The Former Registry Office/ Stratford-Perth Archives

Ontario Heritage Week 

February 21-27, 2022

Since 1974, the third Monday of February has been recognized as Heritage Day in Canada. In 1985, the Ontario government legislated the third week in February to be Ontario Heritage Week.

History and heritage are two words that frequently go togetherHistory is the study of the past, while heritage refers to the valued objects and the traditions such as historic buildings, and customs that have been passed down from previous generations. 

The Former Registry Office/ Stratford-Perth Archives

24 St. Andrew Street

When the Stratford and District Historical Society (2019) was formed, the former Perth County Registry Office, later Stratford-Perth Archives, was selected as our logo. It was chosen because of the over one hundred years of history stored within its walls, the heritage significance of its unique construction method, and the architectural link to its surroundings.

In 1910 when the need for a new registry office, combining the former ones in North and South Perth, occurred, Perth County Council decided to build on the land located between the county jail and the courthouse. T.J. Hepburn, a local architect and son of Alexander Hepburn, also a well-known Stratford architect, was hired.

Hepburn was directed to design the new building to harmonize with the jail and the Perth County Courthouse both which had been designed by George F. Durand in the 1880s. When completed the addition of the building created a unified street scape from Huron Street to the jail thus creating a significant landscape along St. Andrew Street.

Because of the significance of the records to be contained within the building, it was constructed under extremely high standards and to be as fireproof as possible. The walls including the interior ones were solid masonry. 

In order to support the weight of the paper records the main floor “consists of “I” beams every 6 feet with corrugated metal arches between supporting concrete from 12 inches to 6 inches thick variously across the floor.”  The new building was wired for electricity which had arrived in Stratford shortly before its construction.

After serving the citizens of Stratford and Perth County for 35 years, it was replaced by another building to keep up with the rapid growth in the area after World War II and later became the Perth District Health Unit Office.

In 1972, the Perth County Archives based on the R. Thomas Orr collection and archival materials from the Perth County Historical collection was opened. In 1981, having long outgrown its space in the basement of the Perth County Court House, the archives moved into the former registry office and the name changed to Stratford-Perth Archives. The local community and out-of-town researchers looking up family records, local history and documentary heritage were well served by the building first created to hold tons of paper land records.

In 2015, the Stratford-Perth Archives moved to a new location leaving its original building empty and waiting to be repurposed in order to continue the significant contribution to the community that the building had made for over a century.