Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Stratford as a town

Stratford has a lot to offer as a town, the Theatre Festival is now more than 60 years old and employs one thousand people year round in various tasks connected with the  Festival, a huge enterprise. I have been looking into our move to Stratford, now that I am retired I really see little point in staying in Ottawa. I came here for study and work, I never planned to die here. One factor to consider though is our friends and we have a lot of old and dear friends in Ottawa, people we have known for 30+ years. We do not know anyone in Stratford and would have to start over which can be difficult at our age. But Ottawa is a very expensive town, oh yes, it ranks up there with Rome and London, I am not exaggerating, I was involved in price comparison studies and Ottawa is not cheap, food, rent, gas and general expenses reflect the fact that it is the National Capital. So how do we entice our old friends to move or at least visit us. I should do a separate entry on this topic of why I am inclined to leave Ottawa.

But I digress, Stratford functions also outside the Festival and has been mindful to keep in mind that it must be more than one industry town. At one time and for more than 100 years Stratford was a major railway hub and international quality furniture maker. Today the furniture industry is gone and the railway is greatly reduced. The Festival brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue which profits to all local businesses, hotels, B& B, restaurants and many shops. To meet the demand of the many tourists and travellers who come to Stratford there are 3 fine chocolate makers with an incredible array of quality hand made chocolates. One is Rheo Thompson beautiful quality chocolates and candies. The other are Barr Chocolates and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. All are worth a visit because of their in house specialties.

 a very large piece of Fudge with nuts, it weighs about 6 Kg. 

 We actually bought this Creamsicle Fudge it has an orange taste and is quite nice

There is also for the gourmet some 15 fine dining establishment where Chefs outdo themselves with wonderful culinary delights. There are 8 real estate offices, 8 Art galleries, 7 fine coffee houses each one catering to a clientele who prefers good coffee in a relaxed atmosphere. In that category I like Revel Caffè on Market Place. Also 5 bookstores offering a lot of service to its clients in the old fashion way bookstore use to cater to the reading public. I shop at Fanfare Books on Ontario street which has a wide array of books for all taste. For those who love old things 4 antique stores, you can find some real gems often from old Estate sales.  There is also numerous professional services, lawyers offices, Medical doctors, numerous banks, etc... The city does not die during the winter Season as of November, some business have reduced hours but on the whole life goes on.

Of the restaurants we enjoyed Pazzo Taverna is a favourite, the Italian cuisine and service are very good, staff are knowledgeable about the wine list and the house specialities. You will not find lasagna or spaghetti on the menu, the chef follows original Italian recipes found in various regions of Italy.

Pazzo Taverna on Ontario Street

There is also an excellent Indian Cuisine restaurant Raja on George street, the atmosphere, food and service are excellent.

For after dinner drinks and a bite to eat where you are most likely to run into the actors and theatre staff Down the Street Bar on Ontario Street.

Another favourite restaurant is Mercer Hall Inn on the ground floor is the restaurant and  above there are two floors of well appointed rooms and suites, we stayed there and loved it.

We also discovered a new restaurant Bijou on Erie Street, they have no menu, just a blackboard and you read it and choose what you want to eat, there is a prix fixe of  2 plates for a set price and 3 plates for another set price. So it is very simple and good again the service was courteous and knowledgeable.

Stratford is part of what is now called the Nouvelle Ontario Cuisine, focusing on local ingredients and what is in Season. Ontario also has a lot of very good award winning wines. So it makes for a great combination.

Stratford also has many beautiful streets and old homes, it is a town with character.

Stratford Court House

All along the streets arrangements of either fresh herbs or a variety of flowers

What is interesting to note is the display of colours and arrangements everywhere in parks and along streets, a great deal of care has gone into this display throughout the city.

Ornamental fantasy gate in the city centre.

Street scape note that the tall facade were built to impress, the building is in fact not very deep as it can be noticed on the Stratford Tourism building.

Homes on Lake Victoria across from the city centre


  1. Stratford would be an absolutely delightful place to live! I'm familiar with Rheo Thompson Chocolates from the last time I was there and will be buying another box (or two) this time as well. So sinfully good! I'm making note of all the restaurants you have recommended, thanks!

  2. Well, I read the entire post and looked at all the photos. I have a vague recollection of really interesting history and beautiful images. Vague. "[A] very large piece of Fudge with nuts, it weighs about 6 Kg." is all I can clearly remember.

    1. Oh my! I see where your priorities are. LOL!!!

  3. More and more, I find myself neglecting all the blogs I visit, then returning periodically to gorge. Always a pleasure here. Not giving short shrift to what you write, but your pictures are just sumptuous, always. Thank you!

  4. This is a lovely post! You captured the urtext of the place. It is hard to imagine once upon a time Stratford was notorious for having 'no good place to eat'.