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Plummer as Cyrano
If you've just stumbled across this site and don't know anything about Stratford, Ontario: since 1953 Stratford has built a well-deserved reputation as a world-class theatre town and is now home of the largest classical repertory theatre in North America.

Some snippets from Wikipedia:
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival (a.k.a "The Festival") was founded as the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada, due mainly to Tom Patterson, a Stratford-native journalist who wanted to revitalize his town's economy by creating a theatre festival dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare, being that the town shares the name of Shakespeare's birthplace. Stratford had originally been a major railway junction and had fallen into decline when the railway yards were moved. On July 13, 1953, actor Alec Guinness spoke the first lines of the first play produced by the festival: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York."

This first performance took place in a giant canvas tent on the banks of the River Avon. The season lasted six weeks and comprised just two plays: Richard III and All's Well That Ends Well. The Festival Theatre was opened in 1957, and was deliberately designed to resemble a tent, in memory of those first performances. The Festival Theatre's thrust stage was designed by British designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch to resemble both a classic Greek amphitheatre and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and has become a model for other stages in North America and Great Britain.

Today The Festival runs from April to November, and has four permanent venues: the Festival Theatre, the Avon Theatre, the Tom Patterson Theatre, and the Studio Theatre. In 2008 an outdoor venue (the Festival Pavilion) has been added. Although the Festival's primary mandate is to produce the works of Shakespeare, its season playbills usually include a variety of classical and contemporary works and at least one musical.

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Shakespeare Bust
The attraction of The Festival as well as its charming setting has drawn scores of artistic types to Stratford over the years. Our B&B is filled top-to-bottom with original art and there are many options all around town for enjoying the visual arts.

Gallery Stratford
Over its 40 years, Gallery Stratford has established itself as one of the region's leading art galleries, organizing exhibitions of local, national and international visual artists.

Gallery Indigena
For more than 30 years, Gallery Indigena has been a major centre for Canadian indigenous art.

Davis Canadian Arts
106 Ontario Street
Canadian traditional and contemporary sculptures, ceramics and paintings.

Village Studios
24 Downie Street
Contemporary Canadian Fine Art & Craft plus framing services.

An Artist's Cottage
Gerard Brender à Brandis Studio
77 Brunswick Street
Working artist/craftman's studio. Hand made books printed on 1882 English printing press. Wood engravings. Call for hours: (519) 273-7523

Off the Wall, Stratford Artist's Alliance

Art in the Park (seasonal)
At Lakeside Drive in Stratford, members of Art in the Park have presented an outdoor show since 1968. Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, during June, July, August & September weather permitting, the works of regional artists are represented.

Irene Miller Photographic Art

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If you're interested in exploring the history of the theatre and the area, check out these local resources:

The Chalmers Public Theatre Resource Collection
The Chalmers Public Theatre Resource Collection is an eclectic compendium of books, magazines, videos, microfilm and clipping files. The Chalmers Room is located on the main floor of the Stratford Public Library (just a couple of blocks from our B&B) and is open during the Library's operating hours. You are invited to visit the Chalmers Room, read reviews of the current plays and other theatre related material, or enjoy a video production of one of your favourite Shakespearean plays. Reviews cover from 1953 to the present.

The Stratford Perth Museum
Bringing Stratford and Perth County's heritage to life.

The Stratford-Perth Archives
The Archives preserves, protects and makes available the documentary heritage, including municipal and school records, of Perth County and the City of Stratford.

R. Thomas Orr, 1870 - 1957
Orr, among other achievements, was the driving force behind the Stratford parks system and his plans to link Stratford with the birthplace of the English playwright William Shakespeare led to the creation of the Shakespearean Gardens.

Articles on the history of Stratford in PDF format:
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Due to the large number of hungry theatre-goers and the fact that Stratford has one of Canada's top chefs schools - the Stratford Chefs School - there is an abundance of high quality dining options in all price ranges. We haven't lived here long enough to have tried them all, but below you'll find a list of some of our favorites and ones that consistently get good reviews. Visit this Stratford Tourism Alliance page for a more comprehensive lisiting.
Dinner reservations are a must for most restaurants during the high season.

The Shakespearean Gardens, Queens Park, all around Lake Vicoria - there are many great spots to picnic in Stratford. We have a couple of picnic baskets to loan out and can offer many good places where you can fill said basket for a delightful al fresco lunch. Here are a few suggestions for picnic fare:

The Bakery at Pazzo, 76 Ontario St.
This new addition to the Pazzo complex features an assortment of artisanal bread, sweet & savoury pastries, espresso, coffees, & teas.

The Butcher & The Baker - 26 Wellington Street.
Artisan Craft Bakery and traditional Butcher & Deli featuring local producers. Buy some fresh bread, cheese, etc. and head down to the river.

The County Food Co. - 38 Erie St.
Offering an extensive menu of à la carte dishes, so you can mix and match items to build your own meal. Indoor and patio seating as well as to-go.

The General Store, 136 Ontario Street - A variety/convenience store, and they also make and sell excellent sushi to go.

The Gentle Rain Natural Foods Store, 30 Rebecca St.
Organic and natural food, snacks & drinks - and a broad selection of vitamins & health supplements

The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop, 118 Ontario St.
Featuring cheeses from around the world as well as many artisanal & small batch cheeses made in Canada including selections from Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Your Local Market Co-op, 129 Downie St.
New in 2011, this grocery store & bakery focuses on locally sourced goods. Anyone can shop here - members get a discount. The bakery features inexpensive artisan breads, sweet pastries and daily "street food" options (wraps, savoury pies, etc).

Casual Dining:
York Street Kitchen - World Class sandwiches. Cafe setting but also great for getting to go for a picnic by the river. Can get VERY busy in the summer.

Pazzo Pizza - Head to Pazzo's downstairs pizzeria for fantastic thin-crust pizza. Build your own pizza from their extensive list of fresh toppings. Full bar.

Boomers Gourmet Fries - Stratford loves its fries. You'll see Ken's French Fry van parked near City Hall most every day - and Ken's does good basic fries. But if you want to try Goat Cheese Poutine or some Vegetarian Chili Fries, head to Boomers. You can also get burgers (including veggie ones), chicken sandwiches and fish.

The Boar's Head Pub - Well-kept beer, good pub fare & friendly service, the Boar's Head is a good place to hang out with some locals.

Simple Fish & Chips - Excellent Fish & Chip cafe that emphasizes Oceanwise fish, local greens and non trans-fat oil. Located across from Foster's Inn near the Avon Theatre.

Downie Street Burgers - Gourmet burgers (with some vegetarian options) served up in a comfortable setting right across from the Avon Theatre.

Madelyn's Diner - Exit our B&B and head away from downtown on Huron St. about 1 km (a little over half a mile) and you'll find a popular local diner. Daily specials. Patio seating in the summer.

Mid-range Dining:
Down the Street - Busy, cheery, and very popular bistro. Creative, full-flavored menu. Good place to stop for a drink as well - if there's room!

Foster's Restaurant & Lounge - "Good comfort cuisine, clean crisp decor with friendly service." Dine on the lounge side for a more casual (and less expensive) experience.

Keystone Alley - In operation for more than 25 years, Keystone Alley's menus pay close attention to fresh ingredients, taste and presentation. Just around the corner from the Avon Theatre. Some outdoor patio seating available.

Pearl Sushi - Excellent sushi plus much more: appetizers, soups, salads, Tempura, and Teriyaki. Lunch specials.

Raja Fine Indian Cuisine - Delicious Indian food presented in dining rooms with rich decor.

Rene's Bístro - New to the restaurant landscape in 2008, Chef Rene Delafranier has worked in many of Stratford's top spots and is a graduate of the Stratford Chef School. Creative French/Italian-inspired recipes and beautifully presented, Rene's offers high quality dining at a very reasonable price.

The Sun Room - "Innovative and affordable cuisine" Vegetarian, seafood, stir-frys, and steak. International flavours with spicey alternatives. Will also cater to special diets.

Taj Fine Indian Dining - Another excellent Indian cuisine restaurant. Located near the Avan Theatre.

Fine Dining:
Bijou Restaurant - "Modern French" cuisine with Asian & Italian influences. Emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. Menu changes daily.

The Church Restaurant & The Belfry Opened in 1975, The Church is a Stratford institution. Modern French cuisine with an evolving menu that uses local and organic produce. Upstairs at The Church is The Belfry, offering French bistro cuisine with Asian influences.

The Old Prune - Elegant dining in Edwardian surroundings. A bountiful array of fine ingredients available from local growers and suppliers make up their International menu.

Out of Town:
The Westover Inn - Located in nearby St. Marys, the Westover Inn presents and extensive menu of regional cuisine. Vegetarian options and children's meals are available.

Woolfy's at Wildwood - located minutes from St. Marys at the corner of Highway #7 and Perth road 118, Woolfy's serves a varied menu of seafood, poultry, pork & beef.

For more information:
UrbanSpoon or
Stratford Restaurant Reviews

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If you still need another reason to visit Stratford, consider this: the area has become a destination for chocolate/confection lovers.

Rheo Thompson Candies
Hand-made sine 1969, Rheo Thompson offers more than 100 varieties of chocolates, hard candies, fruit jellies, and peanut brittle.

Chocolate Barr's
Derek & Jacqueline Barr joined the Stratford chocolate scene in 2003. Tradional candy making techniques are employed at their shop located on Ontario street.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
10 Downie Street
Yes, this a franchise, chain business - but they still sell yummy chocolate. They also have ice cream and great candy apple choices.

Our Favorite Chocolatier:

Mollet's Designer Desserts
Our favorite chocolatier is located in nearby St. Marys. Alex Mollet is a Swiss born and trained professional chef and patisserie. His creations are truly works of art - both in taste and presentation.

For European chocolates visit:
The Butcher & The Baker
26 Wellington Street
Artisan Craft Bakery and traditional Butcher & Deli that also carries a lot of specialty food items including European chocolates like Milka, Ritter, Lindt, Cote d'Or, etc.

New in 2010:
The Stratford Chocolate Trail
Purchase your Chocolate Trail Pass at the Stratford Tourism Alliance office. The $20 pass includes tickets that entitle you to choose 8 out of the (currently) 21 stops you would like to visit on a self-guided tour.
Click here to learn more and see where the stops are.

The Honey Tree Patisserie
131 Albert St.
Tucked away in a converted house on Albert street (in between Nile & Waterloo) is a wonderful little pastry shop featuring croissants (including chocolate-filled ones), cinnamon rolls, muffins and more. They also serve coffee and have a small porch with a few tables.

Jenn & Larry's Brittle & Shakes and Ice Cream Cakes
49 York Street
Owned and operated by a father/daughter duo, Jenn makes a wide variety of melt-in-your-mouth brittles, especially her delicious Chocolate Supreme Peanut Brittle. Larry is the master of spinning old-fashioned milkshakes on his circa 1950's milkshake machine. As well as brittle and shakes, there are frozen custard ice cream cones, sundaes, take out tubbies of ice cream for your picnics, and ice cream cakes for all occasions.
Samples available!

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Visiting/feeding Stratford's famous swans is surprisingly diverting. They're beautiful, funny, cantankerous - and they're not shy about asking for food.

We provide our guests with free swan food. If you forget to take some along, know that the swans like dark, leafy greens or corn - please don't feed them bread. For more information on Stratford's swans, dowload this PDF pamphlet.

Annual Swan Parade
Every spring, the Stratford swans and other assorted birds are marched from their winter pen to the lake. And not just marched, but led by The Perth County Pipe & Drum Band - and there's usually free coffee and Timbits. Seriously, this is something you need to see at least once.
2009's Swan Release was held on April 5th. It was a perfect day for the parade - click here to read more and see photos of the event.

Click to view photos of Stratford's Swans

Click here to view some videos of the swans.

Other Birds Around the Lake
In addition to the iconic White Swans, Stratford also keeps a few other rescued birds as part of its permanent population - and there are also wild birds to see as well. Look for a pair of Black Swans, two Noisy Chinese Geese, a Bar-Headed Goose, and a Muscovy Duck. Wild water birds that you might see include Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, Seagulls, Great Blue Herons, and Cormorants.

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We don't have a private pool at Across the Bridge B&B but there are a couple of good options if you want to take a dip while you're here.

The Lions Pool
Located just across Huron street from our B&B is the Stratford Lions Pool. The pool is open June - September and there is a small entry fee.

The Quarry
Just a 20 minute drive from Stratford is Canada's largest outdoor swimming pool: The Quarry in St. Marys. This is a former limestone quarry that has been rehabilitated for swimming.

If you're a member of the YMCA you can use this facilty for free - non-members can purchase a day pass.

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There are lots of lovely areas for casual strolls or more vigorous hiking in and around Stratford. We have maps of these walks available at our B&B.

Lake Victoria
This man-made lake is where most of Stratford's swans reside. Good for a casual walk or a vigorous morning constitutional. There is an asphalt path on the south and a dirt path on the north side. The south side path takes you by both the Tom Patterson Theatre and the Festival Theatre. There are numerous benches and picnic tables all around the lake. You can get on this trail right outside our B&B.

The T.J. Dolan Natural Area
Exit our B&B and head away from downtown on T.J. Dolan Drive and you'll come to the T.J. Dolan Natural Area. This is a well marked trail along the Avon River becoming part of The Avon Trail.
Click here for a PDF map of the trail.

The Avon Trail
The Avon Trail is a 104 km hiking trail that runs from St. Marys to Conestogo. The trail goes along streams, in and out of woodlands, skirts farm fields, and sometimes follows back roads.

Wildwood Conservation Area
Wildwood Conservation Area is located on highway 7 between Stratford and highway 19. The park encompasses a campground, wetland area, a reservoir with boat launch and walking trail and more. Many events and outdoor activities are held here.

Dr. R.S. Murray Forest
Located within the Wildwood Conservation Area, this 70 hectare forest was started in 1940, by Dr. R. S. Murray of Stratford with 80,000 seedlings. The forest now has 16 kilometres of meandering wellmarked trails available for excellent hiking and cross country skiing.
Click here for a PDF map of the area.

Stratford City Strolls
Click here for a map showing four routes for some walks within the city put together by the Stratford Tourism Alliance. Two of the walks have accompanying mP3 podcasts you can download. To download the podcasts, right click on the link below and select "Save/Download Link As" to save the file to your computer. Then copy the file to your iPod, MP3 player or other device. Or you may burn the file to an audio CD. The four walks shown on the map are:

Stratford Horticultural Tour
Click here for a PDF map of a self-guided tour of many of the city's horticultural gems.

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Stratford loves its parks and gardens. Winner of the national Communities in Bloom award in 2006 & 2000, Stratford has the most parkland per capita of cities in Canada and boasts of more than 1,000 acres planted with more than 80,000 annuals to compliment the innumerable perennials. Stratford was also named "Prettiest City in the World" as champion of the Nations in Bloom Award presented in Spain in 1997.

The Shakespearean Gardens
Start your exploration of Stratford's gardens just steps outside of our B&B at the Shakespearean Gardens. Located at the Huron Street Bridge, this is an English-style formal garden that contains herbs, roses and English flowers, many from Shakespeare's plays. The tower in the garden marks where the Dufton Woolen Mill stood - the first saw and gristmill in Stratford.

Free tours are offered in July & August, on Mondays at 2:00pm and Thursdays at 9:30am and are about an hour long.

You may also download a self-guided podcast of the Shakespearean Gardens:
Link to podcast
To download the podcast, right click on the link and select "Save/Download Link As" to save the file to your computer. Then copy the file to your iPod, MP3 player or other device. Or you may burn the file to an audio CD.

Queens Park
This central park is located just west of the Festival Theatre and includes picnic areas, a pavillion, public washrooms, a playground and bandshell for outdoor performances. Queens Park is also a popular site for weddings and family reunions.

Millennium Park
Romeo Street (Beside Gallery Stratford)
Water plantings, fountains, native tree selections, ornamental planting beds and outdoor sculptures are the highlights of this park.

Confederation Park
Just off Romeo Street where Devon St. deadends into the eastern end of Queens Park.
This small Japanese Garden incorporates a waterfall with Birch and Evergreen trees. It was designed in 1967 to commemorate 100 years of confederation. The fir trees were planted by the Boy Scouts in 1937 to mark the coronation of King George VI.

Arthur Meighen Garden
Located right next to the Festival Theatre
These are the Stratford Festival's well-kept and marked perennial gardens. Guided tours are available for a fee.

Meadow Rue Corner
Lakeside Drive at Martin Street
Located in Lower Queens Park is Meadow Rue Corner, a collection of small, naturalized gardens linked by a fully accessible path where visitors can enjoy a variety of mainly native plant communities and an abundance of birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

Burnham Wood Arboretum
Martin Street at William Street
Opposite the Meadow Rue Gardens in Queens Park, this is a Shakespearean inspired arboretum.

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As with hiking, there are lots of options in and around Stratford for biking from casual routes around the city to more vigorous rides to and through neighboring areas.

Bicycle Rental
You don't even have to haul your own bike to Stratford to enjoy a little cycling jaunt. Totally Spoke'd just a block away on Ontario St. rents bicycles by the day or half-day - and you can even rent tandem bicycles!

City of Stratford Bicycle Routes
These bicycle routes are on bicycle-friendly streets, avoiding heavily travelled streets. Routes chosen offer a safe, enjoyable alternative to the busy main streets even though bike lanes are not available.
Click here for a PDF map of these routes.

Bicycling Routes in Perth County
Five carefully chosen routes offer a cyclist paved roads, but not busy highways. All five routes loop back to Stratford. A folder describing the routes in more detail is available from Tourism Stratford.
Click here for a PDF map of these routes.

Shakespeare's Stonetown:
Stratford & St. Marys Tour

This is a 65 km loop that begins and ends in Stratford. You bike through Harmony, St. Marys, and Avonton.
Click here to download a PDF booklet with detail of this tour.

Buy a Bike
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Get out on the water and cavort with the swans in their element.

Boat Rental
You can rent paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks from Avon Boat Rentals - 519 271-7739 - which is located just below the Tourist Information kiosk on York Street. This runs seasonally - usually from May through September, and they're open at 9 am, 7 days a week.

Lake Tours
Also offered by Avon Boat Rentals is a 30 minute cruise on Lake Victoria aboard the Juliet III.

And also:
Tubing the Elora Gorge
About an hour away by car is the Elora Gorge. Tubing down the river is a fun and exciting way to see the wonders of Elora Gorge. From the white water action to the magnitude of the cliffs above, tubing offers more than just a refreshing ride on a hot summer day.

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There are musical events throughout the year in Stratford, from formal concerts to bands playing at local pubs.

A chamber music concert series at Factory 163 that pairs live music and great food.

Live at City Hall

Stratford Summer Music

The Stratford Concert Choir

Stratford Symphony Orchestra

The Stratford Concert Band

Concert in the Park by the Stratford Concert Band - July to September, Upper Queens Park Bandshell. Bring a lawn chair, sit back, relax and enjoy a free summer evening band concert.

Stratford Festival Night Music - June, July and August, Monday evenings, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Festival artists and friends present an eclectic mix of music for all tastes in the Festival Theatre Lobby. $20

Local pubs & restaurants that have live music:

Music related:
Stratford is the hometown of Justin Bieber, teen, pop-music singer. There is a self-guided tour of "Justin's Stratford" where fans can visit some of his favourite spots. If you have some younglings who are Bieber fans, our B&B is centrally located for doing this tour - and we have two rooms that can be set up with twin beds so parents can stay in one room and the kids can be in another.
Click here to dowmload a PDF map of "Justin's Stratford" with our B&B's location shown.

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519 305-1313   49 Huron St., Stratford, Ontario N5A 5S4