Stratford Place Mural
This public art installation is comprised of 23 original paintings by Rich Thistle©. Images depict historic & contemporary scenes of Stratford Ontario. Commissioned in 1998 by building owner, the late Vic Hayter, these acrylic works were created using sepia tones for the historical scenes & full color for the contemporary images. A tribute to historic & current Stratford, the work is permanently mounted across the front facade of STRATFORD PLACE, in the heart of downtown.
THE OLD BOATHOUSE
1917 view of the old boathouse from the north shore of Lake Victoria (Avon River) suggests the relaxation and restoration which water provides those who are drawn to it. The boathouse is still in existence, used as a canoe and paddle -boat rental business.
THE BROOKS STEAMER
Stratford's only bid to build cars was the Brooks Steam Motors Ltd. which opened in 1923 & ran out of steam in 1927. During that time 180 Brooks Steamers were built selling for $3000 each, a king's ransom in those days. The original building on Ontario St. at the entrance to Queen's Park was torn down in 2001. Only a few cars remain, including one brought back to Stratford by the Perth County Historical Foundation.
CASE 135 TRACTOR
Stratford is the seat of the County of Perth, in the heart of some of the richest agricultural land in the world. This Case IH 135 tractor & implement symbolize the modern outlook of farming, as family industry carries on in the ongoing spirit of the pioneers who cleared these lands over a century ago, and the many who settled in the area after the Second World War.
CNR ENGINE 6218
The massive CNR locomotive'6218', built in Montreal circa 1942, was the last engine to be refurbished at the CNR repair shops in Stratford before they closed in 1963. For almost 100 years, Stratford was 'a railroad town'.
DUCKS AT PATTERSON BRIDGE
Mallards explode from the quiet of the Avon River, by the Tom Patterson bridge, in Stratford's beautiful park system, a touch of nature in the heart of the city.
THE OLD POST OFFICE
Remembered fondly by Stratford's citizens, this impressive federal building stood proudly on the north side of main street from 1882 until it was demolished in 1961. Its strong 19th century design became a proto-type for post office buildings across the country. Memorial Park now occupies this site opposite the Erie St. junction where once stood the wooden 'Band Shell' shown in the foreground.
CITY HALL 1998
Nov. 2, 1998 marked the 100th anniversary of the most unique Victorian City Hall in all of Ontario. Its beautifully restored condition gives no hint of its near destruction at the hands of its own elected councils between 1964 - 1974. A determined citizen's committee stirred public outrage at the prospect of such a travesty, forcing council to renovate & repair, spelling the end of plans to demolish the building & saving this gem of public architecture.
FAG BEARINGS LTD.
Chosen to symbolize the ongoing importance of industry in Stratford, FAG Bearings Ltd. is a model of modern manufacturing. This strong international company is one of Stratford's oldest & largest employers, notable for their admirable record of corporate citizenship. They were very pleased to be included in this series & were most helpful to the artist.
FEEDING THE SWANS
The exceptional park system is a key part of the Stratford experience & feeding the swans seems a tradition worth continuing. There are probably few family photo albums which do not contain such memories. Here the artist chose to use a 1981 family photo of himself & his two children as a reference for this painting.
1953 FESTIVAL TENT
The original Stratford Shakespearean Festival tent was erected in 1953. In a creative & courageous leap of imagination, Sir Tyrone Guthrie suggested housing the thrust stage in a huge circus tent. It was terra cotta red & aqua canvas with 60 ft. poles & 250 stakes erected by the legendary tent man Skip Manley. Theatre goers in those first 3 years recall hearing the rain on the canvas & train whistles from nearby tracks. The tent was replaced with a permanent building in 1956
FLICK ROTH & FLANAGAN
Billy Flick, Lyle 'Mickey' Roth & Dennis 'Dinny' Flanagan are shown here in their practice jerseys while playing for the OHA Senior A Stratford Indians. This line was a legend during their years together from 1951 - 1957. In 1951 they were picked for the Lethbridge Maple Leafs team & helped give Canada its 13th world title in senior amateur hockey. Of course the Stratford hockey tradition continues to this day!
FORBES LIVERY 1900
At the turn of the century, J & R Forbes Livery & Stable & the W. J. Cleland blacksmith shop were located side by side on the site now occupied by 'Stratford Place', the building on which these twenty-three paintings are mounted. Before the larger building was torn down in the 1960s it served as a popular bowling alley.
GTR ENGINE 'TORONTO'
The Grand Trunk Railroad wood burner 'Toronto' was the first steam locomotive built in Canada. Manufactured in Toronto circa 1853, it was probably the first steam engine to pass through Stratford on a scheduled run when the Grand Trunk reached the town in 1856.
HURON ST. BRIDGE & COURTHOUSE
This dramatic view of the Huron St. stone bridge, built in 1885 to celebrate Stratford's incorporation as a city, frames the architectural beauty of Stratford's Perth County Courthouse, a building of considerable presence & beauty.
A nostalgic view of Kalbfleisch Bros. garage & car dealership on the northwest corner of Erie & St. Patrick St. as it looked in 1915, was owned & operated by 3 generations of the Kalbfleisch family, in the same location, until 2004.
LONG DAY'S JOURNEY
Legendary Canadian stage actors Martha Henry & William Hutt comfort one another in a scene from the Stratford Festival Theater's 1994-95 production of 'A Long Day's Journey Into Night'. Ms Henry and Mr. Hutt also played these roles in the movie version.When asked for permission to use an image of the two of them together, they personally chose this publicity shot, as their favorite image.
MOSQUITO OVER 4-HORSE BINDER
Stratford grew from its agricultural roots. During World War II, a friend of the Thistle family, Lloyd Morrow, was seconded from the RAF to De Havilland aircraft company in Toronto to test-fly Mosquitos. Among his test-flying adventures were visits to the home farm. Wooden parts for this aircraft, as well as the Lancaster bomber, were manufactured in Stratford at Kroehler Furniture & Imperial Rattan Furniture.
In the late 1930s, near the site of the Thomas Orr Dam, a touch of Greek architecture provided an interesting contrast to its natural surroundings on the banks of the Avon River. The pergola graced this scene for only a few years before it was lost in the flood of 1937. The couple posing in the foreground show evidence of the strong presence of the sport of tennis in 1930's Stratford.
Swans are beautiful, stately birds with strong family instincts & their presence on the Avon seems somehow to recall Stratford's connections to the England of the past. It is now famous for its Mute Swan population, which has graced its waterway since the early thirties.
FESTIVAL THEATRE 1998
Proudly overlooking the Avon River, the Stratford Festival's main theatre building was the subject of major renovations in 1997, thus restating modern world standards in theatre design both front & back stage. Stratford's 4 theatres attract more than half a million visitors each year to the world-class productions presented by its internationally respected repertory company.
TOM, TANYA, TYRONE
Tom Patterson, festival founder, Tanya Moiseiwitsch, designer of the thrust stage, & Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the Festival's first director, share creative visions together under one of the main tent rigging poles, in preparation for the first season at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in 1953.
This beautiful, contemplative little corner of the park system, designed in the style of a Japanese water garden, is almost hidden near Gallery Stratford. A gem of garden architecture worth seeking out.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
1953 production with renowned stage & film actress Irene Worth & Sir Alec Guinnes on stage in the 1953 inaugural season.