Stratford, Ontario

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City (single-tier)
City of Stratford
City Hall
City Hall
Motto: Industria et Ars ("Industry and Art")
Stratford is located in Southern Ontario
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
County Perth
Incorporated 1859 (town)
Incorporated 1886 (city)
 • Mayor Dan Mathieson
 • Council Stratford City Council
 • MPs John Nater (C)
 • MPPs Randy Pettapiece (PC)
 • Land 26.95 km2 (10.41 sq mi)
Elevation[3] 345 m (1,132 ft)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 30,886[1]
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Postal code span N4Z, N5A
Area code(s) 519 and 226
Ontario Street in the summertime.

Stratford is a city on the Avon River in Perth County in southwestern Ontario, Canada, with a population of 30,886[1] as of 2011.

When the area was first settled by Europeans in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England. It is the seat of Perth County. Stratford was incorporated as a town in 1859 and as a city in 1886.[4] 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 are released into the Avon River. The town is well known for being the home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.


The town was originally a railway junction. Furniture manufacturing became an important part of the local economy by the twentieth century. In 1933 a general strike, started by the furniture workers and led by the Communist Workers' Unity League, marked the last time the army was deployed to break a strike in Canada.[4]

The city's economy took a major turn when the Stratford Shakespeare Festival started in 1953. Mayor David Simpson approved the project pitched by Tom Patterson while at the convention of the Canadian chapter of the American Waterworks Association in Winnipeg May 1951. The annual festival now brings hundreds of thousands of theatre goers and tourists to the area. Celebrities such as Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, Olivia McLean, Dame Maggie Smith, and William Shatner have performed at the festival. The Canadian novelist and playwright Timothy Findley performed in the first season, and had an ongoing relationship with the festival, eventually moving to Stratford in 1997.

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.


  • 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." The first sawmill and gristmill are opened.
  • 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.
  • 1856 - Stratford becomes a railway town with the arrival of the Grand Trunk and Buffalo-Lake Huron railways.[4]
  • 1859 - Stratford is incorporated as a town.
  • 1864 - The 17-year-old American telegraph operator Thomas Edison briefly lived at 19 Grange Street.
  • 1885 - Stratford is incorporated as a city with a population of 9000.
  • 1918 - A gift from a Michigan Canadian National Railway (CNR) employee, swans come to live in Stratford.
  • 1933 - The army is called in to attempt to end a general strike and try to systematically remove communist leaders, but fails, 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.
  • 1976 - The Stratford City Hall is designated a National Historic Site of Canada[5][6]
  • 1992 - Stratford Armoury is a recognised Federal Heritage building 1986 on the Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings.[7]
  • 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 realised a complete renewal and the Studio Theatre, a fourth theatre space seating 250 people, was added.
  • 2009 - Canada 3.0 brings 1500 people to Stratford.


Historically, the city was a railway junction. Today Canadian National Railway, and the Goderich-Exeter Railway provide freight links, and Via Rail Canada is the passenger carrier.[8] Via's rail service in Stratford is based from the Stratford railway station, and is situated on the Toronto-Sarnia segment of the Québec City-Windsor Corridor; Via serves Stratford with four trains daily (two eastbound to Toronto Union Station, one westbound to Sarnia via London, and one westbound terminating at London).[9] Whilst not on the 400-series highway, it is at the junctions of Highways 7 (Ontario St.), 8 (Huron St.), and former 19 (Now Perth Road 119, Mornington St.) and is connected to Highway 401 by expressways from Kitchener. Greyhound Canada provided daily service between London and Kitchener but the route was cancelled as of July 2011.[10] The owners of Cherrey Bus Lines, Robin Hood Tours provides chartered bus service from Stratford to locations as far as Kincardine and Wingham.[11] Within the city, Stratford Transit provides the local bus service, running every half hour six days a week.[12] The Stratford Municipal Airport (CYSA) is located just north of the city.


This memorial, erected by the city of Stratford, is dedicated to the memory of the war dead of the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.[13] The Stratford War Memorial was gifted by Mr. Walter B. Allward, of Toronto. The base is granite and the figures bronze. The total width runs eighteen feet, and the total height sixteen, the figures are eight feet high. The tall figure on the high ground expresses the better, the spiritual man, while going down into the valley is the disarmed figure of strife, the group showing the supremacy of right over brute force. On the face of the centre base are the words: "They Broke the Sword and Brought Peace to my Land." On the Slide base is inscribed the names of Stratford's war dead. The memorial was placed at the end of Erie Street, where it joins Ontario Street.[14]

Sports and recreation

Stratford is home of the 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.[15] Stratford hosted Tim Hortons Hockey Day in Canada on January 30, 2010.[16] Stratford used to also have an Intercounty Baseball League Team called the Stratford Nationals, and a soccer team in the Kitchener and District Soccer League. House League sports are also available in the Stratford area. There is the Stratford Rotary Hockey League, Hoops For Fun Basketball, Stratford Minor Baseball, the Stratford Soccer House League and the Stratford Dragon Boat Club. Stratford is also home to the Black Swans rugby club. The Chess Federation of Canada has its administrative office in Stratford. Stratford is also well known for its local swans, in 2013 it had 22 white swans and 1 black swan. Every year, the swans are marched to the river with an accompanying bagpipe band.[17]


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 around downtown Stratford.[18]

The Stratford Concert Band, a local wind ensemble, traces its history back to the GTR Employees Band, later named the CNR Employees' Band formed in 1907 by James Malone.[19] 2007 marked their 100th anniversary performing in Stratford and they celebrated with a gala concert and reception in May. The band performs free outdoor concerts at the Kiwanis Pavilion Bandshell in Upper Queen's Park Wednesday and Sunday evenings from June until September.

Notable musicians with a local connection include Justin Bieber, Loreena McKennitt (who now makes Stratford her home), Richard Manuel of The Band, Dayna Manning, Graham Van Pelt of Miracle Fortress, Darren Dumas of The Salads Ali Matthews/Rick Francis, John Till, who backed Janis Joplin, and Ken Kalmusky, who played with Ian & Sylvia's Great Speckled Bird. During their early careers, Manuel, Till and Kalmusky were members of the Stratford group, The Revols, and later became members of Ronnie Hawkins' backing group, The Hawks. Ken Kalmusky's son David Kalmusky, is a Juno awarded, multiple gold selling, Grammy nominated producer, mixer and musician. Several international operatic singers reside in Stratford such as Baritone, James Westman, and Tenor, Roger Honeywell. In 2004, the city of Stratford presented Richard Manuel of The Band with a sidewalk star[20] in the busy tourist section of Ontario Street. There is also a memorial bench seated next to the Avon River dedicated in his honor.


Stratford has a humid continental climate type (Köppen: Dfb).

Climate data for Stratford (1981−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
Average high °C (°F) −2.6
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.0
Average low °C (°F) −9.5
Record low °C (°F) −32.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 96.5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 28.8
Average snowfall cm (inches) 67.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 18.9 13.6 13.0 13.0 13.0 10.5 11.1 11.2 12.8 14.2 15.9 17.7 165.0
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 4.2 4.1 6.6 11.4 12.9 10.5 11.1 11.2 12.8 14.2 11.8 6.9 117.7
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 15.6 10.6 7.1 2.2 0.12 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.50 4.7 12.1 53.0
Source: Environment Canada[3]


Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1841 200 —    
1871 4,313 +2056.5%
1881 8,239 +91.0%
1891 9,500 +15.3%
1901 9,959 +4.8%
1911 12,946 +30.0%
1921 16,094 +24.3%
1931 17,742 +10.2%
1941 16,923 −4.6%
1951 18,785 +11.0%
1961 20,467 +9.0%
1971 24,508 +19.7%
1981 26,262 +7.2%
1991 27,666 +5.3%
1996 28,987 +4.8%
2001 29,676 +2.4%
2006 30,461 +2.6%
2011 30,886 +1.4%
Visible minorities and Aboriginals
Group 2011 Census 2006 Census 2001 Census 1996 Census
Population  % of total Population  % of Total Population  % of Total Population  % of Total
Aboriginal 400 1.3 285 0.9 195 0.7 110 0.4
Visible minority 1,245 4.2 1,165 3.9 1,205 4.1 1,105 3.9
White 28,285 94.5 28,575 95.2 27,785 95.2 27,335 95.7
Total 29,930 100 30,025 100 29,185 100 28,550 100
Population by mother tongue
Group 2011 Census 2006 Census 2001 Census 1996 Census
Population  % of total Population  % of Total Population  % of Total Population  % of Total
English 28,085 92 27,485 91.6 26,585 91.2 26,085 91.5
French 225 0.7 200 0.7 210 0.7 125 0.4
English and French 35 0.1 20 0.1 40 0.1 45 0.1
All other 2,170 7.1 2,320 7.7 2,345 8 2,290 8
Total 30,515 100 30,025 100 29,185 100 28,550 100
Mobility over previous five years
Group 2011 Census 2006 Census 2001 Census 1996 Census
Population  % of total Population  % of Total Population  % of Total Population  % of Total
At the same address 17,110 60.3 15,205 55.3 14,530 54.6
In the same municipality 6,885 24.3 11,420 41.6 7,780 29.2
In the same province 3,700 13.0 3,680 13.8
From another province 395 1.4 850 3.1 430 1.6
From another country 290 1.0 205 0.8
Total aged 5 or over 51,420 100.0 44,595 100.0 39,000 100.0




  • "Stratford Living Quarterly Magazine"



Stratford maintains manufacturing, tourism, commercial, financial and service industries, supporting a diverse economy. The top two sectors of the economy being tourism and manufacturing.[23] The annual Shakespeare Festival is a large contributor to the Stratford economy.


The city's three secondary schools are:

both part of the Avon Maitland District School Board, and

Stratford is also home to the Stratford Chef School.

University of Waterloo Stratford Campus

September 2010 marked the official opening of the Stratford campus.[24] The University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus offers undergraduate, graduate and advanced education programs and research opportunities. It is a forward-looking research, education and convergence centre that will drive the next generation of digital media applications and content models. Using a collaborative education style, the campus will bring students, leading researchers, businesses and entrepreneurs together to create, examine and commercialize opportunities in the digital media space. It is envisioned to quickly become a centrepiece for collaboration, learning and sharing through conferences and workshops.[25]

The University of Waterloo Stratford Campus showcases a collaboration of academic, government and private sector support. The University of Waterloo, as well as The University of Western Ontario, will collaborate on teaching, research and professional efforts on the Waterloo's soon-to-be-established Stratford campus. The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding in Stratford to investigate shared academic initiatives. The University of Western Ontario has expertise across the institution in various aspects of digital media, information technologies and critical media studies.

In June 2009, the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus and the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) hosted the Canada 3.0 forum in Stratford to map Canada’s digital future and create opportunities for new business and jobs. In May 2010, the second Canada 3.0 was held in Stratford again.


Stratford has been internationally recognized as a digital technology centre and a "smart city". For the past three years Stratford has placed in the Top 7 Intelligent Communities for 2011.[26] In 2013 Stratford was beat out by Taichung City, Taiwan, which has a population of over 2.3 million people. Each of the Top 7 Communities recognized by the Intelligent Community Forum "exemplifies best practices in broadband deployment and use, workforce development, innovation, digital inclusion and advocacy that offer lessons to regions, cities, towns and villages around the world".[27] Stratford was being considered a "smart city" for the introduction of citywide Wi-Fi in 2010,[28] the opening of the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, which specializes, in digital media and information technology, and as the home of the technology forum Canada 3.0 and various technology companies.

Notable past and present residents

Notable residents that have lived in Stratford include singers Justin Bieber, Loreena McKennitt, and Richard Manuel; classical singer James Westman; actors Shawn Roberts and Joe Dinicol, and author R. J. Anderson. 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. CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge and his wife Cynthia Dale currently live in Stratford, as does actor Colm Feore. Stratford is often credited as the home of hockey star Howie Morenz, who was actually from nearby Mitchell. The northern block of Nile Street, between Lakeside Drive and Water Street (on which the Allman Arena is situated) was renamed to Morenz Drive in his honour. 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.[29]

Thomas Edison briefly worked as a telegraph operator for the Grand Trunk Railway at Stratford's railway station. John Davis Barnett was an Assistant Mechanical Superintendent of the Grand Trunk Railroad and Mechanical Superintendent of the Midland Railway and librarian; later in life becoming a collector donating to the University of Western Ontario. 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. Dr. Norman Bethune made Stratford his temporary home in the early part of 1917.[30] He worked as a physician at the home/office on Albert Street that was occupied by Dr. Lorne Robertson in the 1930s (now demolished). The two cast iron dogs from this residence now stand outside the entrance to Queen's Park at the north end of Parkview Drive. His sister Janet and her husband Thomas Stiles were host to Norman and his new wife Frances in 1924, when they stayed at Janet's home (at 335 Cobourg Street) for several months. Dr. Robert B. Salter was born in Stratford. The first woman to be elected member of the House of Commons of Canada, Agnes Macphail, attended teachers college in Stratford[31]

Sister cities

Stratford is a member of the Stratford Sister Cities program which was created to promote friendship and cultural exchange between participating countries. Participation is restricted to places called "Stratford" that have a Shakespeare Theatre or Festival. A reunion is held every second year by a different member.[32]

The five principal sister cities of Stratford, Ontario are:


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External links