Get on the road to Stratford this summer

Stratford Edited

Canadian actor Geraint Wyn Davies strikes a pose near the Shakespeare statue in Stratford, Ontario. Davies is performing in two shows this season. (Rod Charles/

Story by Rod Charles Deputy Editor

STRATFORD, ONTARIO — It’s a fact actors don’t like being typecast. The same thing can be said for Stratford, a city that has served as a home and stage for many terrific performers over the years

Well our apologies Stratford but we’re about to add to your pain. What we love most about this city is the theatre and nothing is going to change that. This year, Stratford Festival features Guys and Dolls directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore and starring Sean Arbuckle as Nathan Detroit and Evan Bullung as Sky Masterson. Another show not to be missed this year is Bakkhai featuring Mac Fyfe as Sionysos, Lucy Peacock as Agave and Rosemary Dunsmore as a Member of the Bakkhai.

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare good news. Romeo and Juliet is back again at Stratford, featuring Antoine Yared and Sara Farb (who brilliantly played the role of Anne Frank at Stratford Theatre two years ago). Two other outstanding plays to catch this year is The Virgin Trial starring Bahla Watson and the Madwoman of Chaillot with Seana McKenna in the title role (both of which have been extended).

One of my favourite actors performing in Stratford – who also happens to also be a resident of the city – is Geraint Wyn Davies. You can see him working his magic in two plays this season – the Shakespearian play Twelfth Night at Festival Theatre and The School for Scandal at Avon Theatre.

Read “A day with Anne Frank in Stratford” on

Theatre is a great reason to visit Stratford but not the only one. Here are a few reasons to get to Stratford this summer and early fall that don’t include theatre.


The Stratford Perth Museum always has excellent displays. This year you can check out a wonderful exhibition about the Franklin Expedition. Visitors can also enjoy theatre costumes and masks, Inuit art and railway history.

Gallery Stratford is offering Open Studio Life Drawing lessons all year round. Current exhibitions include Steve Driscoll “Just a Sliver of the Room” and Connections Fibre Artists “Running with Fibre“. Both are running until September.

At City Hall Autitorium September 29-30 is The Ladies of the CNR, a dramatization of the life of women in Stratford’s rail shops. This kicks off a vast array of cultural events during Culture Days weekend. Other events to look forward to is the Stratford Garlic Festival (September 9), Stratford Writers Festival (October 20-22) and The Eaten Word (October 27 – 29).

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Peter Blush of Puck’s Plenty leading a foraging party on the outskirts of Stratford. Blush is an expert in edible greens and mushrooms. (Rod Charles/


Learn about food

If you want to combine your road trip to Stratford with information that you can use, Stratford Chefs School Open Kitchen cooking classes are for you. Learn about making the best pastry, home-made pasta or Thai curry. There are also wine appreciation classes available.

Puck’s Plenty foraging is a wonderful way to get out into the Stratford countryside and forage for fresh greens. Learn about edible greens in Stratford’s lush backyard from Peter Blush and when finished, take home what you forage and make yourself a delicious, healthy dinner. Or better yet, take part in a Forage and Feast event.

Last but not least, Soiled Reputation is available for purchase every Sunday in Stratford’s Slow Food Market in the new Market Square. If visiting the city on any other day consider making the short trip to Antony John’s farm and pick up a bag full of some delicious restaurant-quality greens.

Cool streets, sweet treats

Savour Stratford Tours: If you’re a fan of food tours, Stratford’s culinary walking trails are one of the best reasons to visit Stratford. Visitors can purchase tickets online for $30 (+HST) and are redeemed in person at the Stratford Tourism office.  The ticket allows you to make five stops on a self-guided tour of restaurants and retail locations for a chance to try different treats and meet the people who are creating them.  The four Savour Stratford tours you need to try are the Bacon & Ale trail and Chocolate Trail (offered year round), the Savour Stratford Pumpkin Trail (September – October). The Maple Trail is back in season in 2018 in March to April.

Read “Get bacon-blitzed in Stratford” on

Restaurants: After a full day walking around Stratford a stop at a restaurant is a must, unless you’re already full of course. Revival House (70 Brunswick St – 519-273-3424), located in an old church, is a great place to enjoy delicious food and good music on some nights. Only drawback to Revival House is that the restaurant is ridiculously cold in winter, so if you’re going to go, do it before November. Pazzo Taverna (70 Ontario Street Stratford N – 1-877-440-9666), Mercer Hall Inn (104 Ontario St – 1 888-816-4011) and The Restaurant at the Bruce  (89 Parkview Drive Stratford – 855-708-7100) are also solid choices.  I also enjoyed two restaurants on Wellington Street, The Red Rabbit (64 Wellington St – 519-305-6464) and Monforte on Wellington (80 Wellington Street – 519 301-7256).

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Buttermilk Pancakes with squash, bourbon maple syrup, crunchy granola crumble and smoked salt ($13) from Red Rabbit Bistro. Menu is always changing. (Rod Charles/


The 17th annual Stratford Summer Music runs until August 27 and will feature hundreds of artists form every province and territory in celebration of Canada’s 150th celebration. Acclaimed performers such as Angela Hewitt, Jan Lisiecki and Buffy Sainte Marie are just a few of the big names visiting Stratford.

Entertaining cabarets are presented Friday nights at Revival House including Molly Johnson, Jane Bunnett, Patricia O’Callaghan and more. Enjoy Play Me, I’m Yours street pianos in August, free Bach Walks with musicians of the Stratford Strings Academy along the T.J. Dolan trail and barge music with Rosie & the Riveters, Canadian Guitar Quartet, Moo’d Swing, Cape Breton Celtic Ensemble and The Allison Lupton Band (also free).


Stratford Tourism Alliance
Address: 47 Downie Street
Phone: 1-800-561-7926


Address: 55 Queen Street
Phone: 519.273.1600
No vehicle? Try the Stratford Direct Bus Service.
Price: $25

Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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