"A bit of Merrie Olde England" Top 5 Page for this destination Stratford by mikey_e
Stratford Travel Guide: 37 reviews and 98 photos
My first trip to Stratford was in high school, when we were taken for a field trip in the middle of November to see a play – no, not one of the Bard’s finer works, but the Miracle Worker – at one of the city’s theatres. It was a two hour trip in for an afternoon show and a brief view of the rather depressing outer reaches of the town, the part that has escaped rebranding as a quaint English town in the heart of southern Ontario. That was over ten years ago, and since then my parents and sisters have gone numerous times (always in summer) and generally come back with stories of the cute little shops and the beautiful walk along the river (Avon) with its swans. So, one Sunday afternoon, when I had had enough of the Kitchener region, I decided to make the 40 kilometre trip to the west to see Stratford. Unfortunately, it was still March, the town was pretty deserted of its summer tourists and the Avon was little more than a tiny stream.
That’s not to detract from the various advantages of the town of Stratford. It really does have much more character and many more interesting buildings that most of the other towns and villages in the surrounding area – Kitchener-Waterloo included. The Shakespeare Festival is actually quite famous throughout North America, if not farther afield, and it features a number of other famous playwrights, such as Arthur Miller and G.B. Shaw. The popularity of the Festival has helped to revitalize the entire town and has led to much of the historic centre being rebranded as a quaint Lakes District village among the otherwise depressing towns of Southern Ontario. In the summer, the Avon has swans and its banks are bright with bushes and trees, as well as a few cute bridges. It is quite an enjoyable place to while away an afternoon.
Apart from Shakespeare, however, there’s not much in Stratford. The Festival has given hopes to a transformation of the town into something similar to a gigantic artists’ colony, but that hasn’t quite bloomed. After all, artists need to be in contact with the various movements and ideas that arise in other parts of the world, and this is a fairly isolated town. The main street (Ontario) has no shortage of Canadian art shops, and I was truly perplexed at the sheer number of them. Stratford must have the highest number of soapstone sculptures per inhabitant. Still, if that’s your thing, you should definitely plan a trip to this little bit of merrie olde England two hours west of Toronto.
Ontario Street is the main street in Stratford – just don’t call it Main Street, as there is one of those too. It is... more travel advice
Above the World War One memorial, where the buildings open up to provide a walkway from Ontario Street down to the lake,... more travel advice
mikey_e's Related Pages
Stratford Travel Guide
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