The Grand Trunk Railway & CNR Shops


Update (February, 2018):

The City of Stratford has retained Urban Strategies to help carry out a community engagement process to create a flexible Master Plan to help guide the evolution and future growth of the Cooper Block.


The Cooper Block Master Plan, now called the Grand Trunk Master Plan, provides a framework for how the site could develop over time and it addresses a range of urban planning and urban design matters such as parking, built form, open space provision, the public realm, and the street network


On February 26, 2018, Urban Strategies presented the following presentation



Update (March, 2015): In March, the city’s Planning and Heritage Committee recommended that the Cooper Site should not receive a heritage designation until a site plan and heritage assessment are complete. A followup recommendation was also approved requiring that once the site plan and heritage assessment are complete, a request will be made to Heritage Stratford to evaluate the site and recommend which elements should be designated.

Update (April, 2015): On April 20, an unexpected motion to demolish all but three bays of the structure was narrowly deferred for a week. On April 27, council voted 9-2 to reject the Riversedge Development proposal for the site, and entertained new public presentations that urged preservation of the shops. After a lengthy debate, the matter was again deferred, this time to a special meeting of council set for May 4.

Update (May 2015):  On May 4, 2015 a compromise motion in which the fire damaged portion of the building and roof (approximately 40%) will be removed was passed by a vote of 10 to 1. The previous motion to demolish 93% of the shops and keep only 3 bays was withdrawn by Councillor Brown who then moved the new motion. The west wall will remain to show the impressive length of the original building. The City of Stratford will be asking for proposals for the adaptive re-use of the remaining 75 000 square feet.

Update (June 2015): On June 8, a motion was passed to send out a Request for Proposal for the adaptive re-use of the GTR shops building before any demolition takes place thus providing a developer with options. 75 000 sq. ft. of the building must, however, be retained in any development proposal.
The deadline for proposals will be 4 months after the RFP is sent out. It was stated by the Chief Administrative Officer that it may take up to two months for the RFP to be complete and it will follow a template sent by Heritage Canada.


#2                                                 24 St. Andrew Street, Stratford

In the view of ACO Stratford/Perth County, there is no question that the former archives/registry office meets the local criteria to be considered of heritage significance because of its unique construction method, its visual and historical link to its surroundings and its significant association to the community.

In 1910 when the need for a new registry office, combining the former ones in North and South Perth, occurred, Perth County Council decided to build on the land located between the county jail and the court house. T.J. Hepburn, a local architect and son of Alexander Hepburn, also a well-known Stratford architect, was hired.

Hepburn was directed to design the new building to harmonize with the jail and court house both which had been designed by George F. Durand in the 1880s. When completed the addition of the building created a unified street scape from Huron Street to the jail thus creating a significant landscape along St. Andrew Street.

Because of the significance of the records to be contained within the building, it was constructed under extremely high standards and to be as fireproof as possible. The walls including the interior ones were solid masonry. In order to support the weight of the paper records the main floor “consists of “I” beams every 6 feet with corrugated metal arches between supporting concrete from 12 inches to 6 inches thick variously across the floor.”  The new building was wired for electricity which had arrived in Stratford shortly before.

After serving the citizens of Stratford and Perth County for 35 years, it was replaced by another building to keep up with the rapid growth in the area after World War II and later became the Perth District Health Unit Office.

In 1972, the Perth County Archives based on the R. Thomas Orr collection and archival materials from the Perth County Historical collection was opened. In 1981, having long outgrown its space in the basement of the Perth County Court House, the archives moved into the former registry office and the name changed to Stratford-Perth Archives. The local community and out-of-town researchers looking up family records, local history and documentary heritage were well served by the building first created to hold tons of paper land records.

In 2015, the Stratford-Perth Archives moved to a new location leaving the building empty and waiting to be repurposed to continue the significant contribution to the community that it had made for over a century.