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Monday, May 26, 2014

Knock, knock on Stratford's heritage doors

   One-Tank Trip for May 24/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The doors to 14 sites with “intriguing heritage stories and architectural details” of Stratford’s 19th-century Victorian past will swing open to the public for free tours on June 7.
   It’s part of the annual Doors Open Stratford that coincides with the Spring Heritage Weekend on June 7 and 8 in the Festival City.
An Artist’s Cottage, an 1866 Greek revival frame “salt box” house, at Doors Open Stratford. (Stratford Tourism Alliance photos)
   The heritage event takes a look at “wheels that drove the city’s economy including an Emperor bicycle and Brooks Steamer car built in Stratford and on display,” said Cathy Rehberg of the Stratford Tourism Alliance.
   The wheels-themed weekend also includes guided cycling tours along tree-lined streets and residential neighbourhoods to view notable landmarks.
   As well, there’s a Stratford favourite – horse-drawn carriage rides – and the Classic Car Show in the downtown.

   Knock, knock . . .
   The Doors Open sites will receive visitors on June 7 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at “stately civic buildings, bustling downtown businesses, museums and private homes.”
   Visitors can start at the Perth County Court House, located at the most commanding position of Stratford, to view some of Canada’s finest examples of terra-cotta detailing.
   Then, stop by the Stratford Public Library, one of the oldest Carnegie libraries in Ontario, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church and the Stratford Perth Archives.
   Up next are Shakespearean Garden tours to search for plants named in Shakespeare’s plays.
   Clustered in Stratford’s heritage district is Blowes Cards and Gifts, the home of the first Stratford Festival box office, Revel Caffe and The Space Within on Market Square.
   Follow Brunswick Street to An Artist’s Cottage to observe Gerard Brender à Brandis demonstrating an 1882 Albion printing press.
The Perth County Court House in Stratford
   Just a few doors to the east is the Performing Arts Lodge, originally the craftsman-style home and medical office of George Deacon.
   Continue on through residential homes: an 1867Greek Revival style abode and a Stratford classic Ontario cottage redefined for the 21st century overlooking the Avon River.
   Other sites include the Stratford General Hospital – School of Nursing and Hospital Archives to see a collection of early medical equipment and nursing memorabilia while retired nurses share their stories of health care.
   Completing the journey is the Stratford Perth Museum to view some of the city’s vintage wheels, including a 1926 Brooks Steamer, retired fire engines and the bicycle that Stratford Olympian Thomas McCarthy rode in the 1902 Olympics.

   Heritage to celebrate
   Stratford’s heritage weekend about wheels, along with those at the museum, includes a private bicycle collection at the Stratford Antique Warehouse on June 7 along with a display of antique tractors.
   High-wheel bicycle demonstrations are also planned, weather permitting.
   The Classic Car Show, set against the backdrop of Stratford’s City Hall in Market Square, takes place on June 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
   A digital Wheels in Motion photo exhibit by photographer Elizabeth Davidson will be presented at Gallery Stratford during the weekend.
   Guided heritage walking tours also provide a glimpse into Stratford’s past including:
   - Riverwalk heritage jaunts featuring scenic views along the Avon River (tickets, $7).
   - Railway heritage tours reveal Thomas Edison’s ties to Stratford along with stories of railway rivalries, competition and explosions ($7).
The Classic Car Show at Stratford’s City Hall
   - Saints and Sinners heritage introduces the prominent characters in Stratford’s history ($7).
   - The Ghosts of Stratford tours return with new historical personalities haunting the streets as portrayed by Playmakers! Theatre School’s costumed characters as guides, on June 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. ($20; $15, children).
   - Just Around the Block, an outdoor walking tour featuring 12 historic homes, begins at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on June 8 at 157 Water St.
   It winds up with lemonade and cookies in support of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario – Stratford Perth County Branch. ($15 per person).

   Need to know
   - Doors Open is a province-wide program with Stratford being one of 50 communities taking part now through October. doorsopenontario.on.ca
   - For information about the Stratford event, tickets and the heritage weekend: visitstratford.ca/doorsopen; 1-800-561-7926


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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