The Fryfogel Tavern Matters

Organization: Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation

Province: ON

City: Stratford



Twitter: @FryfogelTavern

About This Project Idea

The stagecoach stop built by Sebastian Fryfogel in 1844-455 goes by not one, but four names today: Fryfogel Inn, Fryfogel Tavern, Fryfogels Tavern and Fryfogel’s Tavern. Take your pick. Throughout the duration of this project though – we’ll stick with the Fryfogel Tavern for now.

But what might distinguish an inn from a tavern, or alehouse?

In Shakespeare’s Pub, Pete Brown cites an old legal document that does little to clarify this issue: “Every inn is not an alehouse, nor every alehouse an inn; but if an inn uses common selling of ale, it is then also an alehouse; and if an alehouse lodges and entertains travelers, it is also an inn.” One important distinction that certainly applied in Shakespeare’s day was that those who gathered in high class inns were willing and able to pay more for their beer than the folk who frequented taverns or alehouses. Some things never change.

There is a rich history at the Fryfogel Tavern that reflects how the Huron Tract helped develop this region of Perth County into what it is today. It was an important way stop for the original busy Canadian settlers and pioneers. We would like to see the Fryfogel Tavern restored to become, once again, an important way stop for modern busy Canadians and visitors alike to enjoy and learn about our local history.

During recent visioning sessions that were held in the communities of Shakespeare and Stratford, Ontario, we yielded many observations and creative ideas regarding the use of the Fryfogel Tavern. Numerous uses for the site were suggested. The uniqueness of the Fryfogel Tavern & Arboretum site with its historical significance as an original way stop on the Huron Road can be promoted for a variety of indoor and outdoor events and activities.

As the next step in revitalizing the Fryfogel Tavern, the Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation is seeking to renovate the electrical services in the building. Phase One of the project has been completed with installing an updated electrical panel in the basement, however both wiring and light fixtures throughout the building are either outdated or entirely missing. Having upgraded electrical services in the Tavern would enable the use of the building for evening program activities, expanded school programming, and use of the facility for meetings.

All of these activities would, in turn, contribute to improved self-sustainability for the Fryfogel Tavern while enabling more people to learn about the importance of the series of taverns/inns along the Huron Road during the settlement of the Huron Tract in the early to mid 19th century. The Fryfogel Tavern is the sole remaining tavern of the many that were constructed during this period of settlement.

Community Impact

Many of our visitors who have attended recent open houses at the Fryfogel Tavern all have the same comment: “We have been driving past this place for years, but it has never been open!” Over the last two years we have made an effort to host open houses and special events at the site, mainly on weekends throughout the summer months.

This year, we will be open on a regular basis throughout July and August – be sure to check out our website for our hours of operation. If you have never had the chance to come in and take a tour of the Fryfogel Tavern and surrounding Arboretum, you certainly do not want to miss the opportunity this summer!

We would like the Fryfogel Tavern to be available for a variety of uses and special events, rather than restricting it’s use to a traditional “museum” model. The site could be used for family and corporate events, concerts, festivals, markets and more! We see this as a great asset to the surrounding communities by providing a unique and historically rich venue for events, meetings, and whatever other needs the community may have.

About this place

The Fryfogel Tavern was a 19th century stagecoach stop and resting place for incoming settlers to the Canada Company’s Huron Tract, located just east of Shakespeare, Ontario. The Canada Company arranged to have taverns at intervals along the Huron Road of which this is the last remaining one left standing.

The Fryfogel Tavern was built by Perth County’s first settler, Sebastian Fryfogel, in 1844-45. It replaced a log shelter that had been built in 1827 at the time the Canada Company’s Huron Road was being surveyed.

Recent work at Fryfogel Tavern has turned up evidence of a beautifully decorated building, which must have appeared a marvel to local native Canadians and the last post of civilized elegance for settlers heading into the bush. Picture this building surrounded by forest, with a corduroy roadbed twelve feet lower than the present highway. It flourished as a tavern until about 1856, when the railway was built a short distance behind it, causing business to dwindle.

In time it became a Fryfogel family duplex, when some alterations were made. Through the years it also served as a cheese factory and rented quarters until 1938, when two sisters from Stratford, Ontario, converted it to a restaurant at their own expense. Thus the Tavern has also been known as Green Acres or the Old Homestead, and was owned by the Fryfogels until the 1960s.

It is now owned by the Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation, which hopes to see the building restored to its original purpose as a wayside-stopping place. However, this takes a great deal of funding. The building is steeped in history. To date there has been extensive research on the walls and floors and the original state has been determined. Surrounding the Tavern is a five acre estate that has been developed as an Arboretum consisting of the trees, shrubs and plants native to South Western Ontario.

Why Give?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

The Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation is committed to preserving the historical significance of the Fryfogel Tavern. Although this building has sat vacant for many years in the past, now is the time to put in the effort to bring the building “back to life” again.

The primary focus of this project will be to upgrade the electrical services throughout the Fryfogel Tavern. We feel that this is the most important step to allow us to move forward with further renovations inside the building. It will also allow the building to be used more frequently by various groups in the surrounding communities.

If we are so lucky to win the THIS PLACE MATTERS competition and exceed our project goal all funding received will be used to rehabilitate and upgrade the Fryfogel Tavern and its facilities. We will continue our goal to preserve the historical authenticity of the Fryfogel Tavern, while at the same time allowing the building to be used to its full potential, as it was intended to be.