When Ontario Street Was Shakespeare Road

In the days when Ontario Street was known as Shakespeare Road – there was a strong belief in ghosts and such things.

This is an excerpt of an article describing some memories of Mrs. S.A. Walker who lived in Stratford from 1873 to 1893 before moving to Manitoba. It was printed in the Beacon Herald in 1924. 

“I moved from London to Stratford in 1873. I went to the red brick school and Miss Greenly was my teacher.” 

The first brick school, built in 1871, was located in front of the present day library.

“I remember the Long Bridge (William Hutt Bridge) falling down.

I saw it going down and I was standing in our back door at the time. Mr. Robertson (possibly John Robertson, a candy maker, living on William Street) was just crossing and was on the north side when down it went with a terrific crash. The old gentleman had a hard time hanging on to the guard rail until he was helped out.” 

“Many will remember going down to the old floating bridge at the edge of McCulloch’s farm (now Queen’s Park) to see the corpse of a man without his head inside of a coffin tied to a plank. He was believed to walk up and down Shakespeare Road (now Ontario Street) looking for his head. George Chean, a teamster, always wore white duck clothes. One night four of us were going home from a party and George passed us as we stood at our gate. Of course, we screamed as we were sure we had seen a ghost. It was so easy to see ghosts at that early age.” 

“There were no street lights at that time, and I remember when a group of young people were going home from a party in the old town hall, and of course we had to find our way home as best we could. Just as we got to the corner of Front and Shakespeare Road by Dr. Lucas’ home we got a scare. The place was supposed to be haunted and we stumbled over something white lying on the sidewalk. Every person screamed and ran. Then, some braver than the rest, went back and found that it was a big white cow taking its rest for the night.”

the big white cow