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Street knowledge: In Stratford, each street has a story to tell

From artists and photographers to veterans and battles, even preachers and politicians, Paul Wilker and his team have organized people, events and culture to a corresponding street in Stratford
Christopher Plummer Drive in Stratford.

Near the beginning of a distinguished career in film, television and on stage, Christopher Plummer rented an apartment in Stratford. 

Years later, the Academy, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor was honoured locally when Christopher Plummer Drive was unveiled in Stratford.

Through an interactive new website,, visitors can see what streets famous actors like William Shatner (Ballantyne Drive) and Plummer (Hibernia Street) lived on while building their careers on stage in the Festival City.

Visitors can click on Christopher Plummer Drive and see the list of Plummer's Stratford Festival performances, along with other information about the legendary actor. is an idea from Paul Wilker, who lived in Stratford until he left for Western University. Now 81, and living in Ottawa, Wilker wanted a place to house local history from his hometown.

He found some old scrapbooks that his mother kept, compiled by local businessman Stan Dingman, with information on how streets in the city got their name. 

To make it more interesting and appealing to multiple generations, Wilker enlisted help from friends and local historians to compile more than 650 stories about people and properties linked to the streets. The project took him two years to get together and he's still tinkering with the site.

"We thought it was a neat idea," Wilker told StratfordToday.

"Once I started it just started to grow, at least 100 people submitted things (for the project)."

The site features streets by first letter so you can instantly check a name. There are also categories, flashbacks, videos, maps, even puzzles. 

A user that clicks on Downie Street can hear Justin Bieber singing and playing guitar where he got his start on the steps of the Avon Theatre. 

By clicking on Morenz Drive, you can watch a video of Wayne Gretzky scoring his first goal at what is now William Allman Memorial Arena. 

Wondering who was the first female physician licensed to practice medicine in Canada? The Jenny Trout Centre is named after a medical pioneer and you can click on Erie Street to watch a Heritage Minutes video about Trout being accepted by male physicians.

There is also a fun puzzle called Where is William Shatner's mural?, which provides a clue through a riddle.

From artists and photographers to veterans and battles, even preachers and politicians, Wilker and his small team have organized people, events and culture to a corresponding street. 

In a little less than a month, the site has 50,000 plus clicks, he said. 

"We are still working on some things. You get that initial surge (of visitors) at the beginning, but we want people to keep coming back." 

With that in mind, Wilker has plans for a weekly 'On this Day' feature, highlighting historical events from Stratford's past, with a link on social media to the story.

Wilker said it was no vanity project, he just wanted a place to house Stratford history in an interesting way. He credits friends Gord Conroy, Vince Gratton and Dean Robinson, an author who has written numerous books about Stratford history. Nancy Musselman also contributed a lot, Wilker said. 

Stratford Perth Museum and Stratford-Perth Archives were also a big help with contributions to the site, he said. 

"I am not doing it for me, it's for the love of history of Stratford. I see it as an educational and historical site."

A YouTube video was made to help guests get around the site: How to navigate Streets of Stratford.

You can check out the site here: Streets of Stratford.