Stratford is a city on the Avon River in Perth County in southwestern Ontario, Canada, with a population of 31,465 in 2016 in a land area of 28.28 square kilometres. Stratford is the seat of Perth County which was settled by English, Irish, Scottish and German immigrants, in almost equal numbers, starting in the 1820s but primarily in the 1830s and 1840s. Most became farmers, and even today, the area around Stratford is known for mixed farming, dairying and hog production.
When the area which is now Stratford was first settled in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England. 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 are released into the Avon River. The town is well known for being the home of the Stratford Festival previously known as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival; while Shakespeare’s plays are still produced, theatre in a wide range of genres is offered each year, from May to October.
Stratford is among the best places to retire in Ontario, according to Comfort Life, a publication for seniors. According to this source, MoneySense also makes this recommendation. The latter publication rated Stratford as the 15th best place to live in Canada.
In 1832, the development of an area called “Little Thames” as the market centre for the eastern Huron Tract began. By 1834 a tavern, sawmill and grist mill had opened, and by 1835 a post office, called Stratford, was operating. The Smith’s Canadian Gazetteer of 1846 describes Stratford as follows: “Stratford contains about 200 inhabitants. Post Office, post three times a-week. Professions and Trades.—Two physicians and surgeons, one grist and saw mill, one tannery, three stores, one brewery, one distillery, one ashery, two taverns, two blacksmiths, one saddler, two wheelwrights, three shoemakers, two tailors. Settlement was slow until the early 1850s when the railway arrived.
Furniture manufacturing and railway locomotive repairs were the most important parts 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.The Grand Trunk Railway (later CNR) locomotive repair shops were the major employer for many years, employing 40% of the population.
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