Almost 40 years before Canadian women had the right to vote, and when most working women were dressmakers, milliners, teachers, or nurses, a number of Stratford women ran their own businesses. These women are two of those interesting entrepreneurs.
Annie Allcock was the proprietress of the Junction Hotel near the GTR station. She served fine meals and the choicest liquors. According to her advertisements, even the express trains remained long enough for passengers to take refreshments.
First class entrepreneur, Lucy Cartwright, the wife of Dr. Calvin Cartwright, a Stratford dentist, was proprietress of the Meribah Mineral Springs. While sinking a well on their property on the south west corner of Nile and Ontario Streets in the late 1870s, the well yielded more than expected. The water had an unusual taste and produced an exhilarating effect.
The water was found to have 7 minerals by chemist Professor H. H. Croft of the University of Toronto, and was “the best in Canada” according to his analysis.
By 1880, their home had become The Meribah Mineral Springs. It contained baths and drinking fountains and was opened under Lucy’s direction. According to her publicity, the water could cure 26 diseases. The list included colds, congestion, ague, nervous diseases, kidney diseases, and of course, all female complaints. The Meribah Mineral Springs with its astonishing waters lasted only a few years and then passed silently into Stratford history.