Being in the heart of southwestern Ontario allows Perth County to claim some of the province’s most plentiful farmland.
But Perth is more than that – it’s where rural farmland and back-country roads intersect with arts and culture, and where historic architecture fuses with some of the newest culinary trends.
Stratford Swan Parade 2015 (Stratford Gazette file photo)
The City of Stratford traces its roots back to the surveying of the Huron Road by the Canada Company in 1828. Within a year, William "Tiger" Dunlop had planted his surveyor's stakes around the area that would eventually become the city.
When Perth County separated from the Huron District in 1853, it did so upon the condition that Stratford become the county seat – with a courthouse, jail and registry office.
Stratford eventually incorporated as a village the following year, and in 1859, it became a town.
Things to see and do
A Chorus Line at Stratford (David Hou/Stratford Festival)
• When people think of Stratford, Ontario, they immediately think of theatre – particularly the Stratford Festival, which hosts year-round stage productions of various genres.
• Among its wealth of cultural activities, the city hosts Stratford Heritage Weekend. The event features exhibitions, seminars, guided walking tours and cycling tours celebrating the city's history.
• Perhaps you have heard that Stratford is the hometown of pop singer Justin Bieber? Fans can make a day of visiting young Bieber's favourite childhood hangouts, including the steps of the Festival City's Avon Theatre where he used to busk with his guitar.
• Stratford is also home to many prize-winning gardens, five of which are connected by the Avon River to provide visual delights all year.
• Not far from the river are the grounds surrounding the Festival Theatre.
Adjacent to the theatre is the Arthur Meighen Gardens with dozens of fragrant rose arbours, water pools and tree-filled parks.
• Other unique Stratford festivals include: Art in the Park, the Stratford Garlic Festival, Swan Parade, and Stratford Summer Music.
Stratford-Perth Archives (Stratford Gazette file photo)
Upon entering Stratford – particularly from the east – you will see an array of impressive historical landmarks:
• On Ontario Street, you will see the Perth County Courthouse, which sits in a core of civic buildings that include the Stratford Public Library, Stratford-Perth Archives and Stratford Jail.
• Nearby the courthouse is City Hall, which is surrounded by the late-Victorian commercial buildings and is currently the site of the pending redevelopment of Market Square.
• If you wander near the Avon River, you will catch a glimpse of the Stratford War Memorial, created by Walter Seymour Allward.
• Surrounding the heritage downtown are neighbourhoods brimming with mature trees and an abundance of Victorian and Edwardian heritage homes, many of which are now bed and breakfasts.