I came across an online PDF file featuring the routes for heritage walks in Stratford and St. Marys. The file, from Perth Arts Connect, can be accessed at this link:
An excerpt reads:
Stratford’s Avon River
Boasting the largest park land per capita, Stratford’s main park system contains approximately 115 acres of formal parkland and nearly 60 acres of natural area. Enjoy the parks, the architecture, and the personalities that are a part of one of Canada’s best preserved heritage communities.
I have not fact-checked the document, for the purpose of corroborating and verifying the interesting facts that are presented – such as the reference, for example, to “the largest park land per capita.” I’m aware from previous experience elsewhere that statements about local history always warrant at least a little bit of fact-checking.
That said, for a newcomer to Stratford such as myself, the above-noted description of local heritage walks offers a great way to get started, in learning about the history of Stratford and St. Marys.
Among my favourite items is “21. Delete? Fragments of Memory, Millennium Park Delete?”
I am reminded, in this regard, that memories are malleable – and, indeed, subject to fragmentation, and occasionally to deletion.
As well, I am impressed (among other things) with the story of Robert Orr:
24. R. Thomas Orr – 50 Cobourg Street
This Gothic Ontario house was constructed in 1874 by Thomas Orr and remains in the family to this day. An architect by training, an avid horticulturist, a prolific reader and local historian, R. Thomas Orr’s vision of converting the industrial and commercial lands along the Avon River into parkland led to the formation of the Stratford Parks Board in 1904. In addition, he also led the successful campaign in 1912 to prevent the Canadian Pacific railway from building a railway through the parkland along the river. He was instrumental in the hiring of Canada’s foremost landscape architect, Frederick G. Todd, to design the Stratford parks system.
The walk for St. Marys can be accessed here.
An excerpt from the latter link reads:
2. Timothy Eaton – 166 Queen St. E
He apprenticed in a general store in his native Ireland, and worked in another in Glen Williams, Ontario, but it was in 1856 in a log building on the banks of Fish Creek, just west of the main intersection in Kirkton, that Timothy Eaton (1834-1907) opened his first store. There, assisted by his brother James, the village postmaster, and two of their sisters. In 1860, Timothy and James moved their store operation to St. Marys, where their brother Robert was a well-established merchant. Timothy and James had a number of business ventures in St. Marys, working mostly out of rented quarters, among them the limestone building at 166 Queen Street East. In 1869, Timothy moved to Toronto, where he bought an existing dry-goods and haberdashery business at 178 Yonge Street, and proceeded to build a department-store empire and in the process revolutionize retailing in North America.
Not clear what following sentence is about: “There, assisted by his brother James, the village postmaster, and two of their sisters.”