Stratford, Ontario from its founding to 1902
Early Settlers
County Seat
Royal Visit
Banks, Insurance

When surveys were made in the Huron Tract, in that portion of it which afterwards was organized as Perth County two town sites were reserved.   These were Stratford and Mitchell.   Contrary to the opinions expressed by several intelligent writers on Perth County history, we believe this selection of a site for Little Thames, as Stratford was first named, was not made from its geographical position, but as a matter of convenience.   Its contiguity to the river was no doubt a primary factor in its being chosen.   As far as any argument based on a convergence of leading roads is concerned, it appears of no importance whatever.   In the wild forest who can say what development will induce?   Priority of settlement may for a time give prestige, but it does not follow that when half a century has gone that precedence may still be maintained.   Commercial demands are inexorable, and will set at defiance the best-laid schemes of surveyors, speculators, or boards of directors.   Whatever Stratford is today she owes not to her natural geographical position.   Her ascendancy has been attained not from environment, but from an impressment of extraneous conditions which she has compelled to become ministers to her success.   Great towns, like great men, make way for themselves, and obstacles, which appear insurmountable to some, by an overpowering determination are transformed and compelled to be factors in their advancement.   It is worthy of note in connection with this city that of all towns or villages in this county its location was least desirable as an agricultural centre.   Fine sections of farmland surrounded St. Marys, Mitchell, and Listowel.   Stratford was located in a great swamp.   It is not surprising, therefore, that for a period of twenty years her progress was inconsiderable.

From History of Perth County 1825-1902 by William Johnston, published in 1903

  Stratford Ontario
  Population Statistics
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
2,809 4,313 8,239 9,500 9,959