipal Airport(CNM4) is located just north of the city.
Stratford is home of the very successful OHA
Midwestern Junior B hockey team, the Stratford Cullitons
. The Cullitons have produced notable NHL players such as Ed Olczyk
, Craig Hartsburg
, Garth Snow
, Rob Blake
, Chris Pronger
, Nelson Emerson
, Tim Taylor
, Greg de Vries
, Jeff Halpern
, Rem Murray
and Boyd Devereaux
and won several Sutherland Cup
championships. Another hockey organization within the city is the Stratford Minor Hockey Association, which includes houseleague and travel teams for younger players. Stratford also has an Intercounty Baseball League
Team called the Stratford Nationals
, and a soccer team in the Kitchener and District Soccer League. Also a very successful Men's Rugby union
Team, the Black Swans. The local high schools fare well in regional and provincial levels of sports.
In September 2005, Stratford hosted the Ovation Music Festival
. Winter concerts (produced by Standing Ovation Productions
) have also taken place since 1997 at the Stratford Festival, where artists such as Gordon Lightfoot
, Anne Murray
, Blue Rodeo
, Ronnie Hawkins
, and Colin James
The Stratford Summer Music Festival has been held for seven seasons and features indoor and outdoor performances by international classical and world music artists as well as young Canadian performers in venues around downtown Stratford.
The Stratford Concert Band, a local wind ensemble, traces its history back to the CN Rail Employees Band formed in 1907 by James Malone. 2007 marks their 100th anniversary performing in Stratford, and will be celebrating with a gala concert and reception in May. The band performs a free outdoor concert in Upper Queen's Park every Wednesday evening in the summer months.
Notable musicians from Stratford include Richard Manuel of The Band, John Till who backed up Janis Joplin, Ken Kalmusky of the Great Speckled Bird (Manuel, Till & Kalmusky played together in The Revols), Dayna Manning, Colin Fisher, Trixie Lee,Richard Keelan, Jack Hayter, Louis Applebaum, John Boyden, and Loreena McKennitt.
Media and education
The city's three secondary schools are:
both part of the Avon Maitland District School Board, and
Stratford is also home to the prestigious Stratford Chef School
Stratford has three sister cities:
- 1828 - Settlement begins.
- 1832 - Thomas Mercer Jones, an agent of the Canada Company, names the village "Stratford" and renames the portion of the Thames River running through it "The Avon River."
- 1849 - The Perth County News is Stratford's first weekly newspaper.
- 1853 - Perth County is created, with Stratford as its county seat.
- 1854 - Stratford is incorporated as a village.
- 1859 - Stratford is incorporated as a town.
- 1885 - Stratford is incorporated as a city with a population of 9000.
- 1918 - A gift from a Michigan CNR employee, swans come to live in Stratford.
- 1933 - The army is called in to end a general strike, the last time the military is used to quell a strike in Canada.
- 1936 - The Shakespearean Gardens are created.
- 1953 - The Stratford Shakespearean Festival Theatre is opened by a Stratford journalist, Tom Patterson.
- 1957 - The Festival moves into its first permanent structure.
- 1964 - The CNR shops close.
- 1997 - Nations in Bloom crowns Stratford the "Prettiest City in the World."
- 2003 - The Stratford Festival of Canada celebrated its 50th season welcoming 672,924 patrons to 18 plays.This was a record number of playgoers during the 50 seasons. The Avon Theatre realized a complete renewal and The Studio Theatre, a fourth theatre space seating 250 people was added.
1828 - Settlement begins.
1832 - Thomas Mercer Jones, an agent of the Canada Company, names the village "Stratford" and renames the portion of the Thames River running through it "The Avon River."
1849 - The Perth County News is Stratford's first weekly newspaper.
Ontario Street in the summertime.1853 - Perth County is created, with Stratford as its county seat.
1854 - Stratford is incorporated as a village.
1859 - Stratford is incorporated as a town.
1885 - Stratford is incorporated as a city with a population of 9000.
1918 - A gift from a Michigan CNR employee, swans come to live in Stratford.
1933 - The army is called in to end a general strike, the last time the military is used to quell a strike in Canada.
1936 - The Shakespearean Gardens are created.
1953 - The Stratford Shakespearean Festival Theatre is opened by a Stratford journalist, Tom Patterson.
1957 - The Festival moves into its first permanent structure.
1964 - The CNR shops close.
1997 - Nations in Bloom crowns Stratford the "Prettiest City in the World."
2003 - The Stratford Festival of Canada celebrated its 50th season welcoming 672,924 patrons to 18 plays.This was a record number of playgoers during the 50 seasons. The Avon Theatre realized a complete renewal and The Studio Theatre, a fourth theatre space seating 250 people was added.
 Neighbouring communities
Subdivisions of Ontario