The settlement of Stratford began with the surveying of the Huron Road by the Canada Company in 1828. In December of that year and January of 1829, their agent William “Tiger” Dunlop, planted his surveyor’s stakes around the area that was to become this beautiful city.
The Canada Company had been formed in 1824, when the government of Upper Canada was granted a million acres of land to settle. The district was known as the Huron Tract and included what is now Stratford and most of Perth County.
Stratford, itself, began to take shape in 1832 when Thomas Mercer Jones, a Canada Company director, gave a picture of William Shakespeare to William Sargint, the owner of the Shakespeare Hotel. A stone marks the site of this hotel, near 70 Ontario Street.
Jones gave the village the name of Stratford and the creek, which had been known as Little Thames, was renamed the Avon River. It wasn’t until 1953 that Tom Patterson, a Stratford-born reporter for Maclean’s Magazine, and a group of local supporters opened the Stratford Festival. As the Canadian National Railways repair shops closed and the success of the furniture industry waned, the Festival helped make tourism a significant industry for the city. Today Stratford has a diversified economy featuring manufacturing, finance, The University of Waterloo Digital Innovation Campus and service-related businesses.