Schools in 19th Century Stratford, Ontario
Early Settlers
County Seat
Royal Visit
Banks, Insurance

While these indications of advancement in national wealth are gratifying to all, faculties for imparting instruction to the young are still of a more marked character. To those who are yet residents it will appear but a short time since they sat in the log school building, and at recess gathered beech-nuts in what is now the collegiate grounds, or played at "hide-and-seek'' amongst brush and saw-logs, occupying that space where now stands the city hall. A short time, indeed, but pregnant with events, continuous progress and marvellous innovation. In 1834 Mr. J. J. E. Linton opened a private school, the first in Perth County. In 1841 was erected a log school, so often referred to by historians, in Stratford. In 1843, we have the first report of school work, when about 30 children of all ages met in that old log building, which stood on the site of the present central school. There could be no report of this or any other school prior to 1843. The first school Act was passed in 1841, and under its provisions were opened in 1842 all public schools then in the province.

Today 2,000 children, in eight spacious school buildings, answer the roll call. Thirty teachers are now employed. The whole of these schools are under the inspectorate of Mr. J. Russell Stuart, who is principal of the city public schools. There is also a Roman Catholic separate school, with a full staff of teachers, under separate school inspectors of Ontario.

In 1853 were assembled the first grammar school classes, under principal Rev. Thomas Russell. In 1854 C. J. McGregor, M.A., a graduate of Toronto University, became principal, conducting the school with success until he resigned in 1883. In 1878-9 a fine high school building was erected. This structure was at that time and is, perhaps, now, one of the most beautiful school buildings in Canada. During the period when Mr. William McBride was principal, who had succeeded Mr. McGregor, this institution was raised to the status of a collegiate institute. Under the present principal - Mr. C. A. Mayberry, B.A., LL.B. - this school maintains a position in the first rank of our educational system.
C. A. 'Cam' Mayberry
36 years at Stratford's
first high school

A modern innovation in our educational system was introduced into this city during 1891 by establishing kindergarten schools. Since the first one was opened in that year two others have been added. These schools are presided over by three female teachers, with Mrs. L. Irvine as principal, who maintains a general supervision over the whole, and are kept open from 9 to 12 o'clock only. Pupils are admitted between the ages of four and seven years, and to those who delight in associating with children these little people, of whom there are about 140 in attendance, form a very interesting study. They are not taught to read - modelling, drawing, weaving, sewing, songs, games, and other exercises occupying their attention. In our tender years the faculty of imitation is singularly active, and that distinctive trend of thought, found to a greater or lesser degree in all by its early manifestations in any of these departments, would likely be roused to activity, thus rendering those studies an important factor in development. These schools are maintained by a general rate levied on the city. This really interesting work, first promoted by Messrs. J. Russell Stuart, principal of the public schools, W. J. Ferguson, and John Welsh, has been productive of good results, and is quite in accord with public sentiment.

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