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When the area was first settled in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England, of Shakespearean fame. It is the seat of Perth County. Stratford was incorporated as a town in 1859 and as a city in 1886. The first mayor was John Corry Wilson Daly and the current mayor is Dan Mathieson. The swan has become a symbol of the city. Each year twenty-four white swans and two black swans are released into the Avon River.

The city's economy took a major turn when the Shakespearean Stratford Festival started in 1953. The annual festival now brings hundreds of thousands of theatre goers and tourists to the area. Celebrities such as Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, Peter Ustinov, Dame Maggie Smith, and William Shatner have performed at the festival. The world-renowned festival takes place in four theatres throughout the city; the Festival Theatre, the Avon Theatre, Tom Patterson Theatre and the Studio Theatre.

 

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